Skip to Content

20 French Cheeses You Should Absolutely Gorge on in France

Sharing is caring!

This website may contain affiliate links and advertising so that we can provide recipes and guides at no additional cost to you. Learn more

Be it with a velvety red, spread on a warm slice of crusty bread, or melted inside a flaky pastry, these iconic French cheeses are an absolute must-try for cheese lovers, passionate foodies, and just anyone who loves good food when visiting or traveling through France.

Saddle up for a journey of sheer indulgence across the breadth of the country as I speak to all your senses with insight into the aromas, flavors, production, and heavenly pairings of 20 of the country’s most indulgent and beloved cheeses.

French Cheeses

Cooked Pressed Cheeses

1. Comté

Comté cheese
Elena Dijour/Shutterstock

Comté is made in Jura, a region of medium-sized mountains. Four hundred liters of milk are necessary to produce a cheese wheel weighing around 40kg (about 88 pounds).

The cheese earned EU Protected designation of origin (AOP in French) status in 1996, and every day, Comté AOP is made by hand in about 140 village cheese dairies, also called “fruitières.”

From there, Comté AOP heads to one of the 14 specialized ripening houses. Their cellars, often spectacular to behold, shelter the Comté wheels in silence and darkness throughout their maturation. Comté must mature for at least 4 months and up to 24 months or more – yes, it takes time to develop its extraordinary taste!

Comté is characterized by its astonishing aromatic richness. From the chic pear-serrano-Comté appetizer to the peppers, olives, and Comté cake passing by the vegetable velouté with walnuts and Comté, there are a thousand ways, and more, to enjoy this delicious cheese across France!

2. Beaufort

Beaufort cheese
page frederique/Shutterstock

Beaufort is a cheese from the high mountains of Savoie. There are several types of Beaufort: Beaufort, Summer Beaufort (made with summer milk), and Beaufort Chalet d’alpage (made in alpine chalets at over 1500m, with milk from a single herd).

Beaufort, made from raw whole milk, is renowned for its incomparable taste. Its texture is firm on the palate, then melts and reveals subtle aromas.

Beaufort will sublimate sandwiches, and in the kitchen, it will add a fruity note to the simplest dishes such as plates of pasta or rice, soups, salads, omelets, gratins, and pies – oh, and not forgetting the famous Savoyard fondue, which uses 100% Beaufort cheese!

3. Emmental de Savoie

Emmental de Savoie cheese and two glasses of white wine.
barmalini/Shutterstock

Emmental is a cheese of Swiss origin but is the main cheese produced in France. Two French Emmentals are protected by a PGI (protected geographical indication): the East-Central French Emmental and Emmental de Savoie.

With 1,000mg of calcium per 100g of cheese, Emmental de Savoie is one of the richest cheeses in calcium. Emmental de Savoie has the particularity of having the lowest salt content of all Emmentals: 0.3 g per 100 g of cheese, a virtue linked to the specificities of its terroir and its long maturation.

In whole or grated form, Emmental de Savoie is a delight for gourmets and gourmands alike. It is perfect in a salad or to top a gratin!

Uncooked pressed cheeses 

4. Reblochon

Reblochon cheese
photosimysia/Shutterstock

Reblochon is the most popular cheese of the Alpine region of Savoie. It even dates back to approximately the 13th century.

Its name comes from the term “Re-blocher,” literally meaning “to milk a second time.” Indeed, the milk of Reblochon is issued from a second milking, which gives Reblochon its typical creamy texture. 

Reblochon is well-known for its use in Tartiflette. The name of this winter recipe comes from “Tartifla,” meaning “potato” in Savoyard. To prepare this traditional dish, you will need a good Reblochon, firm-fleshed potatoes, smoked lardons, onions, and a white wine from the Savoie region, such as Apremont.

For a tastier Tartiflette, I suggest you fry the potatoes in a pan with the smoked lardons before baking the dish. The result will be a beautiful Tartiflette with a golden-brown Reblochon. That’s the ideal hearty dish to enjoy after a day on the slopes!

5. Saint-Nectaire

Saint-Nectaire cheese
Miljan Zivkovic/Shutterstock

Saint-Nectaire is said to have been a huge favorite of Louis XIV, who even asked for the precious cheese to be transported to Versailles on donkeys! It is produced in the Cantal and Puy-de-Dôme departments.

