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How Dijon became France’s under-the-radar culinary heavyweight

With the opening of its City of Gastronomy, the Burgundy capital has proven it has much more to offer than mustard, writes Shelley Rubenstein

Saturday 13 August 2022 19:09 BST
Dijon’s City of Gastronomy, a former 13th-century hospital that’s had a €250m makeover
Dijon’s City of Gastronomy, a former 13th-century hospital that’s had a €250m makeover (Francois Weckerle)

Perhaps it was a slow week at Unesco towers when the “Gastronomic meal of the French” was added to the Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2010 – quite the mouthful in itself. That French gastronomy should be celebrated is indisputable, but does an aperitif, bread, four courses, wine and cheese, rounded off with a digestif, truly deserve Unesco-levels of adulation?

Naturellement, it was certainly deemed spotlight-worthy in Lyon, the capital of gastronomy. In October 2019, they opened the first of several well-intentioned – but ultimately misjudged – Cité Internationale de la Gastronomies celebrating this milestone accolade. Criticised for being expensive and insubstantial, it closed within the year.

By the time the city of Dijon opened their homage in May 2022, they wisely took heed of their neighbour’s costly mistakes. Their cavernous space is free to enter and temporary exhibition fees are modest and include a culinary treat, enhancing the experience.

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