A Day in Dijon
The city of Dijon is situated in the mid-east of France, roughly halfway between Geneva and Paris. It is one of the two most famous cities in Burgundy, the other being Beaune. In my opinion, any city where you can find traditional Maille Mustard on pump (ie. like a beer tap/pump) is somewhere definitely worth a visit. I spent a day discovering Dijon in October 2016 and had a ball!
Les Halles Centrales de Dijon (Dijon central market hall)
When visiting Dijon, the first thing you need to do is make sure you visit on a market day – Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday.
Photos of products from Dijon markets: butter & parseley stuffed snails, Bresse chickens, vanilla beans (weaved into the shape of a pineapple), varieties of salamis, different Dijon mustard varieties.
Get in early for the best quality produce. Beginning in the central market hall and spilling out into the surrounding streets, the markets bring the city to life with people everywhere, catching up and purchasing their goods for the week. You’ll find an infinite amount of fresh fruit and vegetables, terrines, tartes, rillettes, cheeses, fresh fish, chicken and meat, snails, vanilla beans, clothes, shoes, jams, honey, jewellery, hats, wine and of course – Dijon Mustard.
Taste some Dijon Mustard and Boeuf Bourguignon
A visit to Beaune would not be complete without a tasting of Dijon Mustard. The best place to taste is at Moutarde Maille in the centre of the town where you will find several types of Dijon mustard ON TAP! You can purchase several different sizes ceramic pots of Dijon mustard fresh from the pump and return with the pot for refills in the future.
And you won’t just find traditional Dijon mustard; there are varieties with honey, truffles, cêpes (another type of mushroom), cassis (a Burgundian liqueur) and even ginger!
A trip to Burgundy should also not be without helping yourself to a beautiful dish of Boeuf Bourguignon. Restaurant DZ’Envies was recommended to me by several locals and did not disappoint. Not only was the Boeuf Bourguignon to die for, but the service was the best I’ve received in France. Put DZ’Envies on your ‘to dine at’ list when in Dijon!
Dijon’s fine arts museum is situated over three sites; the Palace of the Dukes and States of Burgundy, The nave and the Rude museum, all of which are free.
In the Palace and Nave you’ll find out all about the history of the Dukes of Burgundy as well as the region in general – its conflicts, artists, products and people.
You’ll also find sculptures, paintings and artefacts featured in Burgundian life from ancient times through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, 17th Century and today. There is also a small collection of extra-European artefacts.
The Palace is also home to the Tower of Philip the Good (one of the Dukes of Burgundy), at specific times during the day you can take a walking tour up the tower for a panoramic view of Dijon.
The Rude Museum is located in St. Stephen’s Church, just down the road from the Palace, here you’ll find casts of monumental works of sculptor François Rude Dijon (Dijon 1784 – Paris, 1855).
The Musée des Beaux Arts is an excellent collection with many interactive displays as well – a wonderful museum for children. I spent hours wandering around the collections and playing with the interactive games. And it’s all for free!
Explore the Churches, Courtyards and Old Town on foot
Dijon is perfectly sized to explore on foot. Just by wandering around the town you’ll come across some delightful boutiques, homes, churches and cathedrals to see, all of which are free to enter. My favourite sites include L’Église Notre-Dame, L’Église Saint-Michel, La Cathédrale Saint-Bénigne, La Place de la Libération.
Close to les Halles, is the Old Town where you’ll find some typically old-style Burgundian buildings still standing.