Rollicking Road Trip Through France: Chapter 5
We were on our way to Beaune and thought we should make a short detour in Dijon. Because…why not? We spent about half a day walking the city. I don’t have much to write about the city – it’s mostly pictures, but I will say that it’s far more than mustard. It manages to retain some medieval flavor in a place that also seems considerably modernized with its open and lively squares, parks, and other pedestrian areas.
Owl’s Trail (Parcours de la Chouette)
Dijon has this wonderful self-guided walking trail called the Owl’s Trail. This is a great way to get introduced to a place, and especially perfect if you want to explore but don’t have a ton of time. Every small city should have one of these. You purchase the guidebook that describes the stops for 3.50€ at the Tourist office and then follow small owl tiles on the ground to 22 historic and notable stops around the city. There are also options to walk a few additional smaller loops if you are so inclined. Why an owl? Dijon has adopted that as a symbol of their city.
Some of the memorable stops include:
- Les Halles Covered Market. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, who was born in Dijon.
- Musée des Beaux Arts. This place looked huge and interesting – and it’s free. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit it.
- Square des Ducs. Cute little square that was decorated with red lanterns.
- Place de la Libération. Huge, open semi-circle space. I can only imagine how this place must fill up with people outside at the cafés and restaurants lining this area in the spring and summer.
- Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon. The front is covered with numerous gargoyles. It is famous for its Jacquemart clock tower.
- Lucky Owl. On the right wall of the Notre Dame is a stone owl. Supposedly, luck comes to anyone who rubs the owl with their left hand and makes a wish. A lot of people have made wishes over the years so it’s extremely worn down now and just looks like a somewhat bird-shaped nub.
- Palais de Justice. It has an amazingly intricate wood-carved door.
- Porte de Guillaume. An arch that sits in the middle of big, pedestrian center.
- Jardin Darcy. This garden has a huge polar bear at the entrance, a pond, and a small waterfall.
- Cathedrale Saint-Benigne. Flying buttress, anyone?
- Place François-Rude. Another lovely square. It’s named after a French sculptor. This one is surrounded by half-timbered houses, has a fountain and carousel in the middle, and a very cool sculpture of a tree with a human head. It’s called Semper Virens – always living.
Hopefully you get a sense of this city through the pictures. We never seem to have enough time in any of these places, but looking back through these pictures takes me right back there.