What is unschooling ?

The tag line on the rocks is unschool, ferment, regroup.

So what is unschooling, then? That’s a question we’re exploring and something we are commited to and plan to write more about at a later stage. For now we’re gathering inspiration and experiences, but this short introduction taken from “Free to Learn: Five Ideas for a Joyful Unschooling Life”, by Pam Laricchia (2012: 10-11) will give you a good idea:

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What’s the winter in Ardeche like?

ardeche-winter-beeThe winter in Ardeche – December, January and February – can be harsh, wet and unforgiving. It can also be bright blue skies and lunch in a t-shirt kind of weather and you can almost always find flowers and buzzing bees. For winter bathers it can be heaven. Sometimes the mistral winds blow relentlessly from the north, cleaning, cooling and drying the air and the ground; sometimes the Mediterranean winds from the south bring warm-ish wetness. Always impressive and cuddling up by a wood fire sheltered from the storm by thick stone walls when the winds and rains torment the region is always nice. See for yourself!

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New Year, New Gut Feeling: Paleo / Yoga Retreat, January 4-11, 2015 (extensions possible!)

| on the rocks | paleo retreat | with Open Yoga.

Paleo / Yoga retreat hosts: Amy, Martin and Nina.



Martin and Nina





 7 days 1-on-1 yoga spiced with full paleo catering (more than organic), herbal support and more.

Very limited spaces: from €450 per person.

Please book as soon as possible! / Further details: booking@lagorcerocks.com

Fancy an intimate, exclusive and delicious paleo yoga retreat? Come to the south of France for a new gut feeling in the new year. Our January Paleo / Yoga Retreat is perfect for a group of up to seven, a family or open-minded individuals who like to share ideas, sleeping spaces, beautiful views and old stone houses. Travel info here.


The retreat accommodation is in the Blue House and the Guest Room. Find information about the food here and see the blog in general for photos of the surroundings. Find also a series of photos and commentary on the winter in Ardeche.

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A November cycle ride around Lagorce along the Ibie River

Guest house, food and scenery shots

Photos from a Facebook album:

Life on the rocks – summer to autumn 2014 – part 2

Click on a photo below to see part 2 of a Facebook album showing life on the rocks….

Life on the rocks – summer to autumn 2014

Click on a photo below to see a Facebook album showing life on the rocks….

On the Rock’n’Toothpowder

I’ve stopped using toothpaste a few years ago, as I was catapulted into a world of dental health and unhealth when our toddler’s teeth suddenly started crumbling away – fast.

The problem with virtually all toothpastes – even the most hippy-dippy organic ones – is that they contain glycerin. Glycerin apparently coats your teeth (making them feel nice and smooth), and prevents remineralisation – a daily, natural process through which your teeth rebuild themselves with the minerals present in your saliva.

I got a bit geeky on the issue and came up with an elaborate recipe. It works amazingly well on sensitive and broken teeth and – from all the feedback I have had – on cavities. (Yes, your teeth can defend themselves and you can heal cavities without drilling and filling! More on this in some future post.)


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“…hosts are the most warm-hearted and generous people…”

Marcelle Phené (USA) – October 2014 (originally posted on Facebook):

“I stayed in the Guest Room for 4 nights and the experience was everything I could have wanted and so much more! The hosts are the most warm-hearted and generous people; I enjoyed many great conversations with them in the kitchen and around the table. The food was spectacular, which is really quite an understatement. I tried so many new “paleo” recipes and am so excited to spend more time experimenting in my own kitchen now. The accommodations were quite spacious and comfortable. The area is absolutely breathtaking with lots of great options for hiking and walking about. I cannot wait to return in the future!”

Stayed for four days, in October, 2014.

“Wonderful food, healthy, creative and delicious!”

Mike Hannis (England) – August 2014 (originally posted on Facebook):

“We stayed here in the new “guest room” for four days in July: a lovely cool cave-like space, refuge from the summer heat, but well-appointed and still with gorgeous views from the window. Wonderful food, healthy, creative and delicious! A great welcome too. Highly recommended….

Stayed for four days, in August, 2014.

Sunset dinner for two on the terrace: Introduction to paleo.

Friday night we served (a paleo introduction) dinner for two, in the sunset, with a view. The guests were welcomed on the terrace with a glass of local, natural red, a bottle of fizzy volcanic water, and a bowl of roasted almonds with shiso-leaf decorated tapenade to dip – – – while we finished their feast in the kitchen.

Coconut grilled fish, Casablanca carrots, Merrynated pumpkin, Kefir fermented cucumber salad, Sauerkrauted beetroot, Wild wok & Summer salad.

An introductory dinner for two like this cost €40 EURO.

