Discussed in this Episode
- Castelnaudary Cassoulet and Canal du Midi [11:22]
- Le Lauragais [13:01]
- Wheat growing area [14:04]
- A lot of British people lived in Castelnaudary [14:40]
- Castelnaudary economy [14:53]
- Castelnaudary is a good choice for people looking for a nice place to live in France that is not too expensive [16:13]
- Ruins of the Castle [17:26]
- Castelnaudary and the 100 Years War [18:02]
- Pieere Paul Riquet and the Canal du Midi [19:28]
- Grand Bassin in Castelnaudary [20:13]
- Ile de la Cybèle [20:48]
- The importance of the Canal du Midi [21:39]
- About the Cassoulet and its origins [28:40]
- Why Castelnaudary claims Cassoulet started there [29:50]
- Cassoulet comes from Cassole [31:39]
- The difference in Cassoulet recipes between Toulouse Carcassonne and Castelnaudary [31:37]
- Cassoulet is time-consuming and ingredients are hard to find in the US [34:36]
- You don't need a cassolette to make Cassoulet [37:16]
- How do you know if you're getting home-made Cassoulet? [38:25]
- Restaurants that claim their Cassoulet is home-made [38:41]
- The intestinal consequences to eating Cassoulet [40:37]
- Castelnaudary is off the beaten track and lovely [41:59]
- Is it a transat or a chaise longue? [42:53]
- Seuil de Naurouze [43:12]
- Cugarel Windmill in Castelnaudary [44:21]
- The Lauragais is pretty [44:37]
- Starting a podcast is a steep learning curve [46:55]
Annie Sargent 0:00
This is Join Us in France Episode 300. Drumroll, or not. Bonjour I’m Annie Sargent. And today I bring you a conversation with Elyse, about Castelnaudary, a medium sized city and our south of Toulouse, and a great place to consider if you’re looking for a place to buy a house that’s not too far from a large city with reasonable prices, quick access to the freeway and plenty of charm. When I recorded this episode with Elyse, I hadn’t been to Castelnaudary for a long time, or at least, I forgot I had. But my husband and I took a trip there just a couple of days ago, and I’ll tell you more about it in my personal update.
Annie Sargent 0:48
Thank you patrons for giving me a precious gift. The time to produce this podcast. Your monthly gift makes it all possible and in these times of great uncertainty and anxiety. I cannot tell you how much it means to me. A shout out to new patrons and more info on how to join all my wonderful patrons after the interview.
Annie Sargent 1:11
Check out my audio self guided tours on https://joinusinfrance.com/audiotours/. As I record this, I have four of them for Paris. And I will release more as time goes by because I love the freedom and the depth that these tours provide.
Annie Sargent 1:27
Show Notes for this episode are on https://joinusinfrance.com/300, the number 300 where you can see a recap of what we’ve discussed and download the PDF I’ll mention later.
Annie Sargent 1:40
Follow addicted to France on Instagram to see my photos of Castelnaudary and I’ll post them this week. Well starting this week.
Annie Sargent 1:49
I’m still getting feedback from the fun recipe newsletter I sent out a week ago. If you’d like to subscribe, go to https://joinusinfrance.com/ and look for the green button. That says extras.
Annie Sargent 2:32
Elyse Rivin 2:33
Annie Sargent 2:35
You look good today. Nice in red and
Elyse Rivin 2:38
I’m red and you are blue. Oh, we needed some white and we have the French and American flags.
Annie Sargent 2:43
Yes, that’s right.
Elyse Rivin 2:44
Oh, tomorrow’s the 14th so I guess that’s appropriate.
Annie Sargent 2:47
Yeah, yeah we are. We are recording this right now on the 13th of July but it will come out for a long, long time. Yeah, till but we have some celebration, some celebrating to do.
Elyse Rivin 2:58
We do inded!
Annie Sargent 2:59
Because the podcast is now over 300 episodes. It’s a bit of a big deal for a podcast, not that many podcasts make it to 300.
Elyse Rivin 3:10
Is that is that right?
Annie Sargent 3:11
Oh, it’s very unusual. As a matter of fact, most podcasters they do like five or 10. And then they quit.
Elyse Rivin 3:16
Annie Sargent 3:17
Because they realize it’s hard. It’s hard work.
Elyse Rivin 3:19
Yep. Well, Annie you are not a quitter. That is definitely the case.
Annie Sargent 3:23
That’s true. That’s true. So I just wanted to say a few things about about the podcast. It started in February, on February 12, 2014, is when I put out the first episode. We’ve had 1.7 million downloads so far.
Elyse Rivin 3:41
Annie Sargent 3:41
So it’s a lot of people have listened to these episodes. And I, every week, I get a few people writing to me saying thank you for the podcast, whatever. So it’s, it’s been wonderful that way. I also want to point out that I have never taken a freebie or even a discount for anything travel related since I started the podcast.
Annie Sargent 4:06
So I know a lot of travel podcasters their Mojo is they reach out to travel companies and hotels and restaurants and they say, Hey, I’ll come and test your thing. And then I’ll talk about it on the podcast and say nice things. I have never done that. I will never do that. Eventually, I might take advertisers, but you’ll know it’ll be very clear. This is an ad.
Elyse Rivin 4:28
This s an ad, right.
Annie Sargent 4:30
And not. I also get all the time people who reach out to me because they want to talk about the book they wrote. And I’ve only had a few on the podcast like that, because it just feels I don’t know. I’d rather talk to regular visitors who come to France and want to talk about it. Or you Elyse obviously, because you’ve been on. What? Almost 100 times by now?
Elyse Rivin 4:54
No, over 180
Annie Sargent 4:56
Oh my goodness. See, that’s a lot!
Elyse Rivin 4:59
Over 180 Annie!
Annie Sargent 5:00
As you can see, so it’s it’s, it’s wonderful to have, i think. I think it’s wonderful to have a travel related podcast that is not purely. Let me get free stuff.
Annie Sargent 5:14
That’s disinterested. Let’s put it that way.
Annie Sargent 5:16
That’s right. It’s disinterested. It’s not that I don’t like having patrons right. You know them. You can frank about that too, and you like having patrons too. But that is completely separate from whatever we recommend or we like so if we say we like a hotel, it’s not because we got free nights at a hotel. It’s because we like it. Yeah. Or if I bring on a guest who wants to talk about the restaurants, they like their hotels, they like totally fine, totally fine. And they’re not getting paid for it either. So I think that’s really valuable. And that is extremely different from all other travel podcasts.
Elyse Rivin 5:54
Right. It is, it is because indeed it is. It’s just really a service to people that has nothing to do with the commercialization.
