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Exploring the Unique Aromas of French Cheese: More Than Just a Stinky Delight

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Introduction to French Cheeses

French cheeses hold a special place in the hearts and palates of cheese enthusiasts worldwide. With a rich history and cultural significance, these cheeses reflect the diverse landscape and regional flavors of France. Artisan cheese making is a cherished tradition in the country, ensuring that the unique characteristics of each cheese are preserved and celebrated.

French cheese assortment

The Best French Cheeses

To truly appreciate the world of French cheeses, it is important to understand the different categories they fall into. From soft to hard, and even blue cheeses, there is something for everyone's taste.

Soft Cheeses

Brie, Camembert, and Chaource are some of the most popular soft French cheeses. Known for their creamy texture and mild flavor, these cheeses are perfect for spreading on a baguette or enjoying with fruit.

Semi-Soft Cheeses

Reblochon, Tomme de Savoie, and Munster are semi-soft cheeses that offer a slightly firmer texture and more robust flavors. These cheeses pair well with charcuterie and crusty bread.

Hard Cheeses

Comté, Beaufort, and Mimolette are hard French cheeses that are aged to develop complex flavors and a firm texture. Grate these cheeses over your favorite dishes or enjoy them with a glass of wine.

Blue Cheeses

Roquefort, Bleu d'Auvergne, and Fourme d'Ambert are blue cheeses that showcase the beauty of mold. These pungent and tangy cheeses are perfect for those who appreciate bold flavors.

Artisan Cheese Making

In France, artisan cheese making is a time-honored tradition. Traditional methods and raw milk are often used to create cheeses with distinct flavors and textures. This dedication to craftsmanship ensures that each cheese tells a unique story and represents the region from which it comes.

Unusual Names and Stories Behind Them

Some French cheeses have intriguing names and fascinating stories behind them, adding to their charm and appeal, which adds to their importance in the French food heritage.


Named after a small village in Burgundy, Epoisses is often referred to as the stinkiest cheese in the world. It was also said to be Napoleon's favorite cheese. Epoisses is washed in Marc de Bourgogne, a local brandy, giving it a pungent aroma and a distinctive flavor.


This semi-soft cheese, made from the milk of cows grazing on volcanic soil, was a favorite of King Louis XIV. The cheese is named after the town of Saint-Nectaire, which, according to legend, was named after a Roman general who converted to Christianity and became a hermit in the area.


Langres is a soft cheese with a distinctive appearance, featuring a sunken center that is perfect for pouring champagne or other sparkling wines. The cheese is named after the city of Langres in northeastern France, known for its historical and cultural significance.

french cheese pairing

Cheese Pairing

Pairing French cheeses with the right beverages can elevate your tasting experience to new heights.

Wine Pairings

Red and white wines can both be excellent partners for French cheeses. A bold red wine can complement the strong flavors of hard cheese, while a crisp white wine can bring out the delicate flavors of soft cheese.

Beer Pairings

Beer can also be a fantastic companion for French cheeses. The richness of a stout or the refreshing crispness of a pilsner can create delightful contrasts and harmonies with a variety of cheeses.

Cheese Tasting Tips

To make the most of your French cheese tasting experience, follow these helpful tips:

  • Allow cheese to reach room temperature before tasting for the best flavor and texture.

  • Taste cheeses in order of intensity, starting with the mildest and progressing to the strongest.

Cheese Shops in France

When visiting France, be sure to explore the local fromageries and specialty shops to discover the finest artisan cheeses. These establishments often have knowledgeable staff who can guide you in your cheese selection.

Storing and Enjoying Cheese at Home

To properly store and enjoy your French cheeses, keep these tips in mind:

Proper Storage

  • Store cheese in a cool, humid environment, such as a cheese cave or a designated area in your refrigerator.

  • Wrap cheese in cheese paper or wax paper to allow it to breathe while preventing it from drying out.

Serving Suggestions

  • Create a visually appealing cheese platter by including a variety of textures, colors, and shapes.

  • Add fruit, nuts, and crackers to enhance the tasting experience.


French cheeses offer a world of flavors and textures for you to explore. From the stinkiest to the most delicate, these cheeses have unique stories to tell and can be the centerpiece of a memorable culinary experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many types of French cheese are there?

There are over 1,000 types of French cheeses, each with its unique characteristics and flavors.

Why are French cheeses so famous?

French cheeses are renowned for their quality, craftsmanship, and diversity. The country's rich history and dedication to traditional cheese making contribute to its global appeal.

Are there any unpasteurized French cheeses?

Yes, many French cheeses are made using raw, unpasteurized milk, which imparts unique flavors and textures to the final product.

What is the best way to store French cheese?

French cheese should be stored in a cool, humid environment, such as a cheese cave or adesignated area in your refrigerator. Wrap the cheese in cheese paper or wax paper to allow it to breathe while preventing it from drying out.

How long can French cheese be stored?

The storage duration for French cheese varies depending on the type of cheese. Soft cheeses should be consumed within a week or two, while hard cheeses can last for several months if stored properly. Always check the cheese for signs of spoilage and follow any storage recommendations provided by the cheesemaker.

Embark on a journey through the fascinating world of French cheeses, and experience the rich history, culture, and flavors that make these cheeses so beloved. Whether you're enjoying a soft and creamy Brie, a pungent Roquefort, or a nutty Comté, the world of French cheese offers something for everyone to savor and appreciate.


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