Felix Kir's birthplace

Félix Kir was born on January 22, 1876, the youngest in a family of five children. Sébastien Curé, his great-grandfather on his father’s side, came from Lorraine. Quite understandably (cure means vicar or priest in French). He changed his name during the beginning of the 19th century.

Jules Kir, Felix Kir’s father, was a hairdresser and a barber and also a bit of a country doctor and nurse, while Anne Lapipe, his mother, a native of Alise-Sainte-Reine, looked after her house and her children’s upbringing, a task she performed with a lot of authority.

Felix Kir was a bright pupil. He was educated at the local school, then at Plombière-les-Dijon’s small seminary, and Dijon’s seminary. He was ordained priest by Mgr Le Nordez, bishop of Dijon, in Sainte Bénigne, Dijon’s cathedral, on June 20, 1901. The next day, he celebrated his first mass in Alise, his local village.

Then he became successively curate at Dijon’s Notre-Dame, vicar in Bèze and then in Nolay. In 1928, he was called to Dijon by bishop, and he became parish councillor of the Catholic National Federation. By now a canon (the bishop’s advisor), he travelled across Côte d’Or to give speeches- half religious and half political – and he became junior editor of “Le Bien du Peuple” (the People’s Well-being), the catholic newspaper. 

Felix Kir was an member of the Résistance, and he became very popular when he escaped a murder attempt at the age of 69 in 1945, when Dijon was liberated. He was elected mayor of Dijon, an office he kept until his death in 1968, county councillor for West Dijon and MP for Côte d’Or, from 1945 to 1967. He became Parliament’s oldest member in 1958, at the age of 82.

A truculent and colourful character who had no objection to limelight, Felix Kir has won eternal fame in the whole national and international memory thanks to the drink which bears his name, an aperitif made of blackcurrant liqueur and aligoté white wine.

He died in Dijon on April 25, 1968, and was buried in Alise-Sainte-Reine’s churchyard. His bust can be seen in an outside niche cut out in the West wall of Saint Léger’s, one of whose benefactors he was.