Annie Sargent 6:03
Elyse Rivin 6:04
What it is yeah. And so I think that it is really nice to have people know that and also to have the feedback from people who appreciate it, which of course is what happens if they do Patreon or if they do anything else like, right,
Annie Sargent 6:20
Right. For the longest time, the podcast was not on a strict schedule. So I would release it whenever it was ready. For many years now. I’ve been releasing once a week on the same day, it was on a Wednesday I think used to be Yeah, right. And now it’s on a Sunday. But most of this time, I have released one episode a week. Other than, you know, sometimes I’ve taken a couple of weeks off for vacation, whatever. I don’t think I’ll even do that this summer because I’m not going anywhere because of the pandemic. So, there you go.
Elyse Rivin 6:53
There you go.
Annie Sargent 6:54
The most popular episode we have released is episode Number 179, which has to do with, it’s called things to do in Paris for first time visitors. And obviously people, you know, they have to find they have to, when they’re searching for something specific, that’s that’s how they find us. And hopefully a lot of the people who start listening to that one, and then go on to listen to many of the other ones. So there you go. So it’s celebration for both of us, because 300 is a big achievement it is.
Annie Sargent 7:27
And I also want to mention that going forward, the older episodes will start falling off the application, the list that you see in your podcasting app, that doesn’t mean that they’re not that you can’t listen to them anymore. But going forward, these older episodes, you’ll have to listen to them on the website. They won’t be available anymore in your app, because the reason the way apps work is that it’s Apple podcasts, everybody, almost every app podcast app no matter what it is, we’ll pull from a directory called Apple podcasts. And they have a rule that they only list 300 episodes. And so once I have 305, the first five are not listed. You can still listen to them on the website. So there you go. Done with the celebrations.
Annie Sargent 8:21
Let’s talk about Castelnaudary
Elyse Rivin 8:23
Castelnaudary. And I just would like you, Annie, since you are native to Toulouse, maybe just this time you can do this with a Toulouse accent to put us in the mood.
Annie Sargent 8:35
Comment je dirais Castelnaudary ?
Elyse Rivin 8:37
I don’t know that. I don’t know.
Annie Sargent 8:38
Castelnaudary, con ! Je vais à Castelnau, con
Elyse Rivin 8:42
Atually because the new prime minister of France is someone named Jean Castex.
Annie Sargent 8:47
Elyse Rivin 8:48
Who comes from the Gers, which is just to the west of Toulouse.
Annie Sargent 8:51
Elyse Rivin 8:51
And there’s a big to do right now going on in France about the fact that he has an accent.
Annie Sargent 8:56
So so he’s interested. He is interesting, because his accent is obviously very controlled, like mine. I hate it having a Toulouse, growing up I hated it. I could hear it. I hated it. And I worked on losing it. But mind you, I did same with English because when I showed up in the US, I had lived in the UK for two years, we had a British and I had a very British accent. And I hated that people made me repeat stuff. And so I lost it. I just worked on it. And now I’m incapable of imitating it. I just
Elyse Rivin 9:30
It’s so funny. Yeah, that’s interesting, because, of course, I was born and grew up in New York. And when I moved to California to finish my studies, I actually worked on getting rid of my New York accent. There you go, but it stays somehow in the back. You know, when I get very excited or very upset about something. Yeah, it comes out and it goes back, doesn’t it? But it’s very interesting, because yesterday in the local newspaper, in the Depeche, there was a big two page spread about what’s wrong with people in France that they don’t like people from the south with their accents you see Everybody’s making fun of the Prime Minister already because he has an accent.
Annie Sargent 10:04
Right? And he doesn’t have a strong accent and I bet if you put him with his relatives and they’re just talking between themselves that is stronger, it’s much stronger because if I’m talking with my siblings, yeah, comes back comes right back. There you are, because I’m not trying. See, that’s because that’s a that’s a situation where you relax and you just talk, whatever
Elyse Rivin 10:24
it’s it is at the same time. It’s kind of nice to have regional accents, you know, oh,
Annie Sargent 10:29
it’s lovely. Oh, I’ve I’ve so outgrown that. I think it was silly of me to be so
Elyse Rivin 10:35
interesting that it’s very snobbish, especially for television and for politicians. Yeah, it’s like you’re not supposed to have an accent if you want to be high right in something you know.
Annie Sargent 10:43
So I listen to all these shows France Culture, France Inter, and they sometimes have historians who are clearly from the south or southwest and some of them I just delight in their accent and and the presenter always have to comment on it.
Elyse Rivin 11:00
Has to comment on it.
Annie Sargent 11:01
Yeah, they have to say something they can’t just be quiet about it.
Elyse Rivin 11:03
No, no, no, no. So and this is of course connected to just talking today about this town. That’s actually what halfway between here and Carcassonne.
Annie Sargent 11:12
Elyse Rivin 11:13
Most people, I would bet. If they’ve been to Toulouse and they’ve gone to Carcassonne just go right past,
Annie Sargent 11:19
Right on the highway
Elyse Rivin 11:20
On the highway. Yeah.
Elyse Rivin 11:22
Castelnaudary. And it is. I wanted to call this talking about the three C’s: Castelnaudary, the town, Canal du Midi and Cassoulet.
Elyse Rivin 11:34
Cassoulet! Of course
Elyse Rivin 11:35
That’s the 3 Cs.
Annie Sargent 11:36
Right. And, and of course, Cassoulet there’s a competition to know where it started.
Elyse Rivin 11:41
Annie Sargent 11:41
So is it Carcassonne, is it Castelnaudary or is it ets the notary or is it Toulouse?
Elyse Rivin 11:45
Annie Sargent 11:45
So we’re always discussing this, but who cares?
Elyse Rivin 11:48
Well, actually, that’s what is what I was going to talk about is like I was doing some research this morning, and I think I think Castelnaudary can legitimately say that it started there.
Annie Sargent 12:00
You will give them the
Elyse Rivin 12:01
way up 100 events are on everybody. So, alors. So let’s begin the beginning so Castlenau, it means new castle which probably isn’t that hard to figure out. But I was always really curious about why Castelnau-dary which is written now in ARY. And it turns out that because in the beginning in the beginning, which is really a long time ago, which is over 1000 years ago, it was Castelnau meaning new castle and then it was d’Arri. So it was the castle it was the new castle of Arri whoever that was. Okay, I have no idea but it was the castle of this Lord.
Annie Sargent 12:44
Right because in another direction we have Castelnau-d’Estretefonds.
Elyse Rivin 12:47
Annie Sargent 12:48
Which is completely it’s a much smaller town. But we have a lot of Castelnau.
