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Cheese : a very French experience

Hunting for great cheeses is a very French thing to to, especially in Paris where there are so many good professionals. And it’s also a way to grasp French people’s obsession with cheese. As a cheese lover myself, let me guide you through the wonderful realm of French cheese…

Cheese shop in Paris

French cheese you have to try

  • Morbier, with its blue track in the middle (it’s NOT mold as in Roquefort, but coal powder), with its fruity taste.
  • Mont d’Or, deliciously creamy with its pinewood box. DO eat the crust!
  • Sheep cheese from Corsica, especially the “Tomme de brebis Corse”.
  • A good Saint Nectaire “fermier” (better than “laitier”) with its sweet and acidic taste.
  • If you’re not afraid of strong taste cheeses, do try Langres (a small orange cheese) and Epoisses (very strong creamy cheese from Burgundy).
  • And if you like blue cheese, try to find Bleu de Termignon, Bleu de Gex or Bleu de Sassenage, very refined and sweet blue cheeses.
  • If you go for some Comté, take Comté made from Spring or Summer milk. For example, if you buy it in June, take 12-months matured Comté or 24-months and not 18-months.
  • Goat cheese is also a must. Try Valencay or Mothais sur feuille. And try different types of ripening for goat cheese.
  • In winter, try truffle stuffed Brie. Pretty expensive (because truffle is) but it’s something of an experience.

As much as possible, buy raw milk cheese, which has a far better taste than pasteurized cheese and is easier to digest, due to its many enzymes.

And of course, ask your local cheese shop : there are seasons for cheeses and they can give you a good advice according to what they have in store and what your tastes are.

Which cheese can I bring back home ?

Depends on where is your home and how long is your trip. In most countries outside Europe, only solid cheese is allowed (hard or semi-soft, pasteurized). Of course, ask your cheese shop to vaccuum pack your cheese and keep it in a cold place until your trip home.

Good picks for travel: Comté (from Jura), Beaufort or Tomme d’Abondance (from the Alps), Cantal or Salers (from Auvergne), Ossau-Iraty (sheep cheese from Basque country), tomme de brebis corse (corsica hard sheep cheese).

What to drink with cheese ?

One rule : drink WHITE WHINE with cheese, never red wine, it’s an idea some people still have, even in France, that red wine matches cheese best. It’ completely wrong (red whine will antagonize cheese’s tastes and make both wine drinking and cheese tasting far lesss enjoyable). Ask your cheese shop about the best (white) wine with your cheese.

Of course, you can drink non-alcoholic beverages with cheese. Water being the best, because it doesn’t mess with the cheese tasting experience. Light beer is ok too.

Where should I buy cheese in Paris ?

Local shops are great. Food markets too (though they generally won’t have tools for vacuum packing iof you want to take some cheese home).

But you’ll find good cheeses in supermarkets as well (Monoprix supermarkets have a great choice of cheeses, especially those with the label “ripened by Marie-Anne Quentin”).

Enjoy French cheese and let me know about your cheesy experiences!

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about Cheese in Paris

What is the etiquette for buying and tasting cheese in Paris?

When visiting a cheese shop, feel free to ask for recommendations and samples. It’s customary to greet the shopkeeper and wait your turn. For tasting, it’s polite to use the provided utensils and not to touch the cheese with your hands.

How should I store cheese after purchasing?

To preserve the flavor and texture, wrap the cheese in wax paper or cheese paper and store it in the warmest part of your refrigerator, usually the vegetable drawer.

Is there a cheese season in France?

Cheese can be enjoyed year-round, but certain varieties have peak seasons. For example, Mont d’Or is best from September to May, while fresh goat cheeses are at their prime in the spring and summer months.

How do I pair cheese with wine?

Almost all cheeses must be drunk with white wine (it’s a common mistake to drink red wine with cheese). Usually, try to find a local match: Burgundy wine with Burgundy cheese. Some of my favourite matches are Epoisses cheese with Meursault wine (Burgundy), Munster cheese with Gewüstraminer (Alsace), Parmesan cheese with Champagne (not a local match but it’s great), Comté with dry white wine (Saint Véran, Macon blanc), Roquefort with Sauternes…

Where can I find the best cheese shops in Paris?

There are famous cheese shops like Androuet (134 rue Mouffetard, 5th arrdt), Marie Quatrehomme, Barthélemy, Thomas (13 rue Rambuteau in Le Marais) La Cave aux fromages (1 Rue du Retrait, 20 arrdt), Monbleu (37 rue du Faubourg Montmartre near Grands Boulevards), La Fromagerie de Paris… But any small cheese shop in Paris will do. You can also find good cheese in supermarkets! (Monoprix is very good at that) And of course, food markets are great for cheese.

Are there cheese-tasting tours in Paris?

Yes, Paris offers several cheese-tasting tours where you can explore local fromageries and taste a variety of French cheeses under the guidance of an expert. These tours often include wine pairings as well.