1 Amazing variety
France is home to an astonishing 1,000+ varieties of cheese. Every single one has something unique and individual to offer, with its own unique flavour and texture profiles. The French are proud to have invented all kinds of very different cheeses down the centuries, using sheep’s, goat’s and cow’s milk. As well as the the cheeses available all over the country, there are lots of regional specialities waiting for you in the towns and villages of the countryside.
2 Incredible quality
French cheesemakers use only the highest quality ingredients, creating some of the best quality cheeses. Many are seasonal – only made when the time, and the milk, is just right. For the French, life is too short to eat mediocre cheese.
3 An unbroken tradition
French cheesemaking can trace its history back beyond written histories, into the depths of medieval culture to Roman occupation and the very birth of agriculture in France. This incredible, unbroken tradition has been energetically defended, with recipes guarded and any change very slow to take place. Even World War Two, which decimated British artisan cheesemaking, couldn’t stop the production of French cheese.
4 Its highly regulated
France has strict regulations governing lots of things that we assume are up for grabs in the Anglo-world. Their language is policed by The Academie Francaise, a secretive society founded in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, and composed of 40 members, known as The Immortals! In 1994, the French government passed a law that said French radio stations must play at least 40% French music! Cheese production is governed by similarly stringent regulation. Which means no one can mess around with their cheeses, the quality is set in stone and production allowed by only a chosen few. On pain of death.
6 They have affineurs
A French affineur is someone who age or matures cheese to perfection. They get involved in the selection of the cheese, where and how it is stored often turning and washing certain cheeses to encourage new flavours and textures. They also taste the cheeses carefully, only releasing them when they are absolutely perfect.
7 The terroir
Terroir, or ‘landscape’ is the unique environment where a cheese is made. It also plays a role in its flavour, with whole areas of France becoming renowned for cheese of a certain type – hearty big-wheel cheeses from the Alpine regions, soft, goey delights from Normandy, and salty blues that emerge from the caves of Combalou near Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
French cheese is some of the very best - such variety, quality, authenticity and passion is rare to find anywhere else.