Drive down the hill into Semur-en-Auxois on a fine day and more often than not you will see artists sketching the citadel. For this is a very picturesque town with attractive houses, antique ironmongery on the walls and doors and narrow streets. By day, the magnificent fortress looks onto the pretty valley of the River Armançon with its weeping willows and weirs. By night, the gigantic towers and ramparts are softly illuminated to create a spectacle all of their own.
Go over the Pont Joly, past the Tour de l’Orle-d’Or with its seemingly vulnerable fractured side, and up the cobbled street into town. Wander through the Porte Guillier, a medieval gateway, and enjoy the street cafes and shops along the pedestrian street. The Charcuterie Notre-Dame on the square has mouth watering delicatessen, and the restaurant-pizzeria L’Entr’act just down from the church has a lively atmosphere.
The town of Dijon has an air of confidence and pride about it. Seat of the University of Burgundy, there is a lively atmosphere and buzz, but somehow it has avoided the hassle, traffic jams and pollution usually associated with city centres. If you enjoy shopping, food, culture and nightlife, look no further.
Dijon has a rich history dating back to Roman times. It was at the crossroads of many trade routes, notably pewter, tin, amber and exotic spices. It became capital of the Kingdom of Burgundy as early as the 5th century but the days of glory arrived in the 14th century when the Dukes of Burgundy held court there, turning it into one of the most important towns in medieval Europe. Philip the Bold was a great patron of the arts, commissioning sculptures, manuscripts, tapestries, paintings, furnishings and even buildings. The Palais des Ducs et des Etats de Bourgogne today houses the art museum, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, and town hall, The view over the city from the tower of Philip the Bold, the Tour de Bar is impressive and guided tours are available daily. The Museum of Archaeology is one of the most interesting cultural visits, housed in the truly magnificent Abbey Bénigne and there is a little known private museum close to the Place de Liberation called the Musée Magnin showing fine French interiors, furniture and paintings.