4 Gastronomic days in Carcassonne

A stay under the sign of the "Régalade"!

Gwen & Mathieu will take you for 4 days in the streets of Carcassonne and will make you discover the good food of the city as well as the excellent wines to taste!

 

Place Carnot à Carcassonne avec ses terrasses et la convivialité du sud
© J.Roche - Ville de Carcassonne

Mathieu and I had been wanting to visit Carcassonne for a long time.

He’s as greedy as I am, so a stay there was a must! As soon as we were settled in the hotel, we headed for the lower town:

The Bastide Saint-Louis

to discover its small streets with their shimmering colours, its 3/4 storey houses, its small deco and design shops, its main square (Carnot) with its magnificent red marble fountain and its bars, each one nicer than the next.

Mathieu is a wine fan and I’m more of a bubbles fan. We immediately honoured the local specialities! A glass of red wine for Mathieu. With no less than 6 local AOCs (Minervois, Corbières, Limoux, Malepère and Cabardès), he was spoilt for choice. As for me, I discovered the blanquette de Limoux and I was not disappointed by this sparkling wine invented before champagne. Brut, demi-sec or ancestral method… there is something for everyone. 🥂

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As Mathieu and I make it a point of honour to find specialities and delicacies on each trip (he is rather salty, and I have a sweet tooth), we started to go round the delicacies, butchers, cheesemongers, wine merchants… And then, of course, we headed for the Halles couvertes Prosper Montagné, a few hundred metres from the main square.

On the spot, it is “la nocturne des Halles” on this Thursday. The principle is very amusing. Everyone buys a drink for the modest sum of 2€. Then, each one moves, with his glass, along the aisles to taste the wine(s) of his choice, with the chance to discuss with the winemakers who made them 😉. All this is accompanied by tapas: the inevitable foie gras, but also sausages (of duck, of liver to be tasted cold or hot), pâtés (prepared with pigs from the South-West who gambol and eat acorns), black puddings from the South-West (or big “meat puddings” eaten cold cut into slices like sausages), fritons (fried duck fat), incredible ewe’s milk cheeses (from the Montagne Noire or the Pyrenees, those with truffles or walnut liqueur are sublime), fresh or matured goat’s cheese, tapenade, olives (the lucque with its crescent moon shape is a marvel… ). Needless to say, we had a great time. Moreover, we made friends (the Carcassonnais are very welcoming, each one wanting to make us taste his favourite speciality) and we got a lot of good addresses…

The next morning, we had a hearty breakfast and discovered the “Carcassonnais”, a brioche filled with a candied fruit custard. After a long visit of the

Medieval City,

we decided to treat ourselves to the inevitable Cassoulet, served in an earthenware dish. If the cassoulet is a regional speciality of Languedoc made with meat (duck or goose confit, sausage, shoulder, loin or knuckle of pork), and white beans (haricots lingots du Lauragais or Tarbais), beware! The one from Carcassonne differs slightly from the one from Castelnaudary or Toulouse, in that red partridge and mutton can be added. Each restaurant owner is honoured to add his own personal touch. Just as each butcher in the city defends his honour by making his own Toulouse sausage.

And for dessert, I enjoyed the flavours of the Belle Aude ice cream. A factory taken over in the form of SCOP (a company which belongs to its employees) and which puts forward full-fruit products from local and responsible production.

A treat as we say around here!

 

Sébastien Carles

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Ambiance aux Halles Prosper Montagné
© J.Roche - Ville de Carcassonne

In the afternoon, we continued our wine tasting with visits to vineyards (with more than forty excursions, we were spoilt for choice). Mathieu took the opportunity to buy a few boxes of “treasure wines“, as he calls them, which we will show to our friends when we get home.

In the evening, we took a gentle stroll through the Pont Vieux and the typical streets of La Trivalle. We had dinner at the foot of the Medieval City, in this district full of cafés and restaurants. Mathieu went for duck and I for squid with rice produced a few kilometres away.

Saturday morning, we headed to the Boulevard du Commandant Roumens for the big Saturday market, to continue our food tour. People are talking to each other, the smells and colours make us want to taste everything. Ah, how I love the markets of the South. Then a tapas aperitif in the sun near the Prosper Montagné covered market. The people of Carcassonne know how to live: on Saturday mornings, some streets are blocked off and café tables are set up in the middle of the street. And what’s more, it allowed us to meet up with people from the “Nocturne des Halles”.

Walk to the

Canal du Midi,

Carcassonne’s second world heritage site, just opposite the station. We observe the passage of the barges and an open-air exhibition explains how the locks work. A well-deserved nap in the shade of the plane trees, followed by a snack. There were still some specialities that I had spotted and that I had not yet tasted and in particular the “écus de la Cité” with dark or milk chocolate, the “grès de la Cité” (praline sweets)…

On Saturday evening, we had to go to a wine bar. We tried several and I don’t know if I preferred the ones in the upper city (the City) or the ones in the lower city. I think we’re going to know a lot about the wines of the South West soon! On Sunday, we decided to breathe the fresh country air and go to Pradelles-en-Val to taste the best mozzarella di buffala in France. Only 20 km from Carcassonne, in the middle of the vineyards and the garrigue, a family raises buffalos (Antonini & Co). Here everything is made on the spot: the bread, the fresh pasta, the mozzarella and the buffalo milk ice cream. A marvel!

What is certain is that this gastronomic stay in Carcassonne lived up to our expectations. We’ll be back for more!

Le Canal du Midi sont de véritables chef-d'oeuvre de ce patrimoine classé à l'UNESCO
© J.Roche - Ville de Carcassonne

                                          Gwen

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