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Best things to do in Dijon France: Exploring Burgundy’s capital

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Did you know: The Burgundy region of France was voted by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 must-visit regions in 2022

Things to do

Dijon is the capital of the Burgundy region in France.  Now officially known as the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, it will take a lifetime I expect before anyone will call it anything other than Burgundy.  Dijon is a city known throughout the world for Dijon mustard, but it is so much more than that.

With stunning architecture and rich history, it’s a city full of cultural activities and an historic old town centre that was UNESCO protected in 2015.  From museums to opera, medieval half-timbered houses, a bustling food market, the Owl Trail and of course, Dijon mustard, there are plenty of things to do in Dijon.

street in old city dijon

Where is Dijon

Dijon is located approximately 340 kilometres south-south-east of Paris, in the Burgundy region of France.  It is 200 kilometres north of the French gastronomic capital of Lyon and approximately 200 kilometres due west of the Swiss border.  Surrounded by rivers, lakes and canals, Dijon sits at the confluence of the Suzon and Ouche Rivers.

The Canal de Bourgogne, running north to south, was created to connect the Yonne and Sâone Rivers.  This opened up significant trade options for Dijon and those cities further south.


More reading >> Barge cruise in Burgundy on the Canal de Bourgogne


With its proximity and ease of access to Paris, the south and north of France and several other European country borders, I’m surprised that Dijon is not seen as a more popular place to visit.  Dijon is a very easy city to traverse, and it’s a great base for further travel in France or western Europe.  It is blessed with some of the best wine in the world and the food isn’t far off this either.

Rue de Boussett
Along Rue de Boussett

Eat local specialities

Dijon is a haven for great food.  From artisanal producers to the huge covered market, there’s so much to eat and enjoy.  Dijon is well-known for mustard, but also amazing gingerbread, vinegar, chocolate and the blackcurrant liqueur Cassis.

Rue de Boussett

Along Rue de Bousset there are many gourmet food stores.  So many that it took us a while to actually make it into the city centre.  Take the time to look up as well as the half-timbered medieval houses that they reside in are very special.

One of our favourites, Moulet et Petitjean is on Rue du Bousset so it was only natural that we would venture inside.  Inside this ancient building hides an even more beautiful interior, including ornate ceilings and fabulous tiles.  It’s worth going inside just for this.

Moulet et Petitjean has been around since 1796, making their famous gingerbread all this time.  Their factory is also located in Dijon and they have other locations throughout Burgundy, including Beaune.  They can also be found along Rue de la Liberté here in Dijon.

inside mulot et petitjean dijon
Inside Mulot et Petitjean

Rue des Forges

Another street not to be missed is Rue des Forges.  A cobbled street leading off from Place Francois Rude, just behind the main street of the city, it’s full of small gourmet food stores.  It’s also one of the city’s most beautiful streets from a building perspective.

These are some more of our favourite foodie places in Dijon.

Comtesse du Barry

Whilst this is a franchised brand, it’s always a pleasure to spend some time here.  The food is quintessentially French and most of it is able to be purchased to bring back home whilst still satisfying our strict quarantine regulations.  We always buy up plenty of duck goodies here; rillettes, terrines and confit.

Where: 31 Rue des Forges 

Dijon

Plaisirs de France

On the corner opposite Les Halles, this store is quite large and showcases not only French food but other gourmet goodies as well.  If you can’t get to a Maille or Fallot mustard store, there are plenty of mustards on offer here.

Where: 17 Rue Musette

Dijon

Alice Délice

Always our undoing, this is a cookware store, similar to the fabulous Paris cookware and kitchen supply stores we love.  It’s hard to get us out of these stores without buying something.

Where: 17 Rue du Bourg 

Dijon

Walk down Rue de la Liberté

This is the main, totally pedestrianised street of the old city centre.  Starting at Place Darcy and ending at Place de la Libération, it is now largely a shopping street.  However, it also has some of the best medieval half-timbered houses dating from the 15th to the 18th century, that are definitely worth stopping for.

along rue de la liberte dijon
Galleries la Lafayette along Rue de la Liberte

Visit Les Halles market

We’ve visited the covered Les Halles market in Dijon on three separate occasions now and never tire of it.  We never tire of any market really!  This one is usually buzzing, and once you are under the roof, it almost feels as though it’s a city in its own right.

