Nathalie Nemeth-Defago, mountains and plants, the elixir of wellbeing.
Nathalie is a herbalist and mountain guide. Two professions - or rather passions - that she combines seamlessly, as if they were the natural ingredients of a successful recipe for life.
Nathalie lives in Troistorrents, at the foot of the Dents du Midi. This mountain village in the Bas-Valais is situated in the unspoilt surroundings of Val d'Illiez and below Morgins, one of the Swiss resorts of the Portes du Soleil ski area.
Growing up in this exceptional setting, in a family of ski-lovers and walking enthusiasts, she felt the call of the mountains from a very young age. Faced with the beauty of wide-open spaces, fascinated by the wonders of wild animals and plants, Nathalie found herself increasingly drawn to the buried and well-kept secrets of the plant world.
From beneath the forest canopy to lush Alpine meadows, from riverbanks to the edge of glaciers, all these natural places seemed so remarkable to her that she couldn't ignore their appeal any longer. And then, seeing her grandmother prepare some delicate concoctions using wild shoots and mountain flowers, how could she do anything other than fall into this magical plant world one day?
So, after about 15 years working in accounting and finance in Geneva, Nathalie decided to give it all up and return to this original passion. Coming home gave her the chance to start a new life as an enlightened mountain guide, an inspired herbalist and mountain chef. Specialising in the art of mixtures, concoctions, macerations and infusions of all kinds, she's a passionate alchemist!
Although she has little in common with the traditional image of ancient druids with long white beards, every combination and every process that Nathalie embarks on to extract the active substances or aromatics from plants, gives astonishing results that are a delight for senses and taste buds.
Forever in search of new fragrances, uses or unexpected therapeutic benefits, as well as surprising culinary combinations, Nathalie's passion drives her quest for unique recipes. But over and above her talents as a herbalist, she sees her role as making the invisible visible, by keeping alive the knowledge and know-how passed on by older generations and learned by watching nature in the mountains, the magic of plants and local Alpine culture. So, even if your Grandma's traditional infusion isn't necessarily your cup of tea, Nathalie's skill is in bringing people closer to plants by suggesting a variety of themed experiences. Learning to observe, recognise, pick, prepare or test, all the essentials you need to enjoy magical moments in the unspoilt setting of Val d'Illiez.
Lastly, Nathalie gives us the means to marvel at everything around us, things that we might never have noticed. A friend of the plant world and an explainer of Nature's invisible secrets, she's also the keeper of a forgotten language that's still anchored in the spirit of the valley's villagers. As a member of local patois society in the village, she can often be heard sharing stories and anecdotes on her discovery outings, introducing little adventurers to the region's original dialect. I
n Nathalie, it's impossible not to see an accomplished and dedicated guide, who's capable of transforming each walk or workshop into a delicious experience. With her at your side, happiness is always close, too!