Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dijon Center and Le Vin, August 3/4, 2010

Boulevard de Strausbourg Takes Us Into Dijon Center
No Traffic! What A Great City

Another Monument Near The University As We Walk To Dijon Center

A Monument Graces The Round-About In Dijon

The Velo (bike) Rentals Are In Excellent Condition In Dijon Compared To Paris

One Must Quickly Read Signs Or Go Around The Round-About Again

Architecture and Art Work Go Hand in Hand in Dijon and All of France

The Street Corners Of Dijon Are Filled With Overflowing Flower Pots. Beautiful!
A Very Clean City

My Law Office Sign Wasn't Nearly So Impressive! They Even Post Their JD! I'm Impressed!

This Night Club Looks Innocent Enough, But It Is Wild And Crazy Around Midnight!

Government Employed Notaires & Geologists Mark Their Offices With These Gold Symbols
These People Are Necessary for Land Purchases

The Cathedral Structures Are Huge All Over France (Dijon)

More Colorful Roofs Near The Cathedral in Dijon

The Backside Of Notre Dame Cathedral, Dijon

Nicely Displayed Address and Business Name Signs, Make Dijon Center Very Attractive

Where Are All The Tourists In Dijon? Must Be In Paris? Okay With Us

We Found A Government Building On A Side Street. Note The Guard Stations on Both Sides of Entry

The Madonna Is A Common Site On Street Corner/Buildings In France

Cobblestone Streets Near Place du Theatre
Dijon, France

Summer Flowers Of Dijon

An Advertisement On An Ancient Building on the Place de Theatre
A Nice Place To Rest And Have Some Rosé On A Warm Day

The Theatre of Dijon at The Place du Theatre

Flowers, Churches, Cobblestones, Low Traffic...Dijon is Beautiful!

This Memorial Honors A Hydrologist of Note in Dijon

The Dukes Are The Reason Dijon Exists, So One Must See The Palace (Follow The Signs)

An Apartment Building On The Streets Of Dijon

As We Walk To Dijon Center, We Pass An Enclosed Chateau

A Small Forested Park Near Our Exchange Home In Dijon

Let's See, How Do You Say Regular Gasoline in French?

Ah! The Right Gas Pump. L'essence pas de gazole!

The Tops Of The Vines Are Perfectly Even. How Do They Do That?

Villages Sit Among The Vineyards

Look Closely And You Can See The Grape Clusters (Notably right quarter)

Wealth Along The Wine Road, Is Quite Evident As This Domaine Evidences

Many Religious Monoliths Dot The Landscape and Vintners Burn Twigs

Côte d'Or Makes Napa Wine Country Look More Like A Tourist Trap!

Typical Notice of A "Clos" (Wine Producers Are Fenced)

Vineyards Surround Homes, Towns & Villages, Côte d'Or Wine Country

When The Light Is Red, You Have Only A Minute To Read All Those Signs! (Wine Road)

Colorful Buildings On The Côte d'Or Wine Route

A Modern Street Light Above Ancient Apartments (Nuit St. Georges)

These Kiosks Have Saved The Streets Of France! No More Merde!

Amazing! Nobody On The Streets of Nuit St. George in August?

Not Many Visitors In Nuit St. Georges, A Nice Surprise!

Salade au Chevre (That's Delicious Melted Goat Cheese On The Bread) Yum!

Wine, Salad, Pomme Frites and Tarte Tatin, What A Great Lunch! (Nuit St. Georges)

The Service Is Excellent, Food Delicious and We Recommend It (Nuit St. Georges)

A Charming Round-About in Nuit St. George (Posts in foreground keep people from parking on sidewalks, which they would definitely attempt)

Narrow Apartment Buildings Are Common It Seems

Passage to Private Residences in Nuit St. Georges

Smaller Housing Often Affronts Large Domains & Villas (Nuit St. Georges)

Colorful Roofs Top Churches and Some Buildings
Nuit St. George Street

The Blue Kangoo Is The Exchange Car We're Driving. We call her "Blue Goo"
She's Spacious and Gets Us Where We Want To Go!

