If you follow the mouthwatering aroma of barbecue through the streets of Rennes-le-Château, there is only one restaurant it will lead you to. Restaurant Le Jardin de Marie knows how to tickle your nose and lure you inside their rustic garden. And even in this restaurant, you will be surrounded by the history that is interwoven throughout this mysterious village.
Visiting beautiful Rennes-le-Château, Chéri and I wanted to take the time to discover the story of Father Bérenger Saunière. This initially poor priest came and installed himself in the village in 1885. Soon enough, questions arose around how he could have gained enough of a fortune to make costly renovations to the church. It was believed that he had stumbled upon some sort of treasure. And, allegedly, the only person that he had shared his secret with was his housekeeper Marie Dénarnaud. Thus the name of the restaurant Le Jardin de Marie, as it used to be Marie and Father Saunière’s garden.
First things first, as I can’t go exploring on an empty stomach I had to try Le Jardin de Marie’s lovingly prepared food, cooked with fresh ingredients from local traders. You can eat ‘à la carte’ or choose from their three-course set menus of 20 or 27 euros. Although the chef’s impressive grill tempted us, Chéri and I both decided to go for the menu that offered all their dishes ‘du monde’. These simple but tasty dishes from around the world made quite a change from traditional French cuisine. Not that there is anything wrong with that cuisine, however sometimes I want to eat more exotic flavours.
The starter of a beautiful salmon rillettes could have been French. Yet, it was a perfectly chosen light dish that suited the tropical outside temperature. While watching the little birds that playfully took a bath in the fountain in front of us, the main course arrived. This delicious plate of savoury chicken curry with big chunks of tender poulet and a salad was exactly what we had in mind when we were imagining a worldly dish. And so was the dessert: delightful small pancakes filled with a sweet red bean paste. I initially thought the filling was a jam; I never would have thought that a bean paste could taste so delectable. After this most satisfying lunch, Chéri and I were ready to dive back into the mysteries of Rennes-le-Château.