312km (193 miles) SE of Paris; 320km (198 miles) NE of LyonFounded by the Romans, in the north of the region, this city of 155,000 residents is the capital of Burgundy—a culturally-rich place of epic architecture (from a range of eras and styles), treasure-filled museums, and plenty of shops selling two of France’s greatest exports: wine and mustard. Happily, most of the city’s museums and major sites are free to enter, making a visit here significantly less expensive than other French cities of this scope.
On the doorstep of the illustrious Côte d’Or wine region, Dijon is a great base for exploring vineyards. But don’t do that until you’ve sampled some of the food. The city’s postcard perfect streets are lined with accomplished restaurants, including five with Michelin stars. Most importantly, Dijon is home to a unique, multi-building complex created for the singular purpose of teaching the world about the proud history of French cuisine. Opened in 2019, the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin (www.citedelagastronomie-dijon.fr) encompasses an erudite but fun, interactive museum about wine (with English language text and audio as well as French); a cooking school; an oenology school; several restaurants; and a “gastronomic village” of shops selling local specialties from across France—and handing out lots of samples to taste. Some of the Cité’s offerings are free, others incur a charge, and hours vary by which section you’re visiting, so study the website, which will also list the many culinary events the Cité sponsors each month.
The city has some entertaining events throughout the year. In May, vintage motorbike fans arrive for the Coupes Moto Légende, Europe’s biggest motorbike gathering (some 1,300 bikers) to race their two-wheeled steeds around the Prenois race track (http://coupes-moto-legende.fr). Every two years, the Fêtes de la Vigne celebrate local life and traditions on the last weekend in August (http://fetesdelavigne.org). In November, the city hosts one of France’s largest food fairs, the Foire internationale et gastronomique de Dijon (http://foirededijon.com).