Dijon was, hands down, our favorite city that we visited while in France. As I mentioned in my post “Making Dijon Mustard in Dijon, France
” – it is a city with abundant history. It was home to the Dukes of Burgundy starting around the 11th century and was a city of mass wealth. Although the Nazi’s held Dijon for about four years during World War II, it saw very little battle and thus most of its historical buildings remained enact, making it a hub for medieval architecture.
We arrived late on Monday afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to see our budget-friendly hotel had a picturesque patio!
With all the medieval and Gothic inspiration it’s no surprise that the streets of Dijon are unbelievably beautiful.
After a quick stroll to get our bearings of the city, we settled into a small Italian restaurant for the night.
The bartender was not quite sure what we meant when we ordered a martini on the rocks and we were served a generous portion of Swiss vodka in an equally generous glass. Not like the martinis back home, but it was darn delicious.
The food didn’t disappoint either, fresh bruschetta with spicy chili infused olive oil.
And a salad topped with pecans, honey-poppy seed dressing and fresh goat cheese crostini.
And to finish? I had to indulge in this little dessert platter I saw coming out to other guests. A French cafe, creme brulee, tiramisu, a chocolate hazelnut mousse of some time and a coconut pastry. Swoooon
The following morning we headed out to explore the city’s history. The town’s tourism department has an outstanding walking tour. All over the city there are small gold owl plaques (like the one pictured below). They point you in the direction of the next stop on the tour. When you arrive at a point of interest there is a much larger owl plaque and a number. For 3€ you buy a small guide that gives you information about each numbered destination. It’s really quite a brilliant idea, because as we strolled about the town popping into shops (Dijon had GREAT shopping; clothing, food, home decor…), we could also read about the items on the tour! I took over the duty of official tour guide.
So, you may had been wondering “what’s with the owl?” I know I kind of was. Well, on Dijon’s Notre Dame Cathedral there is a stone owl carving. For many years legend has said if you rub the owl with you left arm (closest to your heart) it will bring you good luck. I couldn’t help but give it a shot, I’m always in need of a little luck!
The owl is a very special thing to the residents of Dijon, I even saw a few locals give him a rub on their way to work. In 2008, someone purposefully damaged the owl during the night and the residents of Dijon were outraged. He’s a special symbol to the city.
As I mentioned before, on the special things about Dijon is it’s preservation of buildings. This building, made of brick and wood, still had the same wood that was used to build it in the 1400’s. Hard to believe! The wooden deck off the back of my house is only a few years old and already in need of replacement!
The day ended quite perfectly, with a glass of wine in one hand and a watercolor brush in the other, sitting outside on the patio listening to a live Parisian band play below.
Well, that is if I could hear them over the Window Swallows which came out in swarms at dusk.
Dijon through my iPhone:
We left Dijon wishing we’d planned more time to spend there. If you find yourself planning a trip to France I’d suggest Dijon and/or the surrounding region. It’s a great little city full of history, good food and great shopping!
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