Elyse Rivin 12:52
We have a lot of Castelnau
Annie Sargent 12:53
In in the south of France. So
Elyse Rivin 12:55
Cause we have a lot of castle
Annie Sargent 12:56
Yes, yeah, new new ones, but a lot of them of course they’re from the 1200s exactly yeah they’re still the newest
Elyse Rivin 13:01
Like oh we got a brand new house here now come and visit you know it’s like wow we got another fortified castle going look at how modern they are so cool. Actually the reason why is because for a very long time and of course we took a long time in France means really a long time a Castlenau was a Castlenaudary was actually the siege or the the capital of a little area that was a little province called the Lauragais.
Annie Sargent 13:35
We actually did an episode about the Lauragais I can’t remember what number it was (it was 156) I have
Elyse Rivin 13:42
the numbers and things like that right? Yeah.
Annie Sargent 13:44
I’ll link to it in the show notes.
Elyse Rivin 13:45
And and at the time before the French Revolution it was there was a lord in that area. And so the that was why this fortified castle was actually built in this little town which is on record from starting just The the 1100s you know, so before that I’m sure there was some kind of settlement there.
Elyse Rivin 14:04
The Romans didn’t think it was very important. They were interested in going from Narbonne to Toulouse, and Carcassonne was a stop, but so Castelnau no just somehow didn’t hit the Romans in the eye at all. But it has always been very important because it is the center of the wheat growing area. And then I still there were still silos on the outskirts of the town. It’s really really, really important as as the major production there. The the actual city of Castelnaudary has about 11,000 people, you know,
Annie Sargent 14:35
I looked at the population, it looks like it was going up in the last 50 years and they’re down a tiny bit a little bit.
Elyse Rivin 14:40
You know, why? No, because I don’t know what the percentage is but a good let’s say at least 20% of the population was British.
Annie Sargent 14:52
Elyse Rivin 14:53
Yep. And so they’re leaving or they have left. Castelnaudary is. Actually, I was looking at some interesting statistics about it because it is a town that has three economic activities, though, obviously, the grains, mostly wheat is extremely important. It also is the home for a base for the Foreign Legion, which is really important there that you don’t see it when you go through the Old City Center. But it also is a commercial base.
Elyse Rivin 14:54
And in fact, not that everyone approves of it, but there’s an enormous, enormous Amazon depot that is in the process of opening up right on the outskirts of Castelnaudary. But it has a large proportion of retired people.
Annie Sargent 15:39
Elyse Rivin 15:40
Which is changing because of the dynamic of the economics with Amazon coming in and other things like that. And a lot of retired people from England moved into Castelnaudary or just teeny little areas, you know, right around it that helped create a certain dynamic activity for the town. So I think that is one of the reasons why it is suddenly starting to lose a few people.
Annie Sargent 16:04
It’ll go back up if there’s an Amazon depot.
Elyse Rivin 16:06
Annie Sargent 16:06
More young people are going to stay.
Elyse Rivin 16:08
Yeah. And it’ll be younger people, you know, which makes it really interesting. So it turns out that it is
Annie Sargent 16:13
Sorry, it’s one of these towns that if you’re looking for a place to buy in France, yes, that you don’t want it to be too expensive and you don’t want to be too far away in the boonies. Castelnaudary would be a good choice. Because it’s big enough to have some real life.
Elyse Rivin 16:30
Annie Sargent 16:31
I mean, it has a hospital, it has a high school, it has all sorts of things like that.
Elyse Rivin 16:36
It has two high schools, it has a cinema.
Annie Sargent 16:39
Yeah. So there’s some some life there. But at the same time, it’s not Toulouse where I pay a lot more for the same, you know. And as a matter of fact, it looks like most of the houses, most people live in a house even if they’re, if they’re renting. They’re mostly renting houses.
Elyse Rivin 16:54
They and you know what the No, this is a why I came upon this as a statistic. It was just after fascinating to read. It’s a town. I don’t know how many like that in France, where the average size of the apartment or house is fairly large.
Annie Sargent 17:10
Elyse Rivin 17:10
So that there were very few tiny little habitats there. In other words, studios and right very, very little. So it means that it has, I would say, a fairly large middle class population. It’s not a rich town, town, but it’s very pleasant.
Elyse Rivin 17:26
And it has some very, very good restaurants. And of course, that’s not just connected to the Cassoulet, which we could talk about in a minute. But what’s interesting is that, of course, even though it has this, it only has ruins now of the castle. And the ruins are, there’s a little bit of the ruins that are visible when you walk through the old city center. But it became important again after going through some really rough time. Now Castelnaudary is on the right off the autoroute that takes you literally from the Mediterranean to Toulouse, and then if you keep going, of course, you eventually get to Bordeaux It’s a
Annie Sargent 18:00
Elyse Rivin 18:02
Yeah, if you go from Narbonne to Carcassonne, and then Castelnau and then Toulouse and then eventually going along way longer to get to the Atlantic right? But But what I didn’t know of course, was that it was the place of one of the worst battles between the English in the French during the Hundred Years War. And unlike Toulouse, maybe because it was smaller I really don’t know why it was the you know, the Black Prince, the bad guy now who was the head of the these bandits? I mean, the English army It was not really they weren’t really Brits with an accent from England. They were people loyal to the English King.
Annie Sargent 18:39
Elyse Rivin 18:40
And they were marauders and they pillaged everywhere. And when the English King basically went I give up, I’m going back to my island, you know, kind of thing. They just started really devastating the whole southwest of France. And it turns out that in the year 1365, they attacked the city of Castelnaudary and literally almost burnt the entire city to the ground, killed most of the people. I mean, they were really nasty.
Elyse Rivin 19:09
They were really not very nice. So it was rebuilt. So except for vestiges of this old feudal castle, the oldest parts of Castlenaudary are really are only from after that. So, you know, for here that’s medium old, you know, I mean, 1400s you know, it’s medium old, you know.
Elyse Rivin 19:28
But it’s big day came when, when Pierre Paul Riquet was in the process of laying out the plan for the Canal du Midi.
Annie Sargent 19:40
Elyse Rivin 19:41
And of course, it starts in Toulouse and winds up at the Mediterranean and he was trying to plot out the different places along the way. And one of the things that’s interesting about the canal is that in order for places to be included as rest stops, they did have to offer some financial incentives. No, which is one of the reasons why in Carcassonne, they had to add on a little strip afterwards because when the canal was finished Carcassonne, which had snubbed it kind of went oh, I think we made a mistake here. Oh dear, you know so.
Elyse Rivin 20:13
But Castelnaudary was very, very whoever was running the city at the time because this is the 1600s this is obviously pre revolution. They went to right to Riquet and they said, We would like to have Castelnaudary be very important center for the canal. And so how they work this out, I really don’t know. But they created what is called the Grand Bassin. Which is this space, I guess in English, it’s called the best best basin.
Annie Sargent 20:49
It’s like a big lake.
