Dijon is the capital of the eastern French region of Burgundy (Bourgogne).
Dijon is perhaps best known for its mustard (named after the town) which is still produced locally, but it is also one of the most beautiful cities in France, having avoided being devastated by bombing in WWII.
Dijon was for some time the capital of the Dukes of Burgundy. Burgundy was a great power during the 14th and 15th centuries, when the dukes controlled a large part of what is now northeastern France, western Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The dukes were great patrons of the arts, so Dijon was a major center of Gothic and early Renaissance music, painting, and sculpture, attracting some of the greatest and most famous artists and musicians from Flanders in particular. The music the great composers left behind can be performed anywhere, but it is particularly in the fields of sculpture and architecture that masters left a lasting mark on Dijon.
Today, Dijon is a cosmopolitan city, with universities in the center and industrial plants on the outskirts. Traffic is restricted in the center of the city, so many parts of central Dijon are quiet and relaxing.
There is an airport in Dijon. However, it only offers taxi planes, business and private jets, as well as some charter services; there is a project to re-establish commercial flights on a regular basis.
There are a few TGV high-speed trains directly from the center of Dijon to Paris CDG airport; otherwise, Air swiss busses take from CDG to Paris Gare de Lyon from which there are frequent TGV trains to Dijon.
The train à grande vitesse (TGV) speeds travellers from Paris and other major French cities to Dijon. There are also regular train services to a variety of destinations, including, but not restricted to, Italy (Milan, Turin, Florence and Rome among them), Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium.
Dijon is well connected to the freeway and highways networks, where you can drive cars. Note that traffic is limited in the centre of the city, so you will probably want to park your car for the duration of your visit, except to access the Well of Moses, which is on the outskirts of the city.
For most purposes, walking is the best way to get around the center of the city. A comprehensive network of buses covers farther local destinations.
The city offers the Diviaciti, a free shuttle bus for visitors that connects many of the downtown destinations in a loop, along with several parking areas. The Office of Tourism, next to Jardin Darcy, has free maps for the downtown area, including a map and guide for the self-guided walking tour of Dijon. The walking tour uses a small brass pavement marker with an owl design to note the path along the sidewalks of Dijon. Larger numbered owl markers correspond to different stops on the tour, and the guide pamphlet will have descriptions of the art, history and architecture of that stop.
If you happen to arrive by train, take note that the orientation maps can be a bit misleading. For some reason they decided to orient the maps with west rather than north in the upward position. Sadly they also failed to include an arrow indicating that north is to the right. So if you happen to travel with a compass, don't worry – it's not broken
Sightseeing and Activities
- The Ducal Palace (Palais Ducal), a beautiful building, has a museum containing priceless treasures and wonderful art that was the property of the Dukes of Burgundy. If you visit nothing else in Dijon, visit this museum (Musée des Beaux-Arts, q.v.).
- The Musée des Beaux-Arts is located in the Palais Ducal and has a permanent exhibition of medieval art. On the upper floor, there are lots of paintings by local artists and Flemish painters. The museum sometimes hosts temporary exhibitions with works from local artists. The most famous part of the museum is the Guard Room with tombs.
- The Well of Moses (Puits de Moïse), a splendid monument by Claus Sluter, is now on the grounds of a psychiatric hospital, but visitable nonetheless.
- St. Michel church, which is east of the Palais des Ducs. It was built from the 15th to the 17th century.
- Jardin Darcy is a beautiful park near the station and it's a great place to have a rest and to see how French people enjoy themselves. (But before you sit down on a bench you should make sure that there are no pigeons on a branch above you).
- Palais de Justice.
- Beaune is a beautiful town with many wineries and excellent examples of typical regional architecture. In particular make sure you see the Hôtel-Dieu.
- Rue de la Liberte, which extends east from Place Darcy to the Palais des Ducs is a main shopping street with all types of shopping for locals and visitors. The Boutiques Maille (for Maille mustards) is located on this street.
- Les Halles, an indoor marketplace, has many stalls for fresh produce, meat, and seafood.
Many of the dishes that Americans think of as traditionally French originated in Burgundy: 'coq au vin', 'bœuf bourguignon', and of course 'escargots'. The hearty dishes composed of game, beef, or chicken in rich sauces are fantastic and contribute to Dijon's reputation as one of the gastronomic capitals of France. Often the gastronomic restaurants will have a small cafe nearby where the menu is created by the master chef but executed by his staff – these are a great way to get a taste of the high life at more reasonable prices. Another great strategy is to order the fixed-price (prix fixe) menu – it's usually three courses including dessert and provides a good sense of what the restaurant is like.
Brioche Dorée, Centre Cial Toison d'or 21000 Dijon, France, ? 03 80 74 40 17.
Brioche Dorée, 46, Rue Liberté 21000 Dijon, France, ? 03 80 30 16 12.
Flunch, 24 boulevard De Brosses 21000 DIJON, ? 03 80 30 02 77,
Le Clos des Capucines, 3, Rue Jeannin Dijon 21000, ? 03.80.65.83.03 (email@example.com, fax: 03.80.67.37.00), . Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday, open from 2:00 PM to 10 PM. Menus at 1
4.10€, 18.20€ and 32.60€, and a la carte.. edit
Dijon is well known for cassis, a sweet black current liqueur that is a bright reddish-purple in color. If you are of legal drinking age in France a traditional Dijonnaise cocktail is called a "Kir", a blend of cassis and a local white wine (traditionally "Aligoté") – you can also order it made with champagne for a tasty and festive "Kir Royale". Make sure that you try the wonderful local wines – of course the reds are terrific, but you might be surprised to find that white burgundies compare favorably with California chardonnays – they are, after all, from the same grape.
See the list of the Hotels in Dijon
ex: Hotel Le Jaquemart– 1 star, no frills, but clean, quiet and very pleasant. A quad room is Euro 70. The location can not be beaten! In the centre of the antique, pedestrian area. Excellent boulangerie across the street and a nice, little restaurant (serving only mussels and pommes frites) down the street– both great at what they do and good value.