An afternoon in Dijon

Bonjour! Ever since covid hit, I’ve been aching to visiting France again. More specifically: Nice, in the south of France or The côte d’azur. Because boyfriend didn’t feel quite safe going by plane yet, we opted for a roadtrip. But as the road from the Netherlands to Nice is quite a long one (as we would see on our way back, when we drove 12.000 kilometers in 15 hours) we had booked an hotel in Dijon for our first night, to divide the drive in two.

We had booked a very nice apartment but because of a death in the family, we had to cancel this one and improvise real quick. We decided to go a day earlier and whilst driving we booked our hotel for that night. The apartment wasn’t available for this date so we picked one of cheapest hotel rooms that was still available for that night, but did look for one that was clean and not too far away from the city center. We ended up at Hotel Restaurant Du Stade which was nothing fancy but good enough and clean.

After driving for six hours, taking turns, crossing the Belgian border, then Luxembourgh and then France, without having to go through customs or having to prove we didn’t have covid, we finally arrived in Dijon in the afternoon.

Dijon is such a beautiful medieval city! After checking in, we immediately set out to explore. Lots of houses had these beautiful front yards and balconies filled with plants. It was raining, but we didn’t care much, for we finally arrived and the city we walked in was looking amazing.

The city center is one you cannot stop taking pictures of. There are churches and shops everywhere, small coblestoned streets and interesting architecture. It truly had the charm of a small French town.

We didn’t really have any plans. We had only planned to stay for a day and even as our plans changed and we drove to France a day early, we would still leave for Nice the next. So we decided to just walk around, take in the beautiful buildings and find some place to eat.

Highlights

There are numerous churches in the city. The most impressive one I saw was the Église Notre Dame which was impressive because it had so many gargoyles! The tower can be seen from afar and is looking pretty good in the back of the pictures. The church was built in the 13th century and is now considered a landmark.

Besides the Notre Dame, Dijon also has it’s own Arc de Triomphe, or La Porte Guillaume which was built in the 18th century as an tribute to Prince de Condé, the gouvernour of Burgundy. The arc changed names a couple of times. It started out as Porte de Conde, then became Porte de la liberté during the French Revolution until it got the name it now carries, a reference to Guillaume de Volpiano, an Italian reformist abbot (and apparently also a composer).

Dijon also has a park with a gorgeous fountain, called Darcy Square which is a lovely spot to take pictures or have a picnic, or just walk around in. It’s quiet in here, and though the center isn’t too crowded, there are quite some people about, so if you want some quiet time, I’d definitely recommend visiting this park.

There are doubtless more highlights to this beautiful city that we didn’t really have time for. But even if you don’t have the time to explore much, walking through this city is already a highlight. It has such amazing architecture. One of the things I really liked was the quest for owls.

The owl is a good luck charm for the city. Three centuries ago, a small stone owl was carved into the Notre Dame and it is said that if you touch it with your left hand and make a wish, your wish will come true. The figurine doesn’t look too much like an owl anymore, but there are enough owls depicted in the rest of the city to make up for it. The street that it’s in is also called Rue de la Chouette, the owl street. The owl has become the symbol of the city and nowadays you see it everywhere. There’s even a walking tour, le parcours de la chouette, marked by little brass plaques in the sidewalks that will lead you through the city as some sort of scavenger hunt, guiding you to interesting highlights of the city. You can buy a guidebook at the tourist office. We followed the trail for a bit but we didn’t have that much time (and at the time, we weren’t sure what it was) but next time I’ll definitely do the entire trail!

We had walked for quite some time until we decided to get something to eat. We sat down at Caffe Cosi which had a lot of delicacies France is famous for on the menu, like foie gras and escargots. We later only realized that that means that it’s a restaurant aimed at tourists, but we didn’t care at the moment, for we were hungry. The waiter heard us talk and gave us a German menu, but luckily both of us knew enough French to make it through the original menu. We decided that this would be the only touristic restaurant we would eat at. The food wasn’t bad though. We both wanted to try Boeuf Bourguignon and though there was a lot of fat (and it didn’t look too appetizing) it was actually pretty good. For a dessert we shared the Tarte au Citron et Meringuée, another traditional French dish. It was very sour and not really my thing, but Boyfriend seemed to enjoy it.

Our time in the city was way too short. We had a lovely time and there is so much more that I want to see so I’ll be sure to come back here one day!

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