THE mayor of Dijon, François Rebsamen, has been in Paris to put his case for Dijon to be awarded the status of 'City of Art and History', a status that has been awarded since 1985.
La Commission Nationale des Villes d'Art et d'Histoire, created in May 1995, meet twice a year when they discuss the nominations put forward for the title. The number of cities and towns which covet the title is immense, as is the competition.
However, Dijon, the capital of the Cote d'Or department and of the Burgundy region, believes it deserves the title.
As a city of culture, history, art, architecture it dreams of being awarded the status that goes with the award.
The centre of the city is where most of the attractions are located and within the relatively small 'centre ville' are some of the most prestigious buildings in France; many of which have survived the centuries of war and upheaval intact.
The city museums hold some of the finest collections in France. Le Musée des Beaux-Arts is one of the leading museums in France, not only for its important collection but also for the building in which it is housed.
Le Musée - Jardin des Sciences de l'Arquebuse houses four elements. Perment exhibitions at Le Pavillion de l'Arquebuse, tempory exhibitions at Le Pavillion du Raines, an impressive floral collection at Le Jardin Botanique and the recently completed Planetarium Hubert Curien.
Musée de la Vie Bourguigonne houses items of Burgundian heritage. These were collected at the end of the 19th century by Perrin de Puycoussin, a folklore specialist. It houses furnishings, household items, regional costumes and visions of daily life which includes 11 shops, previously in Dijon, amongst which are a hat shop, chemist, barbers and grocers.
The whole of the museum is accessible to disabled people as there is a lift installed.
The archaeological museum is set over three floors and the collections are housed in the main wing of the old Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Bégnine which was built between the 11th and 13th century. It houses he history of man in Burgundy from pre-history to the middle ages. Throughout the year there are temporary exhibitions on show.
Dijon also offers some exceptional houses. Maison des Caritides was built at the begining of the 17th century for the Pouffiers, a family of affluent coppersmiths.
The road in which it stands, rue de Chaudronnerie, took it's name from the vocation of it's trades during the Middle Ages and Jean Pouffier paid hommage to the trade that made him rich by incorporating it's emblem, a cauldron, into the facade.
The house now belongs to the city council who have restored it to exhibit models, plans and developments concerning the old city centre and the urban area as well as for conferences on town planning.
Hotel Chambellan was built slightly later than the Dukes of Burgundy but is still a fine example of architecture at a period when power and fortune were used to climb the social ladder to get close to the government. Henri Chamellan climbed the ladder through his trade alliances and was mayor of Dijon from 1490 to 1493.
Maison Maillard was built in 1561 for Jean Maillard, mayor of Dijon, and houses an exceptional range of renaissance sculptures.
In the Place de Liberation stands of the most famous buildings in Dijon, le Palais des Etats de Bourgogne, originally called Palais des Ducs et des Etats.
Under the Ancien Régime it was the seat of the governmental assembly representative of the province. Le Palais des Etats was desigined in the 17th century by the Royal architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart when he included the old ducal, medieval house. Le Palais is dominated by Le Tour Phillipe le Bon.
Buildings around le Cour de Bar are occupied by l'Hôtel de ville and le Musée des Beaux Arts which lie in the shadow of the huge Palais des Ducs. The old 'salle du Palais Ducal is now la salle des Gardes.
In la Cour de Bar there is access to the ducal kitchens, to la Chapelle des Elus (chapel of Elected Representatives), and to la Salle des Etats (state room) which is accessed by the grand staircase, built by Jaques Gabriel in the 17th century, which is open during cultural events. Le Palais also houses local archives.
Dijon can also combine architecture and history with culture.
The city attracts visitors to events from Paris due to the excellent travel facilities by road and by TGV directly from the capital to Dijon. Also the events on offer are often cheaper than in Paris.
Zénith is situated in the Toison d'Or area of Dijon and the adaptable concert venue has a capacity for up to 7,800 people. Future performances are February 6, One Night of Queen, a tribute night. May 2, Rose, inspired by the life of Janis Joplin and June 1, the Show Dance featuring Latin, rock n'roll and flamenco.
Le Duo Dijon - Opera, Danse, Théâtre and Musique
Théâtre Dijon Bourgogne, also known as Parvis Saint Jean, houses events and festivals while also introducing the public to modern plays, authors and young producers.
La Vapeur Dijon prides itself on being 'more than jsut a venue; a place that provides training and support for musical creativity.' There are practice studios, café and an internet café.
In France today there are 124 Villes et Pays d'Art et d'Histoire. In Burgundy Joigny, Auxerre, Nevers, Autun, Chalon sur Saone and le pays d'Auxois have already realised this dream.
Dijon now hopes it can join this elite group
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