10 Most Popular Cheeses Originated in France

Top 10 Most Popular France Cheeses - Cheese Origin

Bonjour cheese lovers! Welcome to our journey into the heart of France, a country where cheese is not just food, but a way of life. With over 1,000 varieties to its name, France is a veritable paradise for cheese aficionados. From the soft and creamy Camembert to the bold and pungent Roquefort, French cheeses are as diverse as they are delicious.

This post will take you on a tantalizing tour through the top 10 most popular cheeses in France, each with its own unique flavor, texture, and story to tell. So, grab your baguette, pour yourself a glass of wine, and get ready to delve into the rich, creamy world of French fromage. Bon appétit!

CheeseShort DescriptionTasting Profile
Brie de MeauxKnown as the ‘King of Cheeses’, Brie de Meaux is a soft cheese with a creamy texture.Mild, yet deeply satisfying flavor that pairs well with fruits and nuts.
RoquefortA blue-veined cheese known for its strong flavor and crumbly texture.Sharp, tangy taste that is excellent with sweet wine or fruit.
CamembertA soft, creamy cheese often enjoyed warm for its gooey interior.Earthy flavor that pairs well with apples and a crisp baguette.
CantalA hard cheese with a robust, tangy flavor that sharpens with age.Slightly tangy, buttery flavor that goes well with full-bodied red wines.
ComtéProduced in the French Alps, this cheese has a complex, nutty flavor.Depending on its age, Comté can be mildly sweet or slightly salty. It pairs well with dry white wines.
ReblochonA semi-soft cheese with a delicate, creamy texture.Subtly sweet, nutty flavor that pairs excellently with light red wines.
Buche de ChevreA log-shaped goat cheese known for its tangy flavor and smooth, creamy texture.Its exterior is often coated with ash or herbs, enhancing its tangy, slightly acidic flavor. Pairs well with crisp white wines.
Fromage FraisA fresh, creamy cheese similar to yogurt.Mild, slightly tart flavor. Enjoy it with fruit or use it in cooking.
VacherinA seasonal cheese with a very creamy texture.Mild, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with fruity white wines or light red wines.
Tomme de SavoieA semi-firm cheese from the French Alps and the Pyrenees.Grassy, nutty flavor with a slight tang. It pairs well with medium-bodied red wines.

1. Brie de Meaux

Brie de Meaux
  • Milk Type: Cow’s Milk
  • Taste: It has a mild yet deeply satisfying flavor with hints of mushrooms and a slight nuttiness.
  • Texture: Brie de Meaux is a soft cheese with a creamy texture and an edible white rind.
  • Food Pairing: Pairs well with fruits like apples and pears, nuts, and a fresh baguette.
  • Wine Pairing: Works excellently with Champagne or a light-bodied red wine like Beaujolais.
  • Read in-depth guide

Brie de Meaux, often referred to as the “King of Cheeses,” is a distinctive French brie hailing from the Brie region. Renowned for its rich, buttery flavor, this soft, raw cow’s milk cheese is characterized by undertones of mushrooms, truffles, and almonds. Its creamy texture and bloomy rind further enhance its unique taste profile.

Produced in select areas of Ile-de-France, this exceptional cheese is a designated AOC product since 1980. Whether you’re enjoying it on its own or pairing it with a fresh glass of Champagne, Brie de Meaux is sure to offer an exquisite gastronomic experience.

2. Roquefort

  • Milk Type: Sheep’s Milk
  • Taste: Known for its sharp, tangy, and salty taste.
  • Texture: This is a crumbly and moist blue cheese with distinct blue veins.
  • Food Pairing: Excellent with sweet accompaniments like honey or figs, or on a salad.
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with sweet wines like Sauternes or robust reds like Cabernet Sauvignon.
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Roquefort, fondly known as the ‘cheese of kings and popes,’ is a celebrated French blue cheese that boasts a rich history and an even richer flavor. Crafted from fresh, unpasteurized sheep’s milk, Roquefort is distinguished by its striking blue veins, a result of the Penicillium mold.

This cheese presents a white, creamy, and slightly moist texture, crumbly yet soft, with the distinctive blue-green veins lending it a sharp tanginess. The flavor is robust and complex, combining a unique blend of saltiness, creaminess, and a hint of butyric acid.

Aged exclusively in the natural, humid caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, this cheese offers an unparalleled gastronomic experience, making it a favorite among cheese connoisseurs worldwide.

