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France's passion for cheese hasn't changed - but their eating habits have

Fromagerie Quatrehomme now operates five shops around Paris
Fromagerie Quatrehomme now operates five shops around Paris Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews with AP
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From rich Roquefort blue to creamy Camembert, the average French person buys 12.5 kilos of cheese a year, but ways of eating it are changing.

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Cheese is a food synonymous with France, but while it remains a French staple, the way it’s eaten is starting to change.

Fromagerie Quatrehomme is an iconic Parisian shop which opened in the 1950s and has been selling cheese for more than 70 years.

It sells around 300 different types of cheese, from the conical Boulette d'Avesnes made with cows' milk in northern France to a whole variety of goat cheeses from the Loire Valley, the Alps and other regions.

“I think traditionally you have a cheese plate after the main course and before dessert. This is the traditional way of having a cheese plate in France,” says Nathalie Quatrehomme, owner of  Fromagerie Quatrehomme.

“But I think this traditional way is evolving. Now you can have all cheese and meat course, you can have cheese in an appetiser and not after the main course. You can have cheese at breakfast. We really changed the way of eating cheese and that’s nice,” she explains.

Cheese is big business

In 2022, France exported an estimated €3.5 billion worth of cheese and imported around €2.5 billion worth, according to the OEC.

According to the French Dairy Board, the CNIEL, the dairy industry also accounts for almost 300,000 jobs in the country.

And at Fromagerie Quatrehomme, there is plenty of work as it’s one of the few cheese shops in Paris with its own cellar.

Underground staff take care of wheels of cheese, brushing away unwanted bacteria and tending to rinds that need to be turned regularly. 

Some are brushed to remove unwanted bacteria.

“We put them in the cellar in different areas, we have different kinds of cellars here, it depends on their maturity. Some cheese will need more humidity, some will need more a dry atmosphere, some cheese will need to be contained to become really ‘confit’ or creamy, some cheese will need to be washed. So we adapt our care to the different needs of the cheese,” says Quatrehomme.

Parisians want French cheeses

Quatrehomme now operates five shops around Paris, but this fromagerie on the border of the 6th and 7th arrondissement is the original and has a loyal clientele.

“I’ve been living for 20 years in the neighbourhood and the best spot is here. But I have to tell you that the best spot is not only for the neighbourhood, it’s not even for Paris, It’s not for France, not for Europe, it’s the best place in the world. Exceptional cheese, seriously. I could not go anywhere else,” says one customer.

And Parisians know what they want: French cheeses.

"French cheeses are the best, I assure you. They have flavour. They have a very soft, creamy texture so obviously, we want to eat them every day," says another customer.

"It's every day, either at noon or in the evening, in the evening with a green salad and at 12 pm after a good meal I have it with good Bordeaux," she adds.

Four generations of the same family have sold cheese at Quatrehomme.

And they plan on supplying Paris with all the Comte, Brie and Roquefort it wants for many more generations to come.

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