Idioma / Language: Spanish

Carcassonne: the only gluten-free restaurant in the medieval city

What is a better way than matching the post 100 with the start of our last trip through Europe. This year, we took the Gluten Free Adventures car and went on a route through some cities in France, Belgium and Holland.

Unlike other summer trips, we did this one in June. Differences? Well… there were far fewer tourists, but the weather was worse!

As you can see in the photograph below, after having the suitcase ready, I doubted if it really was a summer trip… too much warm clothing!

The day before, we prepared some chocolate gluten-free brownies and went to make the shopping. Although we had selected some gluten free restaurants in all the 8 cities we would visit, just in case, we went out with the car fridge full. Also, we did not want to go to a  restaurant for all meals.

We started the trip on Sunday, June 10. Isabel arrived in Barcelona at 11 o’clock in the morning. As Sabadell is about 40 minutes by car from the Estació de Sants, I got up early or early to prepare the lunch and load the car. We would go from Estació de Sants directly to Carcassonne, which was 3-4h drive away, so we would eat along the way.

I prepared a rice salad with sweet corn, olives, cheese, canned tuna and sausages. Around 1:00 pm, we stopped to eat in a service area that, incidentally, had a restaurant called “Coeur du Blé” (Wheat heart). Even if they had had gluten-free food we would not have eaten there. After the bad experience I had the last time I was in Paris, we did not want to take any chances. At least not the first day of our trip. In any case… as expected, they had nothing gluten free.

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We arrived in Carcassonne at approximately 2:30 pm and the hotel reception did not open until 4:00 p.m. To not be there waiting for an hour, we went to find one of the two gluten free restaurants we had found. Its name was Chez Fred, at number 31 Boulevard Omer Sarraut. There is a public parking (uncovered) a little further on, towards the river. We found it closed. It seemed like it had been closed for quite a long time. We do not know if they have closed definitively or if they were only on vacation.

We continued walking around the city for a while and, when it was almost time for check-in, we returned to the hotel. While we were doing the registration, we took the opportunity to ask the receptionist if she knew of any gluten-free restaurants. She looked at it on the internet and found only one: La Courtine, at number 4 of the Marcou Square, right in the heart of the medieval city. It was the other option we had on the list.

She recommended the page SORTIR SANS GLUTEN. Although it was not very useful for the cities we visited, perhaps it is the best gluten-free application we know for France.

Once installed, we took our cameras and went to see the city. It was very cloudy but the weather forecast did not indicate rain… mistake! Just before crossing the wall began to pour. We spent a good time under a tree, covered with a mini umbrella that we had bought when we were in Austria.

When it seemed that it had finished raining, we entered the city and began to walk its streets. Then it started to rain again and we took refuge under one of the doors of the wall.

When it stopped raining, we went to find the restaurant to ask what time they closed and reserve a table. We were not given much choice, so we booked a table by 8pm. A little early for us, but hey, we were going to see the city, so I’m sure we would be hungry at that time.

As the rain gave us very short truces, we went straight to see the yellow lines that had been put on the wall… Isabel had found it through Instagram. I had no idea and I was horrified when I saw it for the first time. Since I was not at the exact point, I only saw meaningless yellow lines… once we got to the point from where we had to look at that “work of art” I understood everything… it turns out that to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the declaration of Carcassonne as a World Heritage of UNESCO, they established a “dialogue between heritage architecture and contemporary art”. I will leave it here…

When we arrived at the restaurant, there were not many people… right behind us there was an English family that we heard talking about traces of gluten… this scared us a little. When the waitress came, we had to make a big effort to understand her. We think she was not French, but we had to speak to her in French, because she did not speak English well… anyway! The first thing we asked was about gluten-free food. She told us that there was no problem, that they had gluten-free pizzas, but that we could only eat them there. They did not prepare them to take away.

Then she explained that they did not let people take gluten-free pizzas home to avoid problems. We assume that they had received complaints from a customer who felt bad after ordering a gluten-free pizza to go. Not a good sign either.

Then came the odyssey of asking if they used oatmeal or gluten-free wheat starch to prepare the pizzas. Since it was used without indications in that restaurant in Zaragoza, now we always ask, since Isabel is allergic. Finally, we ended up talking to the cook with a mixture of Spanish-French-English. Sometimes we have to go beyond Google Translate… At last we clarified it and he told us that there was no problem either. He told us we could eat all the pizzas except the calzone and the chef’s pizza.

I guess it was the fact of being in France, which has a very bad reputation when it comes to eating gluten free. Also, in my last trip to Paris, I felt so bad that I am now very distrustful towards them. It’s unfair, I know! But if they do it wrong, who feels bad is us. Not them! We must not forget this either. We were not very sure, but we had been told very well about this restaurant, so we went ahead and ordered a gluten free pizza each.

Isa ordered the Pizza Serrano. And I ordered the Pizza Fortezza. The first one was with tomato, mozzarella and ham. The second was tomato, mozzarella, minced meat, pepper and onion. We ordered it without pepper and without onion to be able to share it with Isa, but they did not pay much attention to us, and they prepared it using both ingredients, so we did not share much this time…

Leaving aside the difficulties we had to understand each other, the pizzas were very good! And we did not feel bad after eating them, which is more important!

You can see the pictures of the trip here.

UPDATE (August 2018): my Parents visited the city in August 2018 and discovered a gluten-free pastry shop called “Delices de la Cité”, at 19th Rue de la Porte d’Aude. They have noisettes and nougats without gluten. When we were there in June we did not see it… it’s a shame… my Mother (who also eats gluten free), she loved everything she could taste. We leave you a photo of the shop window.

In addition, this time in the Tourist Information Office told them about the Restaurant 104 at 104 Rue de Verdun where they also found many gluten-free dishes. The reviews we have read are pretty good. This is not in the medieval city, but it is in the center of the city.

BY CLICKING ON THE MAP OF GLUTEN FREE RESTAURANTS YOU FILL SEE ALL RESTAURANTS WE DESCRIBED IN THIS POST LOCATED IN THE MAP OF GLUTEN-FREE PLACES:

AND HERE WE LEAVE THE CELIAC TRAVEL CARD IN FRENCH:

P.S.: Please keep in mind that in this blog I share my trips, anecdotes and experiences about gluten free travel around the world. It is possible that, in any of my trips, I go to some restaurant not trained by the associations where the risk of being contaminated with gluten exists. I kindly ask you to also take into account that the list of references can change. Please, always double check before eating in the restaurants we recommend. Thank you very much!

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