Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

Talk about a tease! Florence Bucciacchio, my host from the Dijon Tourism Office began my familiarization of Dijon with a visit to the Les Halles Market, but she wouldn’t let me buy anything. “I’ve booked lunch for us at one of two Michelin Star restaurants in our city, and I don’t want you to ruin your appetite!” It was almost painful to walk through aisles heaped with specialty cheeses, fresh baked breads, homemade pastries, and artisan chocolates without being able to sample the wares. Finally, seeing that I was salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs, she relented.

Les Halles Market is an important part of the gastronomy of Dijon, France

Les Halles Market is an important part of the gastronomy of Dijon, France

At the Le Gourmet Dijon kiosk, she introduced me to owner Gaëlle Herbert. “This is one of my favorite shops in the market. Gaëlle and her husband Laurent have been caterers and pastry chefs in Burgundy for more than 30 years. She makes everything you see here from scratch, using only local products.” Gaëlle carved a off a sliver of quiche layered with broccoli, cheese, and carrots for me to try. “Delicious,” I raved. She would have gladly kept feeding me if Florence hadn’t dragged me off to Loiseau des Ducs for my first immersion into Dijon cuisine. Read More

Place des Cordeliers in Dijon, France

Private mansions such as the Hôtel Gauthier (left) and the Hôtel Rigoley de Chevigny surround the rectangular Place des Cordeliers square in Dijon, France. The place is named for the former convent of the Franciscans (once known as Cordeliers), which is a few feet away on Turgot street. Following the Franciscans, who settled in Dijon in 1243, the convent was taken over by the Dominicans in 1858. Since 2015, the old monastery has been occupied by the Odalys City Les Cordeliers Hôtel.

The French word for hôtel can be confusing. In medieval London, the term meant an “Inn,” which almost every great nobleman possessed. Likewise, the French word represents old French hostels, which were generally owned by a French nobleman. The noblemen would use it as a place of temporary lodging, where they were treated as an occasional guest, along with other travelers Read More

Half-timbered houses in Dijon, France
The city of Dijon, France may be best known for mustard and gingerbread, but architecture buffs also find it an intriguing destination. Fortunately, Dijon was spared from major destruction during the bombings of World War II, thus much of its ancient architecture survived intact. These half-timbered houses in Dijon are tucked into a narrow lane in the historic old town. They are known as the maison des trois visages, or house of three faces. Look closely, however. Though they may look like three separate houses but they are actually two; one was modified to have two gables instead of one. Read More

Ancient masonry facades and colorful wooden shutters adorn the medieval houses of Beaune, France

Walking through the old stone fortifications that once surrounded Beaune, France, is like riding a time machine back to the Middle Ages. Ancient masonry facades, stone lintels, and colorful wooden shutters adorn the medieval houses of Beaune. Millions of footsteps have polished the stone-paved streets to a high sheen. Drainage gutters still run down the center of the streets, and nearly every house has a set of wooden doors at the street level that leads down to a cool, dark wine cellar. Read More

The 15th century Hotel Dieu in Beaune, France, once a hospital and charitable almshouse, is now a museum

I stepped into the inner courtyard of the Hotel Dieu in Beaune, France, and stopped in my tracks. Across the brick-paved courtyard, half-timbered butter yellow walls soared to gable roofs covered in multi-color polychrome tiles. This was like no hospital I’d ever seen. Hotel Dieu, which translates literally to hospital in English, is one of France’s most revered historic monuments. Also known as the Hospices of Beaune, the charitable almshouse and hospital for the poor was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor to Philip III, Duke of Burgundy. Unlike other hospitals of the day, which were grim at best, Rolin was determined to create an environment that would promote peace and healing. First, he established a religious order, “Les soeurs hospitalières de Beaune,” whose members provided compassionate care for the patients and destitute. No one was turned away. Even those who were terminally ill received humane treatment to the very last. Read More

Tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy in the Musee des Beaux Arts Dijon, France

The Musee des Beaux Arts Dijon occupies the historic Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, parts of which date back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Once the seat of power of the Duchy of Burgundy, today the palace houses an impressive art collection that ranges from Egyptian to 20th century artworks. Of all the works on display, the most magnificent may be the tomb of Philip the Bold.

Philip was one of the four sons of the French King, John the Good of the House of Valois. After distinguishing himself on the battlefield of Poitiers, fellow fighters dubbed him Philip the Bold. In 1364, when he was just 22 years old, the King awarded his son the title of Duke of Burgundy. Philip married Margaret of Flanders, the daughter of the Count of Flanders, who ruled Belgium, Holland, and the region of France today known as Franche-Comté. Upon the Count’s death, Read More