Visiting Dijon - What to See and Do
(Dijon Bourgogne Airport DIJ, France)
Dijon is much more than just the mustard capital of Europe
, although this identity has certainly been embraced by the people and the city itself. Dijon is a large city that rests within the province of Burgundy, and as such, was a powerful centre for the Dukes of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Renaissance influences, not to mention Gothic architecture, dominated the city's culture in the past. Today, these influences are still common sights. Churches and other medieval structures make up a majority of the city's sightseeing attractions. The Notre Dame Church, the Cathedral of St. Benignus and the Palace of the Dukes are an alluring sample of what's in store for visitors.
Traffic is limited within downtown Dijon, so pedestrians are often out-and-about in the heart of town. Museums are significant parts of the city's culture too, and relaxing parks like the Darcy Jardin offer an escape to rejuvenate tourists. Don't forget that the nightlife scene in Dijon has a solid reputation as a result of the high population of university students in the city.
Ten things you must do in Dijon
- Probably the most grandiose structure in the city of Dijon is its sparkling cathedral. The St. Benignus Cathedral has been standing since the 14th century and is now a historical icon for the nation of France. The front of the structure is flanked by two soaring towers, and also boasts an impressive crypt below the nave.
- Whoever thought a psychiatric hospital could be so exciting? Well, one such hospital in Dijon receives thousands of visitors each year due to the ancient Old Testament sculptures that reside here. The statues are known locally as the Puits de Moise and were first constructed at the turn of the 13th century.
- A fascinating dive into Burgundy's history is possible at the city's Archaeological Museum. Tours of the museum are available daily, so out-of-towners are advised to take advantage of this service. There is an immense amount of information to absorb, as there are collections from the Roman, the Greek, the Merovingian and also the Celtic eras. However, the crème de la crème of artefacts in the museum is certainly the 1st-century Sequana goddess statue.
- The Ducal Palace of Burgundy is located within Dijon and should be a part of every visitor's itinerary. Radiating a neo-classical exterior, this monumentally grandiose structure continues to draw many thousands of tourists annually. It is home to a splendid museum and boasts the Dijon City Hall within its western wing.
- Inside the city's palace lays the Museum of Fine Arts. The extensive galleries and halls that sprawl throughout the museum make this institution one of the finest of its kind in Europe. In addition to ornate sculptures of late Burgundy dukes, the art work of Matisse, Monet and Rodin make up some of the collections on display.
- Complete with gnarling gargoyles, a massive 14th-century clock and an awe-inspiring facade, the Notre Dame Church is an impressive feature of the city's skyline. Visitors will be captivated by the spacious nave and glistening stained-glass windows inside the building too. The church has been standing since the early 1200s.
- Dijon is home to some beautiful parks, with the largest and most popular being the Darcy Gardens (Jardin Darcy). This is a fantastic spot where you can simply relax and enjoy the favourable weather, or take a stroll among nature. Local residents often frequent the park, so travellers have a great opportunity to watch the locals at play.
- While visiting the Church of Notre Dame, tourists must find the famous 'la chouette' statue sculpted onto the church wall. The statue is in the shape of an owl, which in itself is a relatively meaningless landmark. However, legend has it that touching this owl with your left hand will make any wish become a reality.
- Arguably the most renowned park in Dijon is the Arquebuse. Located minutes from the central train station, this parkland is brimming with intriguing sites, including a planetarium, the Museum of Natural History, the Raines Pavilion and the city's botanical gardens. The actual site was originally used as a meeting place for knights in the 1600s.
- Of course, the capital of France's mustard industry hosts a remarkable mustard factory. Moutarde Maille provides a heaven for mustard lovers, featuring three dozen types of mustards to sample. A trip to Dijon is incomplete without experiencing the tangy scent and mesmerising activity within the Moutarde Maille factory.