- the connoisseur's guide to France
Dijon - the capital of Burgundy
the blue dots show parking lots near the tram route. Traffic access to
the historic centre is limited, but there are numerous car parks and
plenty of street parking too.
Just an hour and a half from Paris
by high speed train, Dijon, the capital of the modernday region of
Bourgogne - Franche- Comté, is a city with a very proud past.
In the Middle Ages, the Dukes of Burgundy were second only in
power to the Kings of France: and indeed for much of the Middle Ages,
the Dukedom of Burgundy was to all intents and purposes an independent
state, separate from and at times at war with the Kingdom of France.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Duchy of Burgundy was a major
European power, whose territory stretched at its peak from the North
Sea (Flanders, Artois and Picardy) to the border with Switzerland, and
Dijon was its capital.
Since the regional reforms of 2016, Dijon has become the
smallest regional capital in France apart from Orleans , and
no longer occupies the position of importance that it enjoyed in
medieval and Renaissance times . With a population of just over
150,000, it is far smaller than the big provincial capitals of France
. In 2015, its
historic centre was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Located at the northern end of the main Burgundy vineyard
Dijon is nowadays best known as one of the wine capitals of France, and
also for its famous mustard, la Moutarde de Dijon, which is known
worldwide. Don't expect however to find a city surrounded by mustard
fields; the yellow fields that can be seen round Dijon in the spring
time are fields of colza, or oil-seed rape, not of mustard. Most of the
mustard used in Dijon mustard these days comes from Canada... and since
Dijon Mustard is not an IGP, little of the Dijon mustard bought in
supermarkets, or even in delicatessens, actually comes from Dijon.
Dijon is reputed, nevertheless, as one of France's great
cities, and its annual food fair, held each autumn, is the sixth
largest international fair in France... and open to the public.
view of the Place de la Libération and the Ducal Palace
Rue de la Verrerie, in the old centre of Dijon
Classed as a Unesco world
heritage site in
2015, the centre of Dijon is an attractive late medieval and
Renaissance city centre.
At the heart of the old city, the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy
most of it dating from the 18th century, is the most impressive of the
old buildings in Dijon. It today houses the city hall, the tourist information office,
and the history museum,
a free museum with artefacts relating in particular to Burgundian life
Climb to the top of the Tour Philippe le Bon, the tower in
centre of the photo above, for a panoramic view over Dijon.
Dijon art gallery -
Portrait of Philippe le Bon, school of Rogier van der Weyden
Part of the palace also houses the Dijon city Fine art museum,
which is one of the oldest and largest in France outside Paris. And
(which is nowadays fairly unusual in France) ! It includes a large
collection of paintings from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, and
notably works by the Maître de Flémalle, Titian, Veronese, de
Latour, Tiepolo, Delacroix, Monet, Manet, Sisley, Cross and Rouault.
Running north from just behind the fine art museum
is the Rue de la Verrerie
one of the most interesting old streets in the city, with its
overhanging half-timbered houses. Running west from the Place
la Liberté is the Rue de
one of the main city centre shopping streets; just off this busy
pedestrian street, discover the Place Francis Rudé, from which you can
follow the rue Rudé, then right into the attractive rue Musette, with
its boutiques and cafés. This will take you most interesting
church in Dijon, the 13th century church of Notre Dame
with its very unusual western facade decorated with three
superimposed rows of arches. The facade is also decorated
dummy gargoyles (real gargoyles carry away
"dummy" gargoyles are just decorative). Today's gargoyles are not
medieval; the medieval facade was indeed decorated with gargoyles,
but these were later removed arter a fatal accident, and
that decorate the facade today were put up in during restoration of the
church in the 19th century.
Two other historic churches in the protected
central area are worth visiting: Saint
is a 13th - 14th century building in a
rather severe Burgundian gothic style; by contrast the 16th - 17th
century church of Saint
standing 200 metres east of the Ducal Palace. is unique in France,
having been started in the gothic style, and completed, notably the
west facade and the towers, in the new Renaissance style.
Dijon has two other points of interest for those
with an interest in art. The Musée
contains the remarkable collection of a 19th century
Maurice Magnin, who acquired over 2000 works of European art from the
16th to the 19th century; including works by Breughel the younger,
Cariani, Le Sueur, Bastien-Lepage and Géricault. The museum,
its paintings and decorative arts, is housed in a 17th
residence, the Hôtel Lantin, just opposite the Ducal Palace
The other notable work of art is an early
Renaissance sculpture, the Puits
in the gardens of the Chartreuse hospital. It is located just south of
the railway tracks just after the western end of the railway station.
