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A night at the Liboson (page 2 of 2)

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A memorable fondue in an over-the-top dungeon chalet straight out of a Hammer film. Our host, Paul du Marchie, has been building an architectural fantasy in the middle of the woods for the last 50 years. Dont' miss my eight 360° panoramas!
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Du Marchie starts preparing the fondue. It is the only dish I cook, he explains, I'm just not into cooking. If I spend more than 10 minutes in the kitchen a day, that'a already too much. For us a microwave dinner is all we need. As I heard the word 'microwave', I reach for my garlic plaid.

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He brings some white wine to a boil and mixes it with pepper. That's his touch, explains Nicole. This is pepper from the desert, I buy it from the Bedouins when we go spend a month living with them, says Du Marchie, focused on the task.

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I point out that pepper doesn't grow in the desert but in the jungle. Du Marchie stares at me coldly. Nicole sees the tension and intervenes delicately Indeed this pepper is grown somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the Nomads buy it and carry it through the desert. We buy it from the Bedouins in the desert, she says.

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From time to time he adds a little more wine until all cheese is melted in a smooth fat-in-water emulsion.

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Nicole comes and cuts the bread in large dices. The meal is almost ready.

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When the pot is bubbling nicely and the surface is smooth, ...

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... we all rush to the table, cleverly lit by a low hanging lamp that gives the place enormous intimacy. The huge table looks medieval but upon closer inspection, loads of names are carved on the surface. A school table maybe? The old-looking tin plates complete the look. Nothing is really medieval, but nothing looks fake. You feel that these furnitures have been made by hand and used for decades. Highly atmospheric.

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Du Marchie gives the fondue one last whisk ...

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... and we tuck in, placing a bread cube at the end of a long fondue fork, and dip it in the cheese emulsion until thoroughly coated. In Switzerland there is always a clift at any given fondue table - those who like pepper and those who don't. I love pepper, cracked black pepper, and always ask people at the table if they agree that we put some more in the soup. Well, not this time, plenty of delicious freshly cracked pepper «from the desert».

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How to convey the convivial ambiance of sharing a fondue, with all guests eating from the same warm pot? How about two over-the-pot fondue panoramas? They are interactive if you have Flash installed (96% of browsers have Flash, in case of click but no bang just use the alternate Jpeg version, not quite the same thing though).

Click for 360° interactive panorama Interactive 360° panorama #4
John is dipping a piece of bread intot he fondue with my unsightly photographic umbrella behind me. I didn't use it, Du Marchie's lighting was nicer. (Jpeg version)

Click for 360° interactive panorama Interactive 360° panorama #5
Paul du Marchie exchanges a sweet look with his wife Nicole du Marchie I moved the brolly so you can see the beautiful byzantine portraits they have painted on the dresser behind me. (Jpeg version)

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As we finish the pot, I ask du Marchie if I can have the bottom crust. He looks at Nicole, who says Well you can't really get any crust, I think. I ask if they mind if we try. Please be our guest, she says. While I increase the flame below the empty pot, John pours some white wine on the curst. After a few minutes, the crust starts to warp and john manages to pry it off. We offer some to the du Marchie but they really don't look tempted, It's burnt, explains Nicole. Not at all, this is the best bit, just brown but not black. John splits it in half and we eat it with relish.

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From time to time, Paul du Marchie leaves the table to put another log in the huge fireplace or to action the with a gigantic forge bellows. I tell him that there are so many great things he could cook in such a fireplace, but he snaps To achieve anything in life you need to focus, and cooking has never been my thing.

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I start talking organ music with Nicole and pulls out my Iphone to play some of my own favorite organ music. John Butt playing Pachelbel's Hexacordum Appolinis, Guy Bovet reviving the oldest playable organ in Valère with old scores by Giovanni Gabrieli. Finally Cléarambault's Dialogue sur les grands jeux seems to fill the kitchen from my palmtop as all stop speaking. Du Marchie seems very intrigued by the device - The quality is very good, he says.

Let's move to the room for an organ concert, says Nicole.

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We follow her into the suite, where we sit down...

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... while Nicole starts playing the organ.

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Click for 360° interactive panorama Interactive 360° panorama #6
The du Marchie's suite, with Nicole playing the organ, an open kitchen, a crawl-on carpet with a large Moroccan tray for meals. A TV set is hidden behind the tapestry right of the doorway that leads to the kitchen. Most what you see, walls, beams, furnitures, has been built from scratch by du Marchie himself (Jpeg version)

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Click for 360° interactive panorama Interactive 360° panorama #7
Du Marchie takes us two by two to show his famous 3D slides (Jpeg version)

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Du Marchie built a system from scratch to take 3 dimensional pictures and display them backlit in a wooden box. He showed us mostly pictures of his former girlfriends in the desert, but the results are stunning, we a strong sense of depth. He has more than 700 pictures that he'll show you for a small fee (20 Swiss francs I think) if you call ahead.

