When you’re considering having a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant in France, the reviews might describe the experience as expensive, pretentious, or having small portions. I have good news for you. In the town of Carcassonne, there is a restaurant located in the heart of the medieval city that is an absolute joy to dine at. This is a place where you can have a most affordable lunch: La Barbacane in Carcassonne.
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In the Languedoc region of southern France, one of the most famous towns is Carcassonne. Why so famous? The fortified city has the La Cité de Carcassonne. It has a drawbridge, two outer walls for defense, ramparts, and numerous towers. While dating back to around 100 BC, it wasn’t until 1853 that it was restored. In 1997 Carcassonne was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
I have written about Carcassonne in the past, questioning whether it was worth visiting (due to crowds). My opinion has become more favourable for a few reasons:
- the lunch I had at La Barbacane (more to come)
- it wasn’t too crazy busy in early June
- I stayed for 4 nights outside of La Cité in the newer part of Carcassonne (Ville Basse). (Here is a link to the apartment: Apartment in Carcassonne With Terrace ) I got to see the ‘other side” of Carcassonne which I found to be just as lively and interesting and it was the starting point for my bicycle excursion along the Canal du Midi
- the fortress is truly stunning day and night
From far away, one really sees how gigantic this famous fortress really is. While I loved how it looked during the day, it was equally impressive at night.
La Barbacane In Carcassonne
A great dining experience is more than just about the food. It’s also the surroundings, the service, and the price. Put all those together and you have La Barbacane in Carcassonne.
Chef Jérôme Ryon was born in Bourg-en-Bresse, located north of Lyon in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alps region and he was influenced by the regional dishes of his mother and grandmother. He has been with La Barbacane since 1998. In 2005 he became the chef at La Barbacane and was awarded the Michelin star in 2006.
La Barbacane (also known as “Restaurant Gastronomique La Barbacane”) is located in the medieval part of the city, in the Hotel de la Cité, a luxury boutique hotel. The terrace and views from the restaurant overlook the ramparts of the fortress and a lovely garden.
The dining room is elegant yet not stuffy, with lots of wood and floor to ceiling arched windows.
When I entered the dining room, I was asked where I’d like to sit. Being a single dinner, sometimes one is relegated to a table by the kitchen. Not here. I mentioned that I would like to sit somewhere with a view and they actually set up a table by a big window…just for me! How’s that for accommodating a customer!
Overall, the service was attentive and very friendly. And as you will read later on, they went out of their way to accommodate me.
The fixed price menu included: water, an apératif, 2 glasses of wine, and coffee
The meal began an apératif—a glass of local sparkling wine with an amuse-bouche. It was followed by:
Starter: Duck foie gras, crème brulée, gingerbread cubes, lentils, and a Esau velouté. This was perfectly paired with a glass of white wine. [My other choice: Crab meat cannelloni with vegetables, tapioca salad with shellfish vinaigrette and a vegetable mayonnaise.]
Main course: Glazed duck filet with cherry juice, turnip, mashed beetroot and a sweet and sour sauce. Served with a glass of red wine. [My other choice: Whiting filet (filet de merlan) in seaweed bread crumbs, potatoes from Noirmoutier, local asparagus and Ciutat beer cream.]
Dessert: Apricot jam with cinnamon, Chantilly with milk chocolate on a speculos [cookie], with iced tea sorbet. [My other choices: Goat cheese from Combebelle and saffron honey (5 € supplement) or Iced vacherin with black cherries and pistachio, meringue stick with violetta cherries coulis, and pear Williams sorbet.]
Café Gourmand: coffee with a macaron and mini Madeleine—the traditional French butter cake in the shape of a scalloped shell.
The Price: 46 €
Yes, the meal was superb and you really couldn’t beat the price. I know dining at lunch is always more reasonable, but with everything included, this price was amazing (service comprise-service is included).
My After-lunch Surprise
After my lunch, I mentioned to the maître d’ that I would love to say thank you to the chef, Michelin-star chef, Jérôme Ryon. I was escorted to the library, a small room with books and comfortable chairs that was around the corner from the dining room. The maître d’ suddenly opened a door that was part of the bookcase and then disappeared.
A minute later he reappeared with Chef Ryon. It was a short conversation and he was very kind as I spoke to him in my not-so-perfect-French. I was just so touched that he would even take the time to see this stranger….who thoroughly enjoyed his cooking.
I highly recommend you dine at La Barbacane in Carcassonne, certainly for the food (an affordable Michelin-starred meal), but also for the unique experience and surroundings.
Location: Place Auguste Pierre Pont, 11000 Carcassonne, France
If you’re looking for other culinary experiences that are unique in France, take a look at these posts:
- Lunch At Château de Champlong: A Delicious French Immersion Excursion
- Restaurant Review of La Felicità, Paris
- Not Your Typical Food Court: Beaupassage, Paris
- Localers Food Tour Near Canal Saint Martin
- Lunch with a view of Etretat: Dormy House
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