48 Hours in Dijon
As the capital of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region of France, Dijon is home to several historical landmarks and cultural attractions, as well as excellent gastronomy. Yes, they are home to some of the best mustards in the world but they have a lot more to offer than just a spicy condiment. It is one of the best-kept travel secrets in France. With so much to see, this guide will show you how to make the most of a short trip to this vibrant city.
My first trip to Dijon was solely to seek out great mustards but I discovered the city was actually one of my favorites in France besides Strasbourg. Oh, and a little trivia, while Grey Poupon may have its roots in Dijon it is an American mustard and you won’t find it in Dijon.
The first day In the morning.
Start your day with a taste of local life, after having a coffee and a croissant at one of the many superb patisseries, you should then proceed straight to the Les Halles covered market. If Dijon is the capital of gastronomy then this is the highest temple of the city. Even if you are not planning on stocking up on the fresh produce, cheese, mustard, and charcuterie, the market is worth a visit to people watch and observe the intricacies of the French art of living. A quirky walk-up bar in the market offers the best wines by the bottle, especially those that cannot be found in the shops. It is ideal to enjoy an aperitif in the morning before going to lunch at one of the many excellent restaurants and bistros surrounding the market.
In the afternoon.
Let’s get serious now. Despite the fact that Dijon is a city filled with history, there is a good way to get a general overview without needing to delve too deep. The main points of interest are outlined by a walking path marked by little bronze owls on bronze pavers. A companion app tells you the story of each stop by keying into the numbers on each stop, which can be completed in approximately two hours. Additionally, there is a larger plaque depicting the owl at each site, along with a description of the site, allowing you to make mental notes of the locations you wish to explore more thoroughly on your next visit.
In the evening.
By day’s end, we will embark on a journey into Burgundy’s heart and experience one of the greatest gifts of France to humanity: the repas gastronomique. Select from any of the numerous fine dining establishments in the city to enjoy a multi-course meal paired with the finest Burgundy wines. Would you like to sample the traditional escargots à la Bourguignonne as an appetizer or maybe you can find one of my favorite dishes duck confit?
Morning of Day 2
The plan for today is to explore Dijon on two wheels. Pick up a picnic from the many gourmet stores in town, and don’t forget a sweet dessert, then visit one of the great parks to learn more about the city and its people. It is possible to rent a bike from over 40 stations throughout the city, as well as miles of marked trails. The botanical gardens are a favorite among tourists or you can check out the port du canal where leisurely cruising is available.
In the afternoon.
Forget the Louvre. Dijon’s fine arts museum is nothing short of spectacular. If you are interested in medieval art, Renaissance paintings, 20th-century history, or contemporary paintings, you can find sections dedicated to them. It is set in the Palace of the Ducs, once one of the most influential courts of Europe. Besides its historical relevance, the museum is also notable for its collection of paintings and sculptures, one of the most important in France. Not to be missed are the tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy and the impressive marble ‘mourner’ figures. Sure if you are in Paris visit the Louvre but if you are in Dijon you might really enjoy this place.
In the evening.
Now is the time to see the doctor. That is, the wine doctor. Yes, I’m a beer guy but this is a wine town. There is one very worthy craft beer spot named appropriately the Craft Beer Pub that is a very good place to go to enjoy French Craft beers from throughout the country. But for the meal do as the majority of French people do and try the wine. Just a short walk from the museum you will find a wide variety of wine bars and romantic restaurants. This evening head to Dr. Wine, a great location near the market that offers wine tastings as well as charcuterie and toast, and seasonal local dishes. Make a note of your favorite labels so that you can bring some back to your home country to remind you of your wonderful experience in Dijon!
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