Sculpted around 1400 by the Dutch sculptor Claus Sluter, it is
a memorial for Duke Philip the Bold, and is considered the
example of late gothic sculpture.
visit near Dijon
The remarkable medieval
hospice in Beaune - centre for the Burgundy wine trade
region is renowned worldwide for one key product: its wines, reputedly
among the best in the world; but the actual vineyard area of Burgundy
is only a small part of the region, occupying as it does a strip of
land on the western edge of the Saône valley, running south from Dijon.
There are some other smaller wine producing areas in the
Burgundy, notably the area round the small town of Chablis. for more on
Burgundy wine, see French vineyard
Among the most popular sights and attractions in the area around Dijon
- The Burgundy
and the vineyard trails - la
route des vins - taking in some of the
most prestigious vineyards at the northern end of the area, including
Clos Vougeot, Nuits Saint Georges and Pommard.
The unmissable place to visit on any visit to Burgundy. Renowned as the
capital of the Burgundy wine industry, the small city is home to major
wine merchants. The old centre is particularly renowned for the Hôtel
Dieu, a unique medieval hospice which was still used as a hospital
until the late 20th century. The building, with its superb
"burgundian" roof of multicoloured glazed tiles, is one of the
largest medieval civil buildings surviving to this day. It is home to
a priceless work of art, the early Renaissance Beaune Altarpiece by the
Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden... painted for the hospice around
1445, and still there. Accessible by train.
Standing on the border between Burgundy and Franche-Comté, just over 40
km southeast of Dijon, Auxonne is an attractive small town beside the
River Saône. The old town is protected by fortifications which are
partly medieval but mostly redesigned by Vauban in the 17th-18th
century. The Royal Port, beneath the Vauban ramparts, is a popular
riversite marina. Accessible by train.
- The Burgundy
the rivers Yonne and Saone, the Burgundy Canal was built between 1775
and 1832. North of Dijon, it meanders pecefully through the hills to
the northwest of Dijon, and across the plain to the southeast, and is
popular for pleasure boating and as a cycling route.
- The Chateau
- the classic Burgundian castle, a medieval castle lovingly restored
and embellished in the nineteenth century. With its Burgundian tiled
roof and its array of pointed towers, it looks like a fairytale
castle. Open March-November daily except Tuesdays.
Click here for a ►
choice of hotels in Dijon
at best online rates, and the About-France.com hotel selection for
There is plenty of hotel accommodation in Dijon. For visitors arriving
by train, there is a choice of hotels near the railway station or
between the station and the old city centre. Visitors arriving by car
have the option of either staying in or close to the centre, which may
involve additional parking expenses, or else taking a hotel on the
outskirts of town and travelling in to the centre by public transport,
notably the tram.
Out of town hotels with tram access to
Visitors arriving on the A31 motorway from the north should
exit at junction 4, then leave the motorway feeder road at the first
exit, following signs for Saint
. This will bring them into Dijon on the old
D70, where there is a choice of budget and mid-range hotels, within 500
m of a tram stop. Ibis
Carry on in on the D70 for a second Campanile
hotel a kilometre closer to the town centre, or a bit further for a
four star Mercure
hotel. All these hotels offer free parking.
Visitors arriving from Paris should take the Dijon
north circular road and circle the city as far as the exit marked D70 Vesoul (St Apollinaire)
then follow signs for Dijon
For a large mid-range hotel with free parking
close to the centre, check out the Ibis
, located just south of the train
station. Easily accessible from the Paris direction: just follow Dijon Centre
end of the A38 motorway, and enter the city on the old main road (D905).
The alternative is to take a hotel in town.
See the About-France.com
Dijon is a city with excellent road and
rail links, but no airport
- By air
Dijon is not near any major airport. Nearest airports: Paris, Lyon
Saint Exupéry. The nearby Dole airport is served by Ryanair, but only
with flights to Morocco or Portugal. For more details
see Fly to France.
- By train
Dijon is a major rail hub. It is 1h30 from Paris Gare de Lyon by
high-speed train (TGV) and also has high speed TGV links to Besançon,
Mulhouse, Lyon, Strasbourg Marseilles and Zürich and
intercity links to Reims, Nancy, Lausanne – some using TGV
trains. For timetables and online tickets, see Trainline.com .
car At the junction of the A31, A38 and A39
motorways, Dijon is easily accessible from Paris,
via Reims, from Germany via Mulhouse, and from
the south of
France via Lyon.
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