What a Good Way of Life!

June 21st, 2013
Enrich, interact, explore, and have an unforgettable time in the process; this is Food Pyrenees in a nutshell.

For our mise en place, we crafted a week-long menu of exceptional food and wine, sought out the dedicated artisans who keep France’s culinary traditions alive, and drove down every tree-lined road in the Lèze valley.

Reconnaissance in France

Reconnaissance in France

These ingredients are all so welcomingly familiar to me, and yet I am still taken aback by the final effect, as was the case when I led our Foodie’s Field Trip to France this past month. As our envoyés journeyed with us from Toulouse to the Ariège, I was enchanted all over again with the rolling hills in lush shades of green.

Leze Valley

View from a hill in the valley of the river Lèze, an hour away from the Pyrenees mountains

It reaffirmed that Les Remparts was the perfect setting for our accommodations. Imagine: an imposing 13th-century fortified stone house, luxuriously restored, providing all the modern comforts while retaining a feel of the medieval.

Our Humble Abode

Medieval luxury: Les Remparts

During our stay, we met Chef Jean-François Martin at his restaurant, l’Auberge de Fountescut for four cooking classes. In typical Jean-François fashion, he had re-arranged his professional kitchen to make room for plenty of hands-on activities. His 30+ years culinary experience and calm demeanor would make the most gauche person feel at ease while handling sharp knives, live lobster, and even a delicate miroir aux fraises.

Miroir aux Fraises

Jean-François demonstrates the strawberry “mirror” glaze

Incredible food expertly paired with wonderful wines – what more could you ask for? How about this level of attention at all courses and meals, all week long? Il n’y a qu’à demander! A spontaneous zest of convivialité was added as our envoyés relaxed in the enjoyable company of Jean-François, our invaluable helpers, and various artisan producers.

Incredible food, wonderfu wines, and enjoyable company

Engaging in the art of communal eating

By the second meal (featuring a gallo-roman inspired salade de mulet à l’hypotrimma paired with a Gaillac blanc sec), we’d already run out of adjectives – both in French and in English – to compliment Jean-François.

Gastronomic Time Travel

Tasting our way through culinary history: salade de mulet à l’hypotrimma as inspired by Apicius

On our last day with Jean-François at l’Auberge de Fountescut, there was a general reluctance to admit that we would be leaving all of this behind. That afternoon as we lingered on the terrace, having just indulged in a croustade aux pommes, the table fell silent for a moment. Then, one of our envoyés gave a satisfied sigh and exclaimed: “What a good way of life!”.

Mission accomplie!

Mission Accomplie


To say the least, Jean-François and I are looking forward to our next Foodie’s Field Trip to France in October 2013.

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Stay tuned for more on the passionate local artisans who live like peasants… and eat like kings!

Special thanks go to videographer-photographer Loïc Marchand who captured the essence of Jean-François’s art when words couldn’t.

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About Us

Food Pyrenees is a boutique culinary travel company specializing in all-inclusive field trips to Southwestern France for curious foodies. Our blog, The Dish, offers food for thought by tour curator Aurelie Brown.

Aurelie Brown