Upcoming visit to France...

Started by mtncheesemaker, March 25, 2012, 03:15:44 PM

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DH and I are going to France in April, first time. We are starting in Montpellier, in the south, where we have friends. Then heading to Normandy for several days; then back to Paris before coming home.
Does anyone have any particular cheese highlights to recommend?
I think the caves of Roquefort will be fairly close to where we'll be in Montpellier; wonder if they are worth visiting? I know that Camembert is made in Normandy; wonder if there are any particular sites there?
Any info greatly appreciated!

Cheese Head

Good question, plus I'm very envious!

In Montpellier, yes Roquefort caves are 100 km to the north and while not cheese, you will only be 150 km from Carcassonne to the SW, gorgeous and very touristy hill top castle town.

From Paris you do a day trip to Versailles (subway-train ride from Paris, go early to beat the rush) then make sure you go through the open air market en-route between the train station and the palace, sorry but I don't know if they are open. After the Palace you can also walk the grounds in behind and they had a nice reasonable garden rest.

For other ideas I'll try and ask a French friend at work.

PS: In Normandy, Rouen is gorgeous (& where Joan of Arc was sadly burnt).


I'm not sure where to go for cheese but I agree on the trip out to Versailles.  Springtime in the gardens is fantastic. 



Not sure if this would fit into your trip or not, but on David Lebovitz's (chef/foodwriter in Paris) website there are two interesting blogs about his trip to watch Comte being made.   Not sure if he was invited as a writer or if anyone can schedule a visit.  It might be too far from your scheduled route also.

Comte cheese making:

Comte ripening and tasting:

I will be very interested to hear about your trip.  My husband and I are planning to visit Paris and Normandy in October. 


Oh Pam, I am jealous (though in May I will be in the UK and then make cheese in the Galilee in Israel, what am I crying about?)

As Jeniffer suggested, David Lebovitz's blog is a FANTASTIC resource for France and particularly Paris. Him and I twitted a few times back and forth. I have his ice cream books which are by the way fantastic. I went to a few of his recommendations in Paris and they were great.

If you remember, I posted the cheese markets of Paris here about 2 years ago. They are not to be missed! Here is the old link:

More recently, I wrote a popular post on the site Quora about cheese shops in Paris. I put in some details such as addresses, website links etc.

You can't really escape cheese in France. I suggest not to spend too much time in Carfour, Monoprix, or Coop (their big-box supermarket chains) and instead go through farmer markets. Look at the local cheeses, observe how the local pick them up, smell and feel them and go for the most rustic and moldy one of the bunch...  See the order of the produce and sense the immense respect that these guys have for food. Avoid tourist traps.  Use the opportunity to consume some fresh raw milk cheese and maybe you'll finally get the chance to taste a REAL crottin de Chavingol, the way it was meant to be eaten. Take lots of photos! Can't wait to see what you come back with! I am so excited for you!



We had a random French cheesemaking couple traveling by horseback through the western USA stop by our house one night.  They make goat cheese, and we were invited to stay with them anytime....so we dream of it!

But, I would recommend going to good cheese shops in Paris, if you get the chance.  Whe we were living in the UK, we took day trips to Paris and I would go to these shops and ask to taste cheeses, then buy the ones I liked.  Then we'd buy some bread, some fruit, some wine, and have lovely picnics. 


If you read my Quora post, I think that my favorite is Androuet. It's actually probably the most important cheese shop in history. Pierre Androuet is the reason why cheese shops that carry cheese from all over the world even exist. He pioneered the in-store affinage cave 100+ years ago. They have two stores in Paris (including the original location). Having said that, grabbing a baguette in the nearest boulangerie, getting some veggies, cheeses and jambon in the farmer's market and eating it in a park bench is perfect.


Thank you all for the suggestions. (I love David Lebovitz's blog!)
I think the Comte is a bit out of the way, Jennifer, which is too bad as it is a favorite. I'm hoping to get to Camembert while in Normandy.
Yoav, I often look at your (and John's) photos of cheeses in Paris, and drool! I am looking forward to the original varieties of all those ones I try to make but have never tasted.
I'll post pics on my return.


Have yourself an amazing trip. France is gorgeous and I love Paris and Lyon. (Lyon is the REAL culinary capital of France).

The cheese shops in Paris are absolutely stunning (and also the gourmet and cheese departments in the department stores). The patisseries and boulangeries are nothing short of incredible. The farmers markets are charming; all the fruit, veggies, fish, meat and baked goods are arranged beautifully like soldiers, in neat piles and bright colors. Every tomato in that country get the attention it deserves. Fruits/veggie/meat tastes that way too! They just would not go for unripe, colorless, tastless, watery stuff as we do in this country. Not even in the cheapo supermarkets there.