It’s one of France’s largest markets.  As if there isn’t enough going on inside, the entire perimeter of the Les Halles iron building is surrounded with even more fresh produce vendors.

Gustave Eiffel, designer of the Eiffel Tower and involved in the building of many more incredible landmarks including the Briare Aquaduct, also designed the Les Halles Dijon building.  He was a local Dijon man, having been born here in 1832.

Opening four days a week, it’s the best place to check out all the seasonal produce, have some samples, watch the locals go about their shopping and even buy some food for your lunch or dinner.

Open: Mornings, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

les halles market dijon
Les Halles Dijon

Visit the Maille Dijon mustard store

Dijon is of course known best for its mustard and the well-known brand of Maille.  Unfortunately, the Maille Moutarde de Dijon is no longer connected to Dijon from a growing or manufacturing sense.

Surprisingly, mustard in France is not covered by a protected appellation process, so the methods for growing and acquiring mustard seeds, along with production processes is not strict at all.  Today, this mustard brand is US owned and Canada supplies 80% of all mustard seeds.

Still, there are several blends of mustard that can only be found in the boutique that draws the crowds along Rue de la Liberté.

The only independent and family-owned mustard company that still exists in France, Edmond Fallot, can be found at 16 Rue de la Chouette.

inside maille mustard dijon
Inside the Maille mustard store

Maille

32 Rue de la Liberté

Follow the Owl trail

If you arrive in Dijon without knowing about the Owl Trail, you’ll soon be wondering about all the brass plates embedded in the cobbled paths.  The owls or chouettes are a symbol of Dijon and the brass plaques form part of a city walking trail.

the owl trail of dijon
Following the Owl Trail in Dijon

The original owl, one of 22 plaques dotted over the city walkways, can be found on the Church of Notre-Dame.  Created during the 1500s, it is said to bring good luck if you touch the owl with your left hand.  The trail also showcases many of the historic buildings in Dijon.  As the brass plates get larger, it is an indication that you have arrived at a noteworthy stop.

part of the owl trail in dijon plaques on significant buildings
Plaques on buildings of significance along the Owl Trail

Guides for the Owl’s Trail, also known as the le Parcours de la Chouette, can be purchased from the Tourist Information Centre for €3.50.  Alternatively, there is an app for smartphones available for €2.99.

For those who want to spend more time learning more about Dijon, there are three additional stages that can be covered, giving exposure to even more important parts of Dijon.

The Owl trail is the most popular thing to do in Dijon.

Tourist Information Centre

 11 Rue des Forges

Visit the Ducal Palace

The Ducal Palace is one of the best things to see in Dijon and is a must on any itinerary to the city.  It’s located right in the heart of the city and closeby other must-see attractions in Dijon like the Church of Notre Dame and Eglise St Michel.

It was made for the Dukes of Burgundy who operated largely up until 1577.  A grand building to celebrate the Duke’s power, it is now a government administrative building and city hall.

For a great view of the city and the famous Dijon tiled rooftops, climb the Tour Philippe le Bon.  This tower stands 46 metres tall and has 316 steps.  Note you must make a reservation at a ‘Welcome Point’ to climb the tower.

Where: 1 Place de la Libération

Visit the Musee des Beaux-Arts

Located within the Ducal Palace is the Musee des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum).  Here the permanent exhibitions tell the story of the Dukes of Burgundy and their role in the history of Dijon and the greater region.  Many tombs are also on display here.

The museum is open every day except Tuesday.  Also closed on January 1, May 1 & 8,  July 14, November 1 & 11, December 25.

