Small and Suave: Dijon Lures with Charm and Wonder

If North American urbanites could have cosy, yet sophisticated and relaxed cities like Dijon, France, we would all be happier and healthier.

Timeless, Relaxed Elegance
Dijon is like a timeless elegant lady, yet sitting relaxed in a polished, antique chair. She wears a silk blouse with a pair of worn jeans and stylish deep red leather boots.  Visitors are attracted to this city of 152,100 for its gracious

Carved art over an entrance. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Carved art over an entrance. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong

architectural beauty of its core buildings dating far back to 1400’s, art, several museums, centuries old cathedrals, choice restaurants and cafes.

Convenient Ways to Get Around
There’s a public bike share system, cycling infrastructure, a newly built streetcar system, parks and  canal bike-pedestrian path over 100 km. long, where we spun leisurely a portion of it.

Morning on car-free, major shopping street in city's heritage core. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Morning on car-free, major shopping street in city’s heritage core. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Carousel at town square. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Carousel at town square. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Public bike share stand near cathedral. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Public bike share stand near cathedral. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong

Architectural Beauty,  Art at Its Core
Though we stayed in an Ibis chain hotel downtown, across the cobblestoned street from our hotel window, were lovely 18th-19th century buildings with red tiled roofs, iron wrought balconies, tall windows with shutters and cheery flower window boxes. Shifting sunlight and shadows would illuminate building facia and stone carvings.

City has a more elaborate carousel than other European cities. Underside of roof depicts various historic past times -hot air ballooning and monuments. Far left is tiny image of architect for Eiffel Tower. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
City has a more elaborate carousel than other European cities. Underside of roof depicts various historic past times -hot air ballooning and monuments. Far left is tiny image of architect for Eiffel Tower. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Palatial building once occupied by Dukes of Burgundy, who ruled this region. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Palatial building once occupied by Dukes of Burgundy, who ruled this region. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong. Musee des Beaux Arts occupies some of these buildings along with shops and administrative offices.

At night, Dijon glowed confidently under  streetlights. The city hung large print  banners of old Master Renaissance paintings  over its cobblestoned streets. This simple street decorative gesture amplified an air, a reminder of history and courtly elegance in this old neighbourhood.  You wanted to walk around at night  after dinner, just to soak in the ambience.

One of many art treasures in museum. Could this man may have lost his hand|? Not sure. Musee des Beaux Arts. P:hoto by J.Chong
One of many art treasures in museum. Could this man may have lost his hand|? Not sure. Musee des Beaux Arts. Photo by J.Chong
Aristocratic woman painting. Musee des Beaux-Arts. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Aristocratic woman painting. Musee des Beaux-Arts. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong

Canal Bike Ride to Pont de Panya
On a warm, sunny afternoon, we biked a flat canal bike-pedestrian path that meandered  through parkland.  After 20 km., we turned around at the village of Pont de Panya.    Every few kilometres,  were former canal  16th-18th century lift houses now either tumbling  gently with age, or the rare one,

Along a bike canal path, heading towards Pont de Panya. Bourgegon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Along a bike canal path, heading towards Pont de Panya. Bourgegon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
A public bike cage locker with card keyed access at intersection of bike pathways, streetcar and transit bus lines. Beside this locker were several car share cars in p;arking lot. Dijon's municipal transportation is branded pink and named "Divia". Variation on "Divio", Dijon's historic former Roman name, Divia or sacred fountain. Photo by J.Chong 2016.
Public bike cage locker with card keyed access at intersection of bike pathways, streetcar and transit bus lines. Beside  locker were several car share cars in parking lot. Dijon’s municipal transportation is branded pink and named “Divia”. Variation on “Divio”, Dijon’s historic former Roman name, meaning sacred fountain. Photo by J.Chong  2016.

turned into a renovated home.  Since we were cycling on a work day, the path was quiet except for occasional pedestrian, jogger or cyclist.  After seeing many cyclists in Dijon in streetwear, most canal cyclists we saw  wore, cycling clothing and a helmet.

Imagine cycling in North America for only 20 km. and encountering 2 villages along the way. More likely it would be a long stretch of suburb, park, just farmland or wilderness.

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Pont de Panya was quiet like many French villages in this region, and in Germany, where we’ve cycled.  Many old villages were not oriented for tourists, meaning stores with food, knicknacks and cafes open or in visible locations.

Dukes of Burgundy– Legacy of Power in Fine Arts, Wine and Gastronomy
Back in the city, we soaked in more art at Musee des Beaux Arts, the former palace for the Dukes of Burgundy who ruled this region, 1364-1477. They included:  Philip the Bold, Philip the Good, John the Fearless and Charles the Bold. Their power extended over the Netherlands and Belgium. Dijon and the Burgundy region became a powerhouse of wealth, art, music, and gastronomy (which means also wine production).