Elyse Rivin 20:48
Yeah, it’s like a, an enclosed lake. That’s seven hectares, which is about 20 acres in size. It’s and what it has is that you have the canal coming on one side and then going out on the other side with two very beautiful locks. And in the middle of it there’s an island. And it’s an island that’s an artificial island or was basically created now of course it doesn’t look artificial at all called L’Île de la Cybèle I don’t know it’s called that.
Annie Sargent 20:55
Is it SY?
Elyse Rivin 21:18
CY cybele with an accent. And the island was put there to be a windbreaker. Because the Lauragais is an area that you and I know it’s an area that’s famous for having a lot of wind.
Annie Sargent 21:18
Elyse Rivin 21:18
That heels around it. That’s why there’s a lot of air, wind, wind, wind turbines they are now.
Elyse Rivin 21:39
And so they were really thinking well ahead, because what they did was they agreed to make it the Center for all the technology. Now I don’t know exactly what that meant in the 1660s 1670s when they were actually building the canal. But they basically it was like this was going to be the place where they were going to work out all their technological problems for the rest of the canal. And so it helped the town grow and become prosperous because it was the Center for where they loaded and unloaded most of the wheat that went to the Mediterranean. And Toulouse, of course, is where the canal actually ends or begins depending upon which side you start from. But Castelnaudary was the most important part for the commerce of the things that were taken on the barges that moved in and out.
Annie Sargent 22:30
Now, when you say ends in Toulouse, you mean the thing named Canal du Midi, there’s another canal that goes all the way to Bordeaux
Elyse Rivin 22:37
That came 100 years later. It came later,
Annie Sargent 22:39
But it’s not named Canal du Midi anymore.
Elyse Rivin 22:43
It’s the Canal des deux mers. Yeah, right. So the Canal du Midi was basically, really the inception was from Toulouse to the Mediterranean. Yeah. But they had to figure out of course, you know how to do all of that. And that’s the whole story of Riquet and how
Annie Sargent 22:58
And we’ve also had episodes about that,
Elyse Rivin 22:57
And we’ve had episodes about that, and it is really beautiful. Yeah.
Elyse Rivin 23:03
And so it’s very lovely. So the oldest part of the town is centered really around the canal and this basin, and it’s really lovely. And since I was I was really just there a week ago. It’s it’s charming, it’s absolutely charming. And you have lots and lots of boats. So you have both private boats owned by people who keep them there. Kind of on an auxiliary little canal that goes off to the side and then you have two companies that of course rent enormous numbers of boats. Which of course, unfortunately, right now for them are mostly docked.
Annie Sargent 23:40
Elyse Rivin 23:40
Yeah, not too many people are going out these days, you know?
Annie Sargent 23:43
Oh, I thought it was the opposite. I thought that it was a very desirable kind of travel because you’re in your own thing.
Elyse Rivin 23:51
Yeah. Maybe Maybe later on this summer, more French people will do that, you know, because obviously it’s kind of like being in your own car. I mean, you don’t don’t have to worry too much about contact.
Annie Sargent 24:01
It’s true of all the people that I’ve talked to who have been who took a cruise on the Canal du Midi. They were all English speakers. I’ve never had a French person tell me this summer we’re taking a cruise on the Canal du Midi. Yeah, because it’s just not something we think about, like we know these towns like Castelnaudary to me, is the place where we stopped to take a potty break. Because when I was a kid, we go from Toulouse to Valras Plage, all the way near Beziers. And by back then, there was no freeway. So we had to go through all the towns and we go through Castelnaudary, and we often stop to pee at the gas station.
Elyse Rivin 24:41
But you know, it’s really interesting that well, we stopped there. And of course, it was, I must say, really was charming. I mean, I there’s two little like cafe bakeries that are right along the canal and it just very pretty now. And so we decided to go and ask how much it would cost because to my great surprise my husband said Oh, gee might be interesting to go out for a few days which really surprised me. Because it’s you go very slowly on the canal. This is you know, this is not like Speedy Gonzales stuff kind of thing.
Elyse Rivin 25:11
But and and he was saying, you know not necessarily from there but really a little bit further east when you get a little bit closer to the Mediterranean, it might be really fun to do, but nobody could give us a price. And what was really surprising to me was that almost every single boat was docked and so I think it’s just that the virus is keeping people away from things in general but most of the time it
Annie Sargent 25:39
But I saw some ads on Facebook so if they’re advertising on Facebook, they must be wanting to find customers.
Elyse Rivin 25:45
Yeah, I’m sure that they are and and maybe this is a good deal. You know, because it is lovely. I mean, you can go with just take it for a day. You can take it for a few days. You know you you can
Annie Sargent 25:56
I can’t imagine that I would love doing that for more than two or three days.
Elyse Rivin 26:00
It depends on which part I think I would like it if it’s the part closest to the Mediterranean because that’s the part on the canal that I’ve never really seen. No. But
Annie Sargent 26:08
But around here, I’ve walked it, I’ve biked it. I know. Like,
Elyse Rivin 26:12
Right. Yeah, I know. It. I mean, you know, I know when it’s home, it’s not as exciting. Exactly. But did you know for instance, that that basin is now a world UNESCO heritage site? Oh, since 1997,
Annie Sargent 26:26
No really give slapped around to anything?
Elyse Rivin 26:29
Well, I guess it’s because they consider it to be the neurologic neuro number. That’s not the word I want. It’s the center I am leaving out but whatever that word was, I was trying to say it’s the center of really where they worked on all the technological aspects for the Canal du Midi. So they included the basin as part of the whole thing, which
Annie Sargent 26:50
So do they have a museum or something for the Canal there?
Elyse Rivin 26:53
They probably do, but since we were there on a Sunday morning, I yeah, I didn’t find it and Castelnaudary is also considered to be a, it has the label of ville fleurie. Okay, and pavillon bleu.
Annie Sargent 27:08
What does that mean?
Elyse Rivin 27:09
What that means is that the waters there are very, very clean. Oh, and that it’s got basically a Green Label so that they take care of apparently the waters of the canal, they take care of the waters of the basin. And they make sure that all of it, I was really impressed by how clean everything was there to be honest. And the old city center is not that big, but it’s really quite charming. And I was surprised, I must admit, yeah, like you. I mean, it’s a place of just like, Oh, yeah, okay, Castelnaudary. Okay,
Annie Sargent 27:41
I’ll have to go take some photos because yeah, I don’t have any photos of Castelnaudary.
Elyse Rivin 27:45
I have a couple I’ll give you better from that we took up the basin, you know, so yeah, it’s really I mean, just it’s big enough so that it feels like a nice lake. You know, it’s even though it is specifically connected to the canal.
Annie Sargent 27:57
Yeah. So they do have a museum. called Le Musee du Lauragais.