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We all have a good time while Nicole poured some hot water from a large copper kettle they bought from a Nomadic family in the Sahara.

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Dessert was some bought ice cream, nice but not worthy of being featured on FXcuisine by itself. But you must agree that there is more than just food to a memorable meal!

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Click for 360° interactive panorama Interactive 360° panorama #8
You can buy some Byzantine icon reproductions and other paintings Nicole crafts in her beautiful Renaissance painter studio. They mix their own pigments as you can see on the table. (Jpeg version)

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Some time after midnight, we leave. Du Marchie lights us a torch and we start our kilometer-long walk across the pitch-black woods.

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As we climb the path, we look back one last time on this eerie chalet glowing in the snow.

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Christine leads the way across the dark woods and to the car. A most memorable evening.

Chalet le Liboson [leebohzon]
Paul du Marchie van Voorthuysen and Nicole du Marchie
CH-1824 Caux (above Montreux)
+41 (0) 21 963 30 19
No email, no website
Google Maps
You too can spend a night at the Liboson. In the wintertime, you need to leave the car about 1km from the chalet and walk on the road. You can't really miss it as there is a large wooden sign on the road for Le Liboson. Paul and Nicole speak good English. A fondue evening costs 70 francs per person and you can spend the night in a large and beautiful suite for 110 francs per night for the first person and 60 francs for each additional person. It is not a restaurant nor a café but more like an extravagant bed and breakfast. Although this is not a foodie place, I highly recommend a visit. If you come an afternoon to see the 3D pictures they only charge 8 francs a person. Call ahead.


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  • #1
  • Comment by Amir Arie
This is look amazing!!! Thank you for the share, I really love your website :)
  • FX's answer→ Amir glad to hear you like my site!

  • #3
  • Comment by wasansh
I want to meet you someday
  • FX's answer→ Glad you liked it!

This the dream of my life! To be in a castle like the Hammer's films and to be in supper with a sort of Vincent Price cooking a fondue!!! Just like Dr.Phibes, incredibly bizarre this post.
  • FX's answer→ Cris, indeed this was incredible especially for a Hammer movie fan. Now I must insist that Mr du Marchie is not sinister in any respect like many characters portrayed by Vincent Price, and I know a man who is an exact lookalike of Vincent Price. Neither is he as haughty as Christopher Lee, although clearly he doesn't choke on modesty either.

  • #7
  • Comment by Xavier Alexandre
I often walk in the neighborhood of Caux to enjoy the view but I would never have suspected such an extravagant place. Thanks for sharing !
  • FX's answer→ Xavier, you are an engineer, you should definitely call du Marchie up and arrange an appointment to view his 3D pictures. I think he charges 20 francs or something for an afternoon session, and if you tell him how you are impressed by his creations (I am!) he might give you a tour!

  • #9
  • Comment by Evan
This is just too cool. There are some things you simply can't find in the US and this appears to be one of them. I can't believe he didn't know about the crust, though! All fondue aficionados know that's by far the best part--much like how in Iran siblings fight over the tahdigh from the bottom of the rice pot.

Just a quick note--I'm pretty sure when you wrote "enormous intimity" you meant "intimacy."
Keep on posting amazing entries like this one!
  • FX's answer→ Evan, thanks for the typo, indeed intimacy. I think French interior designer Andrée Putman was right when she said that really great dining rooms must be intimate. I have seen too many grand dining rooms where the dinner ambiance never takes off. This guy is really smart, he had a large room but he made it intimate with this lamp hanging right above the table. The whole room is plunged in darkness, with only the large fire and byzantine artwork lit. Guests need to lean forward to show their face, it's really magical. This kitchen/dinner table is the most awesome I've dined in!

    About the tahdigh you need fewer sibs or a larger pot.

  • #11
  • Comment by candace
Francois, enjoyable read as always.  What a character Monsieur Du Marchie is!  Almost as crusty as the bread you enjoyed with your fondue.  
  • FX's answer→ Candace, indeed quite a character but the real soul of the party was the house itself!

  • #13
  • Comment by bob piro
Your pieces are all exceptional and very intersting
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Bob and glad you read my site regularly!

Wow, how great! Such a marvelous place! Amazing!


  • FX's answer→ Thanks Rosa and I hope you get to visit this place!

  • #17
  • Comment by W.C.  
re: A night at the Liboson

Francois: Interesting article, indeed. Your articles are enhanced significantly by the excellent accompanying photographs. Many of them are shot in low-lighting conditions, which is difficult. I especially like the tones and colors of some of the shots in this piece. Are you the photographer for your articles?  What camera was used?

