For foodies traveling to France, Dijon (yes, of mustard fame) checks all the boxes. If you select a river cruise that departs from or culminates at the city’s port, you’ll have the opportunity to visit this unique city. Here are a few ideas of what you can experience.
Taste the goods at Les Halles
Bring an appetite to this famous farmers market in the heart of the old city of Dijon. Sample and buy your way through stalls overflowing with cheeses, meats, pastries, fresh fruits and veggies. The cast-iron building that houses the market dates back to the 1800s and was designed by none other than Dijon-born Gustave Eiffel. If you visit on a Tuesday, Friday or Saturday, the market spills out into the surrounding streets with more for sale, from clothing to records.
Eat your fill at Michelin-starred restaurants
Typically, the Michelin-starred restaurants in Dijon are a bit more of a value than in, say, the most fashionable sections of Paris. Try L’Asperule for its reasonably priced tasting menu. Consider a Michelin-guide-listed restaurant as well, including Parapluie or L’Essential.
Visiting in the autumn? You’ll be in town for the famous International Gastronomic Fair, where you can taste not only the flavors of this region, but from around the world.
Shop for mustard
This is, after all, the home of Dijon mustard, so prepare yourself to be able to “Pass the Grey Poupon” once you return home by picking up a few jars. Visit the Moutarde Maille and Edmond Fallot shops for their house Dijon mustard, stone-ground variety, and interesting flavors such as tarragon, basil and green peppercorn.
Visit Notre Dame
In the center of Dijon’s old town, Notre Dame has been around since 1230 and is home to one of the oldest Virgin statues in France, the Notre-Dame de Bon-Espoir. Check out, too, the Jacquemart, a renowned statue of four figures (Jacquemart, Jacqueline and their two children) shown to be striking the bell. Find it on the small south tower of the western facade. Don’t miss the Owl of Dijon, carved on one of the outdoor corners of the church. Legend has it that the owl will grant your wish if you are thinking of it while touching the owl with your left hand.
Explore Ducal Palace and the art museum
Dating back to 1366, Ducal Palace was the residence of successive Dukes of Burgundy. It was rebuilt as a classicist palace in the 17th century and today is one of the country’s largest museums. City Hall is located here, as is the Musee des Beaux Arts, in the palace’s east wing. The museum is home to approximately 130,000 works of medievalt and contemporary art, paintings, decorative arts, drawings, sculptures and more.
Take a biking tour
A particularly pleasant way to enjoy Dijon, a gentle, guided cycling tour will take you along the Saone River where you’ll see the lock that controls the river’s access to the Rhone-Rhine Canal.
While it’s known as the city of Dijon, there is so much more to this lovely city than its trademark mustard. Dive into the art, culture and history of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and soak up the Burgundian feel of Dijon, making it more than simply a launching or ending point for your river cruise.
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