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Day 15 Southern France: Exploring Carcassonne & Dining in The Medieval City- 28 May

Our last full day in the Languedoc region, we thought we would dedicate it to leisurely exploring the city of Carcassonne.

The city of Carcassonne can be divided into into 2 parts: La Bastide Saint Louis, the “newer” part of the city which was built on the left side of the river Aude by the “Black Prince” in 1355, and La Cite Medievale, or the older Medieval City.

La Bastide Saint Louis may initially seem like the least interesting of the 2 sides of Carcassonne. For example, rather than the picturesque and character filled cobble stoned streets of the Medieval City, it’s set out in a boring grid. But don’t let this put you off as it does have many pluses. The restaurants on this side do not cater to tourists, so on the whole, you will get a better meal here. There are many fine historical buildings here that are worth exploring, like the Cathedrale Saint Michel (13th-14th centuries), Eglise Saint Vincent (14th-15th centuries) and the Chapelle et college des Jesuites (17th - 18th centuries). Place Carnot hosts a farmers market every Saturday, where you can sniff out local cheeses, sausages, bread and fruit - an ideal place to stock up before going on a picnic. The Museum of Fine Arts is a “must see” for art lovers, and don’t forget a boat trip on the famous Canal de Midi. Lou Gabaret can arrange a variety of tours from 8,50 Euros.

The Medieval City, or La Cite Medievale, was built on a former Roman fortress. It was here that Simon de Montfort led heavy battles against the “heretics” or Cathars, who were being protected by Raymond Trencavel, the Viscount of Carcassonne. After the medieval city was besieged and surrendered, it was annexed to the royal domain in 1226, and the town became the fortified place that can be seen today.

Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997, one cannot drive into the Medieval City of Carcassonne. Instead, several public car parks are provided just outside the city walls. The main attraction of the Medieval City is the impressive Le Chateau Comtal (the Comtal Castle) and its ramparts. Surrounding the Castle on 3 sides are a maze of short cobblestoned streets and charming little shops and eateries. Oozing with character and history, it is a joy to walk around the Medieval City of Carcassonne.

Dining In Carcassonne Medieval City:
Lunch: Although Peter and I were aware that the Medieval City catered mostly to tourists, someone had recommended that we try a restaurant in Place St Jean called Le Creneau. Checking out the reviews on TripAdvisor, all of which were exceptional, we decided to try it out for lunch. Starting with a warm goats cheese salad for starters, Peter and I both had the cassoulet for the main - the set menu was 12,00 Eros per person, which made for a very reasonable meal. Both were pleasant but not out of this world. While Le Creneau didn’t serve anything that the others restaurants in the walled city didn’t have in terms of regional dishes, they did offer a nice variety of tapas on the menu. But what sold Le Creneau to us was the atmosphere of sitting outside on the terrace and the vibe; the young staff were vibrant, happy and willing to please. This alone made our meal very enjoyable. 

Le Creneau, 6 Place St Jean, La Cite, 11000, Carcassonne.

Dinner: While we had lunch all stitched up, we were unsure of where to have dinner. The local place that we spotted at Cavanac, close to our hotel Auberge du Chateau , was closed on Monday nights. We had eaten at our hotel two nights in a row and we didn’t want another big production for dinner, so that was out. Most restaurants at Bastide Saint Louis, where the better restaurants are at Carcassonne, were also closed on a Monday nights. Our only option was to return to Le Cite Medievale for dinner. While eating at Le Creneau, we spotted Adelaide Restaurant across the road and decided to check it out after lunch. We noticed a variety of more contemporary dishes which made for a refreshing change to the cassoulets and magret du canards that we saw everywhere else. 

We returned that night for an 8 pm dinner at Adelaide Restaurant. While the outside seating area was full, we had no trouble getting seated inside without a booking, although by 8:30 the inside was filled to capacity too. Starting with a mixed green salad with a superb dressing, I had a sublime salmon tagliatelli with an incredible grated cheese through it that I could not identify for my main. Simple, fresh ingredients, and clean flavored - the kind of meal that won’t keep you up at night! With wines and a bottle of mineral water, our entire bill came to 57,00 Euros. I’d definitely dine here again for the tagliatelli alone.  
Adelaide Restaurant, Place St Jean, La Cite, 5 Rue Adelaide de Toulouse, 11000 Carcassonne.

Posted by Victoria Ugarte on 28th May, 2012 | Trackbacks
Categories: France

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