Gold nativity screen. Musee des Beaux Arts, Dijon 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Gold nativity screen. Musee des Beaux Arts, Dijon 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Former palace for Dukes of Burgundy, now museum and shops. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Former palace for Dukes of Burgundy, now museum and shops. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong

Art collection was stupendous with many medieval and Renaissance paintings, gold sculptures, and wood, leaning on Christian themes.  Since there were more medieval works, one saw not just Mary, but more women, as saints

Medieval painting with gold leaf. Figure on left is slaying Evil. Musee des Beaux Arts, Dijon France 2016. Photo by J. Chong
Medieval painting with gold leaf. Figure on left is slaying Evil. Musee des Beaux Arts, Dijon France 2016. Photo by J. Chong

portrayed –St. Ursula, St. Bernadette and  the opposite, women who were tortured who “sinned”.   Rather disturbing to see all this in careful painterly execution.  It was to teach and convert the illiterate masses of the day in France.

Although there were enough tourists thronging certain plazas and corners in early October, Dijon never seemed too crowded nor too noisy where we stayed downtown, a 10 minute walk to Les Halles Market for a meal or another 5 minutes more to the soaring Gothic cathedral and museum nearby.

I will always remember Dijon.

Near Les Halles Market for dinner. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J. Chong
Near Les Halles Market for dinner. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J. Chong
Stained glass art. Dijon Cathedral, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong
Stained glass art. Notre Dame Cathedral. Dijon, France 2016. Photo by J.Chong

 

 

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22 Comments Add yours

  1. MissADS08 says:

    Gorgeous and nicely done!! Putting the on my travel list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Yes, one in North America, doesn’t hear much about this wonderful little French city.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dijon really does look wonderful. I knew before about Dijon about didn’t hear much about how beautiful the city looks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      It’s a sort of place for you and your wife to getaway…if she likes art, architecture and fine food with wine. I’m not sure how children would fare.you would need to go out in countryside.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Peter Klopp says:

    Beautiful post with outstanding photos on the City of Dijon! Is this the town where the famous mustard comes from?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Yes, there is also the competing mustard. They just have a shop in downtown. Edmond Maillot..but that’s in Beaune, France. Did you know that France imports the mustard seeds from Canada?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Peter Klopp says:

        No, I did not. How interesting! Thanks for the info!

        Like

  4. Mabel Kwong says:

    Sounds like quite the cycling trip. So much to see and take in. Amazing how architecture and history have been preserved over the years. Comparing this town with a metropolitan city in, say, Asia, it looks like a step back in time. Always nice when a place isn’t too crowded. Gives you room to breathe and wander around at your own pace to your heart’s content.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      This is true, an old well-preserved place with not too many people. We were there in fall, with less tourists. But still it’s not like Paris (or Toronto). Have you been to Europe?

      Like

      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        Nope. Have not been to Europe but it is on my agenda. Paris/France doesn’t appeal to me, though. Not the busy city areas. I do want to visit London in the summer, and catch the Wimbledon tennis. Or fall in France to see the tennis there.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Jean says:

          Interesting. I have a friend, close to 60 yrs. who plays a lot of tennis and does some circuit training. She also loves watching professional tennis.

          What types of things pique your interest about a foreign country, if it isn’t big cities? And besides tennis?

          Like

          1. Mabel Kwong says:

            I do like to visit the city centre of each city to take in the modern or historical architecture. But I usually like nature sights, like rolling mountains views or anything nature really. If the beach or anywhere under direct sun, I need a jacket and cap to keep me from burning. Hikes, walks and strolls are my kind of holiday 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Jean says:

              I appreciate a beautiful beach, but not really a beach sun lover. I don’t need to sit out in the sun for long: I bike a lot and get enough exposure. Let me know which country in Europe you get to.

              Liked by 1 person

  5. I was there last month and I love it so much. Hope to explore more of France.

    Always great to read your blog.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Best wishes for more explorations with good surprises.

      Like

  6. The Nativity is stunning. Great capture of light, too. If I’da taken the shot, it woulda come out ugly. =) Beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      This nativity gold panel is actally just part of a huge horizontal gold screen of several Biblical storied gold panels. It’s absolutely stunning and overwhelming to see the whole huge artpiece in the room in its full lengthy glory.

      Like

  7. livelytwist says:

    Lovely photos Jean. I see why you will always remember Dijon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Dijon memories seem so remote now..given all the things that have happened in the past few months. Glad you enjoyed some photos.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lani says:

    Absolutely stunning. I am drooling with envy. One day I’ll go back to Europe and take in more of the continent. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      One day far off in the distant future for you, Lani. Seems you’re married to Asia right now for awhile and learning lots!

      Liked by 1 person

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