CLC18.7 Mustard city and the Dukes

Perfection can be boring, I know. But with the weather we’ve been having, that is the only way I know to describe the ride I had today. I’m sure that before too much longer I’ll be back to complaining about the rain, or the wind, or the cold, or all three, so let’s enjoy it while we can. I thought I would do something different today and tour through Dijon rather than around it. The city of the Dikes has a lot to offer, and I’m only going to scratch the surface so to speak, but i thought you might like to see a little of the capital of Burgundy.

Before leaving Gevrey I notice that there is scaffolding on the chateau. This is probably the first time in eight or nine hundred years that the walls have been repaired. The building was bought by a very wealthy Chinese gentleman a few years ago, and he is intent on restoring it to something of its former glory. I was inside before it was sold, and believe me, it was in very sad shape.So good on the new owner for preserving a bit of our history.

Across the road a tractor is at work in the vines. These tractors or enjambeurs as they are called here are built to straddle the rows and can be used for everything from cultivating to pruning to fertilizing to spraying.

Farther down the route into Dijon is the village of Fixin. The chateau there had to be modified so the road could pass. Also a lot of the stone from the chateau was “mined” during the revolution to build the houses in the village. So this is what’s left, an echaugette built into an otherwise ordinary house.

Arriving into Dijon I pass the port once more. The obelisk was erected to celebrate the completion of the canal in 1817. The railway arrived in 1853 making the canal obsolete.

Once in the center of the city, which is only a few blocks more from the port, I pass the Place Emile Zola. Tables are being laid for lunch and the fountain is playing on this glorious spring day. Its still early for lunch, though, so I continue into the main shopping street, the rue de la Libertié.

Passing the Place Francois Rude (sculptor whose work features on the Arch de Triumph in Paris) I stop to snap a picture of the Bareuzai the grape stomper. Pigeons and university students gather at his feet.

The rue de la Libertié ends at the Place de la Liberation which is fronted by city hall, which was the ancient ducal palace and the site of the Parliament of Burgundy under the monarchy. From the time of the dukes only the tower remains, the rest of the building was erected in the seventeenth century. Its impossible to get the entire building into one photograph. Of the buildings from this era only certain royal palaces are larger (and possibly the Capitol in Toulouse).

I turn left alongside the neo-classical opera house. We went to see La Boheme here once. Provincial opera is still alive and well, but the singing can be a bit erratic.

The roofs of Dijon, or a small sample of them. The church of Notre Dame is surrounded by medieval and renaissance buildings. On the right you can see a Burgundian tiled roof. The building the roof is on is a hotel particulier, a town house for a wealthy nobleman.

Around the front of Notre Dame we find perched above the Jaquemart, a mechanical clock that was placed here after the duke Philip the Good stole it frome Bruges. Originally only the male figure was there, but as time went on he gained a wife (Jaqueline), two kids and a smoking habit. He still strikes the hour after five hundred years.

I ride past the market hall on the way toward lunch north of Dijon.

Very quickly, I’m out of the city, through the “suburbs” and into the country. In the distance I see the little village of Ruffey les Echirey, and I am reminded that its getting near noon and there is a terrific little restaurant there. I wonder if they are open?

They are! I am the first to arrive and monsieur the chef and madame his wife remember me from my last visit. They are getting on in years, and I dread the day they can no longer greet their loyal clientele. Most of the folks who come here are workmen (masculine tense deliberate) and they will occupy the long tables set for them. The appetites of guys who get dirty for a living can be prodigious and this is the place to go to get filled up.

First course is from the all-you-can-eat salad bar. I choose a macedoine of vegetables in home-made mayonnaise, pickled herring, beets, and celery root remoulade

I can choose between faux filet a steak with my choice of sauce or andouilette , a rough cut sausage made from tripe. I choose the andouilette because it is one of my favorites. Its served with frites and salad.

For the cheese course I take fromage blanc, which is fresh cheese fermented the day it is eaten and drained of the whey but not curdled or pressed. I usually add sugar to counteract the sourness of the lactic acid. I follow this with apple tart and coffee. All of this plus a quarter liter of wine cost me fourteen euros. I pay up and bid my hosts a pleasant afternoon.

I ride north from Ruffey les Echirey towards Brétigny along the highway in a well marked bike lane. I took this picture because of a good friend of mine who is retired from the Gendarmerie Nationale. Back in the day, Jeff was a motorcycle patrolman, and he was given the task of setting up one of those new-fangled radar units with the automatic camera on it. He dutifully set it up on this stretch of highway and waited. A train passed on the tracks to the left and the radar camera took a photo of every train car that passed as they were going more than the highway limit of 90 kph! One train was all it took to use up the film in the camera, so Jeff’s patrol that evening was rather short.

To finish this ride, I swung back into Dijon and stopped by the botanical garden. The floral display is always spectacular, and its one of my favorite spots in Dijon. From here its back the way I came to Gevrey, in time for a nap before a light supper.

Old fogy from France. Rides bikes and eats.

8 response to "CLC18.7 Mustard city and the Dukes"

  1. By: The Navigator Posted: April 20, 2018

    Thank you for the tour – you are a great tour guide (i.e. insightful, knowledgeable and a local). I love the juxtaposition of all the architectural styles and how much history over such a length of time co-mingles. The story of your highway patrolman and the speeding train is hilarious. Hope you keep finding perfect days.

    • By: Bikerdockeith Posted: April 22, 2018

      Hi Em,
      Glad you liked it. There is so much I don’t know yet about Dijon, but I’ve had a lot of fun discovering the things I do know.

  2. By: Seasidejanet Posted: April 20, 2018

    What a great ride! Thank you and you are correct it was near “perfect”! Ditto to all that Emily said….very informative.

    • By: Bikerdockeith Posted: April 23, 2018

      Hi Janet,
      You say the nicest things! Thanks,

  3. By: Suzanne Posted: April 22, 2018

    Thanks for the tour of Dijon! What a great place to explore.
    Interesting after the canal boom, how the canals were made obsolete by trains. Then the trains becoming not completely obsolete, but neglected due to road traffic. Maybe bicycles will make cars obsolete? Utopian dream

    • By: Bikerdockeith Posted: April 23, 2018

      Hi Suzanne,
      It would be a very good thing if bicycles replaced cars, but I fear that won’t happen, at least not until the reasons that cars replaced bikes become moot. As for trains, investment in infrastructure could see a vast increase in their use. It is one of the things the EU could do to make the use of rail more competitive.

  4. By: Tony Cullimore Posted: April 23, 2018

    Thanks for the tour Keith. That was quite a lunch but not sure about the tripe sausages. Our Tassie neighbour used to live in your area a while ago – I will ask her if it was a favourite of hers.

    I had a laugh about Jeff and the speed camera. You would not expect that to happen and one can imagine the procedures manual being updated to advise not to site cameras near rail.

    • By: Bikerdockeith Posted: April 23, 2018

      Hi Tony,
      Andouilette takes some getting used to, especially if you weren’t brought up that way. I was, so for me they are a delicacy.
      As these posts continue, I will introduce other of my favorite dishes, so stay tuned!

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