This restaurant was recommended to my wife and me by a French friend with whom we were staying in Bordeaux. He is a real gourmet and knew we would be traveling between Toulouse and Carcassonne and so he told us that we must absolutely make a slight detour and have lunch in the Hotel de France in Villefranche-de-Lauragais. He told us that this hotel was THE place to sample an authentic cassoulet and went as far as to say that it was the best he had ever tasted. So, we took his advice. The Hotel is very unassuming. It was packed out with locals when we arrived - always a good sign - and it has a very plain, no frills decor. But, this is the real thing. Nothing fancy here except for totally authentic, absolutely top-notch food. We ordered a cassoulet for two people, but when it arrived I thought they'd made a mistake. It would easily have fed four!! My only regret was that it was so copious I just couldn't finish it all, no matter how hard I tried. The taste was exceptional - it was a meal that I never wanted to end but, unfortunately, we eventually had to run up the white flag and surrender. I staggered back to our car, struggling to walk and wondering if we shouldn't cancel our trip and stay for the rest of the time in the Hotel de France and just die happy! I know this probably reads a bit over the top but, trust me, if you are ever in the region, go there and try it for yourself, you won't regret it.
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