Eat as much as you need or want. This is not a restaurant! It’s a retreat of fulfillment.

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What to do with rotten fruit? Fermented smoothie!

Fermented smoothie: It is summer and fruit and berries are everywhere, currently the brambles (Rubus fruticosa) are offering many blackberries along paths, tracks and fields, and the local markets are coloured in the region’s sweetness.

blackberriesWe had friends visiting recently, so we had bought some lovely local peaches for sugar fixing possible carb withdrawal symptoms. It wasn’t necessary in the end, the probiotic ceviche, cashew yogurt, sauerkrauts, water kefir and chocolate truffles satisfied them. Fully. A few days ago, after they’d left, I found a bag with three relatively rotten peaches in the fridge. They did not look like you wanted to eat them any longer, but they were not all bad. The day before we had been at a natural wine festival and I came to think of something I was told there: a tasty wine comes from very ripe, slightly decomposing grapes that have been bitten and chewed by insects and birds. I had, in other words, the perfect material for a peach fermentation with taste.

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An early, simple Sunday dinner.

Click on a photo below to see a Facebook album.

We’re expanding: The Guest Room now available!

Things are going well on the rocks and on popular demand we’ve expanded our accommodation options. Below the Blue House, in a converted cellar with vaulted ceiling, you find “The Guest Room”, a double bedroom with en-suite shower and toilet, which used to serve as an office and studio. Because it’s a “cellar” it is nice and cool in the summer and because it’s on the rocks it has its own ground-level entrance, just above the garden, and a window with view. You can have your food served in the room at a small table, on one of the shared terraces or on our dinner table. The choice is yours.

Prices for the Guest Room with full catering(!) are as follows:

€75 per night for one person. €115 for two.

Children under 2 are free. Children between 2 and 5 are €10 each per night. Children between 5 and 12 are €20 each per night. Over 12 count as adults.

The room is suitable for a couple with a small child, possibly two small children.

If you are interested in less-than-full catering, or if your situation is in any way particular, please do not hesitate to get in touch to discuss a special option and price: booking@lagorcerocks.com

Brain food and rare pigs: it doesn’t get much better,

Finding food sources and nutritional science facts and fiction, anecdotes and experimenting with what we eat continue to occupy our time and mind space in our quest for activating the second brain (more on that in future posts). In this post I will explore our meat sources a little bit.

From a farm 25 minutes south of here – called La Ferme de Gaston – we get a selection of pork (including lard, sausages, feet, tails, heads and throats) from two different kinds of pig: Gascon and Basque pigs, which are rare breeds that grow slowly and get rather fat and are therefore not suitable for industrial production. Happy pigs they are, and delicious for the palate – not like any pork you’ve ever had, unless, of course, you’ve tasted them already :)

This is not Marta

This is not Marta

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GAPS Intro Diet Mandala: For inspiration, for kids, for a better living.

In order to animate our son and the process as such, and of course to keep an overview of things, we created a “mandala” to guide us through the GAPS Intro Diet. We had developed a grain-free, organic, all natural, seasonal, full GAPS and paleo inspired way of eating for three years already, when we decided to do a GAPS Intro Diet in January this year. Just after the boy turned three. At this stage he had very few digestive problems, none that were frequently recurring, and neither did we. That’s why it only took us five weeks to “complete the mandala”, but the effect was clearly felt. Perhaps a bit too techy for some sensitivities, but a fitting metaphor in current culture: it felt like our gut flora was rebooted to a fresh start.

GAPS Intro Diet Mandala: For inspiration

GAPS Mandala: Click for full size.

Before commencing the intro, we made sure that our son understood what we were going to do. We explained that it was about “making the tummy happy”, “kicking out troublemakers”, “growing strong and healthy” and so on….

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“Kan absolut rekommendera det till alla GAPSare…”

Linn Tenman (Sweden) – July 2014 (originally posted on Facebook):

Tjena! Tillbaka från Frankrike och Paleo/GAPS-boendet On the rocks i Lagorce. Kan absolut rekommendera det till alla Gapsare som vill komma iväg till en lugn och rogivande plats där buljongen flödar utan egen ansträngning. Värdfamiljen var supergullig och så flexibla. Rejält med mat som anpassas efter behov. Jag bad tex om mjölkprodukter och fick tre getostar som var de godaste jag ätit, särskilt den med kummin!! Och så yoghurt på opastöriserad mjölk från gräsbetande get. De äter själva inte mjölk men verkar kunna fixa från producenter i området om man önskar det. Vi fick även ett gott spontanjäst vin utan sulfat och en paté på hjärna/lever/mage etc… spännande och faktiskt gott. Dagen vi åkte fick vi med oss en låda fylld med bra resmat.

