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Dictionary Definition

Dijon n : an industrial city in eastern France north of Lyons

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Proper noun

  1. A city in Burgundy, France

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Dijon (, ) is a city in eastern France, the capital of the Côte-d'Or departement and of the Bourgogne region. Dijon is the historical capital of the province of Burgundy. Population (2005): 150,800 for the commune; 236,953 for the greater Dijon area.


Dijon began as a Roman settlement called Divio, located on the road from Lyon to Mainz. Saint Benignus, the city's patron saint, is said to have introduced Christianity to the area before being martyred. This province was home to the Dukes of Burgundy from the early 11th century AD until the late 1400s and Dijon was a place of tremendous wealth and power and one of the great European centers of art, learning and science. It was occupied by Nazi Germany between June 1940 and early 1945, when it was liberated by joint French/UK/USA forces.

Main sights

Dijon boasts a surprisingly large number of churches and cathedrals, including St. Bénigne, Notre-Dame, St. Étienne, and St. Michel. The crypt of Dijon Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Benignus, dates from 1,000 years ago, and the city has retained many architectural styles from many of the main periods from the past millennium, including Gothic, Renaissance and Capetian. Many of the still-inhabited houses in the city's central district date from before the 18th century.
Dijon was spared the destruction of various wars such as the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, despite the fact that the Prussian army invaded the city. Therefore, many of the old buildings such as the half-timbered houses dating from the 12th to the 15th century (found mainly in the city's core district) are undamaged, at least by organized violence.
There are many museums in the city, including one dedicated to mustard and steak. Another is the Musée des Beaux Arts in the old part of the Ducal Palace (see below). It contains, among other things, ducal kitchens that date back to the mid-1400s, and a collection of European paintings from the early Renaissance to the Impressionistic periods.
Among the more interesting of Dijon's "must see" sights is the Ducal Palace, the Palais des Ducs et des États de Bourgogne or "Palace of the Dukes and the States of Burgundy" (), which is one of only a few remaining examples of the Capetian period in the region. Another is a curious carving of a little owl, la chouette, on the church of Notre Dame on the rue de la Préfecture. It is reported that this has become regarded as a good-luck charm: people touch it with their left hand and make a wish. The current carving is a copy as the original was destroyed the night of January 5 or 6 2001 by vandals. The current version is now protected by video surveillance.


Dijon is located approximately one hour and 40 minutes southeast of Paris by the TGV high-speed train (LGV Sud-Est). By car, it is about three hours from Paris. For comparison, Lyon is 180 km away and two hours distant - although there is no high-speed train link between both cities. Nice takes about six hours by TGV and Strasbourg about three hours at regular train speed.


Dijon holds the International and Gastronomic Fair every year. With over 500 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors every year, this is one of the ten most important fairs in France. Dijon is also home, every three years, to the international flower show Florissimo. Dijon also hosts the Fete de la Musique (Music Festival) every summer, with live musical groups playing on street corners throughout the city centre.
To the northwest of Dijon, the race track of Dijon-Prenois hosts various motor sport events. It hosted the Formula 1 French Grand Prix on four occasions from 1974 to 1984.
Dijon is home to Dijon FCO, a football team in Ligue 2, the second-highest league in French football. Dijon is better known for its national professional league basketball club (Pro A), JDA Dijon.
Dijon has numerous museums such as the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, the Musée Archéologique, the Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne, the Musée d'Art Sacré, and the Musée Magnin.

Food and drink


Dijon is famous for its mustard, even though nowadays around 90% of all mustard seeds used are imported, mainly from Canada. The term Dijon mustard (moutarde de Dijon) designates a method for the making of mustard, particularly strong if made in that fashion. Most Dijon mustard (brands such as Amora or Maille) is produced industrially, and in fact need not be produced around Dijon. The name has become genericized, meaning it cannot be registered for protected designation of origin status under European Union law. Dijon mustard shops also feature exotic or unusually-flavored mustard (for example fruit-flavoured Dijon), often sold in decorative hand-painted faience (china) pots.


As the capital of the Burgundy region, Dijon reigns over some of the best wine country in the world. Many superb vineyards producing vins d'appellation contrôlée, such as Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin, are within 20 minutes of the city center. The town's university boasts a renowned oenology institute. The drive from Santenay to Dijon, known as the route des Grands Crus, passes through an idyllic countryside of vineyards, rivers, villages, forests, and twelfth-century churches. The region's architecture is distinguished by, among other things, toits bourguignons (Burgundian roofs) made of tiles glazed in terra cotta, green, yellow and black and arranged in eye-catching geometric patterns.
The city is also well known for its crème de cassis, or blackcurrant liqueur, used in the drink known as "Kir" (white wine, especially Bourgogne aligoté, with blackcurrant liqueur, named after former mayor of Dijon canon Félix Kir). The same drink made with champagne instead of white wine is known as a Kir Royal.
The American food writer M.F.K. Fisher, who moved to Dijon shortly after her marriage in 1929, wrote about the region's cuisine in Long Ago in France.


Notable people

Photo gallery

"The Owl") at Notre Dame de Dijon (rub it for goodluck)
dijon in Franco-Provençal: Dij·on
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