Saint-Nectaire can be made from raw or pasteurized cow’s milk. It is a cheese particularly appreciated for its delicately nutty taste that goes very well with a light and fruity Côtes-du-Rhône wine. It also pairs nicely with a mineral and floral white wine from its region, such as the Côtes d’Auvergne.

Although it reigns supreme on cheese platters, Saint-Nectaire can be enjoyed on its own, in cubes, on toasts as an aperitif, or cooked in a variety of dishes. Served hot and melted as part of a raclette, with boiled potatoes and charcuterie? A real treat!

6. Cantal

Cantal cheese
Picture Partners/Shutterstock

Cantal is a cheese from the Massif Central, mainly produced in the Cantal department. In the 18th century, its detailed manufacturing process was described in the Encyclopedia of Alembert and Diderot. 

Made from raw or pasteurized cow’s milk, 400 liters of milk are needed to make a 40kg (88-pound) wheel with a 40cm (15.7 inches) diameter. Cantal has a uniquely firm texture due to the fact it is pressed twice, and the taste and flavor of the cheese evolve over time and maturation.

Commonly, Cantal Jeune is ripened from 30 to 60 days, Cantal Entre-Deux from 90 to 120 days, and Cantal Vieux ripened for more than 240 days, so whether you prefer milder or maturer cheese, there should be a Cantal to suit your taste.

Cantal is best enjoyed with a nut or cereal bread. As for a drink, white or red wine, light or dark beer, or even champagne are all great choices for this cheese.

7. Morbier

Morbier cheese
MagicBones/Shutterstock

Morbier was born in secrecy at the end of the 18th century in the Jura department (region). It is named after its commune of origin: Morbier.

Its characteristic ashy stripe that runs through the center comes from a tradition of the cheesemakers of the Jura mountains. They used to prepare the first cheese, cover it in soot, then leave it until the following day, before adding a second cheese, forming one singular cheese. Nowadays, however, a commercially produced edible vegetable ash is instead used to give the cheese its iconic darkened streak.

Known for its rich and creamy flavor, Morbier can be eaten all year round. It is often enjoyed as part of a cheese platter or on a nice slice of bread. It also goes very well with fruits or with a white wine from the Jura. It is a mild cheese that melts very well, so why don’t you try Morbier fried in breadcrumbs with a green salad?

Blue Cheeses

8. Roquefort

Roquefort cheese
Erhan Inga/Shutterstock

Roquefort was named “King of Cheeses” by the French philosopher Diderot. It is produced in the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the Aveyron department, in Southern France, in around 2km (1.2 miles) of underground galleries.

Roquefort is without doubt one of the most famous French cheeses outside of France. It fascinates as much as it repels, with its texture strewn with green spots of the edible mold Penicillium.

The most traditional way to enjoy Roquefort is to spread it delicately on a slice of fresh farmhouse bread and serve it with a glass of full-bodied red wine, such as a Marcillac. But Roquefort is also perfect as an ingredient of a mixed salad, a savory tart, or a sauce to accompany a good steak.

9. Fourme d’Ambert

Fourme d’Ambert cheese
barmalini/Shutterstock

Fourme d’Ambert has been made in Auvergne for over a thousand years. The cheese was granted the EU Protected designation of origin (AOP in French) status in 2006, and with almost 5,800 tonnes produced each year, today it is the 10th largest French AOP cheese in terms of volume.

Encased in a bluish-grey, stone-like rind, this protective layer is soft to the touch and gives off the subtle scent of the undergrowth. When cut, Fourme d’Ambert is a tender, shiny, ivory cheese with a supple and creamy texture. Its mild, round taste makes Fourme d’Ambert one of the mildest blue cheeses.

Fourme d’Ambert is a must on any cheese platter and is used by French chefs in a range of both sweet and savory dishes.

Soft Cheeses with a Bloomy Rind

10. Camembert

Camembert cheese
stoica ionela/Shutterstock

While visiting France, you simply have to taste what many believe is the most popular cheese in France, named after the village “Camembert,” in the Normandy region.

For a better experience, look for the AOP label, which guarantees you an authentic cheese made in the Normandy region, made with raw milk, and to very strict specifications.

Loved for its unique earthy, nutty, and fruity flavor with notes of mushroom, and that sumptuous creamy texture, Camembert is usually eaten with bread, ideally a well-baked baguette, and is often a key ingredient in many different sandwiches. Diced Camembert is also a great addition to a green salad with nuts.