Elyse Rivin 28:02
Annie Sargent 28:03
And then they have a theater and a mediatheque and the mediatheque and ecole musicale municipale. They have a big band. So they have a big, They’re marching band. Oh, yeah. participates in competition, the competition like in my village we have a big marching band that’s disproportionate to the size of the village.
Elyse Rivin 28:24
Well, that’s true, but that that was something I think for a long time. It was very popular in little villages, wasn’t it?
Annie Sargent 28:29
Oh, indeed. Indeed. Yes. Yeah.
Elyse Rivin 28:31
Yes. What they call, what do you call there’s a word for that. Fanfare,
Annie Sargent 28:35
La fanfare yes,
Elyse Rivin 28:36
Fanfare was mostly horns and stuff like that.
Annie Sargent 28:40
I mean, there’s drums horns. Yeah.
Elyse Rivin 28:43
So and then, of course, the third thing. The third thing about it is that it’s famous for Cassoulet
Annie Sargent 28:48
Cassoulet, of course.
Elyse Rivin 28:49
So it turns out there is a legend that during this Hundred Years War, just about the time when it was undee siege by the Black Prince in these bad guys, that poor people in the area were scraping together whatever they could find. And they put all of the little pieces of leftover meat together with some beans, which at the time had to have been fava beans because the white bean that now grows in the area that is really expensive, was not yet brought from the Americas. This is the 1300s.
Elyse Rivin 29:24
And that they put it all together and they made this this dish that gave the people enough force to fight back the English while he was here. Yeah, but the problem is that of course, they didn’t really fight back the English so we can discount that legend completely unfortunately, even though they like to say it, but there are legitimate reasons to apparently claim that the dish itself as it’s known now did start there.
Elyse Rivin 29:50
And apparently, there were two people who defended this idea and and one of them was Anatole France, yeah, well, Anatole France who for whatever reason, I have no idea what happened why he decided for sure it had to have started there. He wrote this article and said, the best Cassoulet I have ever had because it is basically a dish you do find it other places in the southwest is from Castelnaudary and therefore it must have started here. Well, I mean, you know, whatever, whatever it is also, in the 1650s Believe it or not, there was a cookbook written in 1654 by Taillevent, who is one of the very first so 1650s is
Annie Sargent 30:41
Luna was to spell Thai t, e,
Elyse Rivin 30:46
v and T into yoga. And he was a cook. I don’t know if he was actually at Versailles, but he was a very he was one of the first people to write like a very important official cookbook kind of thing. And he describes the stew that basically sounds an awful lot like Cassoulet. Castle a castle I was about to say is to like Castlenaudary. Yeah. As to like Cassoulet. And that is apparently the first time it’s mentioned anywhere, but its name is mentioned as Cassoulet exactly 100 years later. Okay, so in the 17th in the middle of the 1700s it’s actually starts to be called Cassoulet a and that for sure is because there is this ceramic dish called the cassole
Annie Sargent 31:34
Oui, la cassole ou la cassolette
Elyse Rivin 31:36
Which started to be used in Castlenaudary for cooking this dish. Yeah, and that is when it got its name, right. Okay, so you can decide whether you agree that it comes from the Castelnaudary or not, but this is what really makes it interesting. There are, of course, the three places that claim to be the origin Castelnaudary, Toulouse, Carcassonne. So do you know any what the difference is in the three recipes?
Annie Sargent 32:08
Elyse Rivin 32:09
Well, neither did I. But I’ll tell you right now, in case you were wondering, and by the way, everybody out there this is a winter dish. Yeah, I would not suggest trying to eat this in the summertime. Yeah,
Elyse Rivin 32:20
Yeah. Because it’s, it’s very hot. Temperature wise. And it’s very rich
Elyse Rivin 32:25
I mean, it’s this is beans and meat with a little bit of sauce cooked in the oven. And it’s very good. Yeah, it really is.
Annie Sargent 32:32
And it sticks to your ribs.
Elyse Rivin 32:34
It’s like all of your ribs, not just a few of them, really. So the Castelnaudary recipe, which is now the recipe that uses a white being called the Le Haricot Blanc du Lauragais which is, believe it or not a bean that cost 30 euros the kilo.
Annie Sargent 32:52
Yeah, right. So that’s why I’ve never used it!
Elyse Rivin 32:55
There’s also another being called the Tarbais
Annie Sargent 32:57
Oui le Tarbais c’est pareil c’est cher.
Elyse Rivin 32:59
It’s unbelievably expensive these beans I mean, ladies and gentlemen out there. 30 euros a kilo. That’s like $35 for two pounds of a bean.
Annie Sargent 33:07
Okay, yeah, that’s ridiculous.
Elyse Rivin 33:09
The so the Castelnaudary recipes is that it uses confit de. It uses goose not duck.
Annie Sargent 33:17
Elyse Rivin 33:19
Jarret or shoulder of pork?
Annie Sargent 33:22
Elyse Rivin 33:23
Sausage, but doesn’t say Toulouse sausage. Okay. And then the leek carrot and a little bit of celery that are used to give flavor to the sauce. Yeah. And, of course, I’ll cook together in this ceramic dish. Yep. It turns out that the addition of breadcrumbs which is something I’m familiar with
Annie Sargent 33:41
Oh, on top, yeah,
Elyse Rivin 33:42
Annie Sargent 33:44
Elyse Rivin 33:44
Okay, and then Toulouse traditionally, and of course, this is all basically the traditional differences in the recipes in Toulouse it was duck not goose.
Annie Sargent 33:54
Yes, but they taste the same.
Elyse Rivin 33:56
You don’t usually find goose pretty much anymore and Toulouse saussage.
Annie Sargent 34:00
Elyse Rivin 34:01
And they add interestingly, a clove in the stick clove into a piece of onion that they put in with it to cook it. So it adds a teeny little some kind of spice to it. I don’t remember that. But it’s mostly the difference with the bread crumbs that apparently is the original little addition of the Toulouse recipe, okay? And according to what I read, in Carcassonne, they sometimes add lamb, which makes it very different but I’ve never had it with lamb.
Annie Sargent 34:30
I’ve had Cassoulet in Carcassonne but
Elyse Rivin 34:33
I don’t think I’ve ever had it with lamb.
Annie Sargent 34:34
No, that doesn’t, but
Elyse Rivin 34:35
But it is a fact that 80% and now this is a dish and I have a friend friend who’s French, who makes lots of things herself. She does her own foie gras and all this she’s and she originally from Villefranche de Lauragais so she’s really from that area. Yeah. And she, in spite of making everything herself has told me that this is the one dish where she would buy the top grade, canned version. And it is really excellent.
