Dijon Dancing Down Memory Lane

Yup - I lived here for six months.

Yup.  Twenty-seven years ago I came here as an innocent wide-eyed 18 year-old, having finished school half a year early, to study French.  Really it was to bide time before going to University.  I came with my school mate, Wendy Rowland.

Porte Guillaume

Actually, it was Wendy who told me about it and since I had saved some money from a zit commercial I had done when I was 15, I decided to use the money thus. Well it was an experience.

Guess which part of this mural is actually real

To come clean, I attended classes for about 6 weeks, but then was so sick of school and studying and was a bit bored and frustrated with the structure of the classes, that I stopped going to class and just started living life out there.  That is how I really came to learn how to speak french.  Survival as it would be really.

... And I took the path road less travelled ...

Sadly this is a pattern of mine when I don’t like what I am studying that I don’t complete it.  At least now in my later life.  Hey, why waste the time.  But don’t take my lead kiddies, best to stay in school – well I did – I did finish University – just other stuff I have done. ANYWAY, I digress.

Notre Dame with all its wonderful detail

So here I am again, here in Dijon.  Twenty-seven years later and I really don’t recognize much of anything.  Like Edinburgh, a lot of the city is being dug up for a tram system.  I think the place must have grown a fair bit because I don’t remember it as being so large.  I understand it’s population is about 150,000.  There are also a lot more beggars in the street than I remember.

Staring down at me from up high on Notre Dame

I went for a walk today to my old student residence.  I do recognize it.  I didn’t go in, because that just seemed to invasive (hey, sometimes I can be shy).  But it does look like some work has been done to the place.  I will have to compare pictures at some point from way back.  I think it was a lot more orange when I was there.

At the Place de Octobre 30 enroute to the residence - trying to jog memories

Regardless though, Dijon is a lovely French city, bathed in history and a lot of the 500+ buildings remain.  Lots of medieval stuff.  Of course it is also known for its mustard. Dijon began as a Roman settlement but not much of that evidence is around.  It is later, that this area became the home to the Dukes of Burgundy from the early 11th until the late 15th centuries and Dijon was a place of tremendous wealth and power and one of the great European centres of art, learning and science. The Duchy of Burgundy was a key in the transformation of medieval times toward early modern Europe. The Palais des ducs de Bourgogne (Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy) now houses city hall and a museum of medieval art.

Some of the oldest timber--framed houses.

A couple of interesting notes.  Because Dijon did not suffer the damage of a number of significant wars, it can still boast the presence of half timbered houses from the 12th – 15th centuries.  Another interesting note, is that 90% of the mustard seed used to make its famous mustard comes from Canada.

The ancient quarter

I have been so fortunate as to couch surf with a lovely woman, Laurence, who lives 5 minutes from the city centre.  I have wandered, photographed, jogged and cafe-ed.  It has been an interesting trip down memory lane.  And now next, off to Paris.

Spring in France