Saturday, March 30, 2013

Travel Friday: Lunch with Dijon's Two American Football Legends

Another Travel Friday and this time I opted for a trip two hours by train to the North to the Côte d'Or region. The goal city was the ancient capital of Burgundy, the beautiful city of Dijon. I was looking forward to good food, good wine, art, architecture, an interesting lunch and, of course, some mustard. 

Gare de Mâcon-Ville

I had to leave The Villa bright and early to catch the 5:00 a.m. 25 bus to Gare Part-Dieu to board the local TER train to Dijon at 6:16 a.m.

As usual, I had to wait in the lobby for the announcement as to which track my train could be found. Finally the Big Board flashed that Track E was the one I needed.

I was mildly surprised to find that the train was on the track waiting for me to board. Usually you arrive at the designated track and have to wait five to ten minutes for the train to arrive. I asked the porter if it was the train to Dijon and she said yes, so I boarded.

A few minutes later we zoomed out of the station 16 minutes early. I quickly figured out that something was amiss as no French train ever leaves early. I was heading to Dijon all right but on the high speed, more expensive TGV train!

If I got found out, who knows what medieval torture they would inflict upon me. My only hope was to get off at the first stop, Mâcon-Ville before my ticket was checked and wait about a 35 minutes for my local train to catch up to me.

My plan worked.

Beaune is near Dijon

Great, a crime film festival with Sicily prominently featured on the poster.

08h20 Arrival at Dijon's Train Station

First up, the Tourist Information Office

It didn't open until 9:30 a.m. and I didn't have a good map of the city. What to do?

OK, this is a good place to pass the time

A croissant and a cafe are always helpful in formulating a plan. I decided to explore randomly for an hour without a map.

Dijon's Victory Arch

I was scheduled to meet two new friends for lunch at the l'edito brasserie & café to the left of the arch.

Victory Arch Art

A tribute on the Arch to Thomas Jefferson
"Symbol of French-American Friendship"

View through the Victory Arch

Still have not eaten frog's legs

Gates to the Musée Archéologique

Cathédrale St-Bénigne

Good Friday in Dijon

Grapes Offering at the Cathédrale

This is Burgundy you know.

Flogging the Money Lenders

Cool Bishop


Cathédrale Floor Tomb

You kids STOP that!

St. Andrew - The X Man

Golden Altar

Flying Angel hovering over . . .

The Baptistery

Pray for me

The Back of the Cathédrale St-Bénigne

Love Gargoyle's



Red Menace

Gnarly Frog

Classic Inn

I think that Jean Valjean spent a couple of night's here.

Powerful looking church I thought

Who's statue is that on the left?

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

A 17th century bishop and theologian from Dijon, Bossuet is considered to be one of the greatest orators of all time. When I walked around the old church, I was surprised to find that the old church . . .

. . . is no longer a church

Half-Timbered House

An Aristocratic Courtyard

Strong Face

Sacred Heart in the Tourist Office

Labor Protest

It was being held just outside of the downtown Tourist Office that I had stumbled upon thus saving me a walk back to train station to the other Tourist Office we saw earlier.


I am getting hungry again

Hey, a Hat Store

Sporting my new, Made in France, beret

Missing Laurie

Colorful Fountain

And Colorful Chimneys

Statues above a Door

Carved Shields

Tiled Roof

Lots of Street Markets in Dijon

Dijon's Église Notre-Dame is well known for its gargoyle's, let's take a look. 

Oh My?

Hi, Handsome!

Having a bite

Église Notre-Dame's weathered front

Joan of Arc

Église Notre-Dame Floor

Dijon is known for its mustard

Lunch with Baptiste "Whoom" Mullot
and Guillaume "Bednarik" Beard

For the third straight Travel Friday, Olivier Rival of the French American football website had set up a lunch meeting with local football luminaries.

Our lunch would obviously include lots of EuroBall football talk but we also discussed world politics, American culture and several other topics.

Baptiste is a student in Dijon, today was actually his last day of classes, who plays QB for his hometown club, the Besançon Bisons. The Bisons are located about an hour from Dijon. Baptiste would serve as interpreter for Guillaume and myself. His stories about spending last Fall as a student at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas and making it onto the Horned Frogs squad as a walk-on QB were interesting. I enjoyed his new found perspective on the differences between football in France and inside an NCAA Division I program.

As for Guillaume, he has led a most intriguing life. A native of the old Czechoslovakia, he spent 18 months in a Communist jail as a political prisoner. For some unknown reason, the Communists offered Guillaume a deal, his choice. He could spend three more years in jail or leave the country.

Welcome to France Guillaume!

Guillaume was a life-long sportsman having enjoyed rugby, judo and fencing. As a fencer, he was the Czechoslovak National Champion in both the sabre and foil!

In 1989, at the age of 39, he took up American football and has played ever since. Yes, that is right, he is still playing as he turns 63 next week. He suffered an injury last season but is rehabbing nicely and expects to be practicing again soon. He was a linebacker but admits that he has lost some of his foot speed and will now play in the offensive line.


Musée des Beaux-Arts

It was closed today.

After lunch, Guillaume took me on an abbreviated tour of Dijon.

The Medusa

Free Slurpees???

Tempting Fate

Beautiful Bowl in the Musée Magnin

This museum contained several pieces of 19th century antiques and art objects. 

François Rude Exhibit

Noted French sculptor François Rude was a native of Dijon and was commissioned to work on Paris' iconic Arc de Triomphe de L'Étoile. This was a powerful display of his work.

Dark Man

Napoléon Napping


Departure of the Volunteers of 1792

It was this march that inspired the French National Anthem, La Marseillaise. This is a copy of Rude's work on the Arc de Triomphe deL'Étoile.

Follow Me to VICTORY!!!


It IS Good Friday today

Now Hear This!

Église St-Michele

St-Michele himself

Death in Beaune
Mayor Arrested

Tabloid fodder or a publicity stunt for Beaune's crime movie festival, I wonder?

More Dijon Mustard

I purchased two jars, can't wait to try some.

Serving great Moutarde since 1747

I bought one jar of Cassis flavored mustard here, good for salads I am told by a reliable source.


I wish, it rained most of the afternoon and we even had a few snowflakes.

The Post Office

Croissants after lunch?

This is a big No-No in French culture. Croissants are for breakfast only you see.

Rules are made to be broken.

Nope, I'm good

I avoided this café for some reason

Resistance Men Beheaded by the
Nazis in 1944

Dijon was a memorable city but it was not immune to the horrors of WWII.

Another great Travel Friday to be sure, thanks to Baptiste and Guillaume for meeting with me and making the today even more special.

WOW, as much fun as today was, in only . . .

More Days I'll start my
weekend in Paris!!!

Now, that should be an interesting four days!

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