Saturday 4 August 2007

Dijon, Burgundy, France

Prosperous Dijon has an exceptional concentration of historic and atmospheric streets, squares and alleyways. In the well-preserved centre you can easily walk for 10 minutes and barely see a building built after 1900. And to its credit, the city hasn't given itself over to tourist tack - the streets are blissfully free of souvenir shops or fake 'attractions'. The mostly-pedestrianized Place de La Liberation is the focal point of the city and a fine spot to enjoy breakfast or a coffee in one of the pavement cafes, while admiring the rows of fountains and the grand and elegant Palais Des Ducs - the original seat of power of Burgundy's medieval Dukes. Another good place to refuel is one of the many restaurants and bars in the streets around the extravagant food market at Halles Centrales. But first build up an appetite by wandering around the rest of the city, which is awash with attractive squares and fine, well-preserved town houses, many with half-timbered frames or intricately-tiled roofs and ancient churches. 8/10