If You’re tired of hearing about Paris, then explore Dijon

“The French air cleans up the brain and does good – a world of good.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Dijon, France – photo by the author

Paris, in France, is famous worldwide. I doubt there is anyone who has not heard of Paris. Many long to visit the famous city and its iconic landmarks—the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, etc. But there is more to France than Paris. There are many towns famous for other common things such as perfume, wines, macaroons, cheese, chocolate, mustard, and so on. Yes mustard, Dijon mustard precisely. Dijon mustard was first created in 1752 by Jean Naigeon in Dijon, France.

Dijon is in the Burgundy region of eastern France with a population of a little over 150,000. The complete city is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you can see why. Dijon, though small, has many old, but fascinating structures—Gothic, timbered, Romanesque, and medieval styles. Cobblestone streets, parks, and narrow alleyways you can explore with little time. Rue de la Liberté is a pedestrian walkway lined with hotels, restaurants, shops, offices, and residential buildings that lead you to Darcy Garden, a free public park. Though it was fall and the trees barely had leaves, it still looked lovely. I could imagine how beautiful it must be during the spring and summer, with all the luscious greenery and flowers.

We stopped at the famous Moutarde Maille (L’Maison Maille) which opened in 1845. According to Moutarde Maille, they have been producing mustard since 1747, and it is the oldest mustard manufacturer in France. It is a quaint shop with a large variety of mustards, wines, vinegar, oils, and spices. They offer mustard tasting which helps you decide which one to choose. They make mustard with different spices and/or wines, therefore, there is one for everyone. You also get to choose what packaging you want for your chosen mustard, and they are different sizes too—just wonderful for gifts. It is a small shop, but being the oldest mustard manufacturer seems to attract a lot of attention.

Moutarde Maille – image by the author

Strolling along the Rue de la Liberté and enjoying the picturesque town of Dijon was one highlight of our trip. Contrary to what many believe, we did not experience any rudeness from the French. They were polite and willing to help, even when I tried communicating with my poor French. Hey, give me a break. Two weeks of practicing French is not enough to establish a conversation. Even worse, when I mix it with Italian and Spanish. But I got far with, “Je ne parle pas Francais, mais je parle anglaise et espagnole,” which translates to, “I don’t speak French, but I do speak English and Spanish.” My pronunciation might not have been perfect because I’d get a giggle from the French, but they were helpful and polite.

Getting back to our stroll, we stopped at a few shops, walked to the park, and spent some time taking photos, admiring the architecture, and people watching. We also enjoyed a coffee and pastry at Tartin Art, which was delicious. Well, the pastry was, but I was not happy with the coffee. If there is one thing I don’t like about France, it is their coffee. For me, the coffee was not good anywhere.

Mini gougeres au fromage (delicious!) – image by the author

I liked the park (Darcy Garden) a lot. Besides benches, fountains, and a space to roam around, snap photos, or just sit and enjoy nature, it had a few fixed exercise structures.

Some of the great architectural buildings you will find in Dijon are the Ducal Palace (Palais de Ducs et des Etats de Bourgogne), the Cathedral of Saint-Benigne, the Eglise Notre-Dame, and Hotel de Vogue just to name a few.

Part of the Palais des Ducs is now the Hotel de Ville and a museum (Musée des Beaux arts). Back in the 15th and 16th centuries, it was the home of the Dukes of Burgundy. The Cathedral of Saint-Benigne was built from the late 12th century through the early 13th century. It holds daily masses and is open for anyone to sit for a service. Near the church is their museum, (Musée de Archéologique, which holds a collection of medieval antiques and Romanesque sculptures.

Dijon left quite an impression on us. We can see ourselves living in such a lovely, quaint town. It is definitely on our list to revisit sometime.

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