Back sometime in December. Rainy, slate-grey skies, bitingly cold...why would I take my camera on a day-trip toCarcassonne when the plans were just to have lunch, shop and drop a friend off at the airport?
We did squeeze in some browsing later that afternoon, trawling Sephora and Monoprix and dismayed to find that Maisons du Monde had closed. (Not that I ever seriously wanted a chest-of-drawers emblazoned with Marilyn Monroe but it was nice to know where to find one if I did.)
Lunch first. The Carcassonne you think of when you hear the name is the ancient walled Cité. It may be riddled with tourists most of the time, but it's surprisingly full of decent, affordable places to eat. Unless you're in the market for plastic swords and helmets, you're better off shopping in the lower town, sometimes called the "new" town because it only dates back to the 13th century.
Place Carnot is its centre. A square that's just the right convivial size, it was currently being made ready for Christmas festivities with chalets and an ice rink.
Fake icicles hung around the fountain in the middle (this shot was obviously taken earlier in the year).
At some time or another, we've eaten our way through most of the cafés and restaurants around it but this was our first venture into Le Saint Roch. What sucked us in was the menu posted outside.
It was a chilly day so we were ready for the full three courses. My entrée was a miniature paella pan--about the size of a tea-plate--holding an egg "Catalan style" on a base of cooked tomato, peppers and onion. Two orders of gesiers salad, prepared a little differently "very, very tasty," (I'm transcribing as he speaks). Samosa filled with spice-inflected tuna (and that side salad) were described as "the best samosas in France." Not sure if that's damning with faint praise though for someone who just arrived from Asia.
On to the mains. I'm obsessed with seiches at the moment. Two fat ones, perfectly cooked a la plancha, came with roasted potatoes and a scoop of sweet potato purée. Those who had ordered the steak and duck confit got the same veg. A commendable pear-and-chocolate crumble to finish with rather too much whipped cream drizzled with chocolate sauce at its side.
Three course lunch menu, 14.50 euros. Details: Restaurant Le Saint Roch, 15 place Carnot, Carcassonne, 04-68-71-62-43
37 minutes ago