Cheese in France
With well over 300 high-quality cheeses produced across the country, France's pride when it comes to cheese is fully justified. The country's varying 'terroirs' yield world-class Bries, Camemberts, and Epoisses among hundreds more. With such rich and varied regional production, there are plenty of cheese-based things to see and do (and taste) around the country.
Take one of our ferries from Dover or Newhaven to Dieppe, Calais or Dunkirk, or sail to Amsterdam and drive across the border and you could be on your way to sampling some of the best cheeses the world has to offer in no time.
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Every region of France has its own signature cheeses. The countless local variations fall roughly into three categories: pressed cheeses (like most English cheese), soft cheeses and blue cheeses. And each of these types can be made from either cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk.
France assigns its prestigious 'Appellation d'origine contrôlée' (AOC) quality label to only around 40 of its traditional regional French cheeses, for instance Brie de Melun; Saint Nectaire, Cantal and Bleu from the Auvergne, and Mont d’Or from the French-Swiss border.
The wealth of tasting options might seem daunting at first, but it simply means cheese lovers will be spoilt for choice whichever region they choose for their holiday, so strike out and discover your own favourite cheese among France’s myriad varieties!
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Cheese making history
It's nice to learn a little about the history and traditions of the regional cheeses you're eating, which you can find at the Camembert Museum in Vimoutiers, Normandy - focusing on, you guessed it, one of France's most loved exports.
If you happen to find yourself in the east of the country, you could pay a visit to the Maison du Comté in Poligny. This quaint but enthusiastic museum will take you on an hour-long tour through the history and production of one of France’s most popular cheeses and provide a tasting to finish. Perfect!
Tucked away near Montmartre is one of Paris' best cheese experiences. L'Affineur' Affiné restaurant and cheese shop offers stunning cheeseboards that change daily depending on what is fresh or perfectly matured.
Each cheese is explained along with a recommendation of the order in which to eat them, giving a personal touch to your tasting.
You could also indulge yourself by sharing a fondue at Pain Vin Fromages in Le Marais, a restaurant dedicated to cheese-based recipes including some seasonal artisanal specials.
Tantalise your tastebuds at one of Paris' many bountiful cheese counters, a spectacle in themselves, brimming with pungent cave-aged Roqueforts and nutty Comtés. Possibly the most beautiful fromagerie in the city is Barthélémy, where you can ogle the country's stunningly varied produce.
You can also give in to temptation at traditional cheesemaker Pascal Beillevaire's shops, of which there are over a dozen around the city centre, before soaking up the sights and smells of the cheese stalls at one of Paris' biggest outdoor markets: Marché Bastille.
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