Castelnaudary France, Home of Cassoulet

BrianRS By BrianRS, 21st Mar 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/13mt6bwv/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>France>Languedoc

Castelnaudary in France is the capital of the Pays de Lauragais and home of the famous haricot blanc, casserole called cassoulet. Castelnaudary is located about 30 minutes from the very famous city of Carcassonne and sits on the equally famous Canal Du Midi

Castelnaudary and Cassoulet

France has an ongoing love affair with cuisine and using locally grown produce to create some amazing food. The primary dish for Castelnaudary in France is their world famous 'cassoulet' which is a hearty meal based on the 'haricot blanc' or white bean. Clearly this is not the only ingredient and a typical cassoulet will also include Toulouse sausage, a portion of duck and some belly pork. All of which is traditionally cooked in a special clay pot called a 'cassole'. It was once said that to be a truly authentic cassoulet the dish had to be cooked and served in a cassole made at the pottery in the nearby village of Issel.

Sadly this is no longer possible as the pottery in Issel has long since closed. So the nearest place you will find an authentic cassole these days is the 'Poterie NOT' which sits next to the tow path on the Canal Du Midi about half way between Castelnaudary and a little place called Segala to the north. Not too shabby an alternative when you consider that the 'Potterie NOT' has been around since the 19th century and is still going strong today.

Part of Castelnaudary's annual celebrations is the 'Fete de Cassoulet' which takes places over 7 days at the end of August. This is a week of celebrations, entertainment and most of all eating. Every restaurant has cassoulet on the menu and some pretty sizeable marquees are erected to cater for the overflow. The traditional garb is a white and blue striped jumper for anyone attending the celebrations. Not compulsory of course but does add to the fun.

The 'Fete de Cassoulet' had its 15 minutes of fame when the chef Rick Stein came to town whilst filming the TV series French Odyssey. He was served a cassoulet at the Hotel de France in Castelnaudary, which didn't do their reputation any harm at all. Even now many people visiting the town will seek out the hotel to sample their first cassoulet.

Many others of course prefer to visit nearby Carcassonne, which also sits on the Canal Du Midi but also plays host to another World Heritage Site 'La Cite'. A living and working walled city that caters very much to the tourist industry. I wouldn't like to say how many of the restaurants in La Cite serve up cassoulet, but it will be a fair percentage. It's not the same as having one in the birthplace of cassoulet however. We prefer ours in our home town of Castelnaudary personally.

The Moulin de Cugarel pictured is the famous landmark for Castelnaudry and can be easily seen from the main N113 that runs between Carcassonne and Toulouse. It stands at the top of the hill looking across at Issel and on towards Revel. When you see it you know you have arrived at the capital of the Lauragais.

If you arrived here looking for a cassoulet recipe then I guess I owe you one, so here is a link to Rick Stein's Cassoulet.

Also if you need help finding you way to Castelnaudary and some decent accommodation then look no further than this Travel Advice France page and the video below.

Tags

Canal Du Midi, Carcassonne, Castelnaudary France, Languedoc Roussillon

Meet the author

author avatar BrianRS
Working and living in the South of France. I write about technology subjects including website design and SEO, the travel industry and photography.

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Comments

author avatar Denise O
29th Nov 2011 (#)

First of all, welcome to Wikinut. I look forward to reading more of your work. I have never had a cassoulet. I will check out the link to the recipe. I love trying new things. Nice read. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar BrianRS
29th Nov 2011 (#)

The cassoulet is actually quite delicious, which I personally believe is down to being cooked in goose fat. It is a substantial meal and not for the feint hearted, but definitely worth a try.

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