In summer, Caunes offers a wide variety of places to eat, and all just a short walk away: A local British chef, Linda Wearn, runs and personally cooks all of the small selection of dishes (changed daily) in the excellent La Table d’Emilie. The Hotel D’Alibert, located in the medieval village centre, has a good restaurant in a charismatic 17th century courtyard setting (separate entry below); the La Fontaine bar also serves no-frills lunches and dinners outside, under the Plane trees around the fountain (separate entry and picture below); another bar-restaurant, La Cantina de Curé, offers drinks and Spanish-style tapas in a delightful garden adjacent to the Abbey; yet another attractive new restaurant close to the Abbey, La Mangeoire, offers a limited selection (always freshly cooked and locally sourced bio produce whenever possible), as well as live music on Sunday nights. the Argent Double/ Pizzeria which in addition to the pizza selection runs a very popular moules-and-frites Friday evenings.
Linda’s business, La Table d’Emilie (tel: 04 68 78 70 10), offers a take-away service. Further details can be found on www.latabledemilie.com – main courses for 2-3 persons are priced from 15-25€. Linda’s restaurant, La Table d’Emilie, is just a few minutes down the hill, and on the right after crossing the bridge. It opened summer 2013, and has recieved excellent unsolicited guest reviews, such as: “We did manage to visit La Table d’Emelie twice and found it very welcoming with enjoyable food and great atmosphere.”
For completeness, mention must be made to the large and attractive establishment near the bridge in the main street, La Marbrerie. We have mixed reports ( a number of negative ones, and as of 2014 some good ones). Perhaps like some wine it is improving with time.
For those willing to undertake a drive the local restaurant possibilities are almost boundless. Driving through the villages and vineyards of the Minervois on a summer’s evening as well as lunchtimes is a delight that has all but disappeared on the crowded roads of other countries, and in most urban areas. Here in rural France driving retains its original pleasures. These are only just eclipsed by the meals served in countless shady gardens and courtyards.
What follows is not an exhaustive list of restaurants, only ones we have tried on local recommendations!! If you come across any others worth a mention during your stay please feel free to send us an email and we will include them on this list, or amend our comments on the ones we have.
Auberge de la Croisade
A new discovery for us as of 2015. About 30 minutes drive (on the main road heading towards Beziers, turn left towards Quarente and La Cruzy the restaurant is almost immediately on the left beside the Canal du Midi) is La Croisade. For evening dining (lunches are always cheaper) a excellent 3-course meal is just over 20€, and a 4-course “gourmande” dinner is 31€.
En Bon Compagnie
One of our favourite restaurants, it is situated alongside the Canal du Midi in the nearby village of Homps (about 15 mins drive). The food is prepared by an English chef which, to our taste, gives the french cuisine a twist for the better (see also the Cafe du Port, below). An excellent set menu is available for 24€, and the service is cheerful. efficient and helpful (as well as also English speaking).
Situated on the North side of the Canal, the restaurant is approached through a couple of back streets following signs from the centre of Homps. L’Arbousier restaurant (more solidly traditional French, see entry below) is on the South side of the Canal and is best approached directly from the main road from La Redorte without entering the village.
Homps is a local centre for boat hire and daily boat tours along the Canal. Details of these and other local tourist attractions can be obtained at the Tourist Information Centre just across the Canal and easily accessible via a pedestrian bridge.
Hotel de la Cité — La Barbacane:
A Michelin-starred (2009) restaurant in the grand Hotel de la Cité at the heart of the medieval Cité (adjacent to modern Carcassonne). A many-course taster menu starting from €75 up to €160 with wine extra (starting at about €20 per bottle). It is not cheap but the food, the ambiance and the setting make this good value for that special dinner.
Tel: 68 71 98 71 open Thursday to Monday
Le Parc (Carcassonne):
The Michelin starred chef serves food described as inventive gastronomic pleasure! You can go for a very reasonably priced set lunch (around 30 euro per head) which includes amuse bouche, starter, main and dessert as well as a glass of wine and coffee with petit fours. Or go a la carte for a medium to expensive dinner (tasting menus also available). Not to be missed if you enjoy tasting the latest in unusual and inventive but always delicious cuisine. Dress code smart casual. Reservation essential. Chemin des Anglais at the foot of the ramparts of La Cité. Tel: 04 68 71 80 80 (landline)
Café du Port:
Small (English) family run business only 30 minutes away serving seasonal freshly made food. Located in the village of Paraza, facing the Canal du Midi (this little village is located east of the Homps-Lezignan road — see Auberge de St Martin map, or the Minervois Tours map which names Paraza). A two-course dinner (main course plus starter or dessert) is €21 and all three courses are €26. Lunchtime main dishes are €10, while entrees and desserts are €5. Open evenings (Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday), and lunch time (Mon. Tues. Thurs. and Fri.), and in July and August evenings only but add Tuesday. This is a very popular eatery, and highly recommended, so bookings are essential. But note that credit cards are not accepted.
