A cultural destination par excellence, Dijon is the capital of Burgundy, located in the centre-east of France, 200 kilometres north of Lyon. Crowned City of Art and History, it has a vast protected area of 97 hectares, one of the most prestigious wine-growing areas in the world, promoted to World Heritage status by UNESCO.
The capital of the former Duchy of Burgundy, Dijon is home to an opulent architectural heritage, enriched by delightful half-timbered houses, elegant and refined palaces, gothic churches embellished with gargoyles and enlivened by traditional bistros and prestigious starred restaurants.
In the heart of a region renowned for wine and gastronomy, Burgundy, Dijon is a pleasant and welcoming city that hides historical and cultural treasures.
The capital of the all-powerful Dukes of Burgundy has inherited an exceptional architectural heritage. A veritable open-air museum, the city of Dijon has guarded its remarkably well-preserved historic centre, to be discovered strictly on foot.
Dijon has a completely pedestrianised city centre in store for visitors : Romanesque and Gothic churches, 17th- and 18th-century palaces majestically highlight the medieval streets of the former capital of the Dukes of Burgundy. The ancient alleyways are lined with beautiful, superbly preserved 15th century half-timbered houses that bear witness to the city’s medieval past, as in rue de la Verrerie or rue des Forges.
A splendid example is the Maison Millière, the oldest and best known of Dijon’s medieval houses, famous for its appearance in the film Cyrano de Bergerac by Jean-Paul Rappeeau with Gérard Depardieu and Anne Brochet. Located at 10 rue de la Chouette, the famous building now houses a restaurant and tea room, perfect for a gourmet break.
To savour all the old-world charm of Dijon, we recommend you follow an enchanting route through the old town in 22 stages, following the city’s mascot, the owl. It all stems from a small bas-relief representing an owl, carved into one of the pillars of the side façade of the Notre-Dame Church, in rue de la Chouette. Popular tradition has it that stroking the little owl, now almost unrecognisable, brings good luck.
Starting from this custom, the Dijon Tourist Office has created an itinerary that has the little bird of prey as its mascot: just start from the original bas-relief and follow the owls embedded in the pavement of the old town, which will accompany you to discover the various monuments and emblematic places of the city.
Remember to pick up your circuit booklet at an information point or download the Parcours de le Chouette app on your smartphone to follow the bronze arrows dotting the route.
Located in the heart of the city, the Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy remains Dijon’s most emblematic monument. It was erected in the 14th century in the Gothic style. Later, when Burgundy was annexed to France, the building was transformed into the residence of the governors and kings of France passing through the region. Under Louis XIV, the palace evolved and classical architectural elements were added, including the elegant Place Royale.
In the centre, it houses the town hall surmounted by the Philippe le Bon tower while the Museum of Fine Arts has occupied the eastern wing of the palace since 1799.
At the centre of the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, the 15th-century trapezoidal watchtower offers a 46-metre panoramic view of the city from a hundred steeples. To ascend, you will have to walk up a spiral staircase with 316 steps, which houses a rich sculptural decoration of plant ornaments, high reliefs depicting the builders of the tower and flints that are the emblems of Philippe le Bon.
Before enjoying the view from the top, you can take a break by strolling through the different floors, which house the rooms of the former ducal residence.
When you reach the top, you can admire a 360-degree view of Old Dijon, the slate roofs and the stained glass windows of the private villas: an ideal vantage point from which to contemplate the city’s elegant spires.
Located in the eastern part of the ducal palace, the Museum of Fine Arts dates back to the 18th century and is one of the oldest in France. Recently renovated, you can admire works ranging from ancient Egypt to the Middle Ages, via the Renaissance and contemporary times. There are about 1500 works distributed in 50 rooms.
Within the tour you can also see the tomb of the Dukes of Burgundy (Philippe le Bold and Jean sans Peur).
Right in front of the Palace of the Dukes is the city’s most beautiful square, a large circular space that is the beating heart of Dijon.
Around the square you will find restaurants and bars packed with tourists and patrons especially on warm summer evenings, cooled by the numerous fountains. It is a charming place, loved by the locals.
Built in the 19th century in an industrial style reminiscent of the works of the Eiffel period, Dijon’s covered market is an architectural marvel, soaring with metal arches and embellished with sculpted details.
The 4400 m2 metal construction houses no less than 246 shops where you can taste or buy the best of Dijon gastronomy: mustard, crème de cassis, fine wines, snails, not to mention the unmissable beef bourguignon. A riot of colours and flavours that you can enjoy on site in the small bistros inside the building, especially on Sundays for brunch.
Impossible not to notice the glazed tiled roof of the Hotel de Vogüé. Built in the early 17th century for a city parliamentarian, it is one of the most beautiful buildings to visit in Dijon. Its architecture mixes the French classical style with the Italian Renaissance and is richly decorated both inside and out.
With the fury of the French Revolution, the Charterhouse of Champmol, founded in the 14th century by Duke Philippe le Hardi for his burial place, was literally dismantled. Today, only the Well of the Prophets (also called the Well of Moses) remains.
The well is the vestige of a Calvary built in the centre of the large cloister and sculpted by a Dutch artist named Claus Sluter. It is by admiring the beauty of the various biblical characters that one understands why the artistic sophistication of the Burgundian court was so renowned. This seven-metre high hexagonal plinth, symbolically placed above a spring, is a true work of art, a marvel of precision and realism, composed of six full-length statues of Old Testament prophets. The Flemish master also created the monumental cenotaph of Philip the Bold preserved today in the Museum of Fine Arts.
