Rich in history and culture, Dijon is a must-visit destination when traveling around the Burgundy region of France. The city is renowned for its captivating blend of medieval charm and modern vibrancy and boasts a unique range of drawcards for tourists.
As the capital of the historic Burgundy region, Dijon wears its heritage proudly, showcasing architectural marvels that span centuries. Its cobbled streets house opulent palaces and estates, which reflect the city’s historical significance as a place of affluence. Wander through its bustling markets and explore a vibrant local art scene.
However, Dijon is most famed for its culinary delights, boasting a legacy deeply rooted in gastronomy. The city’s exquisite mustard has earned global acclaim, while dishes like coq au vin, snails and boeuf bourguignon hail from the region. Additionally, Dijon ranks as one of France’s most famous winemaking regions, specializing in chardonnay and pinot noir.
Overall, there are many things to do in Dijon and the city promises an immersive encounter with French culture and heritage. It’s also as good a place as any to embrace the Joie de vivre.
Map of Tourist Attractions in Dijon
In this post, we'll cover:
18. Porte Guillaume
The Porte Guillaume is a historical monument dating back to the 14th century. Initially constructed as a part of the city’s defensive walls, it is named after Duke William of Burgundy and showcases a blend of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles.
An iconic symbol of Dijon’s history, the Porte Guillaume welcomes visitors with its impressive towers and ornate allegorical relief sculptures. As you pass beneath its grand arches, you’ll be transported to a bygone era, imagining the bustling activity that once flowed through its gates.
The site’s strategic location at the edge of the old town makes it an easily accessible attraction. Visiting it enables you to soak in the city’s heritage while providing a picturesque backdrop for photographers.
17. Maison Milliere
Maison Millière is a building you might recognize from the 1989 film Cyrano de Bergerac starring Gérard Depardieu, Vincent Perez and Anne Brochet.
This historic timber-framed house, dating back to the 15th century, is one of the oldest in the city, exuding the charm of medieval France. A draper merchant, Guillaume Millière, built it with Guillemette, his wife, close to the palace of the Dukes of Burgundy.
The structure features a distinctive half-timbered façade, steeply pitched roof, and intricate carvings and provides a window into the city’s rich heritage.
As you explore its rooms and corridors, you’ll find original woodwork, period furnishings, and captivating details that transport you back to a time of knights and merchants.
16. Jardin Darcy
One of the most beautiful and serene spots in Dijon to visit is the Jardin Darcy.
Named after Henry Darcy, a prominent French engineer and hydraulics expert, the picturesque park was created in the 19th century. Its creation was part of a broader urban development initiative at the time, which transformed the landscape into a beautiful green oasis.
As you wander through the Jardin Darcy, you’ll discover a harmonious blend of meticulously landscaped gardens, fountains, and shaded pathways.
The park resides near the city center. Its main feature is a striking circular fountain surrounded by lush lawns and benches, which provides a perfect spot for picnics and relaxation. The elevated location of the garden grants panoramic views of Dijon’s skyline, enhancing its charm.
15. Eglise Saint-Michel
Dating back to the 15th century, the Eglise Saint-Michel is a majestic church dedicated to the Archangel Michael. It is worth visiting if you are interested in learning more about its pivotal role in Dijon’s religious and cultural evolution.
The church’s construction spans several centuries and is a remarkable example of Gothic architecture and spiritual heritage. Its exterior features intricate stone carvings, spires and a noteworthy portal adorned with elaborately detailed sculptures. Get there early in the morning to appreciate it, minus the crowds that develop later in the day.
The church boasts a vast nave decorated with stunning stained glass windows that cast a colorful glow upon the space. Its choir stalls, altarpieces and chapels also feature gorgeous woodwork and artwork, showcasing the artistic finesse of its creators.
14. Day Trip to Beaune
Whilst visiting Dijon, don’t miss the opportunity to take a day trip to Beaune. It’s a quaint town known for its wine culture and medieval architecture, which allows you to explore Burgundy’s charming landscapes further on the way there.
Steeped in history, Beaune is home to the iconic Hospices de Beaune, a 15th-century hospital complex with a striking multi-colored tile roof. This architectural gem houses a museum and wine cellars, providing insight into both medical practices of the past and the region’s winemaking heritage.
Strolling through Beaune’s cobbled streets, you’ll encounter charming squares, half-timbered houses, and inviting bistros. The town’s wine culture is fully displayed with numerous wine shops and tasting rooms showcasing the renowned Burgundy wines available to visit.