Tel: (John et Natalie) 06 28 82 80 42 (mobile — English spoken)
In the village of Aigne (about 30 minutes from Caunes through the Minervois vinyards and finally across the wild garrigue countryside) this lovely little restaurant serves local specialities and popular French dishes. Everything is homemade and fresh and the service is very friendly. About €25 for a six-course dinner and from 13€ for a three-course mid-week lunch (both excl. wine). A very popular establishment, especially in high season, so you will have to book a few days in advance! Open all year for fireside dining inside in the winter and outside on the plaza in the summer. The village of Aigne is centered on a medievil circulade — a defensive arrangement of concentric circles of streets — a fascinating layout to be explored beginning right next to the restaurant Hence, La Cagarol, the occitan word for snail.
Tel: 04 68 27 84 22 (landline)
New in summer 2009, this little restaurant, which plans to be open all year, offers great value mid-week lunches at 12.50€ for three courses including wine. Summer eating is in the small plaza adjacent. It is situated in the close-by village of La Livinière (a focal point of some of the best minervois wine production — it is claimed).
2 Place Occitane, 342210 La Livinière Tel: 04 68 75 40 16
Auberge de St Martin:
In the village of Beaufort and about 20 minutes drive from Caunes. Very friendly family run establishment specialising in the specialities of the region with only local produce used. Good food and a nice atmosphere. Good lunchtime venue as well. The main restaurant is an old schoolhouse; in the summer they have tables in the garden. summer season (May to Sept.) closed Mondays; winter season, midday Tuesdays to Sundays, and evenings Thursdays and Saturdays. Tel: 04 68 91 16 18 (Mylene et Christophe)
In the picturesque medieval village of Minerve (half an hour up into the Montange Noir), the restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating ( overlooking the sheer cliffs) and produces very good inventive but not outrageous French cuisine. Each course is always beautifully decorated as well as tasting great. Very friendly service. Very popular in the summer months so will need to book well in advance, especially to sit outside. (see also Cathars in the Minervois)
Tel: 04 68 91 14 18
Pizzeria Les Capitelles: (a capitelle is a circular stone workers’ hut in the vineyards)
In the next-door village of Peyriac (5 minutes away by car) this friendly North African run pizzeria does good pizzas, kebabs, salad buffet (just €8!), and many of the usual French dishes at a generally inexpensive prices. There are speciality couscous nights, pre-booking required. Not for a romantic meal out but somewhere to take the kids! Bookings only necessary in high season.
Tel: 04 68 78 29 77 (landline) Wednesdays to Sundays, midday and evening.
Auberge du Chateau, Chateau de Cavanac:
This large restaurant on the outskirts of Carcassonne offers a set menu at around €40 for 6 courses and all wine included (each table is kept constantly supplied with 3 bottles — white, rosé and red). The food is generally good (plenty of meat, fish and seafood) but nothing special as is the wine. The setting is interesting as it is in a huge old chateau. Very good for catering to large groups. Friendly service. www.chateau-de-cavanac.fr
Tel: 04 68 79 61 04 (landline) Open evenings and Sunday midday, but closed Mondays.
La Fontaine, Caunes village bar and café:
In the centre of the village (just five minutes walk from the house) this bar now serves midday
and evening meals of a reasonable standard. Very typical French café-bar fare. A good place to soak up the atmosphere at a table in the large plaza surrounding the old fountain, and people watch while you are having lunch or dinner and both food and wine here are inexpensive.
Hotel D’Alibert Restaurant:
Directly behind the house, so about 2 minutes walk away, this picturesque hotel has a reputation for being a decent restaurant with good food but enigmatic service. The couple of time we have tried to book they have been declared full and not particularly helpful, so if anyone manages to actually eat there please feel free to report! Le patron, Frederic, has a reputation to maintain as a local eccentric. As of 2012, quite a number of our guests have reported good food and service, further enlivened by extensive conversation with the Patron.
A fancier French restaurant in the picturesque hill-top village of Aragon (20 minutes from Caunes). Set in an elegantly converted agricultural building ( a sheepshed?), this upmarket restaurant offers a selection of elaborate dishes, each presented by the Maitre D’ (a little pretentiously, some might feel). A six-course dinner (excl. wine) will cost about €30. www.labergerie-aragon.com Tel: 04 68 77 02 03
Auberge de la Clamoux:
A small, cheap and down-to-earth farmhouse restaurant just 10 minutes from Caunes in the village of Villeneuve. Both lunches and dinners, menu fixe and competitively priced, are prepared and served by the lady of the household.
Backing onto the Canal du Midi, this small restaurant on the outskirts of Homps is just 15 minutes from Caunes.
Tel: 04 68 91 11 24
Ferme Auberge – des Vignerons:
A cheap and unpretentious farmhouse restaurant with four-course dinners at less than €20 (including a bottle of wine per person). Summer dining out in the garden is delightful. It is located on the right-hand side of the road out of Azillenet towards Minerve (see La Cagarol map).
L’Oustal a Citou:
This is a small restaurant in which the few diners (maximum 22) eat together. A set menu (about €25 excl. wine) of traditional local dishes is prepared by Yolande. It is in the main (almost only) street of Citou on the right-hand side on driving up from Caunes — 31, ave. de l’Argent-Double. The road up to Citou (about 20 minutes drive) through the winding valley of the Argent-Double starts directly opposite the bar in Caunes. http://www.oustal-a-citou.fr
Tel: 04 68 78 08 99 reservations essential