Don't forget to visit some of the gourmet shops:
- Fauchon (get yourself a Café crème with croissant, tarte framboises or sandwich there, or stay  for lunch. Not cheap but an experience. They have these trifle type deserts that come in real glass with a lid. We love these glasses so every time we are in Paris we grab deserts and bring back the glasses. We use them at home as juice glasses but they have a cover!). The Fauchon shops are on both sides of place de madeleine.
- Maxim is just down the street. More of a restautant but you can buy some gourmet goods in there to take home. Department stores around town sell their stuff too. It used to be cool but now a little touristy. The canned goods are still worth it though.
- Comtesse du Barry. I load up on their canned paté collections. I get a year's supply every time as they have delicious terrines, patés, foie gras, confitures, jams, etc. Many of them come in a combination tasting gift sets (you get 12 cans with 12 different paté selections to try). It's great to bring for friends and our guests really love it whenever we host a wine and cheese night when we crack open a can of some Paté we brought from France. Fauchon also has the canned stuff like this (go to their store on the corner from the restaurant). Many cheese shops and department stores carry the stuff too.
- Maille - if you like mustrard, you must be familiar with this brand! They have a wonderful shop in Paris where you can find doezens of combinations and new experimental and limited edition Maille mustards! (for example, we last got their chantarel mushrooms and white wine mustard, their Tarragon mustard, chablis mustard and a mustard mayonnaise).  They have MUSTARD ON TAP!!! I kid you not!  You get these cool little stoneware jars there and they fill it with the mustard of your choice, cap it with cork and pack it beautifully for you.  When you run out of mustard, come back with the stoneware and you get free refills! (we are so cheap, we send a friend over with our jar ho happens to be in Paris for work often)

And then of course, you must visit E.Dehillerin - probably the most famous cookware shop in the world (been there for almost 200 years). Amazing (very expensive but very inspiring).  Have you seen the movie Julie and Julia? (Meryl Streep plays Julia Child!)

Have fun!


Thanks for those suggestions, Yoav! I'l love to get to that cookware shop, one of my weaknesses. And the pate, OMG! Can't wait to see and taste it all.

heather s

Pam, it'll be great to hear how you got on?

I'm heading over to France shortly too - and looking for advice on cheeses to seek out (and cheese makers) and cheesy places. But I'll be in the south - from around Bordeaux, Toulouse, Cahors and area. I'd absolutely be over the moon if anyone can recommend places to go to see good cheese being made, or even just cheeses to eat  :P

It looks like I'll volunteer for a week or so at a small family farm that makes goats cheese (found them on WWOOF France), so hoping to learn a bit from that - but then have another few days during which I'll have a car and happy to make tracks around to find good cheese. I've never been to this part of France so a bit of a blind visit.

Thanks a lot to anyone who can help educate me.
All the best,


I can probably help. Have you gone on your visit yet?


Sorry it has taken me so long to report back on our trip to France! It took me a few weeks to recover (felt like I was in a daze, in a good way), then life intruded and etc...
Overall, the trip was fabulous: what's not to love? The country was gorgeous, the people friendly, and the food to die for. We especially loved the Normandy region, as we both love seafood and don't really get the fresh kind here in Colorado. If you're a history buff at all, the WW2 period is preserved there and worth a visit.
I must mention the wonderful hard cider in this area. I'm definitely going to make a batch or 2 this year. Also, I was surprised at how inexpensive the wine was.
The only actual cheese "making" that we saw was the caves in Roquefort, which was a bit touristy, but fun anyway.
But, as Yoav said, there is cheese everywhere. I really loved the town markets, where we found some farmstead cheese producers. There were lots of sheep's milk cheeses in the southern area where we started out, and the cheese makers also sold fresh yoghurt and raw milk from their stands. I didn't taste a cheese that I didn't like, but I'm easy to please.
I think my favorite was a slightly aged goat cheese, sold in a market in Bayeux by the maker. He had chevre cheeses that were fresh, aged a bit and aged a lot. The aged ones had a bit of blue and grey molds but they didn't taste "bluey". I liked the idea that he just made basically this one cheese type but that there was all this variation by how long it was aged. I also realized how much more attention I need to pay to my humidity issues. The aging container has so many limitations and I am going to really try and watch the moisture levels.
Paris was fun for 3 days. I'm not a city person, but I enjoyed walking around and seeing the sights. I loved the mustard shop and the tea store, and how old everything is!
Next time we're going to rent a house for a bit so that we can eat more from the markets.
Anyway, I've been missing the forum, and hearing about everyone's trials and tribulations, questions and solutions, but mostly all the successes, and the great community here.
Nice to see you all here and I look forward to hearing more "Adventures in Cheese Making"!