What do we know about Dijon? Why is it so important? Where is it?
Situated in east-central France towards the southern end of the Canal de Bourgogne, Dijon sits at the heart of Burgundy, a region famous throughout the world for its fine wines.
In times past, its wealth of natural waterways brought goods and services to market by boat and over the centuries attracted economic, political and religious power to this important region, leaving a modern legacy of lush landscapes, delicious food and cuisine and fine examples of Burgundian art and architecture. Indeed Burgundy captures the glorious essence of the best of France and all things French.
Home to the Dukes of Burgundy from the early 11th until the late 15th century, Dijon was a place of tremendous wealth and power and is now the capital city of Burgundy. The Ducal palace houses the city hall and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon and other important buildings for the tourist to see are the Cathedral and the Grand Theatre.
But Dijon is perhaps more well-known for mustard – those distinctive pots of condiment spread by the English on hot dogs and roast beef. But saunter down the pedestrian shopping street of Rue de la Liberté and into the Maille shop and you’ll discover a myriad of different mustard flavours on sale, from Honey, Acacia and Nut Mustard to Black Truffle and Chablis. For those who love mustard, this is paradise.
Dijon mustard is said to have been invented by Jean Naigeon, when, instead of vinegar he used the juice from under-ripe grapes in his recipe. Today, it’s still lighter in colour than, say Bordeaux mustard, and stronger in flavour.
No trip to Dijon can possibly be complete without a visit to the covered market; a famous building in itself, the structure being designed by Gustav Eiffel and, with one or two modifications since, it still does the same excellent job as ever. It’s the hub for fresh produce from far and wide, from exotic cheeses to everyday tomatoes, countless types of sausage to rare cuts of beef.
It’s also a meeting place, where families shop together, join up with friends and eat together – a long, relaxed French lunch under shady umbrellas with the bustle of life going on around.
Wines and Cuisine
Dijon is a must for those who love their food and wines, offering authentic French dining-out, whether in a smart restaurant or the local brasserie. Dishes originally from Burgundy include Coq au Vin, époisses de Bourgogne cheese and Boeuf Bourguignon, with raw meats from the lovely creamy-coloured Charolais cattle and Bresse poultry.
Wine & Water, one of the hotel barges cruising to Dijon, says her favourite meal to prepare on board is “Poulet Gaston Gérard, a local dish with the famous poulet de bresse, with mustard, cream, white wine and local cheese.”
The Burgundian wine list is extensive and you’ll find a huge selection of well-known and lesser-known domaines available in Dijon: Nuits-St-George, Beaujolais, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume and Chablis. And Chambolle-Musigny, Puligny-Montrachet and Savigny les Beaune. And Sauvignon St Bris or the wines from Irancy. These wines are waiting for you, along with many other excellent varieties, to savour and remember forever (and bring some back home).
Cruise this region
Or, you can hire a self-drive boat from one of the hire-boat bases that serve the region. See this link for details of the waterways and boats available.