Inspirational Wine Centre newly opened in Dijon

Inside La Cave de la Cité -©Richard Esling WineWyse.Inside La Cave de la Cité -©Richard Esling WineWyse.
Inside La Cave de la Cité -©Richard Esling WineWyse.
​​Dijon is one of those cities in Eastern France which is far too easy to by-pass on the way to somewhere else, be it Italy, Switzerland or the south of France.

​A big mistake, since Dijon is a fabulously vibrant and historic city, filled with gastronomic delights and a wine lover’s paradise.

Easily accessible by train (under 2 hours from Paris) to keep your green credentials intact, the manageable historic centre, crammed with a mix of grand 18th-century stone buildings cheek to jowl with medieval timber framed houses, boasts a modern tram network and a free electric bus service.

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Alongside Beaune, Dijon is one of the two major cities of the world-famous Burgundy wine region, with some of the most prestigious vineyards on the planet, such as Gevrey Chambertin, Clos Vougeot, Romanée Conti, a stone’s throw from the city centre. Reason enough to plan a visit to this stunning city, but made even more of a must, with the opening last year of the International Centre for Gastronomy and Wine – the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin – a short walk or tram ride from the heart of the city.

The centre is akin to a village, with a collection of buildings old and new which house a whole host of interesting and eclectic exhibitions, bars, restaurants and shops. The permanent exhibitions take you deep into the world of French gastronomy, demonstrating, for example, the importance of tableware and the exuberance often surrounding French food.

The many interactive exhibitions, both permanent and temporary are an exciting and fun way of exploring culinary secrets and recipes, experimenting with wine and food pairings, or identifying aromatic characteristics of different wines. Too many fabulous experiences to describe fully in this column, three unmissable visits are the specialist mustard shop (this is Dijon, after all!), the Cave de la Cité wine cellar and La Table des Climats restaurant.

Stock-up with the world’s most renowned condiment before heading to a unique wine cellar, stocked with 3000 different wines, 250 of which are available either to taste or by the glass.

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Wines from all over France are included, along with a few from other countries, with the lion’s share naturally given over to the local region of Burgundy.

To have an affordable opportunity to taste wines that cost two or three hundred euros a bottle without having to spend that much is special, as is the décor of 5-metre-high walls lined with bottles superbly displayed in horizontal lines.

Another of the highlights of my visit last month, was dinner at La Table des Climats, a modern yet cosy and relaxed restaurant serving extremely high-quality French cuisine. A starter combining butternut squash, marrow, mussels and sea urchins was outstanding, representative of a culinary level of which many a Michelin starred chef would be proud.

The Centre provides an intriguing mix of shopping, eating and educational experiences which is second to none and I admit to being greatly impressed.

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Wine is above all designed to accompany food and the combination of a Burgundian centre of gastronomy and wine is inspiring.

A fantastic environment of social interaction has been created around two of the most important aspects of French life – food and wine, all set in a striking location combining modern architecture with the local historic heritage. Just one of the many reasons to visit Dijon and the Burgundy wine region.

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