A Winter Wonderland Drive to Dijon

by Mar 2, 2019Cities, France, Winter Tour 2017-2018

This morning I woke in Dijon to the sound of the river rushing by outside Iggy’s cosy walls.  I adore this sound.  It lulls me in my sleep and brings me smiling back into the day.  That’s if you can call 04:30 day!  After months of night shifts my body is struggling to return to a normal sleeping pattern.  I’m gradually edging closer, but when my eyes ping open at 4 am, and I remember I’m parked by a riverbank in Dijon with a blog to write!  Well it’s hard not to get up and get on it!

I cast my mind back a day to waking up in Troyes, a three hour drive ahead of us to reach Dijon. When I opened Iggy’s door to peer outside I found  a world transformed by snow.  That perfect snow that dusts the landscape but leaves the road clean as a whistle.  

It was still the dark of night when I woke up.  But by the time I’d finished working on the blog and Jay was up, breakfast and chores done, and ready to go, the rush hour traffic was behind us. And now it was time to find out if the road to Dijon was as driveable as the roads in Troyes.

Oh how I wish I could take you with me on that drive!  It would be beautiful at any time of year.  But with the snow painting Christmas card perfection on every village and wooded slope…It was simply stunning!  Breathtaking!  

I’m sure I’ve seen this on Christmas cards before…

The roads stayed clear and it was an exhilirating three hour drive later when we pulled into our spot for the night in Dijon. The date, we realised was the 1st of December. And so far it had been the most perfect of days.

Our home for the night was beside a park.  An easy 20 minute walk along the river into the heart of the city. We emerged into a pretty area by the cathedral with a lovely craft shop that tempted us to buy a couple of presents for the folks back home. And then it was on to the cathedral itself. A main attraction in a city with quite a few main attractions.

It’s a stunning building. Huge, in the way of cathedrals and impossibly difficult to get a proper shot of. That’s always the problem with trying to photograph Cathedrals. They just don’t fit!

Which is, of course, the whole point of the things. They aren’t supposed to fit. Instead they are designed to elicit the knowledge of how small we are. Of how little we know. How little we can even begin to grasp or understand with our puny, human brains.

And while I, and other humans thought all these thoughts, a cloud of birds wheeled round and around the towers. Dancing in the air, and settling for the night in the great cliffs of nesting space the humans had built them in place of uprooted trees.

My mother always said I think too much…

I love all the little details that the stonemasons incorporated into these beasts of buildings

After I made poor Jay wait for ages while I photographed the Cathedral we wandered our way into the tourist heart of the city. The beautiful red painted half timbered buildings and the merry carousel were as pretty as they are in any picture. If rather more covered in tourists. Even on a freezing day in early December!

Dijon’s famously photographed square

There were definitely  still no shortage of tourist of tourists around despite the freezing temperatures.  But for us it was nice to be somewhere a little more crowded for a change.  So far this week everywhere has been very quiet and the presence of a few more bodies was  very welcome.

The city is charming with a nice feel to it and we enjoyed our random wanderings, admiring the many lovely buildings, and interesting architecture. The mechanical figures on the Jacquemart clock were my favourite thing in the whole city. But I couldn’t get a clear shot without my long lens.

Everything was very Christmassy. In a chic, elegant, French kind of way. And with the cold, and the snow, and the date… Well, it was, altogether, just  a perfect way to start December.

How beautiful is that for Christmas decorations? Gorgeous!

Dijon is a lovely city.  The only thing to spoil it for me were the beggars.  Down on the ground on all fours.  Forehead to the floor.  It is a painful looking pose.  Mentally as well as physically.  I wonder how they maintain it?  How many hours a day do they spend in that tortuous position?  Are their bodies wracked with pain?  I doubt if I could endure it for long.  Having worked with homeless people, and beggars, for many years I would like to know the answers.  To work with people here on the continent.  Learn their stories.  What brought them here.  What they would do with their time if they could.  If they didn’t have to spend their days kowtowed on a frozen street to earn what they need to survive.

Men begging on their knees. A hard way to make a living.

We stopped for hot coffees, sitting inside for once. Watching the light slowly leaking from the sky. Laughed at the ingenious banana “Christmas tree” in a small store.

We didn’t buy the hot chestnuts.  Even though I really wanted to because they’re so Christmassy, and so old-fashioned and so lovely. But Jay was too sensible for me. Pointing out that we’re trying to save money, he doesn’t like them, and, actually I’m not that desperately keen on them myself.

Bah humbug and Mr. Scrooge to him I say! But I kept my money in my wallet all the same.

We could have spent longer in Dijon.  The cold, although just as biting, didn’t seem to bother us as much today.  Our feet were not yet weary.  Our spirits still high from a very enjoyable day. 

Still it was time to go home.  The forecast is showing the Mistral due to be blowing down in Provence over the next few days.  Driving in winds of over 50 miles an hour in a three metre high van does not sound appealing.  So back to the maps.  To looking at motorhome stopover places on park4night.  To “Hmmmm”-ing on Google images.

Today has been lovely, but Sicily seems further away tonight.

Fi. x

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