Camembert is also great served hot. The easiest way to enjoy it is simply to grill it in the oven, in its box (without the paper!). Once the rind is pierced, you can enjoy the Camembert melted on fresh bread and a green salad!

Camembert de Normandie is best served with white wine or, for an authentic Norman experience, a glass of Norman raw cider.

11. Brie de Meaux

Brie de Meaux cheese
Alejandro J. Vivas/Shutterstock

Brie de Meaux is the most popular of the French brie cheeses. It is named after the town of Meaux, in the Brie region, in the metropolitan area of Paris. Brie cheese is said to date back to ancient times, even before Roman occupation.

Brie de Meaux is made from raw cow’s milk. Its taste is a subtle aroma of cream, butter, and hazelnut. The interior of the cheese is straw-yellow, creamy, and soft.

Brie de Meaux is used in many culinary specialties from the Brie region, such as galettes briardes, which are delicious shortbreads made with flour, butter, eggs, and Brie de Meaux.

12. Chaource

Chaource cheese and some berries on a plate.
Mycleverway/Shutterstock

Chaource comes from the village of Chaource located in the Grand-Est region. The first written evidence of local cheese-making in this area dates back to the 14th century. Marguerite of Burgundy, Queen of France through her marriage to King Louis X, was very fond of Chaource cheese and often demanded it at her table. This cheese was also presented to Charles IV, King of France, when he visited Chaource.

Chaource is best consumed between July and November. The cheese, salted with dry salt, is unctuous, supple, and quite firm at the same time. It has a slight mushroom-like scent and can develop fruity aromas, including hazelnut, with a light taste of fresh mushrooms.

As far as bread to eat it with is concerned, crunch is essential! Traditional French baguette combines a crunchy crust with a soft crumb and is a perfect pairing for Chaource. As for what to drink with it, with its intense, creamy, and foamy texture, bière blonde du Nord pairs harmoniously with Chaource.

Soft Cheeses with a Washed Rind 

13. Pont l’Evêque

Pont l’Evêque cheese.
page frederique/Shutterstock

Pont l’Evêque acquired its iconic square shape in the 17th century to differentiate itself from other cheeses from the Pays d’Auge (a natural area in Normandy), whose common ancestor was the Angelot. In 1622, the Norman poet Hélie Le Cordier wrote the following about it: “Everyone also loves it because it is made with so much art that, young or old, it is only cream.”

The cheese exists in 4 sizes: the Grand Pont-l’Évêque, the Pont-l’Évêque, the half Pont-l’Évêque and the small Pont-l’Evêque. Soft and creamy at the beginning of the maturing process and more intense with character at the end, Pont-L’Évêque can seduce all palates.

Served with a simple slice of farmhouse bread or a few dried figs, it is best enjoyed with a glass of chilled brut cider.

14. Maroilles

Maroilles cheese
page frederique/Shutterstock

Created in the 10th century by a monk of the Abbey of Maroilles, this cheese is made in the Thiérache region. It is considered the king of the cheeses of the North and one of the finest strong cheeses in France. 

Maroilles is made in a humid cellar, where it is matured for 3 to 5 weeks, during which it is brushed and washed with salted water. This is an important part of its production process that conditions the quality of the cheese and gives it its beautiful natural orange color, characteristic flavor, and unique aromas. 

Delicate palates should buy Maroilles in small sizes, which are generally milder, and the Maroilles pie is the perfect recipe for enjoying this cheese!

15. Mont d’Or 

Mont d’Or cheese
Stefi Panchesco/Shutterstock

Mont d’Or is produced in the Doubs department and is made from raw cow’s milk. It takes its name from the Mont d’Or in the Jura Mountains. It is produced between August and March and is, therefore, available for sale between September and May.

Mont d’Or is particularly runny, especially at the end of the maturing process. This is why it is traditionally wrapped with a spruce bark strap.

Mont d’Or is usually eaten spread on bread but can also be eaten hot. The cheese is traditionally baked in the oven, directly in its spruce bark, and served with a little white wine and some pieces of garlic, placed in a hole dug in the center of the cheese.

This dish, called mont d’Or chaud, or fondue au mont d’Or, can be enjoyed with country-style bread, potatoes, green salad, and regional charcuterie.