13. La Moutarderie Edmond Fallot
As mentioned, Dijon is famous for its exceptional mustard, which is well illustrated at La Moutarderie Edmond Fallot.
Founded in 1840, this family-owned mustard mill is steeped in tradition, crafting premium Dijon mustard using time-honored methods.
Upon entering the mustard mill, visitors are greeted by the intense and inviting aroma of freshly ground mustard seeds. Guided tours will take you through the meticulous process, from sourcing the finest ingredients to crafting the distinctive flavors that have made Dijon mustard famous worldwide.
The tour provides insights into the art of mustard production, showcasing the mill’s commitment to quality and craftsmanship. Its highlight is undoubtedly the chance to sample a variety of mustards, each with its own unique profile, ranging from classic Dijon to creatively infused flavors. There is also a boutique shop attached to the mill. So you can take back home some of your favorites.
12. Jardin de l’Arquebuse
Another beautiful green space to visit in Dijon is the Jardin de l’Arquebuse. Established in the 17th century, this botanical garden has evolved from interesting beginnings into a captivating venue that blends lush greenery and educational treasures.
The garden’s name ‘Arquebuse’ refers to an ancient firearm, highlighting its original purpose as a training ground for marksmen. Today, it’s a peaceful haven that showcases an extensive collection of plants, from aromatic herbs to exotic species. One of the garden’s highlights is the impressive hothouse, containing a diverse range of tropical and subtropical plants.
Aside from its botanical wonders, the Jardin de l’Arquebuse houses a natural history museum that provides insight into Burgundy’s flora and fauna. The adjacent Planetarium invites visitors to explore the mysteries of the universe through engaging exhibits and shows.
11. Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
For those interested in Dijon’s anthropology and local heritage, the Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne preserves and showcases the city’s rich cultural heritage. Housed in a historic 17th-century building, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the daily lives of Burgundian people over the centuries.
Its carefully curated collection of artifacts ranges from traditional costumes and household items to tools and crafts, reflecting the diverse aspects of Burgundian life. Visitors can explore recreated rooms that vividly capture different eras with fascinating displays, relics and exhibits.
The Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne also celebrates regional festivals, folklore and rituals, presenting an in-depth understanding of Burgundy’s customs and traditions. Overall, it provides lots of information to support what it displays. So it’s worth spending a good few hours at the venue to absorb as much of it as possible.
10. Climb Philippe Le Bon tower
For incredible panoramic views of Dijon’s enchanting landscape, climb the Philippe Le Bon Tower.
This striking medieval tower, dating back to the 15th century, is part of the Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy complex. It is named after Duke Philip the Good and was once a crucial defensive element of the palace.
The tower has a spiral staircase that leads visitors through a journey of stone walls and historical ambiance, unveiling insights into its architectural significance. Once you ascend it, you’ll witness a breathtaking vista over Dijon’s rooftops, spires and squares, showcasing the city’s vibrant blend of old and new.
The Philippe Le Bon Tower resides within the city’s historical center, so you can’t miss it. While it might be a physical exertion for some, it is worth the effort as the views are spectacular.
9. Owl’s Trail
For those wanting to explore Dijon’s historic quarters, one of the best ways to do that is to follow the Owl’s Trail, or ‘Parcours de la Chouette’. This self-guided walking trail is marked by small bronze owl plaques embedded in the pavement, leading visitors through a scenic journey of Dijon’s iconic landmarks and hidden gems.
The trail derives its name from the owl, a symbol of wisdom and vigilance. It covers approximately 22 points of interest, including historical sites, architectural marvels, and picturesque streets. These owls guide you along a route that winds through Dijon’s medieval core, showcasing its rich history, from the Ducal Palace to the market squares and ancient churches.
The Owl’s Trail historical tour allows you to explore Dijon at your own pace. It is a great way to absorb the city’s vibrant atmosphere and uncover its past through charming anecdotes.
8. Tour the Vineyards of Burgundy
If you love wine, one of the best things to do in Dijon is taking a tour to the vineyards of Burgundy.
With a history dating back centuries, Burgundy’s vineyards are renowned for producing some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Embarking on a wine adventure allows you to explore picturesque landscapes adorned with meticulously maintained vine rows. Each vineyard offers a unique expression of terroir.
