Dijon, FranceOkay, perhaps Dijon’s biggest name recognition comes form those jars of tasty, spicy mustard, but there are lots more reasons to go to this charming city, southeast of Paris, in France’s Bourgogne region.

A few summers ago, we stopped off at Dijon as we were driving to our holiday in Brittany.

Dijon, FranceNeedless to say, we ate and drank very well in this world-famous wine producing region.

But we also enjoyed exploring the historical town during our short stay in this pretty corner of France. Like many French towns, Dijon is an enjoyable walking city.

Dijon was the seat of the Dukes of Burgundy from the 11th to the late 15th century. Many of the typical, half-timbered houses in the historical center date from that time period, and are well-maintained.

2014_March_Dijon3The roofs in the historical center are very pretty, and typical to the region. They roof tiles are made of glazed terracotta, usually in geometric pattern in shades of greens, yellows and blacks.

And the famous mustard? Apparently, it was invented in 1856 by Dijon resident Jean Naigeon, who included verjuice (the acidic juice of grapes that are not yet ripe). Verjuce is no longer used in modern recipes. Today’s Dijon mustard includes white wine, ground brown mustard seeds (often black mustard seeds as well), salt and spices.

You’ll find plenty of dishes using Dijon mustard in the local restaurants. Escargots and boeuf bourguignon are also local specialties. And everything tastes better with a good glass of local Burgundy wine.

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When you’re in Dijon, the indoor market in the historical center isn’t to be missed. The 19th century marketplace, Les Halles, was built by none other than Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame). Leave enough time to wander the stalls in this beautiful setting.

I always love French markets – if you want more tips for some of my favorite markets, see my earlier posts on the Annecy market, the Cours Saleya in Nice, and Les Halles in Toulouse.

Enjoy your time in beautiful Dijon.