We booked a trip to Dijon before I realised it was our girl’s birthday (and subsequently felt like the worst mother ever) (or the best, because France for a first birthday party). We hit the road on Thursday after an epic game of car tetris trying to fit all our luggage and two chubby kids in the rent-a-van. We stopped en route at Mulhouse, just over the border, for a stretch of tiny legs.
We arrived in Dijon later than anticipated due to the car mishaps and one rather cranky birthday girl. Our apartment was situated opposite Park Darcy, the main public park in the city. Our first night in town – and indeed all nights since – we sat at the table, ate cheese (a local specialty is a soft cheese washed, daily, for a month in white wine. It was heaven) and drank wine while contemplating our activities for the following day. As luck would have it, the following day included this:There’s a self-guided tour one can do called the Owl Trail. It started the other side of the park and covered three kilometres and all the major sites of the city…which apparently included the Bundy Bear. Back in the day, Dijon was a tremendously wealthy city (not to say it’s poor now, but it used to be a contender for the throne). The Dukes of Burgundy reigned from there – in fact, from the palace and tower you see below. ‘Liberty Equality and Fraternity’ used to be ‘Liberty Equality and Fraternity – OR DEATH’ (caps mine, obvs, but the words were theirs). I guess in the spirit of liberty they dropped the death lark.
The trail took us past church after church after church. We were later advised that Dijon – due to its wealth – had thousands of churches prior to the revolution. Now, over 300 still kick on. We also passed the owl for which the tour is named. You rub it with your left hand (left being closest to your heart) and make a wish. Ours were for pastries and quiet children, both of which I am pleased to report came true.
Naturally the tour would be no tour at all if we didn’t peruse local fromageries.
Festive fromageries.Later that night, after a repeat of said platter, we took the wee ones into town to see the Christmas light show. There were the standard Christmas lights, but also a light show that played out against the side of the palace. It blew the kids’ minds, and our girl giggled pretty much the entire time.