Visitors can partake in guided tours and tastings at prestigious wineries, gaining insights into the winemaking process and the region’s dedication to quality. From family estates to grand châteaux, the vineyards of Burgundy offer a diverse array of experiences.
The charming villages of the Côte d’Or, like Beaune and Nuits-Saint-Georges, are notable gateways to this wine region. These towns provide opportunities to experience Burgundian wine culture with historic cellars, wine museums, and lively markets.
7. Musée Rude
Art lovers should visit the Musée Rude to see the exquisite sculpture and artistic mastery it displays there.
The museum pays homage to the legacy of François Rude, a celebrated 19th-century sculptor born in Dijon – and the broader world of sculpture. It is housed within a former St. Étienne Church, showcasing a diverse collection of sculptures spanning various styles and periods.
What the museum does well is capture the essence of artistic expression. Taking center stage is a replica of François Rude’s iconic masterpiece, ‘La Marseillaise’ – a stunning portrayal of the French national anthem’s spirit. It also hosts a variety of reliefs, busts and other sculptures by Rude as well as other artists, creating a comprehensive overview of the art form’s evolution.
Therefore, it offers visitors an immersive cultural experience unlike anything else you’ll find in Dijon.
6. Halles de Dijon
You’ll want to visit the Halles de Dijon if you love food. This bustling market dates back to the 19th century and is where everyone goes to buy and eat the best of Dijon’s local produce.
The market is centrally located and resides in a stately building comprising several columns with fluted shafts and arcades. It offers everything from artisanal cheeses and succulent meats to the freshest seafood and most delightful baked goods. It also sells the best fruit and vegetables anywhere in Dijon.
Once there, take the time to explore the market stalls, converse with the local vendors and sample authentic Burgundian specialities. If you would rather have something to eat immediately, you can visit several restaurants and wine bars within the indoor market hall.
5. Maison Maille
When it comes to Dijon mustard, one name stands out – Maison Maille. So you may be pleased to discover the city is home to this exceptional brand.
Boasting a history spanning over two centuries, Maison Maille is renowned for producing premium Dijon mustard. Its original boutique opened in 1845 and still operates, selling an exceptional range of mustards, vinegar and condiments.
The boutique exudes an air of sophistication, with gleaming jars of artisanal creations lining the shelves. Patrons can engage in tastings, where they can sample a variety of mustard flavors, from classic to creatively infused options. At the same time, Maison Maille’s knowledgeable staff offer insights into the mustard-making process and the brand’s enduring commitment to quality.
Rather coolly, the boutique also allows visitors to personalize their mustard by choosing bespoke flavors and ingredients, allowing them to create a memorable and unique souvenir of their visit.
4. Cathédrale Saint-Bénigne
Another one of Dijon’s most prominent landmarks is The Cathédrale Saint-Bélandmarks. Visiting it allows you to appreciate the craftsmanship of Dijon’s past.
Initially founded in the 6th century, this cathedral showcases a blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles, reflecting the evolution of Dijon over the ages. The cathedral’s exterior boasts intricate carvings and a striking façade, while the interior reveals a serene expanse of stone arches and columns.
One of its most significant features is the crypt, which houses the relics of Saint Bénigne, the cathedral’s namesake. The crypt’s architecture and aura also offer a serene place for reflection. Another highlight is the Jacquemart clock, an ornate astronomical clock that adorns the cathedral’s tower. Its animated figures strike the hours, delighting visitors with a touch of medieval ingenuity.
3. Eglise Notre-Dame
The Eglise Notre-Dame is a magnificent church renowned for its remarkable design and rich religious heritage.
The stately structure, dating back to the 13th century, encompasses a captivating fusion of architectural styles with prominent Romanesque and Gothic influences. Its exterior is an ornate masterpiece, adorning intricate carvings, sculptures and decorative elements that reflect the patience, skill and dedication of the craftsmen of the time.
Inside, visitors can admire the soaring nave with its elegant rib-vaulted ceiling and impressive stained glass windows – some 6 meters in diameter. When colorful light filters through them onto the stone floors, it creates a palpable serenity and spiritual reflection.
The Eglise Notre-Dame is also home to the acclaimed ‘Mise au Tombeau’ sculpture created by François Rude, a notable 19th-century artist. This sculpture depicts the entombment of Christ and is a significant point of interest in the church.
