Are you looking for a simple way to explore Dijon’s old town? Following the Dijon Owl Trail (Parcours de la Chouette) is the best option to see all the most interesting buildings in just a few hours. I’ve noted a few tips below drawn upon our experience to help you maximise your time in Dijon and on the Owl Trail.
The numbers in brackets in the article refer to the map at the end of the article and the numbers on the Owl Trail when we visited Dijon.
How long does it really take to complete the Dijon Owl Trail?
The information we found on the tourist office website indicated the 3-kilometre Owl Trail could be completed in one hour. But it took us a lot longer. It might be accurate if you don’t stop at all to read all the information about the different places. Although we were under the impression that we followed closely the trail, we walked for 5 kilometres in total. It took us two hours to complete the circuit, and we didn’t enter most of the buildings!
So if you plan to visit museums, buildings or food shops (like the mustard making shop) you’ll find on the Owl Trail, then allow at least half a day.
How to find the Dijon Owl Trail and its explanations
La Chouette Circuit is very easy to find. It starts at Parc de Darcy (1), but you can join it from anywhere in the old town. You simply have to follow the arrows on the ground with a little owl. There are bigger plaques with a number in front of the most remarkable buildings.
It’s harder to get the explanations. We needed an Android phone with Google Pay to download the app to match the numbers on the plaques with the information on the app. You can also purchase the paper version at the tourist office Rue des Forges (7) from 9.30 am (or 10 am on Sunday). The app and the paper guide each costs €3.50.
It’s lovely to wander in Dijon and simply watch the beautiful buildings around you. However, we would have missed a few things without the cheap online guide. The guide isn’t perfect, but it was worth it. Indeed, the visit was a lot more interesting with the opportunity to learn about what we were looking at.
However, we regretted there wasn’t a more kid-friendly version for the young visitors in our group. They had fun looking for the arrows with the owls to follow the circuit, but it was hard to get their attention with the explanations. Kids will surely prefer explanations from this short free brochure (or this one more focus on wine), but it’s unfortunately only available in French.
Highlights of the Dijon’s Owl Trail: what you shouldn’t miss when visiting Dijon
There wasn’t a minute on the Owl Trail when we wouldn’t see an interesting building. Dijon’s architecture and history are impressive. A few places particularly caught our attention and shouldn’t be missed while visiting Dijon. I’ve listed them below.
L’Hôtel des Postes (Post Office)
The Post Office located Place Grangier (4) is a beautiful building from the early 20th century. Just behind, the same architect (Louis Perreau) also designed another remarkable art nouveau building with pagodas.
Les Halles market
Les Halles (5) is an old indoor market with an iron structure from the 1800s. It’s open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7 am to 1 pm. You’ll find there many local food specialties, including a nice selection of cheese.
Place Francois Rude
Place Francois Rude (a sculptor) aka Bareuzai Square (6) is potentially the most beautiful square in Dijon and one of the most lively spots in the city too. Bareuzai was a nickname given to labourers in vineyards, represented by the bronze statue at the top of the fountain. It is in the heart of the pedestrian medieval centre of Dijon, where you’ll find many half-timbered houses but also restaurants, bars and shops. It looks like you’ve entered a new city as the buildings have a very different style.
You can learn more about the medieval area of Dijon in this free brochure.
Stairs of the Hotel Chambellan
The street Rue des Forges (7) has a few interesting buildings. And one impressive sculpture can easily be missed. Enter through the small door at number 34 of the street to see probably the most beautiful courtyard in Dijon. Make sure you climb the stairs of the Hotel Chambellan and look up at the top to see the sculpture of a gardener holding a basket and the roof.
Notre Dame de Dijon
The main church in Dijon (8) is a masterpiece of 13th-century Gothic architecture with two iconic symbols of Dijon: the jacquemart and the owl. Try to go there on the hour to see the jacquemart moving; it’s the mechanised figure of a person who hit the church bell with a hammer. The owl (9) sculpted on the side of the church isn’t particularly beautiful but is a famous lucky charm for the many visitors who touch it.
Hôtel de Vogüé
Hôtel de Vogüé
You’ll see many varnished roof tiles when visiting Burgundy. Their colours and patterns really add something special to the roofs that become a symbol of prestige for the city or the owner. You’ll find many of these roofs in Dijon. Here’s a free brochure to learn more about them. Hotel de Vogüe (11), from the 17th century, has stunning examples of varnished roof tiles. Make sure you also enter via the small door to look at its architecture that features classicism and Renaissance styles.
The Cathedral Saint Benigne (22) is the only religious building in town that has retained – partially – its beautiful colourful roof tiles. It is the last stop on Dijon Owl Trail.
Place du Theatre / Saint Michel Church
My favourite building near Theatre Square (12) is actually not on the Dijon Owl Trail. But Saint Michel Church is worth a detour for its splendid Renaissance facade from the 16th century.
Place de la Libération
Place de la Liberation is surrounded by history and stunning buildings. The 17th-century palace (15) was a royal residence. At this place in the 15th century, you could find the headquarters of the Burgundy State. The 46-meter high Tour Philippe Le Bon (16) that symbolised the prestige and power of the Dukes of Burgundy still remains today. Every 45 minutes, it is possible to climb its 316 steps to get a 360° stunning view of the city. You can learn more about the Palais des Ducs in this free brochure.
Did you walk the Dijon Owl Trail in the old town? Share your experience in the comments below!
Map of the Dijon Owl Trail
Dijon is the capital city of the Burgundy region in eastern France. It’s known worldwide for its mustard and Burgundy is one of the most famous French wine regions.
Dijon is approximately 350km away from Paris. You can go there by train (1hr35 with the high-speed train) or by car (3.5hrs). It’s feasible to visit Dijon on a day trip from Paris by train, but I recommend staying longer. There are lovely villages and wineries to visit in Burgundy.
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