Best known for its mustard, the city of Dijon has more to offer than just this condiment.
Dijon is the capital of the Burgundy (Bourgogne) region in eastern France, which was the powerbase for north-eastern France, west Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands during the 14th and 15th centuries under the Dukes of Burgundy. During the Gothic and early Renaissance periods, artists of music, painting and sculpture were drawn to Dijon as the dukes themselves being great patrons of the arts. The legacy of this time is represented in the magnificent architecture and sculpture of this era which can still be seen in Dijon today.
Unlike many other major French cities, having avoided devastation by bombing during WWI and WWII several old-style buildings and houses remain intact throughout the city. There are also all of the features of a modern city in Dijon including universities and industrial plants.
Visit the Musee des Beaux-Arts in the centre of the old town in the beautiful Palais Ducal. It contains exhibits ranging from the Middle Ages to the 20th century and entry is free.
The magnificent Cathedral St Benign dates back to the 6th century and has been rebuilt several times throughout its long history. Most visitors find the crypt to be most fascinating.
To take a break from sight-seeing, catch a glimpse of how the locals live by visiting the Les Halles indoor marketplace, Jardin Darcy park and the square, Place d’Armes, or take the time to try some of the local delicacies. Dijon is also known for the blackcurrant liqueur cassis, and the local custom is to make it into a cocktail by blending it with some local white wine, known as a Kir. Perhaps try a Kir Royal which is a cassis and champagne cocktail. Burgundy also offers several wonderful local red and white wines which provide a great way to wind down and enjoy the atmosphere after a long day on the tourist trail. Also, although it seems obvious, don’t forget to try some of the locally-produced mustard during your stay.
The best way to take in all that Dijon has to offer is on foot. The Local Tourist office conducts guided walking tours of the town in both French and English as well as providing maps and pamphlets if you prefer to explore on your own. The office can be found on Avenue Marechal Foch next to Jardin Darcy park. There is also a free tourist shuttle bus, the Diviaciti, which travels on a loop connecting major downtown destinations.
You can reach Dijon by high speed rail as well as the regular train line. The city is also connected to the major freeway and road networks, however if you are driving be aware that vehicle access is limited in the city centre.