Opening hours:  October 1 to May 31: 9:30 am to 6 pm

Opening hours: June 1 to September 30: 10 am to 6.30 pm

Where: 1 Rue Rameau

Visit the churches

Church of Notre Dame of Dijon

I love Gothic architecture, especially on churches, and the Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon is no exception.  This 13th-century church is made even better by the addition of the gargoyles.  The original gargoyles built in the early 1200s, however, are not the ones visible today.  Legend has it that a gargoyle fell on a groom on his wedding day and killed him, thus they were removed.  Today’s gargoyles were built in the late 1800s.  Sitting high on the top of the church spire is the Jacquemart family clock.

Don’t forget to look for the chouette (owl).  You’ll find it on the Rue de la Chouette side.

church of notre dame dijon
Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon

Where: Place Notre Dame

Cathédrale Saint-Bénigne de Dijon

Originally a Benedictine Abbey, this church has been built, re-built and patched up many times over the centuries.  The most incredible feature on this Gothic-inspired church is the stunning multi-coloured tiled roof.

Where: Place Saint Bénigne

Eglise Saint-Michel de Dijon

Built in the 16th century, the gothic architecture makes this church another standout.

Where:  5 Place Saint-Michel

Follow the Routes des Grands Crus

Dijon sits at the start of the world-renowned Routes des Grands Crus, or more simply, the Burgundy Wine Trail.  Covering a stretch of around 60 kilometres. it is here you will find some of the most expensive wine in the world.  Known for its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay, even if you don’t like wine, it’s a beautiful part of France to explore.

We drove from Dijon down the Burgundy Wine Trail in a motorhome, stopping everywhere we could along the way.  However, it’s also easy to do day trips from Dijon to parts of the area.

See our tips for the best tours of the Burgundy wine region from Dijon further down this article.

If you do venture out into the vineyards by yourself, we highly recommend driving the smaller roads like the D974.  Stay off the highway as you just won’t pick up any of the vibes from there.  With rolling hills covered in vineyards, it’s a special type of drive along the Route des Grands Crus.

Vineyard after vineyard join together, almost as though they are happily holding hands, creating stunning images of vines surrounded by ancient rock walls built by hand. Every now and then, you can see the history of the owners, with large and grandiose houses sitting in the heart of the vineyards, whilst in other areas, more modest buildings are the front to the winery.

Either way, it makes for glorious scenery and the feeling that you need to stop at each and every one.

burgundy grand crus route vineyards

Want to know more about the Burgundy Wine Trail? Read our article on the Route des Grands Crus


Where to eat

Les Halles

No list of best places to eat in Dijon would be complete without mentioning the Les Halles market.  From saucisson to cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, terrines and pates and bread, there’s so much food on offer to please everyone’s palate.  Come to the market armed with your shopping bags and fill them up for a picnic lunch or to take home for dinner if you can.

food at les halles
Just some of the food available at Les Halles

Caffe Cossi

If you are after a quick bite to eat, there are many cafes and bistros immediately outside the Les Halles market.  We stopped by Caffe Cossi, a small, modern cafe that served good food without it being anything exceptional.

foie gras at caffee cossi dijon
Foie Gras at Caffe Cossi

Where: 4 Rue Bannelier

Restaurant de la Porte Guillaume

This family-run restaurant is located in the city centre near the 18th-century city gate, Guillaume.  Owned and operated by the same family for four generations, this is a warm and friendly space to eat when in Dijon.  It offers a traditional French menu with local specialties.  Try the Boeuf Bourgignon if it is on the menu.

places to eat in dijon restaurant de le porte guillaume dijon

 Where: 2 Rue de la Liberté

DZ’Envies

We like to recommend restaurants serving French food where possible, however, if you are looking for something modern and different, try DZ’Envies, a mix of North African and Japanese.  There’s still a touch of French flair though with the cooking techniques used.

Where: 12 Rue Odeber

Where to stay

There are some wonderful hotels tucked inside centuries-old buildings in the old town of Beaune.  For convenience and charm, we recommend staying in the old city.

