Dijon wants to become the world capital of the art of living

06:20, May 1, 2022

Let the party begin! François Rebsamen has been waiting for this moment for ten years. ” Here we are “, decides a few days before the opening – on May 6 – of the International City of Gastronomy and Wine (CIGV). A heart of the city project that he carried alongside the mayors of the 23 municipalities of the metropolis. On D-Day, the mayor of Dijon will be able to count on the presence of a thousand distinguished guests and Emmanuel Macron “if he can break free” as well as his predecessor as head of state, François Hollande.

Along the way, the city of a hundred towers offers a new emblematic work: “light cannon” inspired by the Beaubourg branch in Metz. “It is the culmination of an exemplary tourist project that celebrates the French way of life and makes Dijon the international destination for living well and drinking well”ignites the councilor who continued to play the VRP to make it successful.

Four cities on the starting line

It all started three years ago. A geographer specializing in food cultures, Jean-Robert Pitte created an association determined to obtain a UNESCO seal for French gastronomy. “We could not ignore this founding element of our heritage”, he scores. Asked, Nicolas Sarkozy, then new host of the Elysée, gives his support. After two years of fierce negotiations, UNESCO in 2010 granted France the inscription of the “French gastronomic meal” to UNESCO’s intangible heritage. “In return, we are committed to creating a gastronomic city conceived as a high heritage, with a museum, school, shops, restaurants and exchange spaces”he remembers.

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In fact, four cities were qualified to promote CIGVs: Dijon, Tours, Rungis and Lyon. Ten years later, Dijon ended up styling his rivals at the post. Although Lyon opened the ball in 2019. But their city had to close its doors nine months after its opening. “Today, Dijon is the only successful project that highlights the city while breathing new life into the Saint-Esprit hospital created in 1204”, book Jean-Robert Pitte. What is the name of this city? To listen to François Rebsamen, it is a third place made up of around 800 rooms, a Cineplex with nine screens (Pathé), a hotel (Hilton by Kurio) and a set of new or renovated works that celebrate the art of living in all its dimensions. All implanted in more than 1,700 square meters. “Ultimately, around 400 jobs will be created to operate the city and 600 jobs have been mobilized on site to complete construction despite the health crisis.”, points out the mayor of Dijon. Another source of pride: having completed the project 90% with private resources. Of the 250 million euros committed to the project, the State contributed only 3 million, the city 5 million and the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region 7 million.

A “food village”

Builder of the Millau Viaduct and the third largest construction company in France, the Eiffage group alone financed two-thirds of the project. CIGV is its largest regional project in France. A project carried out hand in hand with the Grenoble real estate developer K-Rei managed by William Krief. The group invested more than 50 million euros in the park and owns 70% of the spaces dedicated to welcoming the public along the visitor’s route. “CIGV forced us to leave our classic real estate model based on long-term leases”, supports William Krief. Above all, the group created a subsidiary called “Gastronomic Village”. “In 2019, taken by the passion for the project, we went to the other side of the mirror, becoming animators of commercial spaces”, continues the entrepreneur.

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Aldeia Gastronómica, its first location, will host around a dozen branded food stores in pre-equipped spaces. Your second location, called “experimental kitchen”, intends to become a “permanent animation lung” dedicated to wine and gastronomy events and tasting and a food education venue for school groups. William Krief also expects economic benefits. “We will find our income from 1 million visitors”, calculates K-Rei’s boss, who bets on the city’s usual tourist flow. In 2019, Dijon attracted 3.3 million people, more than Montpellier.

Tasting and starred cuisine

Believing that enthusiasm is contagious. Julien Bernard, at the head of the Epicure group, also expects a lot from the Cité Gourmande. His group invested 6 million euros to operate two restaurants and wineries in the city. “We were associated with the project from the beginning as a specialist food court consultancy, we first helped Eiffage win the competition and worked with the community on the economic setup”, puts Julien Bernard. And the adventure in Burgundy continues with a restaurant “vinostronomic” whose culinary direction was entrusted to the star chef Éric Pras. And a reasonable menu ranging from 50 to 70 euros. Another gastronomic offer: its wine bar (Le Comptoir de la cité) will offer local and seasonal products and take-out meals. The Cité du vin will occupy a space of 600 square meters where 250 wines will be offered by the glass. “Each visitor will be able to taste a red and white wine with their entrance ticket and leave with a glass”emphasizes Julien Bernard.

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Known for its campuses, the Ferrandi Paris group (within the Paris-Ile-de-France Chamber of Commerce and Industry) is also in the game. Present in Bordeaux and Rennes outside the capital, its luxurious cooking and pastry schools will be installed on 850 square meters in the light cannon. “Our training for students and adults in short formats will have a more regional flavor”, specifies its managing director Richard Ginioux. The latter also hopes to lease facilities nearby next year to house a hotel and restaurant management school. “CIGV is at the same time a place of life, of sensorial experience and a formidable national and international showcase for our two largest vineyards”, comments. Which brings even more… water to François Rebsamen’s mill. “In spring 2024, we will host the UN Wine Organization in a private mansion in Dijon”, formulates the mayor. The International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), which brings together the 50 largest wine-growing countries in the world, will celebrate its centenary. Let the party continue!

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