List of French cheeses
This is a list of cheeses from France. Traditionally, there are from 350 to 400 distinct types of French cheese grouped into eight categories 'les huit familles de fromage'. There can be many varieties within each type of cheese, leading some to claim closer to 1,000 different types of French cheese. In 1962, French President Charles de Gaulle was famously quoted as saying "Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage?" ("How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?")
Protected designation of origin
Under the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union, certain established cheeses, including many French cheeses, are covered by a protected designation of origin (PDO), and other, less stringent, designations of geographical origin for traditional specialities, such as the French appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system, the Italian denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system, and the Spanish Denominación de origen system.
A complete list of agricultural products with an EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), or Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), listed alphabetically by nation, is at the Europa Agriculture site.
French cheese production is classified under four categories, and PDO/AOC rules dictate which category(ies) each protected cheese may be assigned to:
- Fermier: A farmhouse cheese, which is produced on the farm where the milk is produced.
- Artisanal: A producer producing cheese in relatively small quantities using milk from their own farm, but may also purchase milk from local farms.
- Coopérative: A dairy with local milk producers in an area that have joined to produce cheese. In larger coopératives quantities of cheese produced may be relatively large, akin to some industriel producers (many may be classed as factory-made).
- Industriel: A factory-made cheese from milk sourced locally or regionally, perhaps all over France (depending on the AOC/PDO regulations for specific cheeses).
56 cheeses are classified, protected, and regulated under French law. The majority are classified as Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC), the highest level of protection. Some are also protected under the less stringent but still legally regulated designation Label Régional (LR). A few French cheeses are protected under the European Union's Protected Geographic Indication designation (PGI). Many familiar generic types, like Boursin, are not covered. It may come as a surprise to see varieties of Emmental cheese protected as a French cheese. This list differs from those of AOC status.
Popular French cheeses
- Camembert (AOC)
- Brie de Meaux (AOC)
- Roquefort (AOC)
- Reblochon (AOC)
- Munster (AOC)
- Pont l'Évêque (AOC)
- Époisses (AOC)
- Tomme de Savoie (AOC)
- Brie de Bourgogne (AOC)
AOC = protected by the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée
Other French cheeses
- Pictures Gallery of French Cheese (and some others)
- Pictures and detailed information on French Cheese