Synonymous with mustard, Dijon nonetheless went for red when the current flagship club was formed in 1998 – although previous iterations showed splashes of yellow on their badge. The owl logo also worn by les Rouges represents the lucky charm statue on the city’s Notre-Dame Church. Fortune smiled when DFCO squeaked past Lens in the relegation play-off in 2018-19.
DFCO – Dijon Football Côte-d’Or, referring to this historic part of Burgundy, deep in wine country – are based at a municipal ground in parkland east of town. The former Parc des Sports underwent a six-year staggered overhaul only completed in 2017. The Stade Gaston-Gérard was rebranded after a city mayor whose name lives on in the form of a mustard-flavoured chicken dish his wife created.
With no running track, the SGG is now purely dedicated to football. Given its DFCO’s shaky top-flight status and the stadium’s footnote in sports history – Sergei Bubka broke a world pole-vaulting record here in 1992 – the lengthy rebuild was not without its critics.
Lyon Airport is 225km (140 miles) away, with an infrequent but direct Flixbus connection to Dijon. From Paris, two trains run to Dijon-Ville, the pricier TGV (1hr 40min) from Gare de Lyon and the regional TER (3hrs) from Bercy, online fare around €35.
Dijon-Ville station is a shortish walk from the centre, the stadium the other side of town by tramway. The local Divia transport network comprises this two-line tramway, buses and a free city-centre shuttle bus. Tickets are €1.40 (valid 1hr, validate each journey), €1.70 on board, 24hr passes €4.20.
Taxis Dijon (+33 3 80 41 41 12) are 24hrs.
The nearest hotel to the stadium is the mid-range chain Campanile-Congrès Clemenceau, in no-man’s land between town and outskirts at 16 avenue Raymond Poincaré. On the east of town, the simple, convenient two-star République sits by the tramway stop of the same name, four from the stadium.
Closer to town on rue Verrerie, Le Jacquemart dates back to the 1700s but offers contemporary three-star comfort. On the same street, upscale Hôtel des Ducs had its 15th-century property fully renovated in 2019, its furnishings lavish. Dating back to 1490, the Maison Philippe Le Bon on rue Sainte-Anne offers room service and wine tastings.
By the historic gateway in the city centre, the Porte Guillaume, the historic five-star spa-blessed Grand Hôtel La Cloche Dijon was renovated in 2016, the best digs in town. On the other side of the archway, the Quality Hotel du Nord Dijon looks barely changed since Maigret’s day, and remains cheap, but well located and with a 24hr reception.
Of the many hotels by the station, the Kyriad Dijon Gare contains an indoor pool, gym and sauna. Alongside, the pool at the Oceania Le Jura is glass-roofed, its spa open from 7am to 10pm. The Campanile Dijon Gare offers standard comfort and convenience.
Bars line the streets – rues Berbisey and Crébillon – south of the historic centre. Aussie-themed Byron Bay has a TV and tropical cocktails, Barbarian’s is bland but sport-focused down to its pool table, and the Crock Odil Café shows games on a big, flat-screen TV.
It’s worth trekking across town to find the St Nicholas on rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau for its artisanal beers (Jenlain on draught!), jukebox and big TV. The sounds are geared to the bar’s rock/biker fraternity but its heart is in the right place – see also the BamJam Café nearby, music-savvy, slightly alternative and quite wonderful on its night.
In the historic quarter, on rue Auguste Comte, Le Brighton has been pulling pints since 1981 – these days, it’s more fine wine and 100 varieties of beer, with TV football and regular live music.
Bars also surround the market, including the food-and-football focused Mac Callaghan, its terrace overlooking the urban bustle of rue Bannelier.
By the cathedral on place Saint Bénigne, Flannery’s draws plenty of tourists to its terrace. By the station, La Grande Taverne can provide a terrace table for convivial sipping and/or a plate of snails or salmon.