After the grapes have been harvested and autumn sets in, it is officially mushroom season in France. This hugely popular pastime has strict rules but it can be a wonderful way to try to forage for your food. Here’s what you need to know and be aware of when hunting for mushrooms.
Why do the French love to pick mushrooms?
There are over 3,000 different varieties of mushrooms in France and mushroom-picking is a wildly practised activity for families and individuals alike. It’s hugely satisfying to be able to forage for food yourself and then prepare a wonderful meal. The most prized funghi is the truffle, which can sell for huge amounts of money and is usually shipped to the best French restaurants as soon as it is picked.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
How to avoid poisonous mushrooms
Of the 3,000 varieties, only a few types are edible and you need to know which to steer clear of. Some can be bitter, some can make you sick and, in the worst cases, they can poison you. If you cannot identify it, do not eat it. Local pharmacists are able to help you identify edible mushrooms free of charge, if you take them in after picking. Some of the most loved are girolles, chanterelles, cèpes, bolets, morilles and, of course, the truffle. Check out the online reference here. It’s also advisable to make sure that you always pick a whole mushroom (so that you can properly identify it), never pick it from industrial ground (where it may have come into contact with pollutants) and always take a photo before cooking (so that if anything goes wrong, people can identify it at the hospital if you get sick!). If you have doubts about any mushroom, don’t even put it in your basket as it can contaminate all the others. There are anti-poison centres around France, which you can contact in case of trouble.
What you need to know about mushroom-picking
There are specific government regulations regarding mushroom picking. You must carry your mushrooms in a wicker basket (plastic bags ferment and damage the mushrooms), they must be picked only when they are a certain size and they must only be cut with a special knife with a curved blade. What’s more, you must always leave some of the mushroom behind (cut them so that you leave the stem and spores in the ground) so that they can regrow the following year (if you find truffles, you must put some of it back in the ground for the same reason). You must also make sure that you are not on private property, which is obviously forbidden. If you can speak French, check out the government guidelines here. You can pick mushrooms on any public land and if you’re unsure, check with the local mairie (town hall).
How to prepare picked mushrooms
Most people brush them with a cloth – the key is not to allow too much moisture into the mushroom before cooking. If you do wash them, allow them to dry for a few hours before putting them in your favourite risotto, sauce and soup recipes (it gives a nutty flavour). Remove the pores from under the mushroom cap before cooking and you’ll get a better result when you cook them in smaller batches with less moisture.
The best times and places for mushroom-picking
Mushrooms are seasonal and in France, they are most likelyto appear from mid-August to mid-September. The best weather to pick mushrooms in is after rain, followed by sunshine (as fresh mushrooms might have grown overnight). Mushroom-picking can get very competitive, so no one will usually divulge the good spots! For truffles, you should definitely head to the south-west France. For all other mushrooms, explore the public forests. A good indication of whether there are any mushrooms nesting inside will be the number of cars parked on the forest edge; you might find that others have got there before you!
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.