Dijon

Dijon is the capital of the eastern French region of Burgundy.

La Porte Guillaume
Cathédrale St Bénigne

Understand

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, and its historic buildings and byways were not heavily damaged by bombing in World War Two and are largely intact. The surroundings is also an important wine production region, and Dijon has historically been the centre for regulatory bodies for wine production (some wine classification systems were invented here) and therefore the historical centre of Dijon forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage site "Climats, terroirs of Burgundy".

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 centre 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 centre and industrial plants on the outskirts. Traffic is restricted in the centre of the city, so many parts of central Dijon are quiet and relaxing.

Tourist information

There are three tourist offices in the city:

They have free maps of 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.

Get in

By train

The train à grande vitesse (TGV) speeds travellers from Paris (only 100 min) 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.

There is also a special return ticket on the TER from Paris (Train Express Régional) that is slow (3 h) but costs only €18, and lets you spend 24hg in Dijon, including a Saturday night. The train departs from Paris-Bercy on Saturdays at 3.20 pm, arriving in Dijon at 6.14 pm, the return departs from Dijon on Sundays at 7:46PM, arriving in Paris-Bercy at 10:44PM You can buy this at station ticket offices in Paris Bercy train station or Paris Gare de Lyon only.

By plane

There is an airport in Dijon. However, it only offers small planes from and to Bordeaux, Toulouse and Nantes, operated by Eastern airways, five days a week, only one flight each day.

There are a few TGV high-speed trains directly from the center of Dijon to Paris CDG airport; otherwise, Air France operates busses from CDG to Paris Gare de Lyon from which there are frequent TGV trains to Dijon.

By bus

Eurolines connects Dijon to all the major European cities and TRANSCO is a regional bus service for the Burgundy region.

By car

Palais Ducal

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.

Get around

Walk

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.

By bicycle

If you want to get a bit outside of the downtown (like to get to the well of Moses) it's often easier and faster to use a bicycle.

Public transport

The city offers the Diviaciti, a free, frequent shuttle bus for visitors that connects many of the downtown destinations in a loop, along with several parking areas. But be wary that the shuttle is only a minibus and is often congested with locals.

If you happen to arrive by train, take note that the orientation maps can be a bit misleading. For some reason, maps are oriented with west, rather than north, in the upward position.

See

There is a self-guided walk in the city, called Parcours de la chouette, shown by owl arrows and numbered owl plates in the ground. There is 22 stops showing interesting stuff. The book with the description of stops is available at the tourist office for 2.50 €. But it's not mandatory.

Landmarks

La Chouette

Buildings and structures

Religious buildings

There are a lot of religious buildings in the city. François I said "c'est la ville aux cent clochers" ("it's the city of one hundred bell towers") when arriving in Dijon.

Museums

Most museums are free for everyone. English and French audio guide is available most of the time.

Gardens

Jardin Darcy

Do

Work

Saint Michel

Buy

Eat

Many of the dishes that Americans think of as traditionally French originated in Burgundy: 'coq au vin'. Another great strategy is to order the fixed-price (prix fixe) menu, usually three courses including dessert and provides a good sense of what the restaurant is like.

There are 23 Michelin starred restaurants in the area.

Budget

Splurge

Drink

Place François Rude

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 - Burgundy has the highest number of Appellations of any French region. Of course the reds are terrific, and Americans unfamiliar with wine history might be surprised to find that white burgundies compare favorably with California chardonnays - they are, after all, from the same grape.

Sleep

Well of Moses

Budget

Go next

You can reserve vineyard tours through the Dijon Tourist Office to visit the Côte de Nuits and participate in wine tastings in some of the most famous wine-making villages of Burgundy. Wine and Voyages has the longest running tours available and are wine experts. Tel: +33 3 80 61 15 15

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, August 28, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.