In front of the city hall of Dijon and the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, one can find the Place de la Libération which was constructed in the year 1689. It is the most lovely in the whole city. It was the royal square and part of the Palace of the Dukes before, but after the French Revolution in the year 1789, and has been called Liberation Square since the end of WWII. IT was constructed by the architect of King Louis XIV, in the city center of Dijon. The place was occupied from the 13th century, and the square was renovated in the year 2006 and is gorgeous. It was Christmas and one can see lights, the Christmas market, and the facade of the Palace of the Dukes.
The Church of Our Lady of Dijon is a masterpiece of Gothic style, from the 13th century. It's a part, together with the rest of the city's medieval centre and the Palace of the Dukes, of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built around 1220. It's quite small, but is one of the most beautiful churches in the region. Inside, you can see the Virgin of Good Hope, which used to be called the Black Madonna. It bears the arms of the city of Dijon. I like the main facade, it's very original. It's flat, carved stone, and seems more like a palace facade than a church. You don't realize until you enter the nave that it's a religious building. It measures about 30 feet high, with Gothic arches at the bottom, and then it has a strange gallery with small columns. It's open until five in the afternoon.
The covered market, Les Halles in French, is in the medieval heart of Dijon, and is a great place to sample the cuisine of the region. There are wine shops and butchers who make meals which they later only have to heat up, such as beef bourguignon, which is traditional of the region. The market is open every day, except Sunday, until 12h30. On Saturday it is open until 4. Eiffel is the company that built this great place in the early 19th century. It has a wrought iron structure, and is now a historical monument. Some of the stores have been opened for generations and generations, while others are more modern.
The beautiful church ofSaint Michel is close to the palace of the Dukes of Dijon, and was constructed on the site of a chapel of the 9th century. The present church dates from the 15th century, when the Catholic community built Dijon, a strange fact when back then the state usually paid for the churches. This building is in a Gothic style, and to create the central choir in 1499. Later the work stopped due to a lack of money, and war against the Swiss. It was finished in 1529, and was dedicated to the archangel Saint Michael. They took the church after the French Revolution, and most of the works of art were destroyed. If the church was renovated, there is very little left from those days.
This place is also known as Bareuzai Square, and is a central point in the medieval center of Dijon. The surrounding streets are pedestrian, and it is a very pleasant place to take a stroll, or have a drink. The Moulin A Vent is a very good restaurant in the square which was built in a love old house. I like the outsides of the houses which have wooden pillars which gives them a special charm. The name represents the child Bareuzai, which can be found in the center of the square, who squeezes grapes to make wine. It is a bronze statue that was constructed in the square to commemorate good wine. Dijon is in the center of Burgundy, the second most important town after Bordeaux in the wine region. It is a place that did not exist in the Middle Ages, and was later created to bring down a few houses in the neighborhood. In good weather there are games booths for children as well as outdoor terraces. Sometimes there are concerts.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Dijon is installed in the beautiful palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, a building that is part of the UNESCO world heritage. It is, after the museums of Paris, one of the country's most important museums. Visit and access to permanent collections are free. Guided tours are 6 euros, or 4 euros for an audio guide. It is the only museum, along with the Louvre, which is in a palace. Now they are renovating the palace but the museum remains open. Even if you dislike the museum, visit for the amazing palace. The museum is one of the oldest in France, thanks to the power of the Dukes ve managed to acquire a fabulous paintings and masterpieces. There are works of Egyptian art, classics .... It opened its doors in 1799.
The Dukes of Burgundy square is located behind the Dukes Palace, at the entrance to the city's Fine Arts Museum. It's a nice place because many medieval houses are still standing, which have been converted into shops, lodges, and hotels. Some have a history from the XIII century, like the neighbouring Cathedral of Our Lady of Dijon. Before, the palace was much bigger and you can still see some ruins of the old extensions, now located in the public garden in the centre of the square. It is quiet, and the palace's entrance, moved after the Liberation, is on this side. When I was visiting, the roofs were snow-covered which was lovely to see at night, with the palace illuminated. I loved this place.