Grand Hotel la Cloche

  • Located near the old city and all the must-visit attractions of Dijon
  • Five-star hotel part of the Sofitel group
  • Close to the Ducal Palace
  • Restaurants on site
  • Fitness centre and spa
  • Parking available

Check availability, reviews and book online with Trip Advisor

Vertigo Hotel

  • Member of the Marriott hotel group
  • Onsite bar and restaurant plus a cigar bar
  • Free access to BMW electric car and electric bikes to explore Dijon
  • A funky, modern hotel in the heart of Dijon

Check availability, reviews and book online with Trip Advisor

Hotel des Ducs

  • Positioned centrally in the heart of Dijon old city near all the major attractions
  • Recently renovated
  • Private and secure car parking
  • Cat and dog friendly

Check availability, reviews and book online with Trip Advisor

How to get there

By car

Driving to Dijon and the surrounding Burgundy countryside by car is straightforward.  The A6 from Paris runs straight to Dijon.

  • From Paris (A6) take the exit off the A6 towards A38 (Dijon/Autun/Pouilly-en-Auxois)
  • Close to Dijon, the A38 will run into a roundabout.  Here take the first exit towards the D905 (Dijon/Plombieres-les-Dijon)
  • Follow the  D905 to Dijon

Driving from Paris to Dijon takes approximately three hours, notwithstanding traffic.  It is also less than three hours from the Swiss border.  Given its proximity to other major highways (31 and 39), there is also easy access from Germany and from the south of France.

Car parking:   There are several car parks located within Dijon city.  Note also that the centre of the old city is pedestrianised.

Car hire: If you require car hire in Dijon we use and recommend Rentalcars.com which allow you to peruse the various car hire companies and select from the most appropriate for your needs.

Motorhome parking: If you are driving a motorhome, it is difficult to park in Dijon city.  Our best suggestion if you are planning on staying the night is to head out to the Camping du Lac Kir.  It’s a beautiful spot on the lake and you can walk (takes about 30 minutes), ride or catch the bus into Dijon.

Where: Camping du Lac Kir

3 Boulevard Chanoine Kir Dijon

By train

Dijon is well serviced by the regional train network.  The high-speed TGV train operates direct trains to Dijon from Paris daily.

Departs from: Paris Gare-de-Lyon train station

Journey time: Approximately one and a half hours.

Dijon Ville Railway Station is located right in the city of Dijon at  31, Cours de la Gare.  It is located within 500 metres walking distance of the Arquebuse and Darcy Gardens and the Cathédrale Saint-Bénigne de Dijon in the centre of town.

Plan your train journey here.

By bus

The bus network across the regional French towns is extensive.  Ouibus, Megabus, Isiline and Flixbus all operate buses to Dijon.

From Dijon, the number 113 bus goes to Beaune.

For the bus journey planner click here

By air

Dijon is serviced by the Dijon-Bourgogne airport.  Flights into this airport usually originate in domestic locations such as Bordeaux and Toulouse.  Flights do arrive here from London Southhampton.

Getting around

Dijon is easy to get around on foot.  It is generally flat and has a large pedestrianised area.  There are lots of cobblestones and broad expanses of parks, however, so if you are planning on doing a lot of walking, wear comfortable flat shoes.

The brightly coloured pink and black Divia buses can be found all across Dijon and make getting around Dijon very easy.  Their journey planner can be found here.  A free shuttle bus also connects with the bus and tram lines.  There are also two tram lines.  The trams operate across the city seven days a week for most of the day.

Dijon is a very easy city to ride around on bikes.  Bikes, in the same colours as the buses and trams, can be hired here.

Taxis also operate in the Dijon city and greater area.

Day trips

From Dijon: Tour Cote de Nuits region with wine tasting

  • Visit Côte de Nuits, part of the famous Route des Grands Crus
  • Cellar tours and wine tastings at two cellar doors
  • Pick up and drop off at Dijon hotels
  • Approximately three hours

Check availability and reviews and book online

From Dijon: Day tour, wine tastings and lunch Dijon to Beaune

  • Small-group tour
  • Full day – approximately nine hours
  • Depart and return to Dijon
  • Sample local Burgundy wines
  • Lunch in a local village
  • Two wine producer stops
  • Visit Hospices de Beaune

Check availability and reviews and book online

burgundy grand crus route Château Corton-André
Château Corton-André

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