Join us on our trip to Carcassonne in famous Languedoc region of southwest France. The highlights of the long weekend include the Perigord black truffle, a Michelin star dinner, a winery visit, a guided tour of ancient Carcassonne and a stop at a truffle museum.
During the trip you will enjoy a three-night stay at four-star Le Donjon hotel within the historic Carthar medieval walled city of Carcassonne. Highlights of the stay include a truffle-inspired tasting menu dinner (created expressly for our group by Chef Jérôme Ryon) at the Michelin star La Barbacane restaurant, hunting truffles in the French countryside and a visit to a food festival deep in the French countryside at the Ampélofolies des Carbardès. We will visit the Carcassonne Saturday morning French market, enjoy a traditional cassoulet dinner at Comte Roger, and visit the local winery Château Saint Jacques d'Albas for a tour, tasting and two-course lunch, topped off with a visit to Maison de la Truffe.
The Ampélofolies of Carbardès is held annually in the village of Moussoulens. The festival is little known outside the region but is well supported by local producers and vintners (whose vineyards produce wine from high-quality AOC Carbardès grape varieties including Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot). During the festival a truffle auction is conducted in the village square - an age-old tradition fiercely regulated, and its customs guarded. Prices fetched from buyers reach upwards of £1,000 per kilo.
Jérôme Ryon is the Michelin star chef at the Barbacane restaurant. A graduate of Thonon-les-Bains Hotel and Catering School, he worked for prestigious chefs including Marc Veyrat at L’Auberge de l’Eridan.
Of all the culinary seasons, chef prefers autumn and early winter, with its array of game, mushrooms and truffles (his favourite ingredient).
Chef Ryon is a former winner of the prestigious “Pierre Taittinger International Culinary Award”
Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat, pork skin and white beans. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides.
But to truly understand the essence of the “holy trinity” of Cassoulet and its importance to the people of the region it’s best to read from the author of the Larousse Gastronomique, Carcassonne native Prosper Montagné, who, in his 1929 “Le Festin Occitan,” proclaimed, “Cassoulet is the God of the Occitan cuisine. The Castelnaudary version is God the Father, the Carcassonne recipe is God the Son, and the Toulousain is the Holy Spirit.”
Comte Roger restaurant, situated in the heat of the citadel, is owned and operated by Chef Pierre Mesa, and assisted by his wife Sylvie. Comte Roger has been recognised by the major guides of France for its excellent cuisine and impressive wine cellar.
Chef Mesa pays homage to Cassoulet by lovingly preparing his brand of cassoulet that brings to the mind bouquets of forests, meadows and succulent meats. All this served in clay bowls containing beans cooked to perfection, tender but still holding their own, dotted with rosemary, thyme and parsley. Duck confit, chewy and silky, mixed with chunks of braised pork and a fatty and delicious membrane known as “couenne.”
Friday 26th January 2024
Check-in at Le Donjon Hotel, Carcassonne
Relax before meeting in hotel bar for pre-dinner drink
Walk Comte Roger for a traditional cassoulet dinner
Return to hotel
Saturday 27th January 2024
Breakfast at hotel
Walk to Carcassonne market and discover Carcassonne
Transfer to Château Saint Jacques d'Albas
for wine tasting and lunch
Truffle hunt in the country
Visit Maison de la Truffe
Return to hotel and free time
Sunday 28th January 2024
Breakfast at hotel
Guided tour of La Citè
Transfer to village of Mousoullens for the Les Ampélofolies des Carbardès (inc truffle auction)
Returning to hotel – free time
Truffle-inspired dinner in Michelin-star La Barbacane restaurant
Monday 29th January 2024
Breakfast at hotel
Trip cost: £1,175
Per person based upon two people sharing a double room.
Single person supplement - £45 per night