Every Small Village or Town Has a War Memorial such as this one

We drove on a country road instead of the wine road (northeast of Nuit St. Georges)

A Farmer's Garden to the Northeast of Wine Country (Bourgogne)

Hay and Wheat fields Northeast of Wine Country (Bourgogne)
Farm Country Northeast of Nuit St. Georges (Sunflower and Wheat Fields)

Sunflowers turn their faces down on an overcast day, just outside of Nuit St. Georges

Billboards, which are rare, are artistically displayed, like this one for Perrier (just outside of Dijon near Longvic)

What a beautiful city Dijon is. If you think only of going to Paris (not that it too isn't wonderful) while in France, you'll miss out on so much. We've found that Dijon lacks the same intensity as Paris, but has its own beauty and charm. A university town, it has all the amenities of a big city but not the huge population. As a result, it is very easy to drive or walk around this lovely city. Also, the weather is fabulous. As a general rule, July and August are the warmest months but with temperature in the 75-80 range and cool nights making it pleasurable for sleep. Of course, in Honolulu it is 85-90 every day and at night only cools to 78F, so we're very happy for this cooler climate.

Yesterday we set out from our home exchange on foot. We walked through the neighborhood out onto a main thoroughfare leading to the center of the village. An overcast sky made it a perfect day for walking. We had to laugh, though, because we noted a gray sky. To us, such a sky meant rain is a certainty, so we borrowed two umbrellas before leaving. We were the only ones carrying umbrellas as we walked through the city center. We now know that the sky must not be merely gray, but it must be very dark gray and probably have large building thunderheads if rain is expected. We learn quickly.

To walk through this city without so many tourists around, was such a pleasure. We're not certain why it is not jammed with tourists, but we do not mind a bit. We just came from Paris and it was obvious that the city was full of tourists. We'd never been there during summer, so now we understand why Parisians leave during August.

The streets of Dijon are clean and many have original cobblestones. It seems as though every corner has some sort of planter overflowing with beautiful blooming flora, making for a colorful sight. The buildings have been well-maintained throughout the village and the sidewalks are clear of debris and most certainly tell-tell signs of dogs are nowhere to be seen. In fact, there are small kiosks with bags and disposals. Unlike Paris, one can almost walk around without worrying about looking down at all. I do have to say, though, that when we arrived at the Dijon train station and climbed up the stairs into the station, dog droppings were smeared all over the place as someone had allowed their pet to drop right there on the pedestrian walkway! It was quite disgusting and we had to lift our wheeled luggage to avoid it.

We located many of the historical sights that we intend to visit later, since we intended this walk to merely familiarize ourselves with the village. We were surprised by the size of it, since our last visit in June of last year entailed much less exposure due to our lack of time. We need to arrange our next walk about during store hours, as we saw some quaint shops we'd like to explore further.

We postponed our market visit until next week's market. We want to first go to the super Tuesday market, then compare it to the Friday and Saturday markets which we've heard all differ in price and product available.

We stopped for a glass of rosé and to rest for a bit at a small tabac on the Place du Theatre. It was a nice place to watch people, since the bus for the village stops there.

We were surprised at the condition of the bicycle rentals we saw on our walk. All the bikes on the rack were in excellent condition and rentals were taken sequentially--meaning that the bikes were all in good condition. In Paris this is not the case. Every other bicycle on a Parisian rack seem to have been vandalized and there are always gaps between the bikes with evidence of vandalism on those remaining in the rack.

After our walk back home, we rested a short time and then went to Carrefour in Quetigny, a few kilometers from our home (approximately 15 minutes by Blue Goo--our exchange car). Carrefour super market is huge--I'd say the length of the mall there. I've never seen such a huge store. It's larger than Costco in the U.S. They carry everything at this store: televisions, appliances, clothing, name it, they have it! We found the food choices to be vast.

We bought some very nice lamb chops and I cut some fresh rosemary from the garden here and marinated the lamb in rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil then grilled them. The small potatoes here are so yummy and I sliced them in their jackets, placed them in a casserole with some delicious french shallots sliced thinly, dotted them with butter, generously added some salt and pepper and allowed the whole lovely concoction to swim in cream and bubble away in the oven until soft and creamy. The lamb and potatoes, along side a salad of tender lettuce, french roquefort and sliced strawberries with some balsamic vinegarette and paired with a delicious burgundy wine (pinot noir), we dined elegantly on the terrace. To me, half of the delightful experience of a home exchange is living in a neighborhood, shopping at the local markets, and dining in a relaxed atmosphere. Oh, we do go out once in a while but as my husband often says: "To give you a break, honey, not for better food." Ha!

We slept in (or at least I did) and left today for the grand cru wine region of the Bourgogne. We made sure we left near lunch time as we planned to dine at the famous and most wonderful restaurant Le Chef Coq, a Michelin restaurant we visited last June for my birthday--an incredibly memorable meal. Unfortunately, when we arrived the restaurant was closed (Wednesday), so instead we returned to the village of Nuit St. Georges. Again we were surprised by the lack of tourists. All the people around us were speaking french, so it was clear that the tourists were absent--unless it is a place frequented by french or locals.

We walked through this charming village, but all shops were already closed for the noon time. However, we found a delightful restaurant with outdoor dining and an accommodating wait staff. In fact, the owner/chef was out in her apron and also busing tables and making sure customers were happy. I ordered a goat cheese salad that was fabulous. My husband ordered the Greek salad, which also looked delicious. The salad was too large for me to finish, so my husband set his aside and dug into mine saying he should have followed my lead. Ha! We also enjoyed some local rosé and it was very dry and not too sweet. It went so well with the chevre, so it obviously came from the same region. We then shared a tarte tatin. It was a generous tart topped with golden apples and a rich vanilla ice cream drizzled with a bit of caramel. Surprisingly it wasn't too sugary and tasted wonderful. We then had coffee. By the time we finished, it was late and we decided that rather than continue through the wine country, we would head northeast and see what the terrain was like.

What I found amazing, was the lack of traffic. When you visit the Napa/Sonoma wine region in California--a well known region--traffic is horrible, bumper to bumper, and it takes forever to get from winery to winery. Also, lines are long at wineries in the California wine region, making it difficult to belly up to the bar for a tasting. Such is not the case here in the beautiful Côte d'Or. The owners will take time with you, explain things to you and allow you to taste their wines and its very intimate--quite different indeed and certainly more enjoyable and relaxing.

After lunch, we drove into the french countryside where fields of sunflowers stood like toy soldiers, but their faces were sullen and facing down since the sun was not shining. Surrounding the fields of flowers were fields of straw for feed, field corn for feed and miles of wheat. It was quite lovely. Small village roofs could be seen above the crops in far off distances. The highway we traveled was a two lane two-way highway and we passed through small forest outcroppings, hills and valleys. What a wonderful way to travel back to Dijon.

I hope you enjoy the pictures of our journey yesterday and today. There will be more adventure tomorrow as we venture out in yet another direction. Stay tuned.


  1. Spending much of the day on the Internet exploring the PACA region, I somehow came upon your site, and am so glad I did. After a long life since my visits to France in my army and student days, I am at last returning, and am doing so for six full weeks starting September 8th. I expect to spend 1/3 of the time in Paris, then rent a car and swing around the country. There are some things and places I am determined to visit, e.g.the Loire chateaux region, Carcassone, the cave paintings, and finally Mont St. Michel, but there is so much I don't know. In my travels I normally enjoy wandering and discovering on my own, purposely avoiding a fixed itinerary. This time, however, I want to miss as few of the "must-sees" as possible. Your travelogue is very, very much appreciated. I feel I'm there seeing the sights as you go. Further, I'm tremendously impressed by the staggering amount and detail in your writing as well as its high quality. Thank you so much! I intend to follow your journey intently as long as you're willing to write about it.

    PS The system doesn't seem to want to allow me to fill in my name and e-mail, claiming I'm using "illegal characters". Whatever. Anyway, for what it's worth, I'm Larry M at, and have no desire to be "anonymous".

  2. Hello Larry. I'm always thrilled to hear from readers. Cyberspace seems so vast and I know how many "hits" my site gets, but it's wonderful to hear from other people who love France travel as much as we do. Have a wonderful journey. The trees in Dijon are beginning to turn, so it looks like an early fall. Also, the air is crisp in the mornings and the high temp only in the mid 70's during the day. It's quite comfortable. Keep in touch! Lennie