Retreat to Sarnac

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Every few months I escape the relative metropolis of Barcelona to Sarnac, a small hamlet of 8 houses in Ariège, in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France. It´s a small community originally established like a hippy commune by some Parisian teachers back in the early 70’s. There were huge anti-establishment riots across France in 1968, causing chaos throughout the country. As a result lots of people were looking for an alternative way of living that broke the traditional mould. The idea in Sarnac was to set up an alternative school beside a working sheep farm and live off the land. They were known as Neo-Rurales and their legacy and spirit still live on.

Set in the rolling hills of this gorgeous countryside, everyone has their own bit of land and enough room to grow an abundance of fruit, vegetables or whatever they fancy. Currently 12 families live side by side in these houses and the community sense is strong. The main communal activity which still continues to this day is the bread making session, which happens every third Sunday and can be attended by up to 25 people.

Other than the obvious beauty (and peace and quiet) what I really like in Sarnac is that there is a real sharing network going on between the Sarnaquois and people in the neighbouring countryside. People swap and share whatever they have an excess of. This way fruit, vegetables, cheese, grain, eggs, herbs, honey, juice, chutneys, beers and ciders, even livestock change hands frequently.

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A good friend (and fellow food lover) Rayen, lives in Sarnac with her partner Joan and their new bundle of joy. They are trying to be as self sufficient as possible and have grown a lot of what they eat since living here.

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Every Monday they drive down to the local market, in the mediaeval town of Mirepoix, to pick up the things they can´t grow or make themselves. Mirepoix market is a very charming place. The multi-coloured timbered facades of the centuries old building, surround the main market square and seem to frame the beautiful hand made or home grown produce.

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Click here to see our Raclette recipe.

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