Famille faisant un jeu de piste dans le Massif des Vosges
Discover The Vosges mountains Back
When tradition and conviviality break bread!

Taste a marcaire meal

Quentin Cogitore - Founder of Vosges qui peut !


Are you looking for a flavourful adventure? Set off to taste the local products of the Vosges Mountains! From north to south, discover distinctive specialities and know-how passed down from generation to generation. The so-called marcaire meal is an icon of the Vosges Mountains. An invitation to come together and exchange ideas, this traditional menu is best shared with friends in a farmhouse inn of the Vosges Mountains. Let's take a look at this hearty meal that reflects the spirit of the land.

The origins of the marcaire meal

A marcaire is a dairy cow farmer in the Vosges Mountains who makes Munster cheese. The name comes from the word "malker", meaning "the one who milks the cows" in Alsatian.
The marcaires and their herds have been shaping the landscapes of the mountains since the Early Middle Ages. They were the ones who gradually cleared the forests, covering the ridges of the Vosges Mountains with upper mountain pastures.

Massif des Vosges -Repas-marcaire - Munster

In the winter, marcaires work on their farms down in the valleys with the animals nice and warm in their stables. But as soon as the sunny days return, they take their herds up to the summer pastures where the cows feast on the fragrant mountain grass. They spend the whole summer in their marcairies, small high-altitude farms built into the side of the mountain. 

Today, the marcairies have been transformed into farmhouse inns. Most of these establishments welcome hikers and visitors to taste local specialties, each one more delicious than the last! Charcuterie, cheese specialties, and smoked meats are among the most refined dishes, but there is one sought-after menu that stands out from the rest: the marcaire meal.

Discover the local products of the Vosges Mountains

The marcaire meal, a testament to a dynamic land

The marcaire meal brings together several specialties of the Vosges Mountains in a hearty menu that leaves you full and satisfied! It's best enjoyed in good company, seated in a warm and friendly farmhouse inn before or after a hike along the ridges.
The marcaire meal starts with vegetable soup or a slice of meat pie served with a green salad. This delicious pie is topped with puff pastry and filled with two types of meat, usually pork and beef. The recipe for the stuffing changes depending on the location on the inn. Some farmhouse innkeepers marinate the meat with Alsatian white wine, while others faithfully follow the recipe handed down by their ancestors.

Next comes the main course of the marcaire meal, a piece of delicately smoked pork served with braised potatoes. These are the famous "roigabrageldi" or "tofailles", depending on which side of the mountain you are. The farmhouse innkeepers cook the potatoes in a copper cauldron over an open fire with bacon, onions, butter, and sometimes a splash of white wine. The potatoes braise for two hours, gently blending with the bacon for a delicious melt-in-your-mouth combination! 


What could follow such a delectable dish? A piece of farmstead Munster cheese, of course! The marcaires make this cheese from the raw milk of their Vosges cows and ripen it on site. Don't be put off by its powerful aroma, it actually has a soft and mellow flavour. You can also opt for a piece of Bargkass, a pressed and cooked cheese with wild, fruity notes. 

Brimbelle - La tarte aux myrtilles

You will have to end your meal on a sweet note. Depending on the season, the farmer-aubergists can recommend a piece of fruit pie. Wild blueberries, plums, mirabelle plums, morello cherries... the choice is immense! Let yourself be tempted by a Siesskass, an extra-fresh cheese, copiously sprinkled with Kirsch (cherry brandy), fresh cream and sugar. 

Where to enjoy a good marcaire meal in the Vosges Mountains?

An essential piece of information: marcaire meals are served in farmhouse inns. So, you'll have to climb up to the Higher Vosges to dine in one of these establishments. Grab a table on the patio to take in the sensational views of the valley, or pull up a chair near the fireplace to enjoy the comforting atmosphere! 
The guardians of the marcaire tradition are undoubtedly the farmhouse inns of the Petit Ballon. There are six of them in the area. Some have been run by the same family for generations, carrying on rich know-how for several hundred years. Sit on the patio at one of the inns and marvel at the Alsace Plain, or enjoy your meal in the authentic interior with the aromas of the potatoes still cooking in the traditional copper cauldron. 

All the farmhouse inns of the Vosges Mountains

Practical info

A full marcaire meal is around €25 per person. The farmhouse inns are usually open for lunch, and some also welcome guests for dinner. 
While the marcaire meal is the star of the farmhouse inn, don't hesitate to try one of the many other mountain specialties! Depending on the products of the farm, you can taste delicious charcuterie, sauerkraut with meat from the mountains, or a delicious pot-au-feu. 
Find out more about the culinary specialties of the mountains
Fruit-based liqueurs are not to be outdone by the famous eaux-de-vie and fruit wines of the Vosges Mountains! Made from ripe blackberries or raspberries, the fruit is pressed and vinified like a regular wine, producing a sweet and mellow drink. In the Southern Vosges, finish your meal with a glass of Fougerolles kirsch, a fragrant after-dinner drink made from sweet and juicy wild cherries. A liqueur with the prestigious AOC label.

Massif des Vosges - Repas marcaire Auberge
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