2. Rue Des Forges
Located just a 10-minute stroll from the Gare de Dijon, the Rue des Forges is a bustling thoroughfare that captures the essence of Dijon’s past and present.
This picturesque street, with roots in the Middle Ages, comprises cobbled pavements and well-preserved architecture that evoke a delightful old-worldly feel. Lined with charming boutiques, cafes, and artisanal shops, it offers visitors a lovely blend of retail therapy, gourmet dining, and insight into Dijon’s everyday way of life.
Aside from shopping and enjoying local gastronomy, the Rue des Forges also leads to many of Dijon’s most significant landmarks. Notably, they include the Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy, adding to its appeal for those wanting to explore the city’s historical treasures.
1. Palace of the Dukes & Musee des Beaux-Arts
In terms of architecture, the Palace of the Dukes well and truly leads the field in Dijon.
This majestic palace, initially constructed in the 14th century, served for many years as the residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. So it stands today as a prominent symbol of the city’s historical significance.
The palace now houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts, a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces spanning various periods. The museum’s collections include paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, showcasing works by renowned artists like Veronese, Memling, and Greuze.
Visitors can explore opulent chambers adorned with medieval and Renaissance architecture and immerse themselves in the ambiance of Burgundy’s rich past. The grand hall, Salles des États, decorated with an impressive ceiling and monumental fireplace, is another exquisite highlight.
Where to Stay in Dijon
When planning where to stay in Dijon, there are several charming areas you can choose from.
The historic center, comprising cobblestone streets and medieval architecture, is popular due to its proximity to major landmarks like the Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy. Similarly, quaint suburbs like Montchapet and Fontaine-d’Ouche offer a more tranquil escape while remaining well-connected to the city’s old town.
For a truly immersive experience, consider staying at Maison Philippe Le Bon. This exquisite boutique hotel captures the essence of Dijon’s heritage, providing a luxurious blend of old-world charm and modern comfort. Its central location ensures easy access to the city’s cultural gems and vibrant dining scene.
If you’d prefer to be nearer the lively ambience of local markets, Hôtel des Halles is an excellent budget choice. Nestled close to the bustling Les Halles market, this accommodation offers a dynamic atmosphere and a glimpse into the city’s culinary spirit.
With both options, you’ll find yourself ideally positioned to embrace the many tourist attractions in Dijon as well as its rich history.
How to get there
Due to the excellent transportation network that connects it to other parts of the country, getting to Dijon is relatively straightforward and convenient.
For those traveling by air, the nearest major airport is Dole-Jura Airport, about 50 km away, which provides regular domestic and limited international flights. Alternatively, Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport, about 170 km from the city, offers a broader range of international connections.
Dijon is also well-connected by train, with the high-speed TGV linking it to major cities like Paris, Lyon and Marseille. The city’s central train station, Gare de Dijon-Ville, is a hub for regional and long-distance routes, with many services running throughout the day.
For those who prefer road travel, a well-maintained highway system makes reaching Dijon by car or bus efficient and comfortable.
Approximate travel times:
- Beaune – 20 minutes by car, 20 minutes by train
- Lyon – 2 hours by car, 2 hours by train
- Geneva (Switzerland) – 2 hours by car, 2 hours 30 minutes by train and bus
- Paris – 3 hours by car, 1 hour 30 minutes by train
- Strasbourg – 2.5 hours by car, 2 hours 30 minutes by train
- Milan (Italy) – 4 hours by car, 4 hours 30 minutes by train and bus
Best Time t Visit Dijon
As Dijon is the capital of Burgundy – one of France’s most famous wine-making areas – autumn is the best time to visit. This is when the grapes are harvested, its countryside is coated in lovely colours and the summer crowds and prices have diminished.
Although November is colder, it sees the renowned Dijon International and Gastronomic Festival take place. One of the largest events of its kind in France, it has lots of tasty traditional foods and wines to try.
Summer is when Dijon is sunniest and warmest. Temperatures average 25°C (77°F) with many people taking tours of its vineyards. Exploring the centre can get hot, muggy and crowded however and prices are at their highest. You can cool off though in Lake Kir and enjoy all the free concerts of the summer-long Garcon la Note festival.
Although slightly rainier, spring is the ideal time to stroll about the centre. Temperatures are much more comfortable at around 15 to 23°C (59 to 73°F) and there are fewer people around. As every month of the year sees between 11 and 17 days with at least some rainfall, take a jacket whenever you visit.