If you’ve ever wished that you could live in a bygone era, a move to Dijon may be the closest you can get. Surrounded by villages where time seems to stand still, ancient vineyards and golden sunflower fields, Burgundy’s capital is cocooned by vestiges of the past. Like in its twin city of York, there is a feeling that history is around every corner: along the medieval streets lined with Renaissance-style buildings, half-timbered homes and in the city’s world-famous museums that house paintings and sculptures from Dijon’s golden age during the 14th and 15th centuries. Acclaimed for its collection of classical art, Dijon now has some contemporary art and design to its name, as well as old favourites such as the Musée des Beaux-Arts and Musée Rude.
Dijon is served by a sleek tram system but locals still favour getting about on foot as much of the city is pedestrianised. On your walkabouts, you can opt to get your heart racing even more by climbing the 316 steps of the Tour Philippe le Bon in the Palais des Ducs where, from the top of the tower you will be rewarded with panoramic city views – a great time-out activity and a perfect way to show off Dijon to visiting guests.
Of course, many people know Dijon for its mustard, but there is much more to the city’s wining and dining scene, and locals here enjoy indulging in rich and hearty cuisine that the region is famed for. Place de la Libération, a square bordered by 15th-century buildings and enlivened by buskers and tinkling water fountains, is a popular spot for enjoying a pre-dinner apéritif with friends .
It’s this spirit of getting together that still has New York native, Alex Miles so besotted with the city, after moving here in 1995. “Dijon is the pulsating heart of France,” he says. “It’s full of love, understanding, good food and good people. It’s easy to get together with people here,” he tells me, in reference to the city’s café culture. “Everybody here just seems to get along. There’s a great mix of people in the community.” Alex now runs private cooking classes in the city where people come from all over the world to cook, eat and enjoy food. It would seem that there’s no better place for it.