The cheese board at the famous Le Pebre d'Ail restaurat in Lauris, near Marseille.

The cheese board at the famous Le Pebre d’Ail restaurat in Lauris, near Marseille.

Charles de Gaulle said famously, “How can you hope to govern a country that has more types of cheese than days of the year?” The French just love their cheese and even if you are not happy shopping, or detest supermarkets, its worth popping into a French supermarket and seeing not only the variety of cheeses on offer, but also the amount of acreage given over to cheese.

Traditionally, there are from 350 to 450 distinct types of French cheese grouped into eight categories ‘les huit familles de fromage’. There can be many varieties within each type of cheese, leading some to claim closer to 1,000 different types of French cheese.

So, what’s the Top 10?

Camembert (AOC)
Brie de Meaux (AOC)
Roquefort (AOC)
Boursin
Reblochon (AOC)
Munster (AOC)
Pont l’Évêque (AOC)
Époisses (AOC)
Chèvre
Tomme de Savoie (AOC)

*AOC denotes that is in a protected class. Chèvre = goat’s cheese.

Etiquette note: Cheese is expensive and if you’re dining with French friends, dont tuck in as though there will never be a chance to eat cheese again – eat delicately, sip your red wine (Sacre Bleu! No port with cheese in France), and chat about the delicious flavours. In France, cheese is served between the main course and dessert and aften with a small green salad.

 

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