Auberge des Lices
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Cassoulet in Carcassonne
With its medieval walls, the Cité de Carcassonne is among the most picturesque, and most crowded, sights in all of Europe. But when the sun sets and the tour buses leave, the stone-paved streets actually grow quiet; mid-week—even during the summer—evenings can feel calm. In such a popular destination, the hungry traveler often fears that dinner will be an unfortunately forgettable overpriced plate of mediocrity-with-crowds... So—ask a local taxi-driver where to eat. In Carcassonne, I was told "Auberge des Lices." Even though it's located within the old walls, the evening scene is more for the city's residents than exclusively for out-of-towners. In this part of France, the quintessential 'plat principal' is "cassoulet," a hearty stew of beans, sausage, and duck confit. Yes, it's more of a winter meal, but even in summer, you can't come here without trying this centuries-old local specialty. Cassoulet, when poorly made can be greasy and heavy; here it's succulent and savory, served traditionally in an earthenware casserole. Just make sure to plan a late night stroll under the ramparts... "Auberge des Lices" includes some tasty extra touches: we had an 'amuse-bouche' of little lobster 'pots-de crème' to go with our cold cloudy glasses of anise-flavored 'pastis,' and then before our actual desserts arrived, complimentary "pré-desserts" made their way to our table—how can you say "non" to that? (Upstairs from the restaurant are some bedrooms—the restaurant doubles as an inn.)
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