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Prefecture of the Côte d'Or and the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region

Stage town for the 14th time.

Population: 159,500 (Dijonnais)

Specialities: mustard, blackcurrants, crème de cassis, kir. Burgundy snails, parsley ham, Burgundy truffles, beef bourguignon, gougères, eggs en meurettes, chicken Gaston Gérard, gingerbread and nonnettes. Burgundy wines.

Personalities: Jacque-Bénigne Bossuet (clergyman and writer), Jean-Philippe Rameau (composer), Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon (naturalist), Gustave Eiffel (engineer), Mathurin and Auguste Moreau (sculptors), Canon Kir. Robert Poujade, François Rebsamen (former ministers). Denis Brogniart (journalist). Damien Saez (singer). Geoffrey Bouchard (cyclist). Sport: Dijon Footbal Côte-d'Or, Jeanne d'Arc Dijon Basket, Stade dijonnais (rugby), Rugby Féminin DB, Dijon Métropole Handball. Dijon-Prénois motor racing circuit.

Culture and festivals: Zenith, Grand Théatre, La Vapeur (contemporary music), Les Feuillants Theatre. Cité de la gastronomie. International Adventure Film Festival (autumn), Dijon International Short Film Festival, International Gastronomy Festival.

Economy: a conference city, Burgundy's capital is also a green city with a large service sector, as well as a regional economic centre with a diversified fabric, including a traditional food industry (Dijon mustard, Dijon blackcurrant liqueur and kir, gingerbread, Lanvin chocolate, etc.) and a renowned pharmaceutical sector. Winegrowing.

Labels: the town's historic centre is the second component of the Climates of Burgundy Vineyards, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 4 July 2015.

Websites / FB / Twitter / Insta: www.dijon.fr / www.destinationdijon.com


DIJON’S FAMOUS OWL

In the pedestrian rue de la Chouette (Owl Street), which runs along the north side of Notre-Dame church, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, a stone bears a crude sculpture that the people of Dijon call "the owl". It is customary to stroke it with the left hand and make a wish, which will be granted as long as you do not meet the gaze of the salamander, another sculpture located a little higher up. On January 5, 2001, a vandal struck the owl several times with a hammer. The damage caused a stir among the people of Dijon. Since then, a video surveillance system has been put in place to prevent any recurrence. These incidents have only increased the owl's popularity. In 2001, the tourist office chose it as the symbol of the Owl Trail, a pedestrian tourist route around the historical centre, marked out with representations of the bird. This symbol of the town is also used in a wide range of souvenir gifts (socks, key rings and postcards). The animal has been featured on the logo of Dijon Football Côte-d'Or since 1998 and has been the team's mascot under the name Lolie since the 2013-2014 season.


DIJON AND CYCLING

The Tour de France has stopped off in Dijon on thirteen instances but had not returned to the Burgundy capital for more than a quarter of a century since Mario Traversoni's victory in the city in 1997. Ten years earlier, Jean-François Bernard scored a spectacular time-trial victory ahead of Stephen Roche, which secured him third place overall behind the Irishman and Pedro Delgado in Paris. The day before, it was Régis Clère who lifted his arms at the end of a stage that started in Saint-Julien-en-Genevois. It was the last of the Frenchman's three Tour de France victories. It was also in Dijon that this tireless attacker died in 2012 following surgery. French road champion in 1982, he twice won the Grande Boucle most aggressive rider award, in 1982 and 1987. Created in 1889, Dijon-Auxonne-Dijon, run in April, is the oldest amateur race in France. Dijon is also the birthplace of Geoffrey Bouchard, winner of the KOM classification in the Giro and the Vuelta, who has only contested the Tour de France once, in 2022. The prefecture of Côte d'Or also hosted the Criterium du Dauphiné in 2009 and Paris-Nice on three occasions in the 1930s and 1940s.


SIGHTS:  

  • Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy

Construction: 1364 to 2006.

Styles: Gothic, Renaissance, classical.

History: until the 9th century, the current palace was simply a ducal castle built against the walls of the 3rd-century castrum. It was entirely rebuilt by the first duke of the House of Valois, Philip II of Burgundy, known as Philip the Bold, and his three successors: flamboyant façade, ducal dwelling from 1448 to 1455, grand banqueting hall and ducal kitchen with 30 cooks in 1433. One of the first elements of the construction was the Bar Tower, a three-storey building with vast rooms. The east wing was the private chapel of the princes of Burgundy. It was demolished in 1802 to build the theatre. The grand hall of the palace, known as the guards' hall, is on the first floor of the ducal residence. It was the setting for the great festivities of the Burgundian court. The 46-metre-high Philip the Good Tower still dominates Dijon town centre today. It represents the ducal authority of Philippe the Good, who had it built around 1460.

Features: the Palace of the Dukes and States of Burgundy is an architectural complex comprising several interlocking parts. The oldest, in Gothic style, still includes a dwelling, the ducal kitchens (Cour de Bar) and two towers: the Philip the Good Tower and the Bar Tower. Most of the buildings visible today, however, were built in a classical style, with the design of Place Royale, now Place de la Liberation.

Current destination: Dijon Museum of Fine Arts and Dijon Town Hall.

Listed as:  Historical Monument since 1862, then 1926.  

  • Saint-Bénigne Cathedral

Construction: 1280 to 1393.

Styles: Gothic and Romanesque.