Annie Sargent 35:07
So in the southwest, you can buy Cassoulet in a big can be two and a half kilo can. So that would serve four probably.
Elyse Rivin 35:18
Annie Sargent 35:18
And that’s what I’ve done in the past. Like, we don’t have to make this stuff because it’s this right, it takes forever. And it’s the sort of dish that tastes better the next day. So if it’s canned, it’s really had time to sit in, you know, all the flavors, and it’s really delicious. Now, you don’t want to go to cheap, no, you know, you need to buy a good quality quality. You know, but that’s what I’ve done.
Annie Sargent 35:45
Like I think I have made desperately from scratch once when I lived in the US. And it’s a ton of work.
Elyse Rivin 35:53
It’s a lot of work and getting all those different types of meat.
Annie Sargent 35:56
Right in the US you can’t really get duck fat. No, you can’t I mean, you could buy duck, I guess if you want
Elyse Rivin 36:02
You don’t get really good sausage
Annie Sargent 36:03
You know, I lived in the West. So in the West sometimes the rest of those stores that sell to Mexicans will have a butcher, Mexican butcher. So they might have duck, but you have to hunt around for it. Like it’s not something you can find easily. And so I don’t know if you want Cassoulet just eat it when you’re in France.
Elyse Rivin 36:23
Yeah, and so this one says was very interesting as it is 80% of the high quality Cassoulet is produced in Castelnaudary.
Annie Sargent 36:31
Elyse Rivin 36:32
There are three companies there that are really top notch. Yeah, and they do produce 80% of it, you know, right. And it says it’s interesting because they say, you know, if you really want to taste good Cassoulet, Cassoulet get one of those brands, you know, really Yeah, yeah. I mean, don’t there are we now know that you know, most of the supermarket’s have a real cheapo version of it, you know, but that’s gonna be your Franks and beans. You know, I mean, it’s just not the same.
Annie Sargent 36:57
Yeah, yeah. No, I think I have really enjoyed eating casually in winter. Yes, but I must admit, the process of making it is and I’ve read so it’s funny because there’s a lot of food bloggers who talk about Cassoulet like it’s the, you know, oh,
Annie Sargent 37:15
Annie Sargent 37:16
They’ll make me laugh and they insist that you have to have the cassolette. So you have to have the right kind of earthenware recipient. Yeah, earthenwarepots right. Now you don’t! Come on people. It’s a pot!
Annie Sargent 37:33
It’s a pot!
Annie Sargent 37:36
Don’t mess around with my head. I’ve been cooking for decades. I know that if it’s in a earthen pot or in a stainless steel pot will make 00 difference to the taste.
Elyse Rivin 37:50
You know, of course, it looks. It looks prettier though.
Annie Sargent 37:53
It looks better. But it makes no difference.
Elyse Rivin 37:56
I think it has to do with the fact that you know these are purists because The original way of cooking it was taking all this stuff, putting it in an oven and leaving it there for a whole day on a very low flame.
Annie Sargent 38:06
Yeah, but the original way was probably whatever you had left you scraped it up and you threw it in the pan
Elyse Rivin 38:11
And you put it in, youknow, host on a fire because it was over a fire and this big thing for a very, very long time.
Annie Sargent 38:17
There’s still people who do that there’s still restaurants but it’s gimmicky. You know, because if you do it on a fire, you can’t control the temperature.
Elyse Rivin 38:25
This is my question, you know, how do you know? It’s a real question? How do you know when a restaurant is really making it themselves? I have no idea because you can see restaurants. Well first of all, we drove through the main part of Castelnaudary and
Annie Sargent 38:40
They’d have to be fools, honestly
Elyse Rivin 38:41
Toulouse. I mean, what some of them say you know, homemade Cassoulet. How do you really know?
Annie Sargent 38:46
Because it could be homemade if they buy you know, big can of the beans and a big can of the duck and then add the sausage and add some some onion, garlic, tomato sauce.
Elyse Rivin 38:56
It’s kind of half homemade.
Annie Sargent 38:58
Yes, yes, thrown together. Anybody can do that.
Elyse Rivin 39:01
I mean, yeah,
Annie Sargent 39:02
But I don’t know. I just,
Elyse Rivin 39:05
I mean, it’s one of those dishes where, except for only twice because I was actually with a group of tourists in a very high end place had Cassoulet that I assumed was made at the restaurant. But then again, I have no proof one way or the other.
Annie Sargent 39:24
Yeah, yeah, well, I suppose you can have a chef who’s just interested in making it from scratch and good for them. But I don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t think it adds that much to the experience. And it’s the kind of dish that you would serve to somebody who’s hungry, you know, like, yeah, you want a nice big filling meal, right? It’s usually served in a nice big circulator.
Elyse Rivin 39:48
I hardly anybody ever finishes it?
Annie Sargent 39:51
Oh, I finished it, but I like to eat. Yeah, I don’t think I mean, I take my time, right. I’m gonna sit there for an hour and pick at it.
Elyse Rivin 39:57
So it’s a lot. It’s a lot of food. Yeah, so
Elyse Rivin 40:00
Okay, so this is a question that’s connected to it, but it’s not exactly the same subject is. Is it legal? For a restaurant to say something is homemade, when it may not be totally homemade? I don’t know.
Annie Sargent 40:12
I have no idea. I don’t know what the definition of “fait maison” is. Yeah, you know, because I mean, what are you gonna do? They didn’t grow the beans, right? You know, like they bought, any restaurant will buy. And in the southwest, it’s really easy anywhere to buy all the pieces you need
Elyse Rivin 40:32
Annie Sargent 40:32
All the pieces you need to put together a Cassoulet
Elyse Rivin 40:34
You can buy your own confit de canard, you can buy all that.
Annie Sargent 40:37
One thing that my mother did that I never saw anybody else do is that she would make it. So she would take a white cabbage, chop it up, boil it a little bit, and then pour Cassoulet over it. Ah, and so when you served it, you had cabbage, oh, at the bottom of your Cassoulet.
Elyse Rivin 40:58
Annie Sargent 40:58
And she’s the only person I’ve ever seen do that and it was just to make it a little lighter, right? But of course. Okay, I’m sorry listeners, but if you put cabbage and B and B’s Okay,
Elyse Rivin 41:12
I got it. Really? No, it’s not exactly what I call light anyway. Yeah,
Annie Sargent 41:17
Yeah, yeah you Yes, you might blow the English out
Elyse Rivin 41:22
Maybe that’s why they invented it to begin with in the 1300s. Who knows?
Annie Sargent 41:26
Elyse Rivin 41:27
But anyway, so that’s how we’re a little I mean it is actually if you are in the vicinity it’s a lovely place to stop to walk around the the basin and we it was charming to do the walk aropund.
