©mounjetado1|Office de Tourisme des Pyrénées cathares

The country's best recipes

Treat your taste buds

A stay in Cathar country wouldn’t be complete without taking the time to sample our local specialities. To taste them is to discover and better appreciate the authenticity and conviviality of our terroir! Fruit, vegetables, cereals, calves, cows, pigs, sheep, ducks… you’ll find it all here. Come and taste the products of France’s leading organic region. We’ve selected a few Ariège specialities that will satisfy the fiercest appetites and the most demanding gourmets!

Vegetable mirepoix

The Mirepoix is the dish that originated precisely in the town of Mirepoix. This poêlée de légumes, based on onions, carrots and celery, herbs and sometimes ham or bacon, is recognized by the dressing of the vegetables, diced into one-centimeter cubes and browned, which gives it its beautiful, colorful presentation. It’s generally served as an accompaniment to soups, meats or fish. Mirepoix is widespread and cooked by chefs the world over. It represents a basic in gourmet cooking and is used for many preparations.

It is said to have been created around 1780 for the table of the maréchale de Mirepoix, widow of Gaston Pierre de Lévis. Like other culinary creations of the 17th and 18th centuries, the mirepoix or mirepoix (the opinion is not clear-cut! ) bears not the cook’s name, but that of the masters he wished to honor.


This rich, hearty dish is undoubtedly one of the most typical specialties of our terroir. It’s a traditional and ancient recipe, a true peasant’s staple dish. It’s cooked with fresh, accessible vegetables such as: cabbage, carrots, potatoes. Pork shanks, sausages, rind, duck legs confit and rouzole (a stuffing made from meat, dry bread, egg and milk, all kneaded and browned in a frying pan) are also added. This dish can also be adapted and cooked in a variety of possible ways. Every family here has its own recipe, so don’t leave without trying it!

Apple Crisp

Croustade ariégeoise aux pommes is a cake made by stacking layers of sweet puff pastry with apples in compote form. Succulent, crunchy and easy to prepare, it’s ideal for eating after a meal. You’ll find it in all our traditional bakeries, sometimes with seasonal variations with red berries, blueberries in summer…

La Mounjetado

The Mounjetado is a typical Ariège dish close to the famous cassoulet from Castelnaudary. Purists will find a few differences, notably the use of white beans called “coco de Pamiers”. La mounjetado is a hearty dish served at village festivals in the warm atmosphere of communal meals. This dish brings together the whole range of local produce: Pamiers’ famous haricots cocos, pieces of salted coustellou, (ribs, but here, nobody calls them that: it’s like chocolatine… ;-)), a base of ham, rind, a few cloves of garlic, dry liver sausage, fresh sausage, rind sausages, 4 legs of goose or duck confit or 8 manchons, 2 large onions, tomatoes…

Hazelnut tart

The tarte à la noisette is a specialty of the town of Lavelanet. It owes its name to the Occitan “”avelana”” and thus from the Latin avellana meaning “hazelnut”. This specialty is the pride of the town and a gourmet’s delight.

This sanded tart with cream and crushed hazelnuts is presented in a small wooden casing. This dessert was created some twenty years ago by the town’s pastry chefs to mark the famous fête de la Noisette, which takes place every year on the last weekend of September. But, you’ll find it all year round in local patisseries, if we haven’t eaten it all!

Bread from Montsegur

The pain de Montségur is LE pain ariégeois. Its particularity is to blend several flours (wheat, rye, buckwheat and large spelt) to obtain a deliciously soft bread.

This bread is made in Montségur, in the heart of the village by its baker, Cyril Delmas who creates and models his breads with natural sourdough and crushes his flours with a stone millstone. He kneads and bakes his breads with Montcalm mineral water. He has even created his own 1900s-style oven with antique parts. This bread, kneaded by heart and hand, exudes all the richness of the terroir, and wood-fired baking brings out all its flavors. The know-how and workmanship that go into making this bread of unique quality, identical to that of yesteryear. Very popular, it’s not easy to find, but by talking to the Ariège people, they’ll give you the good addresses, it’s not taboo like mushroom spots!

Le Tougnol

Occitan aniseed bread: The Tougnol is a small bread made from aniseed and rolled up like a crescent using sugar, butter, sourdough and flour. According to tradition, Tougnol was the pain of the Cathars, carried by good women and a few men in their sacks and symbolizing the ultimate meal taken by Christ. It is found in the Aude region, where it is a speciality, but also in the Ariège. There’s even a brotherhood of Chevaliers du Tougnol in Chalabre. Tougnol is a real delicacy. Tasty, it can be enjoyed at breakfast or as a dessert. Careful! It’s highly addictive.

La bière du Grand Bison

Hungry for a beer with local and organic flavors? Try the grand Bison: the beer of the Cathar Pyrenees!

The Grand Bison, the largest and most famous painting in the Niaux cave, gave its name to the famous local brewery that is the pride of its terroir. The Grand Bison brewery offers several varieties of beers with unique flavors, pasteurized and unfiltered. They are made naturally with raw materials from a careful organic selection. Among the varieties on offer are: Tribale, Flambeuse, CroMignonne, Pimpernelle, Rouqmoutte (my favorite), Fontilla… And many more, each as tasty as the next. The design on the bottle labels is inspired by the famous representation of a prehistoric bison discovered at the bottom of the Niaux cave (Ariège).

The brewery located in Lavelanet can be visited. Ask at the Tourist Office.

Fontestorbes lemonade

Authentic in taste, low in sugar and free from colorants and preservatives, themanufactured lemonade from Fontestorbes is a pure concentrate of natural, which is the pride of the town of Belesta and the Cathar Pyrenees. Near the famous intermittent fountain of Fontestorbes, France’s oldest artisanal lemonade is made. The manufacturing secret is over a century old and hasn’t changed: the purity of the fountain water. Back then, the town of Bélesta had 3 artisan lemonade makers, at a time when modern sodas didn’t exist and lemonade was the only soft drink available.

You’ll find these flavored or plain lemonades in all local cafés, grocery stores and supermarkets.

Wines: Domaine d'Engraviès

Some wines in Ariège? You bet! The establishment of vines in the Ariège region at the foot of the Pyrenees dates back to Roman times and never ceased until the great phylloxera epidemic nearly wiped out local viticulture. In the last 20 years, we’ve seen a veritable renaissance under the leadership of passionate winemakers like Thomas Piquemal of Domaine d’Engraviès. A small vineyard located halfwaybetween Pamiers and Mirepoix, in the commune of Vira, it breeds typical wines that are particularly aromatic. The estate offers several varieties of wine that are as tasty as they are exceptional: Fleur de cailloux, Orchidées, Roc des Maillols, Fount Cassat, Esprit des Cimes. As with the lemonade, you’ll find them at all the good restaurants in the Ariège region, in grocery stores or directly on the estate!