We are fortunate to have found the beautiful medieval village of Sérignan as our home in Southern France.  The village is located close to the Mediterranean Sea and easily connected via bike paths to local attractions — such as the Canal du Midi!

The Canal du Midi is an engineering marvel constructed between 1667 and 1681, which allowed France to transport goods and services from the Atlantic Ocean to Toulouse via the Garone River then the rest of the way to the Mediterranean Sea via the new canal.  The canal was King Louis XIV’s second largest project during his reign and allowed France to avoid pirate attacks in the Strait of Gibraltar, and — more importantly — the King of Spain’s tidy port taxes.  Avoiding Spain’s port taxes probably allowed France’s King to increase investment into the largest project during his reign: the construction of the Palace of Versailles!

Today, the Canal du Midi is primarily used by pleasure boats, allowing tourists to traverse the waterways between Toulouse and the Mediterranean Sea with overnight moorings in quaint villages along the way. Fortunately, the canal has walking and biking paths on the side, allowing one to easily travel to various spots along the canal.  So, we decided to ride our new bikes from our home in Sérignan to investigate the canal, and to try a restaurant located nearby on the canal: O Ranch Restaurant.

O Ranch Restaurant in Portiragnes, France - photo by Arthur Breur

The ride was about 40 minutes, first winding through vineyards and hay fields, then along the canal for the second half, by the town of Portiragnes. However, our first trip (we have now been there twice!) was made with the quite uncomfortable standard seats that came with our new bikes. Needless to say, we needed a break, and O Ranch offered just what we needed.

The atmosphere at O Ranch Restaurant is very Southwest US dude ranch, with rustic decor and artwork depicting Native Americans. To one side is a true open-flame BBQ, where my bacon burger was cooked to perfection (more on that later). O Ranch is literally connected to Ranch Les Gaillardels, which provides horseback riding right next door — so the restaurant’s name is more than just a fun theme.

We arrived shortly after the restaurant opened at noon, and we were greeted (en français) by a very friendly woman who promptly seated us in the outdoor courtyard in the shade.  We were given a liter of still water and a small bucket of ice cubes (rare in France/Europe).  The restaurant has a whole menu devoted to cocktails and summer drinks, but we opted for the 1L of house white wine for 9,50 €!  (1/2L was 7 € — I can do math!) The wine was very good, but was perhaps a bit much for the middle of a bike ride!

1 liter of white wine at O Ranch Restaurant was 9.5€ - photo by Brian Trimpe
1 liter of white wine at O Ranch Restaurant

Arthur ordered the very tasty plat du jour for 14,50 €, which was rougail saucisses, a delicious stew of sausage with onion, tomato, pepper, garlic, ginger, black pepper, and thyme. It was served with a hot chili spread on the side, saffron rice, a small lettuce salad, and cucumber salad.

O Ranch Restaurant - rougail saucisses plat du jour - photo by Arthur Breur
The rougail saucisses plat du jour – photo by Arthur Breur

I ordered the bacon burger for 16,50 € — AMAZING!  I could see them cooking the burger on the open wood and charcoal BBQ.  The bacon may have been more similar to Canadian Bacon in the US, but still, this is probably one of the best burgers I have eaten. I only gave Arthur one bite — it was too good to share!  It was perfectly cooked and accompanied with properly prepared frites (French fries), a small fresh salad with a house made vinaigrette, and a small stack of well roasted veggies. Needless to say, the main dishes were incredible and both highly recommended.

Because research requires sacrifice, Arthur decided to order the “café gourmand” dessert for 9,50 €.  Wow oh wow!  What a plate of sheer pleasure! Créme brûlée, churros and chocolate, nougat, peanut brittle, house made marshmallows (stunning), a kringle cookie, fruit ambrosia, and caramel popcorn.  Oh, and the coffee with chantilly (whipped cream) on the side was good too! Needless to say, the dessert was amazing and highly recommended.

The food was so excellent, we decided to go back a week later, after we had installed new bike seats with added protection for our derrieres! We were more restrained on our second visit. Instead of ordering 1L of wine, Arthur ordered a Mai Tai off the drink menu for 8,50 €. (Again: research requires sacrifice!) While very tasty — and served with the tallest garnish we’ve yet seen on a drink! — the 1L of wine is a much better value.

This time Arthur ordered the same bacon burger, and it was just as good. (I only got one bite this time; fair is fair I guess.) I ordered the couteaux, which is razor clams.  It took me a while to resolve the translation, since couteau is also knife in French. The razor clams arrive on the shell covered in garlic pesto on top of a bed of greens and a side of baguette slices.  This is another fantastic dish that I highly recommend.

Mai Tai at O Ranch Restaurant in Portiragnes, France - photo by Arthur Breur
Mai Tai with sky high garnish!
Razor Clams at O Ranch Restaurant in Portiragnes, France - photo by Arthur Breur
Razor Clams (“couteaux”)

We will definitely go back to O Ranch and take friends and family as well.  Next time we may try the “Paella Royale”, but it’s HUGE. We saw it at a neighboring table after we had already ordered.

We will continue to explore other restaurants along the canal, but so far, O Ranch Restaurant is a stand out!

Bon Appétit!

Address: RD37, 34420 Portiragnes, France [Google Map]


Article by: Brian Trimpe

Photos by: Arthur Breur and Brian Trimpe

O Ranch Restaurant Photos