Nestled in the heart of France lies a river region just a few hours southwest of Paris rich with culinary charm, gorgeous landscapes, incredible castles and chateaus, and an incredible cultural history – the Loire Valley.
Once the playground of kings, queens, and popes – this picturesque destination is celebrated for its wineries and winemaking, fairytale-inspiring castles, charming small towns, and farmers markets. It’s also a hidden gem for cheese aficionados! Here are some of the regions most iconic, must-try artisanal cheeses:
Crottin de Chavignol – The Loire’s Signature Cheese
Our cheese journey begins with the Crottin de Chavignol, a cheese with a name as enchanting as its flavor. This unmistakable cylindrical goat cheese hails from the village of Chavignol. With a dense, crumbly texture and a tangy, earthy flavor, it’s a beloved choice for many cheese connoisseurs. Pair it with a crisp Sancerre wine from the same region for a match made in culinary heaven.
Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine – The Cheese with a Twist
If you’re seeking a cheese with a unique twist, Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine has you covered. This cylindrical, soft-ripened goat cheese comes wrapped in a straw ribbon. As it ages, the straw leaves a distinct pattern on the rind. With its creamy interior and hint of hazelnuts, it’s no wonder this cheese has earned AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) status. Pair it with a glass of Vouvray wine for a perfect pairing.
Valençay – An Iconic Pyramid
Taking inspiration from Egypt’s pyramids, Valençay cheese is known for its pyramid shape, making it an elegant centerpiece on any cheese platter. This raw cow’s milk cheese is known for its blue-gray, edible ash rind and a complex flavor profile. As it matures, the texture evolves from firm to creamy, and the taste ranges from mild and nutty to earthy and robust.
Selles-sur-Cher – An Ashy Beauty
Selles-sur-Cher cheese is like a work of art covered in ash. Made from goat’s milk, it has a velvety texture with a mild, lemony tang. The ash coating adds a distinct earthy flavor that compliments the creamy interior. Try it with a glass of Cheverny wine for a perfect partnership.
So be sure to add a tasting tour of the Loire Valley to your travel bucket list! Whether you’re exploring medieval villages or sampling incredible local wine, don’t forget to visit a local market to explore the incredible variety of Loire Valley cheeses.