In a renovated, 11th-century priory in rural France, Orthodox monk Frère Jean cooks delicious, seasonal dishes prepared using produce from the monastery garden. The kaleidoscopic plates are served with artistic flair: In a past life Frère Jean was a fashion photographer and journalist.
Frère Jean became a monk in his 30s and was quickly appointed monastery chef. He cooked for his brothers at a monastery in Greece, before spending several years at a monastery near Jerusalem, always using locally available ingredients. Now he’s returned to his birthplace in the Cévennes, a verdant, mountainous region peppered with extinct volcanoes and ancient megaliths. Inspiration from his travels is ever-present in his recipes—expect shared plates (inspired by Middle Eastern mezze) and a wealth of fresh vegetables, a legacy from his time in Greece.
Pilgrims, artists, and curious wanderers alike are invited to experience life at Skite Sainte Foy, provided that they’re prepared to immerse themselves in monastery life for a few days. The monastery has been a labour of love, and what it lacks in modern amenities it makes up for with gold-leaf frescoes, spectacular valley views, and tales of Frère Jean’s extraordinary life, told by an open fire.
Know Before You Go
Skite Sainte Foy is home to Frères Jean and Joseph. Visitors cannot simply arrive and expect a meal, though. When planning a visit, contact the monks in advance by phone or email. (Frère Jean speaks English, but email may be best for non-French speakers.) A minimum stay of two days is expected, and guests are advised to bring their own sleeping bags.