We took a quick and way too short trip into the heart of Burgandy and its capital, Dijon. Situated less than an hour from the frenetic pace of Paris, Dijon and the surrounding region, Burgandy, is blessed with a beautiful array of dazzling landscapes, world-famous vineyards, and some of the best cuisine in not only France, but indeed, all of Europe.
The Palace of the Dukes of Estates of Burgandy, as it is formally known, reached its height of grandeur in the mid-1400s when it served as the base for a rival dynasty to the French kingdom. France was a mature country when French king John II, bequeathed the immediate area around Dijon tovhis son Philip the Bold and his subsequent progeny. These latter Dukes grew the area and their power until Burgandy became an independent state, crucially located on the intersection of trade routes between northern and southern Europe. At the height of their power, while not a kingdom in name, the Dukes of Valois controlled territories now known as Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Their power was huge and they helped negotiate treaties between France and England during the 100 years war and maintained their independence with the swagger and snobbery of legendary French attitudes. These guys lived large, with huge parties and banquets, while promoting the arts and their heritage and culture.
Alas, these good times did not last and in 1477 Charles the Bold was killed in a battle with the French, Burgandy was incorporated into the French Crown and the vast territories were dismembered. The grand palace underwent numerous iterations and renovations over the centuries and today it now houses the Museé Des Beaux Arts as well as being the Town Hall.
The historic center of Dijon was designated a World Heritage site in 2015, as was the wine growing area of the Cote D’Or.
Nestled in the old cobblestoned streets of Dijon, the center of which is a total pedestrian area, you can find three beautiful churches. Notre Dame de Dijon was built around the mid 13th century in the Gothic style of the time. Sixty three stained glasses highlight the church with its facade of gargoyles representing human beings, animals and monsters. At the top is the clock with a bell and Jacquemart who has been striking the bell on the automation clock sine 1383.
A “chouette” is French for owl, the lucky charm and symbol of Dijon. The “Parcours de la Chouette” is a walking trail marked at each point of interest by a symbol of the “chouette” embedded in the pavement. Right at the corner in the above photo on the wall is a stone carving of an owl brought back to Dijon by Philip the Bold in 1383. Barely recognizable anymore, this gold icon is said to bring good luck to those who rub it with their left hand.
This beautiful church started back in the late 800’s as a wooden building and evolved, as the importance of Dijon grew, into a late Gothic style church which in turn was incorporated by a large Renaissance influence. The portal is a stunning stone carving depicting the Last Judgment and inside are works of art from the 16th and 17th centuries and 19th century stained glass windows are beautifully enhanced by the light shining through.
Benignus of Dijon was an early Christian from Smyrna sent to Gaul in the 3rd century to try to convert the people who lived †here, spreading the word of the Gospels and performing miracle after miracle despite the overwhelming persecutions of Christians. Not an easy task, and Benignus met his end at the hands of Aurelian, tortured and killed, buried by his faithful in a tomb made to look like a pagan burial site so as to avoid desecration. To honor his martyrdom an abbey church was built in the 6th century around and over his tomb. Subsequent disasters at the site led to creations of new churches, encrypting the original tomb. Finally in the 13th century the church as one sees it today was completed with the tomb area the only remaining part of the original church.
Many of the magnificent homes of the Ducal era remain today, mostly as government offices but also as retail entities and private apartments. It’s easy to see the magnificence of the era.
Dijon was amazing by day and captivating by night.
Dijon has been recognized as an International City of gastronomy and wine. Well, we certainly have no argument with that assessment. The Côte D’Or, or the hills of gold, is home to some of the best vineyards in France easily rivaling the grand estates of Bordeaux in quality if not name. We took a day trip out to Beaune, the center of the region where we indulged in two visits – one to a winery whose wine we had before and loved, and secondly to probably the best “moutarderie”, or mustard factory in France.
Rully is a small town just outside of Beaune very well known to insiders as one of the best areas in Burgandy for producing wine, mainly chardonnays and pinot noirs. You have to know your wine to have heard of Rully, but we can attest to the delicious wines we sampled and bought. Domaine de L’Ecette is not the best known of the apellations, but it is certainly no slouch on its offerings of wines.
We were greeted by Monsieur Daux of the Domaine, retired from the business (now run by his son Vincent) but who like many retirees likes to hang around a world he lived and worked in his whole life. He was very gracious and gave us tastings of all the wines they make and a tour of the bottling operation and the cellars. Not sure where you can buy it in the States, but if you run across the label you will not be disappointed.
Burgundian cuisine is a single-minded devotion to the understanding of food. Ever since the times of the Dukes, whose kitchens and meals took on an imagery of religious ceremonies complete with lighted torches guiding the path of that night’s feast to the duke’s table, there has been a veneration of specialties unique to Dijon. Mustard, gingerbread, and cheeses indigenous to the region.
Moutarderie Fallot is the last independent manufacturer of Dijon mustard and while in Beaune we took a tour of the factory. No picture-taking was allowed but the tour guide was thorough and gave us a lot of the history of mustard in Dijon and of course of Fallot mustard in particular. It wasn’t hard to walk away with a gunnysack of mustards. The display above has over fifteen different types of mustards…
While Edmōnd Fallot has been privately owned by the same family since 1840, Moutarde Maille is Dijon’s oldest mustard manufacturer, in business since 1747. Over the years the company has changed hands but every new owner has remained faithful to the original recipes and Maille belongs by the side of Fallot as the two best mustards in the world, with perhaps the exception of Cleveland’s ballpark mustard…which must be included on any list.
Founded in 1796 in Dijon, Mulot & Petitjean has kept the centuries old recipes for gingerbread, pain d’epices, and is a beloved institution in Dijon. Delicious samples.
Hoofing it by foot during the day, we had us some of that gastronomy and wine by night. Fun trip.
And, nothing historical, nothing gastronomic, certainly not Ducal, but kinda just a neat photo.
Sometimes I have a problem finding an appropriate recipe for a blog I’ve written, but this one was easy. I could have done ecargots but that would have appealed to like 1% of 1%, so the hands down winner was Boeuf Bourgignon. The couple we had in Dijon were out of this worl and I have adapted recipes from several different people. While using a good red wine in the dish is somewhat important, do not skimp on the wine you drink with the meal. Find a good red Bourgogne and enjoy!
4 Replies to “DIJON”
Thoroughly enjoying your blog and of course I forwarded it to my sister. And you’re right about the escargot. 😳😂
PattySent from my iPad
Love reading the latest blogs and enjoying the pictures. Your smiling faces bring me such joy. Oh what fun I have living vicariously through you two! Who knew there were so many mustards?! And, I concur with Pat about the escargot. 🐌 😬
Loved this publication. What an interesting region. Their architecture is interesting, if not spooky (Particularly at night). The buildings they turned into hotels etc, did you guys go in any of them? I wonder if they’re updated at all? Your pictures are excellent as usual, love the shot of the two guys in the alley way. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Jeremy and Jan, THAKS FOR THE GREAT GEOGRAPHICAL LESSON. GREAT PHOTOS- YOU BPTH LOOK SO YOUNG!!!! XO M&M