16. Munster

Munster cheese
Picture Partners/Shutterstock

Like many other kinds of cheese, Munster is of monastic origin, and its name may even be a deformation of the French word “monastère.”

Munster is made from cow’s milk, mainly in Lorraine and Alsace. It is matured in a humid cellar where its rind is regularly washed.

If it has its rightful place on a cheese platter, Munster is also a good ally in the kitchen to prepare tasty quiches, pies, or omelets.

Fresh Cheeses

17. Brocciu

Brocciu cheese
Foodpictures/Shutterstock

Brocciu is Corsica’s national cheese. At the end of the 19th century, the French poet Émile Bergerat wrote about Brocciu: “Whoever did not taste it does not know the Island.”

Brocciu is made from sheep’s and/or goat’s milk. Its particularly crumbly texture is due to the use of whey instead of milk. Its appearance and taste are slightly similar to those of its transalpine neighbor, Ricotta.

The most popular recipe that uses Brocciu is fiadone, a cheesecake originating from Corsica, made with Brocciu, eggs, sugar, organic lemon zest, and myrtle liqueur or brandy.

18. Faisselle

Faisselle cheese
slowmotiongli/Shutterstock

Faisselle is a very fresh, non-salted, and minimally drained cheese sold in its plastic mold. The name “faisselle” refers to the mold in which the curd is drained. Faisselle is made all over France by numerous manufacturers.

To produce faisselle, cow’s or goat’s milk is used, and more rarely ewe’s milk. It is a very white, crustless, and moist cheese with a very soft and fragile texture.

Faisselle is often eaten as a starter or dessert, either salted (with salt, pepper, chives, flat parsley, garlic, shallots, or olive oil) or sweetened (with sugar, jam, or honey). This versatile cheese can also be used in many other dishes, such as pies and cakes.

Goat Cheeses

19. Crottin de Chavignol

Crottin de Chavignol cheese
stefano carniccio/Shutterstock

The name “crottin” is said to come from the Berrichon word “crot.” The “crots” were the holes on the banks of the rivers in which the women used to wash their clothes. The clay soil that lined these “crots” was used to make cheese molds, called “Crottin.” As for the term “Chavignol,” it is the name of the village where the cheese originates, located near Sancerre.

Crottin de Chavignol is a small cheese made from raw, whole goat’s milk and is produced in most of the Cher department. The cheese is renowned for its very dense texture.

Crottin de Chavignol goes particularly well with white wines from the same region, such as Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé. This authentic cheese will also bring plenty of indulgence to a potato gratin!

20. Banon

Banon cheese
barmalini/Shutterstock

Banon cheese was born in a small medieval village located between two mountains, Lure and Mont Ventoux, in the region of Provence. In the Middle Ages, Banon was served at the table of the lords of the region. The harshness of the winter in the department of Alpes de Haute-Provence gave rise to the tradition of preserving the leftover cheese, a source of protein, in the leaves of chestnut trees.

Banon is made exclusively from raw, whole goat’s milk. It is matured in brown chestnut leaves, tied with a strand of natural raffia.

Banon is a great choice for a cheese platter but is also delicious in a risotto with cured ham and thyme. Not very mature, Banon is traditionally served with plenty of fruity white and red wines from the South-East. More mature, this cheese pairs perfectly with a Muscat de Beaume de Venise or a Rasteau doré.

French Cheeses Summary

No matter where your travels take you in France, you’re almost certainly bound to come across French cheese in some way, shape, or form. It has such an important role to play in French cuisine, and as this article shows, there’s a reason French cheeses are renowned and adored across the world.

While I’ve covered some truly delicious cheeses in the article, this really is only the tip of the iceberg. You could spend a lifetime in France trying cheese in so many different ways and never come close to enjoying it all.

However, these 20 iconic cheeses are a great place to start, and when you’re next in France, I urge you to try as many, if not all, of them as you can. You won’t regret it!

You Might Also Like to Read

Save and Pin for Later

Planning a trip to France soon? Don’t miss out on trying any of these cheeses by keeping this article for safekeeping on one of your Pinterest boards.

20 French Cheeses You Should Absolutely Gorge on in France

Authors

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

  • Marie Gauci is a French translator and content writer living in France, with a deep passion for French cuisine, travel, and culture.

Sharing is caring!