They use mountain plants with astonishing active properties to make cosmetics, remedies and meals with original new flavours… Discover a portrait of the men and women who have a special relationship with high-altitude plants.
“I combine the beauty of plants with knowledge of their active properties to maintain good health”, begins Anne-Marie Pujol, botanist, herbalist and advisor on floral elixirs in Font-Romeu. A plant enthusiast since childhood, she first studied plant biology, then worked in herbalist shops, before starting her own independent business. For twenty years, she has run conferences on medicinal plants and floral elixirs; organised outings to discover therapeutic and culinary plants; and led cosmetics workshops to learn how to make your own natural beauty products. “I do very varied work, but it all stems from plants”, she concludes.
Her favourite plant: nettle. For its flavour in cooking (soup, pies…) and its medicinal properties (remineralisation, circulation, diuretic…).
Established at Palfichade Farm, in Chambon-sur-Lac (near Mont-Dore, Puy-de-Dôme) for twenty years, Brigitte Beernaert dubs herself “the guardian of medicinal plants and places”. On her 12-hectares of land at the heart of the Massif Central, she harvests both wild plants and those she cultivates. “I have a close relationship with nature, living with and using plants just seems to come naturally”. She offers breaks including on-site accommodation, plant-identification, potion-making and cooking using wild vegetables.
Her tip for hikers: soak a small piece of gentian root in cold water to quench your thirst during mountain hikes.
Grégory Dieu cooks in Chalet de Paccaly in an Alpine pasture above La Clusaz, set at an altitude of 1,500 metres and just a 15 minute walk from the hamlet of Les Confins. The chalet speciality: culinary use of the flowers and mountain plants that Grégory and his colleague Astrid Marty gather from the local area. Salads decorated and perfumed with cornflower petals, wild garlic turned into pesto, gaspacho flavoured with wild mint…
Grégory’s tip: add chopped raw thyme flowers to make a beautifully fragrant salad.