France; Toulouse to Carcassonne!

2016-08-01 13.04.462016-08-01 13.10.45-12016-08-01 18.17.06-22016-07-31 12.30.002016-07-31 11.44.40-22016-07-31 13.21.462016-07-31 13.22.48-12016-07-31 13.26.092016-08-02 13.09.112016-08-02 13.35.27-12016-08-02 15.59.522016-08-02 16.07.092016-08-02 16.17.482016-08-02 16.07.092016-08-02 15.44.192016-08-02 18.22.15 2016-08-02 20.08.50 2016-08-02 20.30.23 2016-08-02 21.20.372016-08-02 21.37.59

I always laugh when I hear the name Toulouse, as my French-Canadian tutor used to say “that’s where the All Blacks go to lose!” Hardy ha ha. Ahem that was some time ago. 

Our GPS had the most dire French pronunciation that made us laugh, however it always too us directly to a restaurant address for lunch, as you know that’s a priority for me. Thanks to Rick Stein and luck on our side, we got the last table outside, with no reservation, in the sun, at Au Pere Louis- winebar/restaurant.

Established in 1789, it’s quaint, small, an institution and of course excellent. I looked at the house salad being delivered to a table nearby and boom, decision made. It was sensational, and piled high with prosciutto and eggs. Hubby had steak tartare.  I got chatting to a lovely, elegant old couple who told me that one must try the famous quinquina liqueur. As much as we would have loved to, this was a bit of a rush stop but we will seek it out next time. Toulouse was just lovely with a beautiful square, fountains, churches, good shopping and well worth a quick visit. Parking was a bit of a mare though and thanks to hubby’s expert driving we squeezed into a space in a car park building. I would have taken out the sides of every car and the building!

Castelaudary was our night stop and we did not thank Rick Stein on this occasion. It was ok; nothing much really but we had an amazing dinner at Maison du Cassoulet. Doh, we didn’t even try the cassoulet; the region speciality but ate duck and steak instead. Our B and B was nice but in a strange subdivision so we drove back into town.  I got to have a swim in their pool first though which was divine as it was very hot.

The next day we hit Rocomadeur. I was stoked that I had only recently added this into the itinerary after looking at French bus tours. This is a must.  Driving down the hill, the town is set on a cliff and it just takes your breath away.  The streets are very narrow so we decided to park up the top and walk down to the village. We ate lunch first at Hotel Le Belvedere. It had the  most amazing terrace views of the town below. Our lunch special of salads topped with foie gras were amazing, despite being 2 star and a tourist spot and the price was good. This place is also famous for feeding the monkeys but been there, done that, got the teeshirt. We enjoyed the walk down and exploring this old town which is so steeped in history. The church and chapel were amazing and the town was just buzzing. It was so unique.

Chez Felix in Carcassonne the next day was our first stop, in the newer part of Carcassonne. Thanks again Rick. The waiters were a bit old and crusty but knew their stuff. Order off the blackboard in your bestest French with these types and they are nice to you. They appear to be impatient and snippy if you don’t. Our pork and steak were consumed gleefully, followed by fab espressos.

We headed straight to our hotel near the old town and checked in to Bloc G via their restaurant. This B and B was a bit weird but after hauling our luggage up one flight, the room was very trendy and modern with a lovely view. Location was excellent as we had the castle right behind us with the stunning old town. It was hot, busy but we loved it. Night photos of the castle and the river didn’t do it justice.

Our hotel restaurant would have had to be one of the trendiest (and expensive) French meals to date, but it was sublime.  We shared the most delicious melon, mint, tomato salad and then had the lamb brochette and seafood risotto. Our wine of course was divine too and it was so nice to dine alfresco. Breakfast included in the morning was amazing, and they had such a fab display of homemade goodies and organic produce with good coffee. Next week; the South of France.




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