3. Camembert

  • Milk Type: Cow’s Milk
  • Taste: It has a rich, buttery, and slightly earthy flavor.
  • Texture: Camembert is a soft and creamy cheese that becomes gooey when warmed.
  • Food Pairing: Pairs well with apples, cranberries, or on a warm baguette.
  • Wine Pairing: Works excellently with a medium-bodied red wine like a Bordeaux or a crisp cider.
  • Read in-depth guide

Camembert, a true culinary delight from Normandy, France, is a soft cheese that has captivated palates worldwide. Originating in the late 18th century, this cheese is often likened to Brie, but with its own unique character. Its young form offers a sweet, milky taste that evolves into a rich, buttery flavor as the cheese matures.

The interior becomes smooth and runny, encased in a bloomy, ivory-colored rind. This classic cow’s milk cheese, whether baked or served fresh, presents complex earthy flavors and aromas that make it a gourmet staple. Camembert, with its creamy texture and lush taste, is indeed a testament to the art of French cheesemaking.

4. Cantal

  • Milk Type: Cow’s Milk
  • Taste: Offers a robust, tangy flavor that becomes sharper with age.
  • Texture: Cantal is a semi-hard cheese with a firm, crumbly texture.
  • Food Pairing: Goes well with rye bread and pickles, or grated over salads and pastas.
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with full-bodied red wines like Merlot or Syrah.
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Hailing from the scenic mountains of Auvergne in central France, Cantal is a firm, uncooked cheese that holds the distinction of being one of Europe’s oldest cheeses. With a natural rind and a firm texture, this cheese is crafted from cow’s milk and comes in two distinct types.

Its flavor profile is subtle yet complex, offering a pure taste of its terroir. As it ages, Cantal develops a distinctive character, making it a favorite among cheese enthusiasts. Whether you’re enjoying it on a cheese platter or integrating it into your culinary creations, Cantal promises a delightful journey of taste and tradition.

5. Comté

  • Milk Type: Cow’s Milk
  • Taste: It has a complex, nutty flavor that can vary from mildly sweet to slightly salty based on its age.
  • Texture: Comté is a hard cheese with a firm and dense texture.
  • Food Pairing: Excellent with fruits like grapes and figs, or melted in fondue.
  • Wine Pairing: Goes well with dry white wines like Chardonnay or light red wines like Pinot Noir.
  • Read in-depth guide

Comté, a gem from the Jura Massif region of Eastern France, is a semi-hard cheese renowned for its versatility and rich flavor profile. Made from unpasteurized cow’s milk, primarily from Montbeliarde Cattle, this cheese undergoes a meticulous process of pressing and scalding curds, resulting in a firm, golden-yellow to brown rind.

Its taste is as distinctive as its production, offering a palette of flavors that can be sweet or savory, depending on its age. Comté pairs well with various wines and beers, making it the ‘little black dress’ of cheeses. With the highest production among all French cheeses, Comté is indeed a testament to a thousand years of artisanal cheesemaking.

6. Reblochon

  • Milk Type: Cow’s Milk
  • Taste: It has a subtly sweet, nutty flavor with a hint of creaminess.
  • Texture: Reblochon is a semi-soft cheese with a delicate, creamy texture.
  • Food Pairing: Pairs well with potatoes and bacon in the traditional dish Tartiflette, or with fresh fruits and bread.
  • Wine Pairing: Works excellently with light red wines like Beaujolais or white wines from the Savoie region.
  • Read in-depth guide

Reblochon is a French delicacy that hails from the Alpine region of Haute-Savoie. This soft, washed-rind and smear-ripened cheese is crafted from raw cow’s milk, offering a unique taste experience. The word ‘Reblochon’ itself hints at its traditional production method, translating roughly to ‘re-pinch the cow’s udder’, a nod to its history as a tax-dodging exercise.

When ripe, this smallish cheese collapses to about an inch, presenting a cream-to-rose blush surface that oozes with beautiful aromatics and flavors. Whether it’s melted in a special brazier for ‘Reblochonnade’ or used in the delectable dish of Tartiflette, Reblochon cheese offers a rich, scrumptious taste that transports you straight to the mountains of France.

7. Buche de Chevre

Buche de Chevre
  • Milk Type: Goat’s Milk
  • Taste: Known for its tangy, slightly acidic flavor, often enhanced by an ash or herb coating.
  • Texture: Buche de Chevre is a soft cheese with a smooth, creamy texture.
  • Food Pairing: Pairs well with fresh fruits, honey, or on a crisp cracker.
  • Wine Pairing: Goes well with crisp white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or light reds like Pinot Noir.
  • Read in-depth guide

Buche de Chevre, a culinary delight from the Loire Valley’s Poitou-Charentes region in central France, is an exquisite soft-ripened cheese crafted from goat’s milk. The cheese features an ivory-colored center encased by an edible white bloomy rind, which is handcrafted and ages for two months to develop its unique attributes.

