Dijon: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Published: September 3, 2022

Dijon owes the quality of its heritage to the prominent role of the four great Dukes of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries. They were rivals to the monarchs of the day. This heritage is well promoted and attracts many visitors, thus contributing to the economic activity. The following are the 10 places I recommend to see while walking through the streets.

01. Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy

The Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy was originally the seat of the ducal authority, although its present appearance is later. After it became part of France, the palace was used as a meeting place for the representatives of the province and as a residence for the governors. Today it houses the City Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts, which has recently been renovated and has beautiful collections to browse through.

02. Liberation Square

The central square of Dijon, today Place de la Libération, formerly Place Royale, has a beautiful semi-circular shape. The facades were harmonised in 1686, hiding several houses of different styles under an identical appearance. It is also a focal point of tourist activity with inviting terraces during the summer season.

03. Grand Theatre

In the continuation of the ducal palace, the colonnade of the theatre carries on in the same majestic style, although the construction dates from the beginning of the 19th century. By taking on the appearance of an ancient temple, the theatre confirms the fashion for a return to antiquity, as well as the desire to provide provincial towns with the instruments of a quality cultural policy.

04. Guillaume Gate

In the 12th century there was a city wall with a gate here. This was transformed into a majestic gateway for the official entrances. Then the wall was knocked down and the gate remained, now taking on the appearance of a triumphal arch. It presides over the beginning of the main street leading to the centre of Dijon. Guillaume was the name of a former abbot of the city.

05. Maille

Mustard remains the most important product associated with Dijon. Maille remains the most recognised producer, even if other brands have a good reputation. As stated on the packaging, the brand dates back to 1747. Although it was launched in Paris, the production was done in Dijon until 2009. Currently the brand belongs to the Unilever group.

06. Old Dijon

The old part of the city centre has several shopping streets which today form a pedestrian zone. Old houses from different periods are mixed together in the old streets. The symbol of this district is the Owl, after a sculpture of Notre-Dame church; a route marked with its golden effigy allows visitors to explore the best places.

07. Hôtel de Vogüé

In the tight space of the city centre, this hotel was built in the 17th century with many references to the Italian Renaissance, particularly in the interior decoration. It was once the property of the de Vogüé family, after whom it was named. Today, it is owned by the municipality and is used as an administrative building, while the most significant rooms can be visited.

08. St Michel’s Church

As with many churches, the construction of this church spanned several centuries and several styles. The main facade dates from the 17th century, and the Renaissance influence is evident, borrowing from ancient architectural orders. The gothic style is found in the interior, with a beautiful set of woodwork adorning the choir and the pillars of the transept crossing.

09. St Anne’s Church

The beautiful dome of the church rises above a religious complex that has been transformed into museums. The church of Sainte-Anne houses works of sacred art, while the neighbouring Bernardine monastery presents ethnographic collections of Burgundian life around a cloister. One of the galleries not surprisingly tells the story of Dijon mustard.

10. Convent of the Carmelites

The presence of numerous religious orders in Dijon is an indication of the city’s wealth at that time. Whether through their accumulation of knowledge or their commissions to craftsmen and artists, the religious orders participated in the development of the city. Part of their heritage remains, assigned to other vocations, in this case the municipal services.

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    • You are right, the regional diversity is one of the points that stands out for me in this recent tour of France. From abroad, we tend to see only a general view that would apply to the whole country. The reality on the ground is more complex.

      Liked by 1 person

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