The French know their food. French cuisine is some of the best in the world, and the culinary history of France goes back hundreds of years. One of the finer points of French cuisine is the cheese.
France has a rich cheese-making history that is long, storied, and delicious. There are many different types of French cheese, each with its unique background, taste, and production method.
As a big fan of cheese, I decided to try as many different types of French cheese and figure out which of the most popular French cheeses were the best.
Check out these popular styles of French cheese and add them to your next cheese board!
Reblochon is a soft, creamy cheese that originates from the snowy French Alps.
This rich cheese is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and has a strong, pungent flavor.
The name of this cheese is a derivative of the word “reblocher,” which means “to pinch a cow’s udder again.”
The French started producing Reblochon in the 14th century, although many experts believe it is even older.
You can use Reblochon in gratins and tartiflette, and it pairs well with white wines with citrus notes.
Unfortunately, you cannot get Reblochon in the US because dairies do not pasture the milk before making the cheese.
But if you ever find yourself in France, give this phenomenal cheese a try.
Brie is a soft cheese that you make from cow’s milk. The French people from the province of Brie invented this cheese, hence its name.
Brie has a mild, buttery flavor and a smooth, creamy texture. The rind of Brie is edible and has a nutty flavor. It owes its richness to the high levels of butterfat used to make it.
Brie goes well with white and red wines, as well as Champagne. It can be enjoyed on its own or used in recipes such as Brie en Croûte (baked Brie wrapped in puff pastry).
One bite is all it takes to see why Brie is the most popular French cheese.
I love the smell of baked Brie and pairing this cheese with grapes, honey, walnuts, and apples is always a flavor sensation.
Pont l’Evèque is a soft, washed-rind cheese from France’s Normandy region.
It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and has a strong, pungent flavor.
The cheese is named after the town of Pont l’Evèque in Normandy, where the French first produced it.
Pont l’Evèque has a distinct smell that causes some people to shy away from it. However, I believe that the intense aroma indicates how delicious it is.
It is pretty similar to Brie but has a slightly mustier flavor. Pont l’Evèque is one of the most unique types of French cheese, but it pairs well with the typical French flavors.
Munster is a stinky and soft cheese with a delicate flavor. The French produce it in the Alsace region.
It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and has a strong, pungent taste.
The town of Munster in Alsace gave this cheese its name. Monks originally produced Munster cheese in the middle ages.
They aged the cheese in the basements of their monasteries and abbeys. Now, this cheese is made around the world, particularly in Scandinavian countries and Germany.
Munster has a strong flavor that is both earthy and nutty. It pairs well with white wines and beer.
Munster is often used in gratins and can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a cheese board.
Roquefort is a blue cheese born in the Roquefort-Sur-Soulzon region of France.
It is made from unpasteurized sheep’s milk and has a strong, salty flavor.
As the name suggests, the dairy that first produced Roquefort is outside the town of Roquefort-Sur-Soulzon.
Roquefort has a creamy texture and a tangy flavor. As with most French cheeses, it pairs well with red wines and can be enjoyed on its own or as part of a salad.
Roquefort is one of the most popular types of French cheese, and many consider it the king of French cheese.
Mont d’Or is a seasonal cheese best enjoyed in winter. This delicate and rich cheese comes from the Franche-Comté region of France.
It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and has a mild, nutty flavor. This cheese comes from the Monts d’Or mountain in the Franche-Comté region.
Mont d’Or is often eaten with a spoon because it is so soft. It pairs well with white wines and can be enjoyed on its own or with crunchy French bread.
I love warming it up and eating it like fondue. Dipping a piece of bread in warm Mont d’Or is heaven on earth!
Emmenthal is a hard, Swiss-style cheese that originated in the Emmental region of Switzerland.
It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and has a mild, nutty flavor. However, France produces similar types of cheese, and their history dates back just as far.
Emmenthal is a versatile cheese used in sweet and savory dishes. It pairs well with white wines and can be enjoyed on its own or melted down in a fondue.
Emmenthal is one of the most popular types of French cheese, but it’s also popular across the globe due to its subtle flavor.
Camembert is a moist, soft cow’s milk cheese. The French first produced it in the 18th century in the Normandy region of France, specifically in the town of Camembert.
You make it with unpasteurized cow’s milk, which has a mild, earthy flavor.
Camembert is quite similar to Brie but is not as rich and has a lower butterfat level.
The history of this cheese claims that the inventor presented it to Napoleon, who approved it.
I love sliced camembert with a crusty baguette and some fresh fruit. That bite is a pure delight.
Epoisses is a soft, stinky cheese first produced in the Burgundy region of France.
You can make it from either raw or pasteurized milk. I prefer the raw milk version because it is richer and has a more robust flavor.
The cheese gets its name from the town of Epoisses in Burgundy, where the French first produced it.
This cheese is incredibly soft, and it comes out of the box melty. Some companies even package it with a spoon due to how delicate it is. Traditionally, you serve this cheese with beer or red wine.
Blue cheese is my favorite type of cheese, and Bleu d’Auvergne might be my favorite French blue cheese.
Bleu d’Auvergne is a blue cheese from France’s Auvergne region. It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and has a sharp, tangy flavor.
This cheese has a strong flavor that some people find too intense. I love the sharpness and find it incredibly addicting.
Bleu d’Auvergne pairs well with port wines or with Bordeaux. Alternatively, you can enjoy it on its own or as part of a fresh salad.