Annie Sargent 41:39
So I wouldn’t say go there to to spend a week
Elyse Rivin 41:43
No, but it’s, you’re going to go somewhere close by going to go visit the Canal du Midi. If you’re going to go up into the hills that lead into the black mountains, which is north of it if you it’s really worth a little stop.
Annie Sargent 41:59
It’s good for a stop. And I think I’m going to advocate as much as I can for people to stop in these little out of the way not very well known places in France because they have a lot of charm. You’ll have a good time for a day or two. You know, look around, lay on the in the grass, sit on the bench, whatever it is that you do.
Annie Sargent 42:20
Yesterday, Elyse yesterday was Sunday. Usually on Sunday. I’m very busy because I put out the episode. And if I’m not quite done, I’m rushing to finish it right. Yesterday, I was all finished by Friday, this week, and I need to keep doing that. Because on Sunday, I actually got to lie on my transat. You say that and in English?
Elyse Rivin 42:41
Well usually it would be a chaise longue.
Annie Sargent 42:43
Yeah. So that’s funny. So it’s a French word that we don’t use!
Elyse Rivin 42:49
Like Bastille Day tomorrow, nobody in France says that!
Annie Sargent 42:52
Nobody says Bastille Day, right. Okay, so I was sitting out there on my chaise longue and I just fell asleep. It was lovely!
Elyse Rivin 43:02
Was it lovely?
Annie Sargent 43:03
I just loved under the tree under the shade.
Elyse Rivin 43:05
It was nice yesterday it was breezy
Annie Sargent 43:05
Yes, yes, it was a little wind. So if that’s the kind of day you want Castelnaudary is perfect for that.
Elyse Rivin 43:12
I also think it’s a great place. If you’re going to do something close by even if you’re going to do something like go to Carcassonne from Toulouse, or go to Toulouse from Caracassone, and you could you can stop there. It’s really and I have to say
Annie Sargent 43:24
Take the small roads instead of taking the highway
Elyse Rivin 43:27
Exactly the place nearby. I don’t remember if we’ve actually talked about it when we talked about the canal, which it’s very close by but you need a car of course is the where the water is divided between
Annie Sargent 43:38
Ah oui, le Col de Naurouze
Elyse Rivin 43:43
It’s called the
Annie Sargent 43:44
The dividing line. The place where it waters flow naturally towards the Atlantic or towards the Mediterranean.
Elyse Rivin 43:51
It’s really a neat place to stop as well.
Annie Sargent 43:54
And it had a lot to do with keeping the canal with enough water in exactly They had to build a big reservoir up there whatever.
Elyse Rivin 44:02
And so it’s Yeah, I agree. It’s one of these places where it’s got its own secret little charm, and it’s certainly worth a little stop. And we’d stopped in this open all day Sunday, which is also good to know to cafe bakeries that are right along the canal that were absolutely charming, you know, that made their own stuff and,
Annie Sargent 44:21
And there used to be a lot of windmills in the areas. I don’t think that there’s many left today. I don’t think W saw one. Cugarel. CUGAREL.
Elyse Rivin 44:33
Annie Sargent 44:33
But I don’t know if you can visit it. It looks it looks like a windmill. Right? Well,
Elyse Rivin 44:37
it is true that if you drive out from there and you go into the hills, the Lauragais is really pretty. Oh, yeah.
Annie Sargent 44:44
It’s very, very it’s very kind of rolling hills. Yes. A lot of wheat
Elyse Rivin 44:49
And sunflowers right now.
Annie Sargent 44:51
Yeah, because when you grow wheat and you never grow wheat year after year after year, you would kill your ground. So they usually do wheat some years and then sunflower
Elyse Rivin 45:03
And then barren.
Annie Sargent 45:04
Well or they do alfalfa, right, which is and then they just turn it over exactly and let the soil regenerate the French notes still know that you’re supposed to do that and you don’t deplete the soil that way. Right. Well, we can, yeah,
Elyse Rivin 45:18
some of them. I mean, it’s true. There’s more of that still here than there is in the states where everything is just one mono crop, you know, and then just
Annie Sargent 45:26
Nowhere in France Do you have, you know, a field of wheat that goes for 100 miles, never ever, it’s never been done because you couldn’t be done. You have these fields that are adjacent, they belong to different people. And so you and they do different crops or they rotate the crops and so yeah, it’s it is the landscape is ever changing, which is one of the reasons why people love the Tour de France so much. Speaking of which our Tour de France should be underway, but it will not. It’s going to be in September, so yeah. Hopefully, hopefully, it will proceed.
Elyse Rivin 46:04
So yeah, so we drove through beautiful areas with lots of sunflower and then the wheat was already cut. Yeah, but it’s a very beautiful rural area.
Annie Sargent 46:13
Oh my Oh, my little walk they’ve they’ve harvested the wheat. Yeah. And I was very worried because they have the they have there’s birds that nest in the wheat. Ah, and you can hear the little birds that just they have this little beep it’s like a beacon of babies. The it’s like a constant beacon. And I stopped hearing the beeps before they harvested it. So I think the fledglings actually flew, they were fine.
Elyse Rivin 46:42
They were fine.
Annie Sargent 46:42
I’m hoping I’m hoping and he’s protecting the bit. Well, I always think about the birds I like birds.
Annie Sargent 46:47
She likes birds.
Annie Sargent 46:48
Yeah. Thank you so much for being a delight again, and
Annie Sargent 46:54
Thank you so much Annie
Annie Sargent 46:55
And everybody 300 episodes who know who knew cuz why I started this. I knew nothing. I didn’t talk about this, but I will spend a minute. I didn’t know how to do a website. I didn’t know how to record audio. I didn’t know how to edit audio. I didn’t know how to do photography. I was just starting out with my interest in photography. I have learned so much since 2014.
Elyse Rivin 47:21
You have you had an idea though. You had a great idea
Annie Sargent 47:24
I had an idea and I was not gonna give up. And I’m, yeah, like you said, I don’t give up. But but it was a steep learning curve. So if any of you out there are thinking about starting a podcast, go forth, but it is not something that’s easy, and it doesn’t grow quickly. Okay, at first it was like, Oh, we have I think the first week we had. No the first month we had 200 listens.
Elyse Rivin 47:53
Which seems like a lot for the first month.
Annie Sargent 47:55
Well, it was a ton of work to get 200 Yep,
Annie Sargent 47:57
listens. It was Really like, Oh, she
Elyse Rivin 48:02
wasn’t at the beginning. What are we doing one a week? Well, yeah, we went every other week. You know, he was
Annie Sargent 48:08
I was trying to do one a week, some weeks I skipped, but for the most part, it was one a week. But you know, you just it starts really slow and nobody I mean, you had never talked into a microphone. I had never talked to microphone. It’s not like we had friends. We could call and say, hey, my buddy who works for NPR, he’s gonna set me up and he’s gonna interview me on the show. And everybody can hear about me because I’m so cool. Yeah, no, we had nothing like that. We had no, I mean, you work in the travel industry. I didn’t even do that. You know, it’s not like I could call somebody and say, Hey, would you write an article about my podcast because that No, I didn’t know anybody. I just decided I want to do this and I did this.
