The mushroom season is still in full swing in Lozère and ceps pickers sometimes take advantage of this to find additional income.
“Two kilos stacked! And 1.3 kg more on the scales for the Lady!”. Francette, 62, has just delivered her harvest of the day: porcini mushrooms, just picked in the forest a few kilometers from this depot, which has a shop front in Saint-Chély-d’Apcher (Lozère).
“Here, 40 bullets” answers him teasingly Pascal Thioux, gray moustache, laughing eyes. The amiable mushroom collector hands him two €20 bills and the signed coupon. The young pensioner who worked the wiring is a regular and she is coming for the first time this week, Wednesday 26th October.
From €2 to €16 per kilo depending on the quality
She puts it bluntly: picking porcini mushrooms allows her to improve her daily life. “I have a pension of €800, it helps pay for diesel… And it’s been a good year for porcini mushrooms” she says before turning around. Romain, 23, also talks about this cursed essence “which costs an arm” by depositing the 700 g of mushrooms found while walking the dog.
Geneviève, 67, graying bangs, square glasses, follows in her footsteps. She did not hesitate to drive 35 km from Cantal to offer her harvest excavated in her corners, secretly of course. “It’s an extra income for our micro-pensions, for insurance or heating” says this former farmer who lives on €750 a month.
Under the benevolent eye of Pascal Thioux, Chantal and Pascal, his precious assistants, sort the porcini mushrooms into three categories before the boxes go back to the Aveyronnais master Jean-Luc Bernat, who then sends the goods to the markets of Albi, Sète or Montpelier. . “3”, where the green moss won the mushroom, is paid €2 per kilo, “2” for porcini mushrooms, leaning towards pale green, is paid €5, and on that day the first choice rises to €16. The end of the season is approaching, prices are rising.
“It pays for the wood for the heating, honestly it really helps”
Enough to spark strong interest among collectors looking to buck inflation or even manage to make ends meet. Arrived Corinne, 53, proud of the application that has counted her steps in the forest: “14000 or 8 km” she announces with a smile. Unemployed, exposed to major back problems, a 17-year-old girl to raise… She has mushroomed every day for a month and a half and the start of the season for more than a hundred kilos gained. “It keeps me busy and it pays for the wood for the heating, honestly it helps a lot… Today at the supermarket for €50 there is not much left in my cart” she regrets.
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Joséphine, 65, has just parked. She still raises cattle in Cantal, where her son takes over the business while her husband has retired : “everything goes up, food for us and for the animals, I don’t know where we’re going!” she said placing her box on the scale. The few euros collected will make it possible to pay part of the electricity bill for the ventilators for the animals. “We count cents, not billions like Mbappé!” she says.
“We count cents, not billions like MBappé”
“We can make 70 coupons a day” calculate the manifold. The boletus season is exceptional in Lozère, much less or not good at all in the other departments, up to a peak of one ton bought by Pascal Thioux one day in September. Always cash. Some were able to win up to €1500 or €2000. He didn’t want to take the risk of not disclosing anything, because fraud and the tax authorities monitor all these shopping places.
A trip to Disneyland
But he assures him that no one will come with tens of thousands of kilos to give up, his clientele of Lozériens is “pure”. And many are above all enthusiasts who are not necessarily in need. “I have fantasies” smiles Jeannot, 76, while Michel, an ex-mason, can buy something to tinker with: “There’s butter in the spinach“. Émilienne, 73, or Jean-Bernard, 78, prefer “to spoil the little children”Alexis “make a cat a trailer” like David, father of two children: this year picking porcini mushrooms will give them “a trip to disneyland”.