Comté is a hard, Alpine-style cheese that emerged from the Franche-Comté region of France.
It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and has a mild and slightly sweet flavor.
This cheese comes from the Franche-Comté region, where French diaries first produced it.
Comté is a versatile cheese you can use in sweet and savory dishes. It pairs well with white wines and can be enjoyed on its own or melted down in a fondue.
I love eating it as part of a cheese board with nuts and some prosciutto or other cured meats.
Cantal is a hard, raw cow’s milk cheese that was first produced in the Auvergne region of France.
It has the distinction of being one of the oldest cheeses in France. Records indicate that it can trace its history back to the Gauls.
Cantal is a semi-hard cheese that needs to be aged to reach its optimal flavor. It has a robust nutty flavor with a tangy finish.
Younger cantal is sweeter and more buttery. I love melting it in a sandwich or using it in soups.
Fourme d’Ambert is a semi-hard, blue cheese from France’s Auvergne region.
It is made from raw cow’s milk and comes in iconic cylinders. It looks a bit like a log of salami before you cut it open.
The secret to this cheese is the aging process. You must age it at least 28 days for it to reach optimal flavor.
To make it safe for general consumption, dairies are beginning to make it with pasteurized milk.
I have tried both and prefer the raw milk version. It has a funkier taste and packs more of a punch than the pasteurized one.
Brocciu is a Corsican cheese made from the milk of sheep and whey. It has a creamy, slightly salty flavor.
The Corsicans have been making this cheese for centuries, and it is an essential part of Corsican culture.
Many people use Brocciu in sweet dishes. You can use it in place of ricotta or mascarpone if you’re looking for an alternative with less lactose.
I love using it in cannolis or as a spread on a piece of fresh baguette.
Bouton de Culotte
Bouton de Culotte is a soft goat’s milk cheese hailing from the Loire Valley region of France.
It gets its name from its shape, which resembles a pair of underwear. The cheese is coated in ash and has a smooth, creamy texture.
You can eat it at different stages, but it is best when it is aged and quite firm. Bouton de Culotte has a mild, slightly tangy flavor.
It pairs well with white wines, but I prefer to enjoy it on its own. The mild taste is easily overwhelmed by other flavors.
Mimolette is a hard, cow’s milk cheese from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.
It gets its name from its resemblance to a melon. The cheese is slightly orange and has a complex, crumbly texture.
Dairies age Mimolette for at least 12 months. The longer it is aged, the more intense the flavor becomes.
Young Mimolette tastes similar to Parmesan but develops more hazelnut flavor as it ages. I love eating it with a glass of high-quality red wine and a handful of nuts.
Maroilles is a washed-rind cow’s milk cheese from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.
It gets its name from the village of Maroilles. One of its more unique characteristics is that the cheese is square and has a reddish-brown rind.
Production dates back more than 1000 years, and it is a favorite of several French kings.
When it is young, Maroilles has a mild, slightly sweet flavor. As it ages, the flavor becomes more intense and pungent.
The rind is edible, but I prefer to avoid it. Maroilles pairs well with beer or a light red wine.
Ossau-Iraty is a sheep’s milk cheese from the Basque region of France.
It is creamy yet firm and has many small holes, similar to swiss cheese. It has a creamy texture and a nutty, slightly sweet flavor.
Diaries produce limited amounts of Ossau-Iraty cheese because of the specific production methods needed.
The milk must come from specific breeds of sheep that only eat in high mountain passes.
Ossau-Iraty is one of the rarest types of French cheese, and it is incredibly delicious. I love eating it with cured meats or with ripe figs.
It pairs well in both sweet and savory settings, and it can be enjoyed any time of the year.
Banon is a soft goat’s milk cheese from the Provence region of France.
It is wrapped in chestnut leaves and tied with raffia. The leaves give the cheese a unique flavor.
When it is aged, the dairy covers the cheese in salt, pepper, and vinegar before leaving the cheese to ferment.
The fermentation process gives Banon its distinct smell. However, this aging process also preserves the cheese, and it can last for years in storage.
I love this cheese’s sticky texture and savory and earthy taste. Eating Banon is an experience that every cheese lover should have at least once in their lives.
Saint Nectaire is a cow’s milk cheese from the Auvergne region of France. It has a soft, creamy texture and a delightful creamy color.
The cheese is relatively mild, with a hint of hazelnut. This cheese does not benefit significantly from aging, but it will pick up a more floral aroma as it ages.
Saint Nectaire is one of my favorite types of cheese. I love its delicate flavor and how it pairs with so many different types of food.
I often enjoy it with a simple baguette and a glass of red wine. I also like it with raw fruits and vegetables.
Pélardon is a traditional goat’s milk cheese from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.
It has a smooth, creamy texture and a mild, slightly tangy flavor. The cheese is aged for at least three months and develops a more intense flavor as it ages.
Aged Pélardon is quite fierce and tastes of honey and Brazil nuts.
Pélardon is one of the most complex cheeses I have ever had. When you enjoy this cheese, you are hit with a slightly sour taste when you first bite it, but the finish is salty and savory.
It is a cheese that I could eat all day. I like pairing it with crisp white wine and water crackers.
Cheese is one of life’s great pleasures. There are so many delicious types of French cheese, and I encourage you to explore them all. Try all of the most popular French cheeses, so you can decide for yourself whether they’re worth the accolades.
What is your favorite type of French cheese? Let me know in the comments below.
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