Starry, starry nights…and days

La Barbacane Restaurant inside the hotel
La Barbacane Restaurant inside the hotel

June has always been a festive month for us because it’s when Bill’s birthday happens as well as our anniversary. This year is especially significant as someone reaches that certain age to start collecting Social Security benefits and I’ll post later about our plans of how we’ll mark 30 years together. Carcassonne boasts 3 restaurants that have earned Michelin stars for their quality of food and service, 2 of them within easy walking distance, so what better way to enjoy this month’s special events than by visiting those two?

A couple of years ago we had the honor and delight of joining our English friends, Gaynor and Pete, in celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, so it was only fitting that they should be with us here in Carcassonne during this happy time. For our first foodie adventure, we had lunch reservations at La Barbacane, located in the gorgeous Hôtel de la Cité tucked snuggly within the 2.6-meter (8.5-foot) thick walls of the fortress above our house. A few months ago, to celebrate our arrival in France, we’d had drinks in their well-appointed library bar so we looked forward to our meal in the accompanying restaurant, and we were not disappointed. The setting is that of a huge medieval dining hall with heavy wooden and plush velvet chairs, walls covered with oak wainscoting, chandeliers, and arched windows. For 40 euro/dollars their multi-course lunch menu gives you 3 choices for the starter, main plate, and dessert and even includes wine, water, and coffee. This price equals the cost of a starter alone on the regular menu, so it’s quite the bargain.

Dessert, round 1
Dessert, round 1

So, if La Barbacane received one Michelin star, what could Franck Putelet have possibly done at his Le Parc to have earned two stars? For a fair comparison we chose another fixed-price menu which also had the advantage of limiting the choices we had to make. This was an evening meal so understandably the price was higher to fit the time of day, the additional courses, and the prestige of that second star. To begin, the waiter brought us the house cocktail accompanied by finger snacks. Next came the appetizers followed by the menu entitled Action/Reaction that their website describes as “a small culinary action awaiting your reaction”. Considering that we were there for over 4 hours enjoying nine courses with local wines to accompany each, there was quite a reaction! Bill is a frequent contributor to an online travel review site and I think he’s going to have difficulty topping some of the comments I just saw there like “food theater…exquisite…sheer beauty…I just wanted to stare at my plate.” Two thumbs, or stars, up!

4 thoughts on “Starry, starry nights…and days

  1. I haven’t been to La Barbacane yet, but for us le Parc was a mixed experience. I was nearly ill from overeating, it was all so good. Husband thought the portions were too small. So go figure. A large table of locals came in with their dog, which wasn’t on a leash and which went from table to table, begging. We said something to the waiter, who shrugged and said they were regulars. That was the end of le Parc for us.


  2. You could steal a line from Woodstock and say, “We must be in heaven, Man!” It just gets better and better; living vicariously through you two!

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