Dijon is perhaps best known for its mustard (named after the town), which is still produced locally, but it is also one of the most beautiful cities in France, and its historic buildings and byways were not heavily damaged by bombing in World War Two and are largely intact.
Dijon was for some time the capital of the Dukes of Burgundy. Burgundy was a great power during the 14th and 15th centuries, when the dukes controlled a large part of what is now northeastern France, western Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
The dukes were great patrons of the arts, so Dijon was a major centre of Gothic and early Renaissance music, painting, and sculpture, attracting some of the greatest and most famous artists and musicians from Flanders in particular. The music the great composers left behind can be performed anywhere, but it is particularly in the fields of sculpture and architecture that masters left a lasting mark on Dijon.
Today, Dijon is a cosmopolitan city, with universities in the centre and industrial plants on the outskirts. Traffic is restricted in the centre of the city, so many parts of central Dijon are quiet and relaxing.
Dijon is famous for its mustard: the term Dijon mustard (moutarde de Dijon) designates a method of making a particularly strong mustard relish. This is not necessarily produced near Dijon, as the term is regarded as genericized under European Union law, so that it cannot be registered for protected designation of origin status. Most Dijon mustard (brands such as Amora or Maille) is produced industrially and over 90% of mustard seed used in local production is imported, mainly from Canada. In 2008, Unilever closed its Amora mustard factory in Dijon. Dijon mustard shops also feature exotic or unusually-flavoured mustard (fruit-flavoured, for example), often sold in decorative hand-painted faience (china) pots.
As the capital of the Burgundy region, Dijon reigns over some of the best wine country in the world. Many superb vineyards producing vins d’appellation contrôlée, such as Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin, are within 20 minutes of the city center. The town’s university boasts a renowned oenology institute. The road from Santenay to Dijon, known as the route des Grands Crus, passes through an idyllic countryside of vineyards, rivers, villages, forests, and 12th century churches. The city is also well known for its crème de cassis, or blackcurrant liqueur, used in the drink known as “Kir”, a mixture of white wine, especially Bourgogne aligoté, with blackcurrant liqueur, named after former mayor of Dijon canon Félix Kir.
Discover a wealth of information on travelling by Motorhome, Caravan or Boat when planning your holiday or trip of a lifetime
Which ever way you wish to travel, do it with style!