Have you heard of the Tower of Philip the Good that dominates the city of Dijon from a height of 46 metres? I went to the top of this watchtower to admire the view from the panoramic terrace. It was breathtaking!

Ascent of the Tower of Philip the Good

The 15th-century trapezoidal tower stands tall at the centre of the palace of the dukes of Burgundy, offering its spiral staircase of 316 steps. But don’t worry, you won’t be climbing them all in one go! There are seven levels and the first three landings on the way up the tower provide access to the different floors of the former ducal dwelling. Above them are the stately rooms whose only purpose was to demonstrate the power of the dukes of Valois.

I stopped on the 199th step to catch my breath in front of a small wooden door under a double ogee arch. I noticed a strange bat sculpture on the corner of the wall… and guessed it must be guarding the tombs of the Burgundy dukes resting just behind the door!

The sculpted decor gets increasingly rich as you climb the steps, carved out in plants and high-relief scenes depicting the tower’s builders, as well as the medieval lighters and flints that are symbols of Philip the Good. On the top landing, I had to stop to admire the magnificent ribbed vault.

An exceptional panoramic view of Old Dijon

We reached the top to finally visit the terrace which offers a 360 degree panoramic view over the shiny slate roofs of Old Dijon’s private mansions. It was well worth the effort!

The Tower of Philip the Good is the ideal observation post from which to contemplate the elegant spires of the city of a hundred steeples. On the horizon you can make out the contours of Mont Poupet at the edge of the Jura mountains. The viewpoint indicators helped us to spot the features of the landscape described by our guide.

Just below us we could see the semi-circular Place Royale built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart right next to the ducal palace. The ideal backdrop for a selfie with one of the gargoyles that hang from each corner of the roof terrace. These are typically Gothic features of the tower whose construction was completed in 1460.

How to visit the tower with the terrace?

To visit this monument, just go to a desk at the tourist office located next to the tower on Rue des Forges. There are two options to choose from: the ascent of the tower and the tower aperitifs.

Ascent of the Tower of Philip the Good

The tourist office organises an ascent of the Philip the Good Tower 9 times daily.
In the company of a guide, the tour takes less than an hour. It requires prior reservation and groups are limited to a maximum of 18 people.

Tower aperitifs

Every weekend during the holiday season, a special tour is proposed which includes an aperitif served on the terrace. It’s likely that I’ll come back at nightfall to enjoy a typical aperitif of Burgundy, the famous Kir, served with a few gourmet nibbles. However, to enjoy this unusual tour, you’ll need to book a long way ahead.

To find out more

Dijon for dummies

  • #Culture & Heritage
  • #Discovery

Dijon for dummies