Elyse Rivin 48:49
That true! I work I like I work in the travel industry. I feel almost sadly enough, almost saying I worked in the travel industry because at the moment there is no travel industry for
Annie Sargent 49:01
For now it moribund, but it will come back
Elyse Rivin 49:05
But it pretty much dead for the moment.
Annie Sargent 49:06
Yup, yup, it will come back. Alright. Stay safe, everybody, and we’ll talk to you next week. Thank you, everybody. Au revoir!
Annie Sargent 49:13
Again. I want to thank my patrons for supporting the show and giving back. patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing so. You can see them https://www.patreon.com/JoinUs. Thank you, all of you for supporting the show. Some of you for many years now. You are fantastic. And a shout out this week to new patrons. Catherine Miller. Eileen Sotomara, and Danielle binetti. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible.
Annie Sargent 49:49
And I just published a new patron reward on driving in France this time. All of these pesky roundabouts with lights in the middle in France and how you’re supposed to make sense of them and take them. So we’re getting more advanced in our driving lessons on the Patreon page.
Annie Sargent 50:10
Somebody bought a camera using the Amazon link, which means it went from a commission of pennies to a few dollars with one purchase. So thank you so much. And it did not cost this person a penny more, obviously, I don’t know who did it. But thank you. So if you’d like to support the show without spending a penny you wouldn’t have otherwise before you go shopping on Amazon, go to the bottom of any page on Join Us in france.com and click on the Amazon ad. The thing is, you have to remember to do it every time you shop on Amazon. So it’s kind of a pain but when you do that you pay for all the expenses relating to producing a podcast like this one. And you know, it’s it’s about 100 bucks a month. So thank you so much for doing that.
Annie Sargent 50:55
For my personal update this week, I’ve got to say how one of the very few positive things that have come out of this pandemic and the severe slowdown of travel is that the Facebook group, Join Us in France closed group on Facebook is really quiet. I spent less time dealing with the public and much more time writing. And I’m a lot happier for it. So I’ve tightened the questions to join the group. And I make sure I only let people in who are podcast listeners, if you want to invite friends, ask them to listen to at least one episode of the podcast first, or I will not let them in.
Annie Sargent 51:36
I want to reach people who love France and have a strong interest in making their next trip to France better than the last one. And you have demonstrated that you are that sort of person by listening to the podcast and being curious about France. And you want to get to know the place and its people and that’s the good side of travel in my opinion. And that’s who I want to spend time with. And I know I’m also talking to a lot of English speaking people who live in France, or people who’d like to move to France someday. You are my peeps. So there you have it.
Annie Sargent 52:11
I’ll talk to people via the email list more also.
Annie Sargent 52:15
COVID-19 infections are still going up in France. The Toulouse area is in the red, so are Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon, Paris all big French cities and most of the Mediterranean coast is in the red also right now. All the centers with lots of population and lots of people coming and going. The French health minister wants to get to a million tests a week, we finally managed to hit the 700,000 that he wanted, and now he’s pushing on the accelerator to do even more and I think the healthcare system can handle it.
Annie Sargent 52:49
There is no talk of reopening France to visitors but at the same time, there is also no talk of going back to the awful restrictive measures we had to live under the from the middle of March to the middle of May.
Annie Sargent 53:05
To me walking around was a mask isn’t the end of the world. It’s not my preference, but you know what it beats getting sick.
Annie Sargent 53:13
So my husband and I went to Castelnaudary so I could take photos. It turns out I have totally forgotten this town, but I forgot how cute it is. Last time I went there was to hear my husband sing with one of his choirs. And he reminded me that there are a lot of English speaking people in the area. There were several in his choir. And as a matter of fact, the conductor of that choir that day was an Englishman who’s lived in the area forever. He raised his kids there. And he’s kind of a famous choir conductor around here. So but this last time I you know, I didn’t stay very long but this time we weren’t just in and out. We looked around we enjoyed the day. The town is so cute. It has a windmill basin locks.
Annie Sargent 53:57
There are a lot of boaters going by It’s not very big but it’s got everything you need, you know a lot of stores. Really. It’s pretty good sized, I think 13,000 or something. It’s not a rich town that spends, you know, all sorts of cash, keeping everything tidy and fixes up any eyesore anything like like in the Dordogne. In the Dordogne they really go out of their way to keep it really, really tidy and beautiful, but they don’t do that. Not that they have a lot of eyesores, but you know, but you know, it’s real and it’s friendly.
Annie Sargent 54:31
There are lots of restaurants and cafes, a pretty big concert hall and events hall. The guy at the tourist office spoke impeccable Spanish and he told me you could also do English and German. We spoke French obviously, he has the same accent I do so it’s perfect. He gave me all sorts of great info including a walking tour map that I’ll scan for you and you can download as a PDF from Jhttps://joinusinfrance.com/300
Annie Sargent 55:00
And we looked at house prices, because that’s a hobby of mine, and they are half of what you’d pay closer to Toulouse. But what is interesting is that Castelnaudary is only about a mile or two from the freeway. So it’s definitely the kind of place where you can get into the city, you know, within an hour vary quite easily as a matter of fact, so quick access to the big city. The landscape is lovely. It’s hilly because the Montagne Noire is nearby. I mean, you you should check it out if you’re in the market for a house in France, and we had Cassoulet at a place called Chez David. It was my first time eating out since March so it felt really great. The Cassoulet was delicious. I asked all sorts of questions because I’m a no recipe testing kick and I will definitely make that again. But once the weather turns a little cooler, not yet.
Annie Sargent 55:56
I think the hottest part of the summer is coming to an end. Thank Goodness I love the fall. So I’m really looking forward to that.
Annie Sargent 56:04
If you enjoy the show, introduce a friend to the podcast and show them how to listen.
Annie Sargent 56:09
Next week on the podcast and episode about Le Cahmbon sur Lignon a place of refuge for French Jews long ago and still a place of refuge to this day. So we’re going to talk about World War Two history. It’s surprising how these little French towns sometimes have the kindest and bravest people around.
Annie Sargent 56:33
Send questions or feedback to any at Join Us in france.com Thank you for listening and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together, au revoir!
Annie Sargent 56:44
The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written and produced by I’m Annie Sargent and copyright 2020 by addicted to France it is released under under a Creative Commons Attribution non commercial no derivatives license