All the best,
  • FX's answer→ Thanks for asking, yes I am the photographer, editor, writer and sometimes even the subject! For the chiaroscuro portraits I used one off-camera flash in barebulb held by a friend towards the subject's face. I have many pictures of him with this lighting, the impression you get differs very much from one picture to the next depending on his expressions. Religious, wacky, concentrated or dignified. All the other pictures were shot in available lights. Flash didn't work as this man has a very extensive and clever lighting system. It's made on a shoestring with minuscule church bulbs but it highlights the interesting parts of each room, so I would have needed more flashes than I had to do just the same. Fortunately my camera - that was your questions - is a Nikon D300 which had extraordinary low light performance. Glad you liked it!

  • #19
  • Comment by James
Thanks for sharing. I enjoy it very much. I have flash installed and is working with other sites but not your 360. Very disappointed but enjoy your professional photos very much, great lighting and detailed!!
  • FX's answer→ James, thanks for letting me know about this issue with Flash, may I ask what operating system and browser version you are using? I will try to change so that it works for you too, these are some of my finest panoramas so far.

  • #21
  • Comment by James
I am using Vista with Window Internet Explorer 7. Thanks
  • FX's answer→ James, thanks for getting back to me on this problem with the Flash Panoramas. I have changed the code for all panoramas on the first page of the article, could I trouble you with trying again now? Let me know how they work - or don't work. Thanks!

  • #23
  • Comment by anna
Amazing. Your culinary adventures at bar-done the most interesting that I read on the net. Sorry to gush, but WOW.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Anna, I am glad you appreciate my articles, sometimes I wonder if perhaps not many people share my fondness for memorable meals as a complete experience and not only the food!

  • #25
  • Comment by James
Thank you for taking all the trouble to set up other version of 360. I can view them!! You rock!
  • FX's answer→ James, glad they work for you too now. I fixed all the links on the second page as well. Have fun!

  • #27
  • Comment by Randall
fx - Truly a memorable experience!  From the moment you describe the chalet coming into view, it just gets better and better:  a pipe organ, tunnels, a huge fireplace and a workshop to make Santa Claus envious!  Something unique and unexpected around every corner, the entire place seems sprung from a fairy tale.  I can only imagine living such a life as du Marchie does - marching to the beat of your own drum and letting your creative energies run wild.  Thank you so much for such a fascinating and inspiring article.  You really should publish, you know!
  • FX's answer→ Randall, thanks a lot for your kind words. Indeed du Marchie marches at the beat of his own drum, but his life was probably quite hard and so many people would have the self-discipline needed create such a fantasy world all alone. About publishing, what form do you think would be best?

  • #29
  • Comment by Lord Best
What an intriguing experience. The house is superb, as you say, authentic without being original. Many people have trouble with this concept. It is quite possible to build an authentic house in a traditional style, wether it be medieval, earlier, or later, it is not a fake simply because it was not made in that styles heydey. So long as it is made with authenticity and quality it will be authentic, if not original.
I had a similar debate with someone about cooking ancient Roman recipes actually, he flat out refused to accept them as Roman even though I took the recipes direct from primary sources and made them with the same ingredients.
  • FX's answer→ I think you have to dare eat alone if you can't find guests worthy of the expense of a fine Roman dinner. In French we would call this feeding the pigs with jams - a waste!

  • #31
  • Comment by Randall
fx - re publishing:  there are all kinds of online travel sites and/or cooking sites that might accept submissions.  Your material is such a unique combination of location and food - hard to believe an editor somewhere wouldn't snatch it up.  Bonne Chance!
  • #32
  • Comment by jensenly
OK - so if Paul is truly penniless, how do they live?  Is Nicole an heiress?  Or do their dinner/B&B revenues adequately support them and their trips to the desert?  I always find it fascinating (as well as being bit envious) that people can live like that.
  • FX's answer→ Jensenly, beware, Envy is a cruel mistress that will soon run your life until you gouge your own eyes out by fear they show you something somebody has that looks appealing. Just slap that bitch in the face and focus on how to get fun for yourself. Now Paul just worked his ass off in this house for 50 years, and now they have paying guests who stay over, come for fondue or for a little concert. I don't think they do anything really extravagant financially, and when they visit the desert, they stay with the Nomads. That is really the Way of the Shoestring - all the way!

