Alex and Paul were telling us at breakfast about when they last visited Dijon. It was a few years ago and during a horrendous thunderstorm. The roads were all up because some idiot was putting a tram system through the city. Paul described it as a war zone…well, without the actual war anyway. He said there were massive great potholes, all full of water, causing havoc. Fortunately, they were just passing through on the way to somewhere, presumably, less busy construction-wise.
As we left Carpe Diem, Patrick told us that Dijon was lovely, especially with the new tram system that has been operating for only the last two years. And so we set off, hopeful that the war zone was no more and our introduction to the former home of the Dukes of Burgundy, would be happy and smooth.
Leaving Carpe Diem was actually, quite difficult. Over the last four days we have grown very fond of the B&B, the small hamlet of Massangis and, in particular, our hosts, Patrick and Eric. We could easily have stayed longer but, of course, the big city lights of Dijon were calling to us so, we packed Coco, took her roof down and headed off.
The drive was fine (read: nothing to write home about) and we were soon arriving at the Mecure Hotel, our home for the next two nights. After negotiating the awful underground carpark (something I think that Mirinda is not going to forget for a very long time) we settled into our lovely room before, eventually, heading out onto the mean streets.
As I said, Dijon was once the home of the Dukes of Burgundy who vied for control of France in the 11th century. The city (and Burgundy along with it) became very wealthy even when the Dukes capitulated and joined up with France. In fact, Dijon managed to survive lots of sieges – the Swiss, the Prussians, the Nazis, etc but it wasn’t until the US Air Force flew over that any of it was destroyed. I guess the others, being European, understood its value a bit more.
Anyway, it’s quite a beautiful yet compact city which now has a marvellous tram system consisting of two lines which go, roughly east to west then north into the ‘burbs. We know because we took the tram all the way out and back again, both east and west. It made for a lovely rest and our usual (though odd) tourist thing for using public transport.
That’s not all we did though. We accidentally found the gargoyle rich church of Notre Dame.
The front of the church is, quite literally, covered in gargoyles. Some are real, most are fake gargoyles made in the 18th century. They are fake because they don’t spit water when it rains because, as we all know, most gargoyles are there to allow the water to fall away from the foot of the building.
It’s also fair to say that the gargoyles are there to frighten people into believing in an invisible father figure who will save you from all of these monstrosities.
It was inside where I found a plethora of Adam & Eve depictions in stained glass and a Joan. It was also lovely and cool inside. A lot of the stained glass was exquisite so it wasn’t so difficult to have a seat and cool down a bit.
The temperature in Dijon today reached 29 degrees and was bloody hot, subsequently, we spent a lot of the afternoon feeling quite exhausted, which meant stopping at cafes for regular drinks and sit downs. It was during one of these sit downs that we witnessed the aftermath of an accident where a little kid smacked his mouth into the cobbled street, smashing his front teeth in. There was blood everywhere and people flocked around and helped him. One of them called an ambulance and he was, soon, taken away. The poor kid was only about 4. Hopefully this means it was his baby teeth.
One of the cutest things about Dijon is the owl trail. Owl markers are placed on the ground and you wander around with a guide book, visiting lots of different sites you might not otherwise see. We’re thinking of walking the whole trail tomorrow but here’s Mirinda rubbing one of the ‘lucky’ owls, this one is part of the outside wall of the church.
Unfortunately, she read later that you’re supposed to rub it with your left hand. I guess she’ll have to do it again tomorrow.
Before signing off for the night (I’m feeling quite tired tonight) I’ll leave you with a photograph of the (once) ducal palace of Dijon.