There are a number of ways to shop for cheese in Paris. Supermarkets and street markets all sell cheese, but head to one of the high-quality shops selling the best cheese produced across France. Most shops age their cheese in caves underfoot and have extensive histories. Personal relationships with producers are de rigeur. Here are the ten best Fromageries to visit.
At Chez Virginie, the cheeses pile up in artful displays. The space has been a cheese shop since 1900. Virginie, the current owner, inherited the business from her father. The casual stacks mask a strict order and careful thought. The shop carries only raw milk cheeses, which has no obvious impact on the range of options available. Virginie manages the underground cheese caves, ensuring the product is always à point.
Madame Barthélemy has a bit of an attitude, and refuses to set up her own website. I would, too, if I sold cheese to members of the French State (rumor has it the president and prime minister both shop here). Her shop is tiny, and packed full of all kinds of cheese. Her focus is very much on fromage. She offers a couple of bottles of wine and varieties of jam, as well as the typical yogurt, milk and egg selection. Ask her about the seasonal bests.
The display on the street outside La Ferme Saint Hubert draws passerby in. Unlike many fromageries the cheese here sits behind a glass counter, with a monger at the ready. A wide selection of canned goods, dry sausage, cured ham, jams and other accompaniments fill the shelves of the boutique. The cheeses are both French and imported, a mix of pasteurized and raw milk. La Ferme Saint Hubert is the perfect one-stop shop for a picnic or cocktail party.
Whether or not this cheese shop particularly interested in the social politics of space, Eric Lefebvre won his M.O.F. certification in 2004 and has a cheese selection to match. He and his wife run the charming shop tucked away in the 12tharrondissement. The shop is a bit off the beaten path, but well worth a visit. His selection stretches across the principal cheese regions of France. Lefebvre will make sure to offer the best of the moment, or best suited to your tastes, so don’t be shy to ask him for advice. Take your cheese up to the Promenade Plantée for a picnic.
For any food-lover, the Marché d’Aligre is a must on any trip to Paris. Nestled between the Gare de Lyon and Place de la Bastille, the market is open six days of the week (including Sunday). It combines a covered Marché Beauvau and outdoor stands that take over the rue d’Aligre (itself full of excellent épiceries and restaurants). The Fromagerie Langlet-Hardouin is inside the covered market. The owners focus on local cheeses above all, and have an exceptional collection of goat’s milk cheeses from the Loire Valley.
On market days, the rue Poncelet feels like old Paris. Vendors pack into the narrow street. The neighborhood winds through the stands, striking up conversation with people left and right. In addition to the charming boutique on the rue Poncelet, this fromagerie has massive cave facilities – 300m2 – farther north in the 17th arrondissement. Monsieur Alléosse considers the work he does essential to the preservation of age-old cheese making traditions. He works to support local producers in the face of increasing industrialization of cheese production. Consider a visit to his cave facilities in addition to checking out the storefront.
Monsieur Dubois won the Meilleur Ouvrier de France back in 2000. He now operates a few cheese shops in Paris. The shop in at the market square at Maubert-Mutualite in the heart of the Latin Quarter spills out into the street, with truffle Brillat Savarin and Pyrennes tomme situated to entice passersby. Dubois’ shops tend to the modern in terms of aesthetic – clean, stainless steel staggered shelves and minimalist graphics abound. Dubois comes from a long line of cheese mongers – his parents, grandparents and uncle worked in the industry. He prides himself on an intimate knowledge of the work that goes into making cheese and finding the best small producers to feature in the big city shops.
At Beillevaire, they both make and sell cheese. Part production facility, part sales operation, these mongers know the industry inside out. Pascal Beillevaire got his start in the 1980s selling milk and cream from local dairies in the Loire Valley. He then established a unique vertically integrated approach to a fromagerie; producing and selling cheese and dairy products (butter, riz au lait, yogurt, raw milk). Beillevaire produces a handful of cheeses themselves, and sell a much wider variety in the Paris storefronts, selected from the best producers in France and abroad. Make a point to taste the chèvre fermier, one of the seasonal selections. The cave-aged tomme will redefine your thoughts on goat’s cheese. Beillevaire, 140 Rue de Belleville, 75020 Paris, France, +33 01 46 36 90 81
Cheese has been the Androuet family business since 1909. Their home base is Paris, but they have expanded to Stockholm and London. At the turn of the twentieth century, the original Androuet, Henri, decided to make Parisians aware of the breadth of cheeses produced across France. The shop on the rue Cambronne displays an impressive collection of small-format goat and sheep’s milk cheeses, alongside many others. A warm and welcoming staff offers tastes and excellent descriptions of flavor, texture and the relationship between the two.
Another cheese shop that passed from father to daughter, Fromagerie Jouannault sits on one of the best streets in Paris. Just across from the Marché des Enfants Rouges, this stretch of the rue de Bretagne is full of épiceries, restaurants and bookstores. Turn down the side streets to find small boutiques and cafes. Priscilla manages the storefront, while Nicolas cares for the cheeses in the caves below. Consider a visit and tasting in the caves, or take home a couple of wedges, pick up bread and charcuterie, and soak up the sun in the nearby Place des Vosges.