After spending a month in Paris, we want to share all the insider information we gathered about French Cheese! Think past Brie and Camembert; you’ll love the nuttiness of Comté, the creamy earthiness of Brilliant-Savarin, and the crumbly, creamy tang of Roquefort.
France is known world-wide for her cheese, and for good reason! With well over 1000 different types of French cheese, there’s a cheese to suit every taste. We’re going to talk about a few ways in which French cheese is classified, as well as where you can buy it.
And did you know, there are several quotes about French cheese by famous people?
- “Any country with 300 cheeses cannot die.” – Winston Churchill
- “How do you want to govern a country where there are more than 300 types of cheese?” – Charles de Gaulle
- “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Read more about famous French cheese quotes on A Year in Fromage and Wikipedia.
How Many Types of Cheese Are There in France?
Several sources say that there are over 1600 different types of French cheese (see Wikipedia and About France). There are a few different ways that cheeses are grouped into categories.
The three families of French cheese are:
- Pressed cheeses
- Soft cheeses
- Blue cheeses
There are three different types of milk used to make French cheese:
- Sheep’s milk (ewe’s milk)
- Goat’s milk
- Cow’s milk
Additionally, cheese is classified by the way it’s manufactured:
- Fermier: Made on the farm with milk that was produced on the farm
- Artisanal: Relatively small-batch cheese production made with milk that was produced on the farm, and possibly also from other local farmers
- Cooperative: Local milk producers join together and make cheese using their milk
- Industrial: Factory-made with local or regional milk
AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée)
This is the French protected designation of origin. French law specifies the region and commune in which a given product must be manufactured.
According to Wikipedia, “AOC products can be identified by a seal, which is printed on the label in wines, and with cheeses, on the rind. To prevent any possible misrepresentation, no part of an AOC name may be used on a label of a product not qualifying for that AOC.”
French Cheese List
We’re going to break down French cheese based on the three families: pressed cheeses, soft cheeses, and blue cheeses.
This type of cheese is hard and sliceable, and is made from cow’s milk. Pressed cheeses are either “cooked” (where heat is applied during production) or “uncooked”.
Examples of pressed cheeses include:
A few soft French cheeses include:
- Saint Nectaire
Époisses de Bourgogne
And here are some French blue cheeses:
- Bleu des Causses
- Bleu d’Auvergne
Best French Cheese
As with anything else, someone’s idea of what is the best French cheese is very subjective and varies based on a person’s individual tastes. Lara and Faith both enjoy the buttery richness and slight nuttiness of a double cream Brie.
Soft, crumbly, and tangy Chèvre Lara’s everyday go-to cheese for crumbling on things like salads and steaks. Faith’s all-time favorite is Saint-Félicien with a creamy, liquidy interior, bloomy rind, and nutty, subtly mushroomy flavor. Her favorite way to eat it is with a spoon or paired with strawberries.
Pro Tip: Buy a small amount of a few different cheeses so you can try them and see which is your favorite!
Cheese Shop Paris
Paris is full of incredible cheese shops! The best way to find a great French cheese shop in Paris is to do a quick Google search based on your location. Look at the photos, read the reviews, and then once you find a place that looks good on Google, head to Trip Advisor and Yelp to read the reviews there.
Pro Tip: Find out where the locals go and shop there! The lines are usually longer (sometimes coming out the door), but the quality and selection is worth it.
French Cheese Shop – Fromagerie
In French, the word “fromagerie” refers to a cheese shop. These are our personal favorite French cheese shops (aka fromageries) in Paris.
51 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris (7th Arrondissement)
During the month that Faith and Lara were in Paris, this was their go-to cheese shop because they were just a five minute walk way. It’s a small shop, but it’s completely loaded with a large variety of cheese as well as other dairy products, such as butter. Faith regularly bought a round of Saint-Félicien, Lara frequently tried a different kind of goat cheese, and we both enjoyed their amazing butter.
25 Rue d’Aligre, 75012 Paris (12ème Arrondissement)
Above: Interior of La Fromagerie Cheese Shop
There are three things we love about this cheese shop: 1) the prices are rock bottom, 2) the selection is huge, and 3) its located along the street of part of the outdoor market of Marché d’Aligre.
Pro Tip: When you go to La Fromagerie to stock up on reasonably priced cheese, stay a while and wander around Marché d’Aligre. There you’ll find: fresh flowers; a huge variety of fresh fruit and vegetables; charcuterie; fish; meat; pastries and bread; a huge assortment of olives; and even a small outdoor flea market.
French Cheese Board
Pictured in this French cheese board (clockwise from top right): Chèvre cheese, herbed green olives, sun-dried tomatoes, Muenster cheese, Comté cheese, rosemary and olive oil Pili nuts, Saint-Félicien cheese, pickled garlic, and marinated mushrooms.
When putting together a French cheese board, there is almost an endless variety of different cheeses you could include. Go with three to four different kinds of cheeses, and then add a variety of fresh fruit, dried fruit, olives, nuts, pickles, sugar free jams (like sugar free strawberry jam!), low carb crackers, etc.
We have a whole post on How to Make a Cheese Board!
Or just go with one kind of cheese and pair it with charcuterie, olives, cornichons, and stone-ground mustard.
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