Dijon is a city in eastern France, and is the capital of the Côte-d'Or département and is the historical capital of the region of Burgundy. Population (2008): 151,576 within the city limits; 250,516 (2007) for the greater Dijon area. Dijon began as a Roman settlement called Divio, located on the road from Lyon to Paris. Saint Benignus, the city's patron saint, is said to have introduced Christianity to the area before being martyred.
This province was home to the Dukes of Burgundy from the early 11th until the late 15th centuries and Dijon was a place of tremendous wealth and power and one of the great European centres of art, learning and science. The Duchy of Burgundy was a key in the transformation of medieval times toward early modern Europe.
Dijon has one of the best preserved medieval centers in France. It is easy to walk and see the sites, with lots of pedestrianised streets. You can sample some of France's finest cuisine and drink great Burgundy wines at dinner or at one of the many wine bars in town. Dijon offers many cultural activities, including a wealth of museums and annual festivals to keep the tourist busy, including the L'Été Musical (Musical Summer), a classical music festival in June.Dijon boasts a large number of churches, notably Notre Dame de Dijon, St. Philibert, St. Michel and Dijon Cathedral. The city has retained varied architectural styles from many of the main periods of the past millennium, including Capetian, Gothic and Renaissance. Many still-inhabited town houses in the city's central district date from the 18th century and earlier.
Dijon architecture is distinguished by, among other things, toits bourguignons (Burgundian polychrome roofs) made of tiles glazed in terracotta, green, yellow and black and arranged in eye-catching geometric patterns. Dijon was largely spared the destruction of wars such as the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and the Second World War, despite the city being occupied. Therefore, many of the old buildings such as the half-timbered houses dating from the 12th to the 15th centuries (found mainly in the city's core district) remain intact.
Dijon is home to many museums, including the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon in part of the Ducal Palace (see below). It contains, among other things, ducal kitchens dating back to the mid-15th century, and a substantial collection of European painting from Roman times through contemporary art.
Dijon is famous for its mustard: the term Dijon mustard (moutarde de Dijon) designates a method of making a particularly strong mustard relish. This is not necessarily produced near Dijon, as the term is regarded as genericized under European Union law, so that it cannot be registered for protected designation of origin status. Most Dijon mustard (brands such as Amora or Maille) is produced industrially and over 90% of mustard seed used in local production is imported, mainly from Canada. In 2008, Unilever closed its Amora mustard factory in Dijon. Dijon mustard shops also feature exotic or unusually-flavored mustard (fruit-flavoured, for example), often sold in decorative hand-painted faience (china) pots.
As the capital of the Burgundy region, Dijon reigns over some of the best wine country in the world. Many superb vineyards producing vins d'appellation contrôlée, such as Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin, are within 20 minutes of the city center. The town's university boasts a renowned oenology institute. The road from Santenay to Dijon, known as the route des Grands Crus, passes through an idyllic countryside of vineyards, rivers, villages, forests, and 12th century churches.
The city is also well known for its crème de cassis, or blackcurrant liqueur, used in the drink known as "Kir", a mixture of white wine, especially Bourgogne aligoté, with blackcurrant liqueur, named after former mayor of Dijon canon Félix Kir.
- Cathedral of Saint-Benigne. Dedicated to Saint Benignus of Dijon, is a Roman Catholic cathedral, and national monument of France. Originating as the church of the Abbey of St. Benignus, it became the seat of the Bishopric of Dijon during the French Revolution, and has been the seat of the succeeding Archbishopric of Dijon since the elevation of the former diocese in 2002. The present Gothic cathedral was built between 1280 and 1325, and was dedicated on 9 April 1393. The first church here was a basilica built over the falsely reported sarcophagus of Saint Benignus, which was placed in a crypt constructed for it by Saint Gregory of Langres in 511; the basilica over the crypt was completed in 535. This building became the centre of a monastic community. In 871 Isaac, Bishop of Langres, re-founded it as a Benedictine abbey, and restored the basilica at the same time. The crypt is believed to be one of the oldest Christian sanctuaries still visitable in France.
- Palais des Ducs de Bourgogne. The Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy is a remarkably well-preserved architectural assemblage The oldest part is the 14th and 15th century Gothic ducal palace and seat of the Dukes of Burgundy, made up of a logis still visible on place de la Liberation, the ducal kitchens on cour de Bar, the tour de Philippe le Bon, a "guette" overlooking the whole city, and tour de Bar. Most of what can be seen today, however, was built in the 17th and especially the 18th centuries, in a classical style, when the palace was a royal residence building and housed the estates of Burgundy. Finally, the 19th façade of the musée on place de la Sainte-Chapelle was added on the site of the palace's Sainte-Chapelle, demolished in 1802. The Palace houses the city's town hall and the musée des Beaux-Arts.
- Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne. Housed in a 17th-century Cistercian convent, this museum explores village and town life in Burgundy in centuries past with evocative exhibits illustrating dress and traditional crafts. The Museum, inaugurated in 1982, is on three floors:- Ground floor: rural and Burgundian ethnographical heritage at the end of the 19C. - First floor: daily life in Dijon from the end of the 18C to the Second World War (reconstruction of 10 trades). - Second floor: a gallery devoted to characteristics of Burgundian life plus a reading room and an audiovisual room.
- Place François Rude (also known as Place du Bareuzai) is a central square with beautiful traditional houses, a fountain with a sculpture, with an old carousel, and a lot of cafés and bars. Popular among locals on summer days.
- The Musée des Beaux-Arts is an art museum, located in the Palais Ducal and has a permanent exhibition of medieval art. On the upper floor, there are lots of paintings by local artists and Flemish painters. The museum sometimes hosts temporary exhibitions with works from local artists. The most famous part of the museum is the Guard Room with tombs, though currently closed until 2013 for renovation. On last floor there is more recent art like Picasso, Monet or Courbet.
Palais des Ducs de Bourgogne