We were getting closer and closer to the end of our first European trip and returning to the real world, a thought that slightly scared both of us. The second to last stop on the way to London was Dijon. Honestly, we picked this place to visit because we recognised the name. What we found when we arrived was that this was an exceptionally beautiful, alive city where you could stumble across almost anything.
Some of the things that we saw while on our customary wander around the city were:
– An antique bookstore filled to the brim with the most incredible variety of books, antique prints and sketches and photographs
– An acoustic reggae trio playing to a huge crowd tucked away down a side street
– The most beautifully presented bakeries and cake shops that we had come across so far, with the most delicious raspberry tart that I have ever eaten
– A homeless person funeral with a huge procession of the most weird, wacky, drunk, homeless, punk etc people marching the streets pushing shopping trolleys and drinking out of 1 litre vodka bottles and making a huge racket. I have literally never seen anything so random before in my life. Needless to say we ducked down a side street before they got anywhere near us as it was a bit intimidating.
– Huge squares surrounded by beautiful blond stone buildings, perfect for people watching
– Amazing food stores, full to the brim of every Dijon-related food product imaginable. What I saw which really caught my eye was a cute pottery dijon mustard pot. Unfortunately it came with the mustard, and I just knew that if I packed this in my bag, this would be the first thing to smash and completely destroy all of my clothes on the flight to London later in the week, so I didn’t buy it.
We did not have much time to explore this town as it was an overnight stop on our way to Lyon to drop the car off. One of the things that we had been disappointed by so far with France was our culinary experiences (excluding the breakfast pastries, food from the Aunt and Uncle, and baguettes), so we decided that we could stretch the budget a bit for the night and treat ourselves to a proper French dinner. The receptionist at the hotel we were staying at was very helpful in recommending the best restaurants and local cuisine to try while in Dijon. One of the places she suggested also came highly recommended by Lonely Planet for being great value for money so we decided to try there.
DZ’Envies was nothing like what we expected from a French restaurant serving very traditional cuisine. It was bright, new and modern. They even had their menus on iPads. Since we were in the heart of the burgundy region, we could not go past a glass of the local red which was exceptionally good. Then, since we had not ordered them yet, we ordered snails as the entree. Unfortunately, the sauce they came in had some nut oil as well as butter so I could not have them (such a shame…..) so Alex got a whole dozen to himself:
For the main we both ordered meals which were typical of the region: Alex got the Boeuf Bourguignonne which is a very rich beef stew, and I got the Fillet Mignon with potato gratin. Both were exceptional and really what I was hoping for from French cuisine. I guess before, I had been disappointed because we were on a budget and I just assumed that the food would be nicely prepared even if you were buying something on the cheaper end of the scale (not the case). In this case though, we were hardly breaking the bank eating at this restaurant (part of what appealed to us).
For desert we finished off with a creme brûlée to share. It was delicious as it was presented in a very shallow dish so it had a great amount of the crispy topping (the best part).
Unfortunately, when we woke up in the morning, it was pouring with rain, nothing was open, therefore, we hit the road earlier than expected on the way to Lyon, the final stop before London. This was also the last leg of our 7,000km road trip in the little Peugeot.