Marché aux Truffes, Talairan, France

In recent years large numbers of vignerons in the Corbières have been setting aside their vineyards as the industry has moved from an over-generous production of ordinary wines to careful plant husbandry and the making of higher quality wines. The land that has been set aside has often been used for growing vines for many decades and the vine cuttings and stems that are ploughed into the earth, as the vineyards are abandoned, rot down within it. As these old stems decay, they help create conditions that are perfect for growing truffles. Such soil is made up of limestone with lots of earthworms, ants and other small creatures working to break down the earth to release its nutrients. It receives plenty of water but is well-drained, and has plenty of sun.

Since 1975, 750 hectares of truffles have been planted in the Aude department where the Corbières village of Talairan holds a truffle market at least once every winter. I visited in December 2018 when I took these photographs. Still a novice, I retained some of the nervousness known to all new photographers when taking photographs of strangers but without exception everyone was happy to be photographed as they generated the morning’s excitement.

For information about truffle culture in the Aude department, please visit the following website: