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A Short Break in Dijon
Take a short break to Dijon – there’s a wealth of things to explore from the Dukes of Bourgogne to the nightlife in this university town.
If you are looking for a few days away, Dijon has much to offer. It is not a tourist destination that instantly springs to mind, but this lovely old town, the regional capital of Burgundy, has remained unchanged. It is steeped in tradition and stylish French chic. Here you will find some of the best gastronomy in Europe, sample fine wines, visit lovely half-timbered buildings dating back to the glorious days of the Dukes of Bourgogne, and soak up the lively atmosphere in the streets and the famous market. Get away from it all, even if only for a couple of days.
A no-fuss way to travel to Burgundy is to take the Eurostar to Lille and then connect with the TGV fast train to Dijon, total journey time – 5½hrs. Leaving London St. Pancras Eurostar terminus early afternoon, you are in Dijon in time for a late supper. The town centre is compact so everything is within strolling distance. From Brussels the journey time is 4½hrs. Of course there are security checks, but this is a comfortable, relaxed experience, and it's eco-friendly too. are offering return journeys to Dijon from £89. A cheaper alternative is to go by Flixbus, the intercity service through Europe with tickets from five euros. There is a route from Paris via Auxerre to Dijon taking four hours.
For accommodation, we would recommend the Hotel Philippe le Bon in Rue Ste.Anne, a friendly three star hotel with 32 rooms in a quiet street, close to the old part of town. A double room with en-suite facilities starts from 115€, with breakfast extra. The restaurant, La Closerie, is on the far side of the courtyard garden. With lawn and trees, this is a lovely oasis in the middle of town to relax and enjoy meals al fresco on a sunny day. Recently opened, L’Autre Entrée is a winebar-brasserie for more informal meals.
Close to the hotel in Place Emile Zola and Rue Berbisey is the student quarter which comes to life at night and has a selection of international restaurants. Talking of nightlife, there's Le Chat Noir, in Garibaldi Street, and the new Le Caveau de la Chouette in Rue des Godrans.
A new trend in the centre of the city is the conversion of some of the majestic 17thC buildings into apartments for holiday rental. You can buy delicious looking (and tasting) local food from the market and prepare it in the apartment, a real home from home.
The market building, Les Halles, designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame, dates back to 1875 and is right in the centre of the town. Friday, Saturday and Tuesday mornings are market days with vendors’ stalls all around the adjoining streets. Who could resist the array of food, beautifully displayed as only the French know how? Described as the ‘haute couture of food products’ there are cheeses, patés, spices and sun-dried tomatoes, olives, fresh bread, delectable patisserie, seasonal fruit and vegetables, oysters, mussels and crabs, mushrooms in all shapes and sizes, not to mention of course, mustard … Before you know it, you will have to yield to temptation. As one of the stallholders says, ‘here we have time to guide the client. We can tell them, for example, which variety of potato is best for a gratin. We are not a self-service!’
A wander into the old quarter of town around the Palais du Ducs is a must. There are lovely old half-timbered buildings, stylish boutiques and coffee shops. Views from the Tour Philippe le Bon over the tiled roof tops and spires are particularly good. Further information from one of the two tourist offices – at the Palais itself or at the station. Within the Palais des Ducs is the Musée des Beaux Arts housing the most significant collection of paintings outside Paris (closed Tuesdays).
The shops in Dijon are chic. Head for the Rue de la Liberté, Rue du Bourg and Rue Bossuet;
If you would like to go on wine tasting tour while visiting Dijon, the Côte d’Or lies to the south, a fifteen minute drive outside the town. A visit to Gevrey Chambertin and the route of the Grands Crus can be arranged during your visit, see Max Renau's Wine, History and Discovery Tours.
The finer details
London St. Pancras
departure 15.04 local time, arriving Lille 17.26 local time.
Time for a coffee, then Lille to Dijon TGV departs 19.00 from Lille, arriving
departure time 16.56 arriving Lille 17.29.