As it matures, Buche de Chevre undergoes a textural transformation, becoming softer and creamier beneath the rind while maintaining a dense core. Its flavor is a delightful medley of tangy, herbaceous notes with a hint of citrus overtones. Whether enjoyed on a cheeseboard or paired with a crisp white wine, Buche de Chevre promises a rich and tangy gastronomic adventure.

8. Fromage Frais

Fromage Frais
  • Milk Type: Cow’s Milk
  • Taste: It has a mild, slightly tart flavor, similar to yogurt.
  • Texture: Fromage Frais is a fresh, creamy cheese with a smooth texture.
  • Food Pairing: Excellent as a spread on bread, mixed with fruit, or used in cooking.
  • Wine Pairing: Pairs well with light white wines like Muscadet or sparkling wines.
  • Read in-depth guide

Fromage Frais, a delightful French dairy product, is akin to cream cheese but with a twist. This fresh, creamy white cheese is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and cream, offering a light, silky texture that’s a joy to the palate. Unlike other cheeses, Fromage Frais is not aged, giving it a mild, slightly tart flavor that makes it versatile in both sweet and savory dishes.

Whether it’s dolloped on fresh fruit, used in baking, or spread on crusty bread, this cheese offers a refreshing taste that’s both indulgent and guilt-free due to its low fat content. Fromage Frais is a testament to the beauty of simplicity in the world of cheeses.

9. Vacherin

Vacherin Mont d’Or
  • Milk Type: Cow’s Milk
  • Taste: Offers a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
  • Texture: Vacherin is a soft cheese with a very creamy, almost liquid texture when ripe.
  • Food Pairing: Excellent with potatoes or bread, or spooned straight from the box.
  • Wine Pairing: Works well with fruity white wines like Gewurztraminer or light red wines like Beaujolais.

Vacherin is a sumptuous cheese that hails from the border region between France and Switzerland. It comes in two distinct varieties: Vacherin Mont d’Or, a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth winter cheese, and Vacherin Fribourgeois, a firm, flavorful variety used in fondue.

Vacherin cheeses are typically encased in a spruce bark wrap, which imparts an earthy, woody note to the cheese’s flavor profile. The texture can range from semi-soft to creamy depending on the type and age of the cheese. With its rich, complex flavors and unique presentation, Vacherin offers a singular cheese experience that leaves a lasting impression on the palate.

10. Tomme de Savoie

Tomme de Savoie
  • Milk Type: Cow’s Milk
  • Taste: It has a grassy, nutty flavor with a slight tang.
  • Texture: Tomme de Savoie is a semi-firm cheese with a dense, smooth texture.
  • Food Pairing: Pairs well with charcuterie, pickles, or on a hearty bread.
  • Wine Pairing: Goes excellently with medium-bodied red wines like Grenache or white wines from the Savoie region.
  • Read in-depth guide

Hailing from the picturesque French Alps, Tomme de Savoie is a semi-firm, raw cow’s milk cheese that celebrates the rustic charm of its mountainous terroir. This cheese is unique in its creation, using skimmed milk left after the cream has been drained for butter-making.

It exhibits a distinctive gray rind speckled with yellow and red spots, encasing a golden paste with tiny holes. The flavor profile is complex yet comforting, blending notes of wet straw, dried fruit, earthy mushrooms, and fresh milk. Tomme de Savoie is a farmhouse-style cheese that offers a tangy, grassy bite, adding a touch of the French countryside to your cheeseboard.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it – a tantalizing tour of the top 10 most popular cheeses in France. From the creamy, nutty notes of Comté to the robust and pungent Roquefort, we’ve explored an array of flavors that truly embody the French love for cheese.

Each cheese on this list offers a unique taste of French culture and culinary tradition, telling a story of regional landscapes, time-honored production methods, and generations of cheesemaking expertise. Whether you’re a seasoned cheese connoisseur or just starting your fromage journey, we hope this guide has inspired you to explore the rich, diverse world of French cheeses.

Remember, the best way to appreciate these delicacies is to savor them slowly, paired with good wine and great company. So, go ahead and indulge in the sublime pleasures of French fromage. Bon appétit!

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