France Facts: There are eight cheese families in France

France Facts: There are eight cheese families in France
It's well known that there is a lot of cheese in France and that French people in general are fond of cheese, but did you know about the cheese 'families'?

No, these aren't families who survive all year round on nothing but cheese (although that does sound like an appealing lifestyle) it's the families that the cheeses themselves belong to.

There are hundreds of different cheeses in France, nobody can quite agree on a number, since many cheeses have regional variations of the same basic recipe, but its generally agreed to be over a thousand.

Certainly a lot more than former president Charles de Gaulle's famous quote on the subject: “Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays où il existe 246 variétés de fromage?” (How can anyone govern a nation that has 246 different kinds of cheese?).

But one thing that is agreed is that there are eight different types of cheese, known in French as familles de fromages – cheese families.

And they are;

  • Fresh cheese, such as cottage cheese or the soft white fromage blanc
  • Soft ripened cheese, such as Camembert or Brie
  • Soft ripened cheese with a washed rind, such as l'Epoisses or Pont l'Eveque
  • Unpasturised hard cheese such as Reblochon or saint Nectaire
  • Pasturised hard cheese such as Emmental or Comté
  • Blue cheese such as Roquefort 
  • Goat's cheese
  • Melted or mixed cheese such as Cancaillot

A good cheeseboard in France is generally considered to consist of at least three families – a soft cheese, a hard cheese and either a blue or a goat's cheese.

Read our full guide to the complex cheese etiquette of France.



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