France's fields and forests have a wide variety of edible mushrooms but it is essential to know if permission is required to pick them. Learn how to find out if a mushroom is edible...
Over 3,000 varieties of mushroom can be found in France. Of these, only a few are edible.
Mushrooms are picked throughout the country but the climate in the south of France from Aquitaine in the west to the Alpes-Maritimes in the east means that there is a higher quantity of mushrooms available in these regions.
Article 547 of the Code Civil
stipulates that mushrooms belong to the owner of the land where they grow. Each commune has the right to decide whether mushroom picking is allowed, can say what quantities can be picked, can charge a fee or can totally forbid mushroom picking in the surrounding forests. .
A law passed in October 1989 gives the prefect (Préfet)
of each region the right to take restrictive measures in order to preserve local fauna and to limit mushroom picking. It is usually around two kilos per day. Each préfecture
can therefore regulate the quantity of mushrooms allowed per person, the days when mushroom picking is permitted and in some areas, there might be additional specific restrictions applying to certain species of mushrooms. Therefore, before going mushroom picking it is necessary to contact either the local town hall (mairie)
in the commune where the person wishes to go picking or the local prefecture.
There are a number of rules that should be adhered to when picking mushrooms:
- Mushrooms must be a certain size before being picked so that they have a chance to release their spores
- Tools of any sort are forbidden with the exception of knives
- A knife must be used to cut the stipe so as not to damage the mycelia
- Mushrooms must be carried in a wicker basket to let the spores fall out and help propagation
There are approximately 30 deaths per year in France caused by eating poisonous mushrooms, the majority due to the Death Cap (Amanita Phalloides). Eating non-edible mushrooms can cause problems such as digestive discomfort (nausea, diarrhoea) for a limited period of time or more serious ailments such as convulsions, tachycardia or kidney infection.
Pharmacists in France are trained to identify certain fungi, and if in doubt, mushrooms can be taken to a pharmacist who will inspect them and declare whether they are dangerous or edible.
In case of poisoning, call or go to the Emergency Service (Urgences)
. If possible, take some of the mushrooms or the remains of the dish eaten. Never try to self-cure, do not take any drugs, do not attempt to throw up.
Anti-poison centres in France
- Angers: 02 41 48 21 21
- Bordeaux: 05 56 96 40 80
- Lille: 0 825 812 822
- Lyon: 04 72 11 69 11
- Marseille: 04 91 75 25 25
- Nancy: 03 83 32 36 36
- Paris: 01 40 05 48 48
- Rennes: 02 99 59 22 22
- Strasbourg: 03 88 37 37 37
- Toulouse: 05 61 77 74 47
For more on anti-poison centres