A Palace for the Palate
The city of Dijon, in the heart of Burgundy, cut the ribbon on its new international gastronomy and wine center on May 6. The road to the great Grand Cru wines departs from this sprawling embassy for French gastronomy and the winegrowing climates of Burgundy. Time for a tour.
Who said self-indulgence was a vice? In Dijon, it’s anything but! It’s a city where all roads lead to enjoyment. Start at the train station. Take the exit for Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin – the international gastronomy and wine center – and you’ll find yourself in Arquebuse Botanical Garden, on a new path lined with collections of grape varieties and edible plants. Just a taste of what’s to come...
On a 6.5-hectare (16 acre) site, once home to the city hospital, lies a district built from old cut stone and corten steel, which is devoted entirely to food and wine. Picture exhibition halls alongside a brasserie serving regional specialties and a fine dining restaurant, both advised by chef Éric Pras of Lameloise (three Michelin stars).
For a quick nibble or sip, you can head to the counter of the gigantic wine shop and bar, which offers 250 wines by the glass and more than 3,000 different bottles from across the world. There’s also a market with bread, fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood, cured and fresh meat, cheese, coffee, cakes and even tableware!
Not to mention the food lover’s bookshop overflowing with recipe and wine books, or the brand-new campus of the famed Ferrandi Paris cooking school and its sought-after classes for pros and amateurs alike, or the Burgundy wine school and its tasting workshops. Simply astonishing.
Four exhibition spaces form the educational component of Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin. The first lets visitors in on all the secrets of French patisserie: the fundamentals, techniques, utensils, landmarks, and more. The space next door explores the “Gastronomic meal of the French,” enshrined as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2010. You won’t find any recipes or cooking tricks, but rather Frenchies’ customs and practices at the dinner table, from the place of the meal to the elegant multiple-course menus, table manners, wine and cheese pairings... The atmosphere changes upstairs, a feast for the senses where small workshops focus on how to touch, smell, hear, see and taste. And an incredible digital kitchen gives you the chance to prepare a French specialty on the spot in record time.
The final exhibition offers another change of scenery, taking you to the former hospital’s 16th-century chapel to see and experience Burgundy’s famed winegrowing climates. The space abounds with immersive videos, insights and interactive games, along with wine workshops offered by reservation. Even if you’re a complete novice in tasting, vintages, terroir and Burgundy food pairings, you’ll be enthralled – glass in hand – by the images and sounds of the videos projected on all four walls of the room. A good time is sure to be had by all.