The old town of Dijon has a beautiful medieval quarter, which is organized around the palace of the Dukes. Luckily, the medieval streets are pedestrianised. Verrerie Street for example is very nice with traditional houses with wooden pillars and small shops. The Palace of the Dukes is an art museum that you can visit. Spending half day in Dijon may suffice, but it is a pleasant city with lots to do and very good food so better to spend more time there if you can. There are narrow medieval streets and the houses do not seem straight, like they're going to fall over. The old center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is a path represented by a nocturnal bird, which takes you through the main points of interest. You can ask for a map at the tourist information center, but the city is actually signposted very well.
The Great Theatre of Dijon is situated next to the palace of the Dukes, on the side of the Place de la libération. It was constructed in the 1830s by architect Alavoine. In this place once stood the Holy Chapel of the Palace of the Dukes. It was destroyed later to create this monument in a neo classical style. It opened in 1828, and again was renovated many times. The major works were made in 1855, the inside decorated with paintings and a painted curtain too, of Cambon. In 1969 it was renovated. The theater hosts international French troops and sometimes has a dynamic program of shoes which can be viewed online if one so wants.
Dijon's Christmas market is beautiful, despite its small size, everything seems magical with lights and illuminated trees. It is installed in the Plaza de la Libération, in front of the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy. There are a dozen small wooden stalls, serving food from the region. You can eat delicious sandwiches, accompanied by mulled wine or chocolate. Do not miss the pain d'spices, bread served with spices in the shape of a saint or animals of Bethlehem. Sometimes they can be hung on the Christmas tree. Besides the gourmet shops there are also souvenir shops, handicrafts from distant countries, and fair trade shops. It is a great place to visit and Christmas and to do some Christmas shopping.
Saint Benigne cathedral is built in a magnificent Gothic style and dates from the year 1280. At the top, there is an steeple of 93 metres high, and it has an unusual multi-coloured roof. In the beginning, the church was a monastery. Inside, the nave has five vaulted sections, and an impressive organ. The church is very sober, absolutely devoid of decorative objects. You can visit the crypt, which contains the remains of a second century sarcophagus. Because of the pollution that blackens its facade, it is often undergoing renovations.
Dijon station is quite big and I found it hard to understand where my train was leaving. That was probably because there was a lot of snow and in these cases there are also many delays, so I suppose that everyone is a little bit lost. It is near the heart of the city and there are several hotels around if you need to stay somewhere nearby. The station has a small restaurant, but you're in one of the gastronomic capitals of the country, so it isn´t the best place to eat. Trains leave every hour to Paris, like the high speed trains which only take two hours. There are direct trains to the airport too, which then go to Lille. To get to Lyon have to take a normal train, which takes about two hours, and there five that go to Marseille. If you are under 25 years old there are special rates, and if you travel a lot you can buy a discount card
This palace in the city center is the symbol and pride of Dijon. In fact it's a set of several palaces, one of them is the Museum of Fine Arts where you can enter for free. The oldest part of the Palace of the Dukes is XIV century and is Gothic. You can see the ruins of this time on the side of the square of the Dukes. There are 2 towers used to look out for invaders. The rest, which is most of the palace, is seventeenth century and classic style. The palace was the seat of the Duchy of Burgundy founded in the ninth century by Carloman II. He then broke the rule of Carlos Magnos and dukes ruled over eastern France. The palace was more humble but became more powerful and had to build something at the height of its power. The palace closes at 7 pm.
The Musee Archeologique in Dijon has a collection of artifacts discovered along the coast of France. It has been housed in the Abbey of St. Benignus since 1930. The collection is made up of donations, purchases and objects found in excavations.
Most of the popular Dijon activities can be found in the old party of the city. Dubbed the "city of a hundred spires", some of the most popular are those of the church of Saint Philibert, the church of Notre Dame, Saint Bénigne Cathedral, and the Church of Saint Michel. Other great Dijon attractions are the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, which houses the Museum of Fine Arts, the Well of Moses, and the Champmol. Do not forget either of the parks and gardens, which are popular attractions in Dijon and cover 700 hectares. The most popular are the Garden of Darcy and Colombière Park. They've been high on the list of stuff to do in Dijon for a long time...King Louis XIV described them as "the most beautiful in my kingdom".
But it's out of town where we find one of most popular tourist things to do in Dijon. This is where you'll find the wine region of Côte d'Or. Some of the most expensive and world famous wines, such as Romanée Conti, Aloxe-Corton, and Puligniy Montrachet come from this area, so if you're feeling thirsty as you wonder what to do in Dijon, head here!
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