De har bra koll på GAPS men verkar själva äta mer åt Paleohållet, dvs utan målet att äta tex säd så småningom.

Stället ligger lite off, på gott och ont. Vi hade ju bil och aktiverade oss genom att ta den till en fin plats där man kan bada. Säkert går det bra att hitta på sånt även om man inte har bil, värdarna verkar ha förslag anpassade efter behov även vad gäller aktiviteter. Annars är det som sagt passande för att bara sitta på terassen, läsa en bok och njuta av utsikten. Internet finns också, i sladd.
På bilden ser man kvällsmaten vi fick när vi kom: rostbiff, syrad rödkål, syrade valnötter, oliver, olivolja, yoghurt och ostar. Iste och buljong, fast den syns inte här.

tenmans-welcomeStayed for three days, in June, 2014.

Happy Solstice 2014: Newsletter from the rocks

Dear Guests – past, potential and future!

The first heat wave came early this year, we’ve just had two weeks pushing 40 during the day, blazing sun, blue sky, and 25 at night – that’s more than 100F and late 70s at night. Normally only July challenges the faint-hearted to such degree. sunny-summer-flowerNot a wind. The hardened, sun-loving local vegetation (thyme, sage, rosemary and so on) has responded vigorously, while much else has given up the ghost. Summer has come, which means feral mulberries everywhere and we’ve been munching away for weeks; especially the on-tree sundried ones are a concentrated treat for the palate. Once upon a time a major industry, silk production has withered, but the mulberry trees on which the silk worm caterpillar feeds exclusively remain scattered along roads, fields and paths, as well as in a little patch grown by the council to feed the caterpillars of the Lagorce silk museum. Continue reading

“…wunderschöner Ort, beste Gastfreundschaft…”

Katharina Manderscheid (Switzerland) – October 2013:

Wir waren im Juni in Lagorce/on the rocks. Das Haus ist liebevoll gestaltet, Lagorce ein kleines, ruhiges, freundliches Dorf ausserhalb des touristisch überlaufenen Vallon Pont d’Arc. Nina und Martin, die GastgeberInnen, sind unglaublich freundlich, haben zahllose Tipps für Freizeitgestaltungen in der Umgebung und bereiten sehr leckeres Essen zu, angepasst an diverse Ernährungsformen. Dabei kennen sie sich bestens mit Paleo-Ernährung, Wildkräutern und -früchten, biologisch/ökologisch verantwortlicher Lebensmittelerzeugung und diversen Gesundheitsthemen aus. on the rocks ist damit ein idealer Ort für einen erholsamen Urlaub und eine gesundheitsbewusste Auszeit mit netten Menschen!

Stayed for a week, in June 2013.

“…a healthy portion of heaven on the rocks…”

Amy Hughes (England) – October 2013:

“This was our second visit on the rocks, which is situated in the beautiful Ardeche region and we really enjoyed our walks out through local woodland and to waterfalls. The village of Lagorce feels as if it is straight from another time in history with its unspoiled limestone buildings with vaulted ceilings. The retreat is possibly the most stunning example of this architecture and the views from the dining table can only be matched by the wonderful food upon it. We ate like kings and the food was local, fresh and organic.

We also learnt new recipes and gained valuable advice about the local area from our warm and welcoming hosts. I would really recommend this place to anyone seeking a quiet, healthy retreat that takes you far from the trappings of modern life.

We will back – again – next year!”

Stayed for two weeks, in September 2013.

“…connections between mental health and grains in your diet…”

Sarah Thomas (England) – February 2013:

“My husband and I stayed with Nina and Martin in January as part of a circuitous train journey through France. Coming for the landscape at such a peaceful time of year was already delightful enough, as we made our way in the winter sun deeper and deeper into the countryside to reach their remote medieval village, one hour from the nearest train station.

But upon arrival in their beautiful home we experienced just how fully they live and breathe their diet, even gathering acorns from the forest to make acorn flour. They shared their knowledge with us passionately and informed, whilst clearly responding instinctively to their bodies’ needs in a way most people’s busy lifestyles do not allow them to do.

My husband is suffering from depression, and we had not realised before our visit the extent of the connections between mental health and grains in your diet. Staying with them for four days allowed us to experience the benefits of a grain-free diet and begin to feel the difference it made, which was marked. This has been a real turning point for us, and we have continued to eat this way as much as possible upon returning home, with great results.

While there we visited a weekly organic vegetable pop up market, went gathering acorns in the forest, took a walk along the stunning mini cascades and rock pools of the river in the valley below, to a lavender farm where the farmer’s wife prepares artisanal lavender products at a very reasonable price. Our days were both full and relaxed.

Most of all, it was reaffirming to be with a couple our own age, who are living what they believe in, and not just talking about it.”

