Monday, February 23, 2015

Guided Fishing and Foraging in Provence

Lisa and Johann Pepin, the folks behind the truffle and olive farm Les Pastras, are now offering fishing and mushroom-hunting adventures in the Provençal countryside.

The idea for the new program came from their long-time truffle-hunter Jean-Marc Hennequin; Lisa calls him "the ultimate outdoorsman." One day after a particularly successful hunt, Jean-Marc was telling the Pepins how happy he was to be earning extra money doing what he loves and, at the same time, sharing his passion with travelers from all over the world. "If only people would pay me to fish and mushroom hunt!," he said, half joking.

Knowing that finding a guide to do these things in Provence is virtually impossible--serious fishermen and mushroomers are hesitant to share their favorite sites and would certainly never invite tourists to tag along--Lisa and Johann immediately saw the possibilities. 

So the trio joined forces to create Provence Outdoors, offering daily excursions over the rivers and through the woods. They launched the company this month.  

From May 15 to November 30, Jean-Marc will take you to fish local lakes and rivers for pike, carp and perch. The tour includes an English speaking guide, one-day fishing license, all equipment and the quintessential outdoorsman's breakfast: pâté, sausage, baguette, olives and red wine. Fishing is in the early morning or late afternoon...and it's all catch and release. 

In fall (September 15 to November 15) you can tromp the unspoiled forests of the Luberon or the Alpes de Haute Provence, foraging for 10 varieties of mushrooms: cepes, chanterelle, golden chanterelle, hedgehog mushroom, blue stalk mushroom, Tricholoma myomyces, saffron milk cap, white saddle, elfin saddle and black trumpet. Knives and baskets will be provided, along with a tutorial on how to distinguish edible mushrooms from poisonous. You'll also be treated to an outdoorsman's picnic or aperitif, depending on the time of day. (Just an aside: Pharmacists in France are trained in mycology. So if you find delicious but suspicious looking specimens, just take them to any pharmacy to be sure. Isn't that great?)

Costs for excursions vary slightly depending on the day and time, but adult prices start at 50€ (mushroom hunting) and 60€ (fishing).  Kids are welcome on all tours and pay lower prices. For all the info, click here

And if it's a truffle hunt and tasting you're after, winter truffle season at Les Pastras runs November 15 to March 15...followed by summer truffle hunting from May 1 to September 30. For info on those programs, click here.

Photos: (1) Jean-Marc (left) with a friend...and carp. While some people call carp ''pigs with fins," they're prized by British and Russian anglers. A Frenchman holds the world carp-fishing record, having landed a 74-pounder. They're hard to catch, hard to clean...and the most widely eaten fish in the world. Jean-Marc releases everything he catches.  (2) Jean-Marc with pike. (3, 4) Two of Jean-Marc's favorite Provençal fishing holes. (5, 6) Chanterelles in the wild; white saddle mushrooms in the basket. (7) Man does not live by fish alone...he needs wine, olives, sausage, pâté and baguettes. So on morning fishing and mushroom excursions, your Provencal picnic is included. (8) Lisa and Johann Pepin are Jean-Marc's partners in the new venture.


  1. Lisa and Johann are such entrepreneurs! They certainly know how to seek out the best of life in Provence and share it with the world!