Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Day In Dijon, August 7, 2010

The Dome Of The 11th Century Church of St. Etienne Where The Rude Museum Is Housed

The Interior Of The Rude Museum Is An 11th Century Church of Roman Influence

The Sculpture Of Rude, An Accomplished Artist Of Dijon

A Relief Sculpture Commemorating The Volunteers Who Triumphed (Inside Musée Rude)

Pig Art In The Musée Rude, Presents Quite A Contrast In Art

The Ramparts and Garden of the 11th Century Cathedral of St. Etienne

The Plaza Is A Perfect Place To Enjoy A Saturday Afternoon, It's Busy At Night As Well

Parents Enjoy An Aperitif While Children Play In Fountains In The Large Plaza

This Large Palace Marks The Power And Influence Of The Dukes Of Dijon

Palais des Ducs, Dijon

Gargoyles Stand Guard On This Tower Above The Palais des Ducs

The Fountains Of The Huge Plaza Attract Children On A Warm Dijon Afternoon

A Stately Government Building With Huge Doors Is Open To The Public

Colorful Flags Announce The Upcoming Wine Festival

The Old And The New Nicely Displayed By This Cosmetic Shop

Bright Colored Tiles Decorate Rooftops Of Dijon

A Shop Displays Dijonaise Delicacies

Dijon's Architecture Reflects Her Various Periods In History

Even The Water Fountains Have Antique Value

It's Obvious Which Bucherie Is The Best By The Number Of People Waiting Patiently

Saturday Markets Wind Down, While People Settle Into Local Cafe´s For Dejeuner

A Wonderful Lunch Always Concludes With Un Petit Café

Gargoyle-like Carvings Jut Out From The Cathedral, Like Guards Watching Over The Structure

The Cathedral de Notre Dame Is Too Large To Photograph

Wedding Parties Walk In A Procession To Local Churches

Decorated Cars Await The Newly Weds

A Groom Paces Nervously Awaiting His Bride (Children Watch)

Sometimes Looking Downward Results In A Surprise Like This Gutter Drain

Guests And Children Await Arrival Of The Wedding Party

The Blue Sign Marks The Entry To The Building Of Civil Wedding Ceremonies

A Bride Arrives, Dressed In What Appears To Be A Special Gown From Her Village

Many Buildings Have Carved Relief Over The Portals

These Amazing Windows Appear On Many Of The Upper-End Apartment Buildings

A Small Park Contains A Ruin From Long Ago, An Entry Into A Building

An Ancient Map Of Old Dijon Is Captured On A Marble Tablet

A Famous Composer Stands Outside The Musée de Beaux Arts (Jean-Philippe Rameau)

Even The French Must Stop To Gaze At A Map (Outside the Theatre)

The Encumbant Biker Takes Advantage Of Low Traffic During Saturday Market

Bikes Stand Waiting On Market Day When People Are Wandering Around Or Dining With Friends

Marble Slabs Mark City Limits, Dating Back To Roman Occupation

After a full day's ride in our exchange car, The Blue Goo, around the Champagne region north of Dijon, we were ready to explore a bit closer to our current home.

We woke midmorning and enjoyed our usual breakfast of fresh sweet strawberries, grown locally, with yogurt and a bit of french bread and coffee, then we cleaned up and wandered toward the center of Dijon. It was early enough for us to enjoy the market place, which was bustling with people buying tableclothes, leather goods, every kind of food you can imagine, and trinkets. We were more or less scouting out some of the tables that we might like to revisit on next Friday's market day or perhaps on Tuesday. We noted those places where the lines were long as we are certain these must be the best places to shop.

After a spin around the city (I stand corrected: Dijon is NOT a village, but rather a bustling lively city ranking among some of the larger cities of France) and snapping some photographs, we settled into a table at a pizzeria where we were greeted by the manager who spoke very good English. We commented on his ability and he was very pleased. Following a delicious indulgence in a salad with goat cheese and a pizza which we washed down with some burgundy wine, we shared a dessert of a classic bowl of ice cream and a petit café. Then, to our surprise, our English speaking greeter served us a gift of Crémant then arrived to explain to us what it was. Of course we have long been introduced to this Bourgogne substitute for champagne, but we nonetheless thanked him for his kindness and told him it was delicious.

After lunch we walked near the building where civil weddings take place. There is a large plaza area outside the building where the decorated wedding party cars are parked and the wedding party enters the building for a civil ceremony. For those who don't know, in France there is a civil ceremony that takes place to legitimize the marital status. Then, following the civil ceremony, there is a religious ceremony. If the church is located near the place of the civil ceremony, it is common for the bride and groom to walk from the civil ceremony to the church and all people who witnessed the wedding follow in this procession. However, if the church is located elsewhere, the wedding party climbs into a decorated car and the procession is by car. It's quite extraordinary to watch. We were able to stand in the plaza and watch brides and grooms arriving and being greeted by guests and then disappearing through a door into the marital chambers. Children were dressed up, as were their parents. The costumes of the bride and groom were of differing types and some seemed to carry significance related to historical standards or perhaps village traditions. It was a treat to be in the city center on a Saturday when these ceremonies take place.

After hanging around the wedding venue for a bit, we walked around the city some more, window shopping since the businesses were all closed down for the 2:00 o'clock rest period, then made our way to the car and home. While my husband napped a bit, I took the opportunity to sweep the floors and wash the kitchen floor.

The best part of the day was yet to come. Our exchange couple had arranged for their parents (in-laws) to introduce us to their home and explain certain aspects of living here. This nice couple then invited us to their home for a traditional Dijonaise meal. So, around seven o'clock Jean-Claude arrived and drove us to their apartment in the middle of the city center of Dijon. The apartment was lovely, spacious and carried with it much history and charm. We enjoyed special champagne along with great conversation and some delicious delicate bite-sized hors d'ouvres for an hour or so, then moved to the beautifully decorated table where we enjoyed course after course of delicious delicacies such as fois gras with deep purple sweet grapes and delicious fresh bread, a terrine of ham with cornichons (small dill pickles), piping hot bubbly, buttery, garlicky escargot, eggs meurette, and finally poached pears with cassis and vanilla ice cream. By the time this five hour feast ended, we were ready to be poured into the car and driven home, but instead we enjoyed a walk through the city with our hosts.

Dijon center at night is a jewel in the night with all the monuments and buildings, as well as plazas lighted and tables overflowing with young adults eating, drinking, smoking and laughing. It was charming indeed and the young people didn't even notice as we strolled around and through the city. It was a perfect end to an amazing Dijon day--one we'll recall for many years to come.

I know I've said it before, but I will say it again, home exchange is the most wonderful concept we've ever encountered. Borders of countries and states melt away in exchange for lasting intimate friendships. Our dinner with this warm and welcoming french family is one of many we've been so fortunate to enjoy--it's been a cultural experience beyond our wildest expectations. The lasting friendships, too, are something we cherish and enjoy.

Today is Sunday, our second Sunday in Dijon. We'll take a drive later into the countryside or take a walk around town again. Whatever we decide, we'll load up some more snap shots so that you can enjoy our trip vicariously with us.

1 comment:

  1. What a great day that was. Thank you, Lennie, for capturing it for all time.