History: in 511, under the reign of Clovis, Bishop Saint Gregory of Langres had the crypt built to house the sarcophagus of Saint Benignus of Dijon. A basilica was built over the crypt. It later became a Benedictine abbey, rebuilt between 1001 and 1016. Excavations undertaken in 1976 showed that the pre-Romanesque church and its rotunda were built in the Roman architectural tradition, using Lombard construction methods. In 1792, the former abbey church became the cathedral of the Dijon diocese, created in 1731, and the rotunda was demolished. Its remains were accidentally rediscovered in 1844 and the rotunda was restored from 1858 onwards by Jean-Philippe Suisse under the supervision of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.

Features: it is located in the protected centre of Dijon. The building is dedicated to Saint Benignus of Dijon, a Christian martyr from the 2nd century.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1846, then 1862. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the whole of Dijon's protected area since 2015.   

  • Notre-Dame Church

Built : between 1220 and 1240. 

Style: Gothic.

History: before the second half of the 12th century, a simple chapel, Sainte-Marie, stood on the site of Notre-Dame. It was originally located outside the town walls, and only became a parish within the town walls in 1113. Around 1150, the chapel was rebuilt in the Romanesque style. It then became the place where the new mayor was sworn in and where the municipal archives were kept. From the 1220s onwards, the people of Dijon built the present Gothic church in its place. As Notre-Dame was located in the middle of a busy district, there was not enough space, and the architect, who remains unknown, used many new techniques to build the church. The church was restored between 1865 and 1884 by Parisian architects Emile Boeswillwald, Eugène Millet and Charles Laisné, and not by Viollet-le-Duc as is sometimes erroneously stated. The work consisted of restoring Notre-Dame to its original appearance.

Features: regarded as a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, it is located at the heart of the 97-hectare protected area of Dijon. It stands in Place Notre-Dame, close to the Palace of the Dukes and States of Burgundy. This church is home to the statue of Notre-Dame de Bon-Espoir, formerly known as the Black Virgin. It is also adorned with two symbols of the town: the Jacquemart (bell-striker) and the owl.

Trivia: this church has been admired since the 18th century. Soufflot carried out surveys, and the French Academy had it studied. Vauban said of Notre-Dame that "all this august temple needed was a box to enclose it". In the 19th century, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc wrote in his Reasoned Dictionary of French Architecture that Notre-Dame de Dijon was "a masterpiece of reason".

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1840. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the whole of Dijon's protected area, since 2015.   

  • Dijon Parliament

Construction: 16th to 19th centuries.  

Style: Renaissance.

History: the Parliament of Burgundy grew out of the former Council of Dukes, housed in Beaune in 1354 by Duke Philip II. After the Duchy of Burgundy became part of France in 1477, King Louis XI decided to transfer it to Dijon. In November 1480, Louis I of Amboise installed the new parliament. During the plague epidemic of 1499, the members of parliament withdrew to Beaune and only agreed to return to Dijon in 1507 once a new building had been constructed. In 1575, the Chamber of Requests was created, followed in 1589 by the Chamber of Inquests. The French Revolution put Parliament on leave in 1789. The Dijon Law Court then housed a provisional superior court, followed by a court of appeal, an imperial court, a royal court and finally the Dijon Court of Appeal.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1926.  

  • Bernardines Monastery (Dijon sacred art museum)

Built: 1767

Style: Gothic. 

History and characteristics: in application of a royal decree, the bishop of Langres undertook to transfer the Bernardines from Tart to Dijon in 1623.  They asked Louis Trestournel, a brother of the Oratory congregation, to draw up plans for their church, which was built between 1699 and 1709. During the French Revolution, the Bernardines were expelled and the monastery was declared national property, turned into barracks and then used to house works of art. From 1803 to 1974, the monastery was used as an orphanage. Since 1993, it has been home to the Perrin de Puycousin Museum of Burgundian Life, and in 1980, the church inaugurated the Dijon Museum of Sacred Art.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1926.  

  • Consortium

Housed since 2011 in a 4,000 m2 building designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the Consortium was launched in 1977 on the first floor of an alternative bookshop, then in a former shop at the back of the courtyard on Dijon's Place du Marché. Here, young academics set out to fulfil their ambition of exhibiting the art of their time: together with a handful of enthusiasts, its founders Xavier Douroux and Franck Gautherot organised exhibitions with avant-garde artists from the late 1970s onwards.  Hailed in 2016 by the New York Times as "the shadow museum that predicts the future of contemporary art", since the 2000s the Consortium has organised the first exhibitions in France of a number of American artists, before rediscovering the work of Yayoi Kusama, devoting a major retrospective to her in 2000. The Consortium's collection, on permanent display on the first floor of the building, comprises over 350 works, forming a veritable memory of the exhibitions that have taken place there. The Consortium has also launched a publishing house and an audio-visual production company. 


TO EAT:

  • Dijon mustard

As a land of vineyards, Burgundy was well placed to supply new wine and vinegar to the mustard manufacturers who increasingly settled in Dijon. This former land of charcoal burners was ideal for growing strong, pungent seeds. It wasn't long before mustard became a veritable Dijon institution, the manufacture of which was regulated by an ordinance dated August 10, 1390. In 1634, the first official statutes of the corporation of vinegar and mustard makers of the city of Dijon governed the trade. In the 18th century, the discovery of verjuice (grape juice harvested in Burgundy) enhanced the quality of this noble product. Dijon mustard is made from brown mustard seeds (Brassica juncea), vinegar, salt and citric acid. It goes well with all meats and can be used in mayonnaise to give it flavour and help it "set". Today, 80% of the mustard seeds used in its manufacture come from Canada and Eastern Europe. Dijon Mustard is not a registered designation of origin, so the term is not legally protected. It refers to a manufacturing method and a type of mustard, rather than to a product whose origin and ingredients are linked to a particular area.

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