Stock up on French Cheese on your next visit to France

Here is a handy guide to the types of French Cheeses that exist.  Perfect for understanding what to look for when taking your next ferry trip to France.

Types of French Cheese

There is no question that cheese is synonymous with France.  With about 400 different types of French cheeses you could easily say that France has the largest selection of cheese in the world, or at the very least they have the most variety.  There are several ways to classify the cheese that comes from France.  You can classify them by region, origin, type of milk used or even fat content.  However, France has their own system of classifying their French cheese and that is by categories.

There are eight families of French cheese to choose from.  They include:

Fresh Cheeses – These cheeses are white in colour and contain a lot of water.  Made from cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk these French cheeses are not aged.  Rather the curd is formed by adding lactic starter to the milk.  They are usually eaten separately or used in recipes and include Petit Suisse and Brousse.

Soft Cheeses with Natural Rind – Made from cow’s milk, these soft French cheeses have a white, almost floury surface.  Aged for approximately one month they include a lot of well known French cheeses such as Brie and Camembert.

Soft Cheeses with Washed Rind – Again made from cow’s milk, they are different because the rind is washed which prevents mould and gives the cheese a colourful rind.  The best known French cheeses from this group are Munster and Pont Leveque as well as other cheeses that are served on platters.

Pressed Cheeses – These types of cheese are put under pressure during processing which takes away some of the moisture of the cheese.  They are aged for several months whereas they are washed, brushed and turned to give a uniform look.  Two French cheeses in this group are Cantal, the oldest cheese in France, as well as Ossau-Iraty.

Pressed and Cooked Cheeses – Before going through the pressing process, the curd is heated for an hour.  Ripened over a long period of time, they are made mostly in the mountainous regions of France.  Two popular varieties include Emmental and Gruyere.

Goat Cheeses – Although some goat cheeses can be found in other categories, this category is devoted to the numerous goat cheeses that are available.  With over 100 varieties goat cheeses come in a lot of different sizes and shapes.  Two French cheeses that you can find a lot of in this category are Crottin de Chavignol and Pouligny-Saint-Pierre.

Blue Cheeses – Easily recognized because of the greenish blue colour running throughout them, they are mostly made from cow’s milk.  Ripened for a long period of time, they have a strong flavour that is popular throughout the world.  Blue de Bresse and Roquefort both are easy to find and taste delicious.

Processed Cheeses – These are a group of French cheeses that are blended together.  Usually sold in small portions they can be flavoured and are meant to be spread on crackers and other hors d’oeuvres.
Whichever of the French cheeses you choose from you will find a taste and consistency that you simply can’t find anywhere else.

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