  • #34
  • Comment by don siranni
FX,you commented to "anna" that not sure if others share your...-well,I sure as hell do!   I have so many requests for possible future travel adventures with your touch.
  • #35
  • Comment by AmandaJo
This is my first time posting but I have perused your blog for little more than a month with tremendous pleasure. It is such a wonderful site streaked with atmosphere and profusion of details for us food aficionados and the photos are so vivid. But I just had to comment on this particular article. From the very beginning, where you pause to look at the chalet in the dimming light it hardly took any imagination to feel the invigorating icy clear evening air on my face all the way to the interior where you could practically hear the strains of the organ in the photos and the scent of burning firewood wafting in the air. I feel like your photos are a portal where one can just gaze and fall head first into reality. I most wholeheartedly agree with you that its just not the meal that impresses the palate of the mouth but the experience of sharing sustenance in such ambience that makes it indelible!!!! Although on one hand it surely doesn't hurt to indulge with the art of cuisine indigenous to each's own. I found this blog by attempting to search for a recipe not too long ago but for the life of me cannot remember what the recipe was for however after the first article i was instantly hooked and have been reading your older articles and eagerly looking to the new ones. They are so enriching and very educating as well. I hope I speak for many that you will never run out of things to post about!! I hope people in europe realize how lucky they are to live amid such diversity within only a few hours drive or train ride. I am from Washington, USA. If it wasn't so difficult to be away from family and friends as well as the opportunities I would move to Europe in a heartbeat!!! I hope those small pockets of homegrown artisans continue to cling onto the old traditions for more generations to come so we can continue to truly appreciate the culinary arts. Anyways you are a rock star in the eyes of your readers! Continue to rock on!


  • FX's answer→ Amanda, you came here by chance, but you won't be returning by chance - that makes me very happy! I think in the future I'll do videos, and hope they'll give an even stronger impression of those memorable food experiences. Thanks for your visit!

  • #37
  • Comment by barbara
I read through the whole article to see if Paul also gave you icecream as dessert! We had a Viennetta log and I did not sleep the whole night afterwards with that solid mass of frozen fondue in my stomach!
Do they still have their pension rooms? We haven't been up there for a long time.
Loved your article (and I had the same comment about the bedouin'd pepper). They also had a white cat (one of those flat-faced ones) that sat on the table next to the fondue and ate tuna paste directly from the tube.
  • FX's answer→ Barbara, indeed they still have the same dessert and pension rooms. I am not entirely surprised about the tuna thing, apparently both have absolutely no interest in food!

  • #39
  • Comment by Liudmila Krasnova
Большое спасибо за эту статью. Уже давно искала информацию об этом загадочном месте, а прошлым летом, спускаясь в Ко из Роше-де-Нэ пешком, мы встретили, как нам показалось дровосека, как раз в районе Либосона, сейчас поняла, что это был Поль дю Марш. Я сама из Москвы, 24 декабря мы впятером приезжаем на зимнюю конференцию в Ко - и уже решили, что в свободное время посетим Либосон. Странно, что у них нет сайта и электронного адреса, раньше все это было.
Сайт замечательный, обязательно расскажу о нем в России.
С благодарностью, Людмила Краснова
  • FX's answer→ Liudmila, bolshoe spasibo vam chto vi pisali mayu statiou, kcajheleniu u menya zdec net ruskaya klaviatura. C chistliva!

  • #41
  • Comment by Ingrid
I found your web site this morning and love it.  Paul and Nicole are fascinating--what a Renaissance couple! You are also very interesting and talented. This will become one of my favorites sites.  Thank you!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Ingrid, glad you like my site!

  • #43
  • Comment by Melit
     I'm a new reader(3 hrs new)and I'm getting hooked to your site.AWESOME!!!
     I started reading the old articles about cheese....I'm
enjoying it.It's seems like I'm in Switzerland at the moment.
     Thanks again...
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Melit, there are almost 250 articles now and I keep coming with more. Glad you like them!

  • #45
  • Comment by Henry WAGNER
I just come back from three days spent there.
By Google I found your site.
What can do men with FXcuisine.com? I wonder...your article about Liboson is simply great.
The panoramas fantastic...how do you do that?
The portraits of Paul best I have never seen. Better than his one!!! Witch are also great in 3D.
What a site yours and LIBOSON. To see absolutely...A hit...both
Tank’s and kind regards
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Henry, how was the stay at the Liboson? WWere you made feel at home? For the panoramas yyou need a special "panoramic" head, a tripod, some know how and a few softwares. Glad you like my portraits, I thought the extreme chiaroscuro lighting was doing justice to the man with his Renaissance looks.

  • #47
  • Comment by Maria Teresa Maturana
I am happy to see this article about Paul and Nicole. I have not been to Le Liboson for many years, but I went there many times in the past and I miss them both greatly.
If they happen to see this comment, please email me. I would ike to come to Le Liboson again. I live in the US now.
  • FX's answer→ Maria I don't think they are very much Internet-oriented but you could always ring them up.

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