A cheese lover’s guide to France
One of the greatest pleasures of a holiday in France is tucking into the delicious cuisine. It doesn’t get much better than French cheese!
It’s believed there are 365 varieties produced across the country, so whether you like yours mild or truly stinky, there’s a cheese out there for everyone. For a deliciously simple lunch, grab a baguette, open a bottle of wine and dive in!
With so many cheeses to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. So we’ve picked some of our favourites from regions which also have a Canvas campsite. Most campsites have food markets in surrounding towns or villages; so sampling the local delicacies is easy.
Tomme de Savoie
This mild, semi-firm cow’s milk cheese hails from Savoie in the French Alps. It’s made from the skim milk left over from the cream used to make butter or richer cheeses. As a result, the cheese has a relatively low fat content (between 20 and 45%). The cheese is made year-round, and has a slightly different character depending on whether the cows are fed on winter hay or summer grass.
It is first pressed, and then matured for several months in a traditional cellar, which adds flavour and produces the characteristically thick brownish-grey rind.
This soft washed-rind cheese is traditionally made from raw cow’s milk. As proof of being well-aged in an airy cellar, the rind is covered with a fine white mould. Reblochon has a nutty taste and is at its best between May and September after it has been aged six to eight weeks.
It’s an essential ingredient of tartiflette, a Savoyard gratin made from potatoes, cream, and onions.
Enjoy the cheese and Alpine air at La Ferme de la Serraz, Lake Annecy.
Comté is an ancient cheese and has been produced in France since the 700s. Comté is still traditionally made in more than 190 cheese dairies (known as the ‘fruitières’) in the Jura. It takes around 530 litres of milk to make one Comté, weighing approximately 35 kilos. Comté requires a long maturing period called affinage. During this time, the cheese is regularly cleaned and rubbed with salted water. Comté has a complex, nutty and caramelised flavour and is a traditional fondue cheese.
Comté is fabulous with a dry white wine such as Sancerre or a light red wine such as Beaujolais.
Morbier is a semi-soft cows’ milk cheese named after the small village of Morbier in Franche-Comté. It’s recognizable by the black layer of tasteless ash running through its centre. Morbier has a strong aroma, but the flavour is rich and creamy, with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Traditionally, the cheese consisted of a layer of morning milk and a layer of evening milk. It originated as cheese makers would press the leftover curd from the day into a mould and spread ash over it to protect it. The following morning, the cheese would be topped up with morning milk. Nowadays, the cheese is usually made from a single milking, with the ash added for tradition.
Discover the flavours of the Jura at Domaine de Chalain, set on the banks of Lac de Chalain.
This soft, white-crusted cow’s milk cheese is produced in both Burgundy and Normandy. Brillat-Savarin is named after the 18th century French gourmet and political figure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin who once famously wrote, ‘a meal without some cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.’
The cheese was created in the 1930s by Henri Androuët, the owner of one of the most famous fromageries in Paris. Brillat-Savarin is a triple cream Brie that is luscious, creamy and faintly sour, aged for just one or two weeks. It’s an excellent dessert cheese and pairs well with juicy berries, melon or dates. It’s also is great with champagne or pale ale.
Enjoy a Burgundy break at Château de l’Epervière, Gigny-sur-Saône.
Sariette de Banon
This aromatic, log shaped cheese is topped with a sprig of fresh Sariette (summer savoury) and is the best known cheese of Provence. It has a natural thin wrinkled rind, and tastes creamy and slightly flaky with a light fruity tang. It’s at its best between April and September.
Pélardon is a traditional cheese, covered in a white mould. It has been produced in France since Roman times. The cheese is best enjoyed between May and June when it is softer. Pélardon is available in different sizes, with the smaller ones being more intense in flavour. Some are covered with ground pepper, and others can be doused with wine, leaving a reddish tinge
Crottin de Chavignol
The Loire Valley is renowned for its goat’s cheese. The most famous of these is Crottin de Chavignol which has been produced since the 16th century in the village of Chavignol. It is produced with a natural rind which can range from pale ivory to almost black.
Crottin de Chavignol can be eaten at various stages of maturity. After eight days, each cheese weighs 140g, and has a strong nutty taste. After four months, the cheese has shrunk to just 40g and has a richer flavour. A classic dish is baked Crottin de Chavignol on a green salad. It’s also delicious paired with a Loire white wine such as Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé.
Taste the Loire Valley from Château des Marais at Chambord.
Maroilles is a cows-milk cheese made in the regions of Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais. It derives its name from the village of Maroilles in the region where it is still manufactured. The cheese has a moist orange-red washed rind and a strong smell.
Maroilles is reported to have first been made in 962 by a monk in the Abbey of Maroilles. The cheese rapidly became famous throughout the region, and was a favourite of several French kings including Philip II, Louis IX, Charles VI and Francis I.
Fancy a picnic in Picardy? Stay at Camping la Bien Assise, Guines.