Ah, Paris… They may call it the City of Love or the City of Light, but we’d wager it’s really the City of Cheese.
There’s nothing more romantic than a perfectly put-together cheese board accompanied by a baguette tradition and a bottle of wine. Whether you’re sharing with a partner or treating yourself to some well-deserved epicurean indulgence, the fromageries of Paris are here to help!
No, it’s not a cliché. France is really serious about their cheese. According to a 2013 report by the International Dairy Federation, the average French person eats about 25.9 kg of cheese annually. Most neighborhoods will have at least one (if not two) fromageries catering to its residents, and even the cheese aisle at the supermarket offers an impressive range of traditional cheeses at a variety of price points.
Nonetheless, if you’re serious about investigating the best cheeses that France has to offer, take to the streets to consult the experts.
Tips for shopping for cheese in Paris
First things first: do not touch the cheese. We repeat, do not touch the cheese.
In France, cheese is elevated to an art unto itself—you wouldn’t touch the paintings in the Louvre, would you? Instead, take a gander at the tomes on offer until a fromager comes to assist you.
If you already have an idea of what you’d like to buy, speak up; otherwise, you can ask for their professional recommendation. It’s good to have in mind whether you prefer mild or strong cheeses, however, as you won’t want to go home with a bold Camembert if you prefer the gentle flavors of a Brie. Don’t forget to let them know when you’ll be feasting on your cheese, as they’ll want to select an item ripened to perfection.
If you’re staying in town for a while, do as the Parisians do and purchase a small hunk of cheese at a time. Rather than filling your fridge with all the cheese you imagine you’ll eat in the week, opt for small daily shops. Not only will you avoid food waste, but you’ll be able to tune into the daily whims of your palate and try even more varieties of French cheese.
If you’re keen to build the cheeseboard of your dreams, your fromager might have some suggestions. Try to maintain a balance between soft and hard cheeses, and don’t be afraid to include at least one stronger option like a Roquefort.
Ready to eat? Wait! Don’t eat cheese straight from the fridge! Remove your cheeses from both the fridge and their wrappings, and arrange them on your platter for at least half an hour before serving to really taste the full flavor.
Looking for recommendations beyond your quartier’s fromagerie? Don’t miss out on some of these great cheese shops in Paris.
Fromagerie Laurent Dubois
Awarded the prestigious title of “Meilleur Ouvrier de France,” the country’s highest honor for craftsmanship, Laurent Dubois is committed to artisanal French cheeses. Looking for a recommendation? Ask a knowledgeable fromager, but we usually head straight for the aged Comté or their signature Roquefort layered with quince. If you’d like to take a piece of Paris home, ask the staff to vacuum-pack your purchase to avoid perfuming your entire suitcase with Eau de Camembert during a long-haul flight.
Henri Androuet’s Paris fromagerie opened its doors in 1909 and has been providing Parisians with the finest cheeses ever since. Working exclusively with raw milks and traditional techniques, Androuet even ripens their cheeses in a cellar under the shop. Opt for crowd-pleasers like Comté, Saint Nectaire and Brie de Meaux, but keep an eye open for the creamy Charolais or an aged Brie Noir. Androuet boasts over seven shops in the Paris metro region, as well as outposts in the United Kingdom and Sweden.
Feel like casually bumping into Catherine Deneuve on her grocery run or eating the same cheese served at the Élysée? Start shopping at Fromagerie Barthélémy (51 rue de Grenelle). A stone’s throw from Musée Maillol in the chic 7th arrondissement, Nicole Barthélémy’s petite boutique is packed to the ceiling with cheeses aged to perfection. Whether you’re looking for a creamy Mont D’Or or an earthy Saint Nectaire, Fromagerie Barthélémy will have what you’re looking for—or something even better.
La Laiterie de Paris
Once you have the classics covered, head north to Pierre Coulon’s La Laiterie de Paris in the Goutte D’Or. Part boutique, part workshop, La Laiterie de Paris is the first fromagerie to transform raw milk into their sought-after products on site.
Looking for tasty inspiration? Follow their Instagram for unique new offerings like chèvre frais topped with za’atar, hazelnuts, date syrup, and chopped beets, and the occasional selfie with the Employees of the Month—the cows and goats themselves.
Taka et Vermo
Part of the new wave of artisanal boutiques popping up along rue du Faubourg Saint Denis, Taka et Vermo opened in 2015 to offer Parisians a bold selection of fresh, seasonal cheeses. Mixing traditional favorites like Cantal, Morbier and Saint-Félicien with chèvre frais encrusted with candied yuzu or Japanese sansho pepper, Taka et Vermo have about 200 specialities waiting for you.
If you couldn’t tell, we’re pretty serious about our cheese here in Paris. If you want to get in on the action, come along on our Ultimate Paris Food Tour, where we visit one of our favorite fromageries in the Marais!
Lauren Sarazen is a Paris-based writer and graduate student in literature at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle. Falling in love with the French capital during her semester abroad, she has called Paris her home since 2014. She contributes to publications such as The Washington Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Shondaland, and intermittently blogs at her website.