dreaming of wine, escargot and lazy afternoons
wrapped up in idyllic rolling hills of gold.
Diving headfirst into the famously full-flavored region, we intended
to save a little time for the region's iconic capital, the city of Dijon.
But before long, swayed by the flowing crimson pleasures
of the wine road, we never made it to the city christened
elegant, lively, and endlessly appealing.
Since then, I've studied and drooled over the gluttenous
and cultural glories of this golden city and decided it was high time
to make up for that long ago oversight.
Yes, Dijon was worth the wait.
In fact, it's worth its weight in gold, the color we associate with
its richly adorned museums, age-old cathedrals and spicy mustard.
A walkable city, just big enough to make it agreeably easy
to navigate, you'll stumble on a few new favorites in no time.
Dijon will win you over with its unmistakable and stress-free personality.
Even if you jealously guard your valuable travel time,
you'll soon wonder why you didn't come sooner.
Combine new tastes and cultural enlightenment in one easy trip and you'll
see why UNESCO named the historic core of Dijon a World Heritage Site.
Trust me on this one, if you love France, you will adore Dijon.
"Know the value of time.
Snatch, seize, and enjoy every minute of it."
Lord Chesterfield, British Statesman & Traveler
paramount reason many of us visit France year after year.
Key to a memorable food town is how well it manages to promote
its own traditions while promoting new flavors and experiences.
Dijon does both very well.
Vin (wine) and nourriture (food), two of the best words in the french language,
are touchstones of the Burgundy region; Dijon does justice to both.
Case in point, we enjoyed two vastly different restaurants while visiting -- one deemed "au courant", the other, traditional and "old school."
DZ'Envies is a contemporary casual bistro
that puts an appealing spin on Burgundian cuisine.
Just steps away from Les Halles marketplace,
the popular restaurant serves up fantastic plates based on what's seasonal,
fresh and irresistible to both the eyes and tastebuds.
Just a few blocks away, celebrated Maison Millière offers classic cuisine
inside the walls of a house constructed in 1483.
A protected historical treasure, Maison Millière is not only noted
for its Burgundian menu but for its medieval ambience, setting the mood
for Gérard Depardieu's 1990 film "Cyrano de Bergerac".
destination that ties history and art together in one amazing encounter.
Here, that place is Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, a masterpiece
of a museum housed in the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy.
Among the most important and influential forces in medieval Europe,
Dijon's Dukes were great patrons of the arts, their lavish spending now consummated inside the museum's prestigious walls.
You'll think you're in Paris or some other European capital
when you visit this world class fine arts center, it's that good.
The Tombs of the Dukes are impressive beyond words, the
towering figures of Philippe le Hardi (Philip the Bold) and Jean sans Peur
(John the Fearless) flanked by adoring angels and held up to
heavenly glory by a remarkable sculpted procession of monks.
Chiseled from marble and alabaster, these sculptures will stop you cold,
intensely impressive as anything you'd find in Florence or Rome.
Other corners of the museum include paintings ranging from Titian and Rubens
to Monet, Sisley and Braque with special TLC bestowed on sculpture
by native son Francois Rude (you know him from his tour-de-force
relief Departure of the Volunteers on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris).
The palace is also home to Dijon's city hall as well as the ducal kitchen -- to
our solemn disappointment -- closed on the day we visited.
hemmed in by some of the best vineyards in France.
Luckily, you won't have to choose between them.
You'll drink up both in equal measure.
you'll be won over by these incredible medieval masterpieces.
for the great Dukes of Burgundy.
Please note, in reverence for the historical importance of the Dukes of Burgundy,
I feverishly continue to refer to this region as Burgundy instead of its new
administrative name, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté -- which to my ear sounds
more like a law firm than a long venerated player in world civilization.
Patisseries, boulangeries, boucheries, epiceries, caves a vins...
Who can compete with the food and wine of Burgundy?
Dijon celebrates an annual gastronomic fair every November,
said to be one of the most distinguished in all of France.
Imagine two whole weeks of delicious fun,
starring the glorious cuisine of France.
Attracting over 200,000 hungry foodies, fair-goers enthusiastically stand
shoulder to shoulder to sample delicious bites of local delicacies.
The International Gastronomy Fair has been a point of pride
on France's famed culinary resumé for some 88 years.
Count me in!
should be on everyone's itinerary.
I always head straight to the cheese stalls first, seafood second,
both making me green with envy over the incredible array on offer.
Dreaming up what to make for dinner (impossible since I'm staying in a hotel!),
I have visions of a giant gougères -- Dijon's famed choux pastry filled with cheese -- paired to a main of coq au vin -- or perhaps oeufs en meurette, a Burgundian dish of eggs poached in red wine.....
If you're lucky, you'll get to sample some of Dijon's famous pain d'epices
as you stop to admire the iron framework of the enthralling food hall.
Look familiar? Well, it should.
It was designed by the city's most famous son Gustave Eiffel, born here in 1832.
For a closer look, please refer to my article
Hope you have already sampled the pleasures of Dijon's most iconic taste
and if you haven't, make sure to stop at Maison Maille
for the chance to taste dozens of tempting gourmet flavors.
it's impossible to mention them all in one little post.
My advice is to take your time and walk slowly around the city's historic core.
You'll absorb incredible architecture, an assortment of churches,
shopping venues and diverse choice of museums.
And when you are just too pooped to keep on trucking,
that's the time to sit down and enjoy a kir or one of the famous local wines.
I realize most folks immediately think of lush reds when
they hear the name Burgundy and who can deny the
staggering pleasures of a great Pinot Noir Grand Cru?
But I'd like to remind you of one of my favorite whites born just miles from the city. Aligoté is a white whose toasty character has been described
as "warm croissant" by wine lovers in the know.
That's plenty good enough for me -- and it's particularly delicious
when used as the white counterpoint to blackcurrent liqueur in
Dijon's hometown hero, the afore-mentioned kir.
a keynote walk past the best & brightest of Dijon.
If you enjoy self-guided tours, you'll love this one -- just look for the
brass plaques thoughtfully arranged in the sidewalks and streets
just in front of the designated sites.
Make sure to look for the ancient owl carved into the side of Eglise Notre Dame. Rub the local good luck charm with your left hand and make a wish.
I'm confident my wish will come true; I just want to return again and again....
and local white wine -- why not sample a delicious taste of cassis
(blackcurrant) candy from Mulot & Petitjean, another hometown favorite.
It's a charming store filled with goodies too good not to share
and these cute little tins travel well.
We can help write that story by setting goals."
Melody Beattie, American Self-Help Author
Serious travelers understand how important it is to set goals.
So if you've ever missed a chance to see Dijon or some other intriguing
corner of beautiful France, pick yourself back up and take aim.
There's a light at the end of that tunnel and you can make your dream come true.
If you enjoy fine arts, pedestrianized streets, medieval townhouses,
gargoyles and cobblestones (that's just the short list!) --- not to mention
great wine & food -- you will surely fall in love with Dijon.
Follow the The Yellow Brick -- oops,Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore...
Follow the OWL TRAIL.
May good fortune smile on you!