Restaurant Reviews: L’Art de Vivre at Château l’Hospitalet near Narbonne

Restaurant Reviews: L’Art de Vivre at Château l’Hospitalet near Narbonne

Winemaker Gérard Bertrand took over his family’s vineyards in the Languedoc 30 years ago and has worked tirelessly ever since to improve their quality and promote not only his own wines but all those made in the region. A particular measure of his success was that his Cigalus 2016 red was selected for the Nobel Prize dinner in Stockholm last year.

Visiting his headquarters at the Château l’Hospitalet outside Narbonne for a tasting is a delightful way of discovering these good-value yet well-made wines; another is enjoying them over a meal at the Château’s restaurant, L’Art de Vivre.

Here, chef Laurent Chabert cooks beautifully southern and sunny dishes that are specifically conceived to accompany Bertrand’s wines – all of which are served by the glass at the restaurant. Stopping here for dinner, so that we could stay the night at the hotel and not have to worry about enjoying the wines, we began with two superb starters: rockfish soup with roasted gurnard, garlic, egg white and saffron grown in nearby Gruissan; and an intriguing preparation of local Tarbouriech oysters in fennel and celeriac gelée with hazelnuts, celeriac cream, Granny Smith apple, cider and spirulina vinaigrette. What made both of them so good was the use of local produce and Chabert’s well-reasoned creativity.

Laurent Chabert collecting produce for L’Art de Vivre restaurant. Photo: Marie Ormières

The main courses were outstanding as well, including a quite brilliant dish of Mediterranean sole with a crust of capers and parsley, salsify and a jus de poisson seasoned with olives from Lucques and pickled lemon; and lamb from Saissac served with herbed polenta.

After an excellent cheese tray, we tucked into a blood-orange tartlet with liquorice marmalade and an upside-down apple tart with vanilla cream. The by-the-glass wine pairings with each course were excellent, and service was relaxed and friendly.

Château l’Hospitalet, Route de Narbonne-Plage, 11100 Narbonne. Tel. +33 (0)4 68 45 28 50. Average à la carte €75.

From France Today magazine

Restaurant L’Art de Vivre. Photo: Marie Ormières

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Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He was European Correspondent for Gourmet magazine from 1999 until its closing, and has written about food and travel for Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Travel & Leisure, Departures, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other publications in the United States and the United Kingdom. He is the author of HUNGRY FOR PARIS, 2nd Edition (Random House, 4/2014), HUNGRY FOR FRANCE (Rizzoli, 4/2014), and MY PLACE AT THE TABLE, newly published in June 2021.

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