Religious buildings are very numerous in Dijon. If you have to choose just one to visit, we recommend the Church of Notre-Dame, famous for its owl carved on one of the side buttresses. According to tradition, to obtain good luck, one must touch the small bas-relief and make a wish.
It is the oldest of the churches in Dijon, whose construction was started in 1230 and completed in 1250. It has a magnificent façade with a triple row of false gargoyles framing the arches. The façade is also made unique by a long row of 51 gargoyles symbolising monsters, animals and humans.
Above, a Jacquemart clock has been administering time since 1383: the automaton and its intricate mechanism were brought back from the Courtrai bell tower as a war prize by Philippe le Hardi.
The Darcy garden was the first public garden created in Dijon. On this site, Henri Darcy, an engineer from Dijon, had designed a reservoir to provide the city with drinking water in 1838. To crown this work, the architect Emile Sagot created a monument in the Neo-Renaissance style, a work that still stands in the park.
After 1880, a garden was created around the basin by architect Félix Vionnois according to the tastes of the time. Today, it is a haven of silence and relaxation that is very popular with the inhabitants of Dijon.
The city of Dijon wanted to leave its mark on the contemporary cultural scene through this contemporary art centre whose reputation is international.
For architecture enthusiasts, the building alone is worth a visit, with its 4000 m² designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. It is a space for exhibitions, artistic meetings, cultural mediation and audiovisual projections, with a rich annual programme.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
With five-star restaurants, city markets, an international food fair, Dijon is the mecca of French cuisine.
Its flagship product is undoubtedly mustard, a spicy condiment typical of Dijon, already very popular during the time of the Dukes of Burgundy. In 1870, the city of Dijon had around 40 mustard producers. Today, only four mustard producers remain in the capital of gastronomy, although Fallot is the last company to make a true artisanal mustard made from seeds grown in Burgundy and ground with a millstone.
Gastronomic capital and wine city, Dijon is renowned for its culinary specialities: mustard, snails, blackcurrant cream, chocolate and gingerbread. In the heart of the city, the International City of Gastronomy and Wine houses 1,700 m² of exhibition space dedicated to French gastronomy and wines from around the world.
In addition to mustard, another typical product is Kir, used to make crème de cassis, a sweet liqueur that appeared in Dijon in the 19th century, which is obtained by macerating blackcurrant grains from Burgundy in alcohol to which sugar is added. Originally, blackcurrants were planted at the end of vines to make the local ratafia, the ancestor of liqueur.
Gingerbread, imported from Flanders by the Dukes of Burgundy, is also a must-try. It is a sweet made of wheat flour and honey, garnished with cinnamon, ginger, star anise, coriander and cloves. The majestic Mulot et Petitjean gingerbread factory is over two hundred years old and can still be visited today.
Epoiss cheese has a protected designation of origin and is a soft cheese with a washed rind, matured with Burgundy marc, a spirit produced by distilling grape marc. Its name comes from the village of Époisses where a community of Cistercian monks settled and passed on their manufacturing secret to the farmers of the region. Époisses production was relaunched in the 1950s and has been increasingly successful ever since.
Not to mention typical dishes: from Bourginon beef, a stew cooked with a garnish of mushrooms, spring onions and bacon bits to the famous wild Burgundy snails cooked with garlic and parsley butter.
Finally, how could we not mention the wines of Burgundy. Dijon is the perfect opportunity to taste the world-renowned local wines. With over twenty-eight thousand hectares of vineyards, you are sure to find the right wine to satisfy your taste buds.
In Dijon, you can experience a wonderful cultural stay thanks to its historical heritage but also an unforgettable gastronomic getaway, the city being a culinary pilgrimage site for gourmets from all over Europe.
To fully experience the beauty of the city, we recommend that you look for accommodation in the heart of the historic centre. This way you will have everything at your fingertips, especially with little time to spare. You will have no trouble finding accommodation, thanks to the many hotels scattered throughout the centre. Unfortunately, prices can go up considerably during the summer season.
North of the city centre, Jouvence is a nice suburb that attracts many tourists for a good reason: apart from its privileged location, a stone’s throw from the centre, it is convenient for those travelling by car and is located very close to the main attractions. The neighbourhood is ideal for those looking for a place to stay in Dijon as it has a developed urban context, with the presence of shops of various kinds and numerous bus stops that make it possible to leave the car and move around by car without getting lost in traffic jams.
As its name suggests, the Faubourg sud is located just south of the city centre and is a haven for students at the nearby University of Burgundy. Accommodation here is varied and reasonably priced: check out the many offers that will convince you to choose this area dotted with both green spaces such as the Parc de la Colombière and many restaurants, bars and nightclubs. It is a favourite district for younger travellers in search of evening life and hustle and bustle.
Very close to the French capital, Dijon is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway or as a must-see on a trip to Burgundy.
The quickest way to reach Dijon is to land at one of the Paris Airports, such as Paris-Orly Airport or Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. From here, you then take a TGV train that will take you directly to Dijon in 1½ hours.
The alternative is to reach Lyon Airport and then continue to Dijon, again using a TGV train.
What's the weather at Dijon? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Dijon for the next few days.
The following are the most popular tickets and tours in Dijon that we recommend you don't miss.
Dijon is the capital of Burgundy and is located in eastern France, not far from Switzerland.