Stayed for four days, in January 2013.

“…community gardens, local markets and organic vineyards…”

Kerry Blair (Canada) – January 2013:

“Nina and Martin are exceptional hosts. My husband and I came away from our week with them feeling entirely content, refreshed and well nourished. They are passionate about food and highly conscious of its health and politico-social value, and this passion translates into an incredible amount of thought, care and artistry at work in their kitchen. Nina and Martin prepared (and invited us to share in the preparation of) absolutely sumptuous, palate pleasing, satisfying and highly nutritious meals using only the freshest locally sourced ingredients.

In addition to enjoying wonderful meals and opportunities to learn whilst in their kitchen, we were enchanted by the incredible setting of their home. They live in an intriguing little village situated in the picturesque Ardèche region of France. Each day Nina and Martin either accompanied us or pointed us in the direction of some special place or event. We walked along quiet forested trails to water falls that have scoured ancient rock into graceful curves; we explored medieval ruins and visited community gardens, local markets and organic vineyards; and we gazed in awe at the  spectacular limestone formations at Les Cirque des Gens and the famed Pont d’Arc.

While staying with Nina and Martin gave us an opportunity to admire and appreciate the natural, cultural and historical beauty of a part of the world that is new to us, – what we learned and experienced as their guests would be hard to obtain through a conventional visit. Our time with them helped us deepen our understanding of ways we can improve our health and gave us the empowerment and tools to do so. We are extremely grateful to have been able to stay, eat, and become friends with Nina and Martin.”

Stayed for a week, in December 2012.

“…driven by passion rather than profit…”

Adelyn Blair (Canada) – January 2013:

I stayed on the rocks for 4 weeks in November/December and was sad to leave. Comfortable beds, breathtaking views, wholesome and delicious food and great company. One thing that distinguishes this place from many other businesses, is that Martin and Nina are driven by passion rather than profit. It shows in everything that they do!

Stayed for four weeks, November/December 2012

“…much to teach about health and sustainability…”

Marian Smallman (Canada) – January 2013:

“Beautiful surrounding country to explore during the day, sun-kissed hills laden with nut trees and fruit bearing bushes. There are ample opportunities for discovery in and around the village of Lagorce and the people are full of culture and many with a passion for nature. Retire to a comfortable healthy environment for the body and the soul with Nina, Martin and Leon. Excellent food, but even more enthralling is the conversation with two highly educated and charismatic people, who have so much to teach about health and sustainability. Highly recommend staying with these people.”

Stayed for three weeks, November/December 2012

“…knowledge about paleo and related diets…”

Nathanael Bonnell (USA) – January 2013:

“I stayed on the rocks for a week, arriving with only a little knowledge about paleo and related diets, and when I got there, through Martin and Nina’s books and especially through talking with them, I easily doubled what I knew. They’re very passionate about eating food that’s really healthy in a common-sense, proven way, and they’ve come up with some delicious things to eat along those lines. (May I recommend their chocolate and stir-fries?)

And besides that, Lagorce is a wonderful, friendly little place full of buildings out of a storybook. On the rocks is inside a wonderful, comfortable stone house hundreds of years old on top of the ridge that Lagorce is built on, so it has a view of the whole village and the valley below it and the forest on the other wall of the valley (beautiful in the fall). It might be a long time before I get to France again, but when I do I definitely want to come back to visit Martin and Nina.”

Stayed for a week, in December 2012.

“…cooking with local wild herbs…”

Nathan Rees (England) – November 2012:

“On the rocks is a wonderful place to take a break and learn how to manage your diet in a healthy way. Nina and Martin are lovely hosts and their food could inspire even a coffee lover like me to consider giving up my vices. The house is spacious and rustic, with a very French feel about it. I really enjoyed identifying and cooking with local wild herbs collected on walks in the hills that surround Lagorce. I would recommend this place to anyone seeking a quiet get away, to take a step back and improve the way they eat.”

Stayed twice for ten days, in April and October/November 2012.

“…a real haven…”

Amy Hughes (England) – November 2012:

“On the rocks in Lagorce is a real haven. The traditional rustic stone buildings are beautiful and the rooms spacious with vaulted ceilings and windows overlooking the beautiful village and opposing hillside. Nina and Martin are wonderful hosts; the food is made with fresh organic local produce and lots of love and they were very helpful in advising us of the finest beauty spots in the locality. The stars at night are beautiful with so little light pollution and the silence in the evening and early morning created a sense of calm that would be impossible to find at home. We have now visited in spring and autumn and the weather was beautiful, perfect for walking and cycling. I hope we will have the chance to come back.”

Stayed twice for ten days, in April and October/November 2012.