Cheeses from Normandy

Anyone who knows me will tell you one thing: I love food… and especially CHEESE!

And guess what? Normandy is filled with delicious varieties.

Did you know that Normandy is the leading cheese-producing region in France? We have beautiful lush green fields, where dairy cows are well known for the richness of their milk. Cheesemaking in Normandy is a custom dating back to the 10th century.


1. Camembert de Normandie

Camembert is the quintessential French cheese, a gem in French gastronomy!

This is a soft, buttery cheese made with raw cow’s milk, mainly from Norman cows. It is hand-molded with a ladle and aged for at least three weeks. As the cheese matures, the inside becomes runny- it’s famous and exquisite characteristic. A young Camembert cheese has a milky and sweet flavor that is enriched during ripening to strong and fruity. The rind is white and downy, the paste is light yellow/ivory. When the cheese is fully ripened, the paste becomes smooth, soft, and shiny.

This phenomenal cheese was developed in 1791 by Marie Harel, a farmer from Camembert. It is wrapped in a wooden box, invented in 1890 by the engineer Ridel, which enables the cheese to be transported easily across the globe. Be careful though, only the AOC designation, created in 1983, ensures that a Camembert is made from raw milk. You will find lots of pasteurized Camembert outside of France.

Cambert is the centerpiece of any cheese platter. But you should definitely try the roasted camembert! Take your camembert out of the wooden box, and place it in the oven for 10 minutes, at 350° F. Make sure the camembert slowly inflates but doesn’t blow up. Spread some warm honey on top of the rind. Then place the camembert directly on your plate to eat with a spoon, or on a toast.

Pair it with a light red wine (like a St Emilion, Beaujolais, or St Estephe) or, if you are a sucker for tradition, with a glass of cider from Normandy.

2. Coeur de Neufchâtel

My absolute favorite! Neufchâtel is named after Neufchâtel-en-Bray, in Northern Normandy. Also made out of cow’s milk, it is one of France’s oldest cheeses. Its production is dating back as far as 1035. Just like love, it comes in different shapes and sizes, 6 exactly. But the most notorious is the heart, called “Coeur de Neufchatel”. The legend says that during the Hundred Years’ War (“La guerre de 100 ans”), young Norman girls would gift Neufchâtel cheese to their British soldier sweethearts.

This is a soft-ripened cheese with a thick and grainy paste made out of raw cow’s milk. The texture can also be slightly yeasty. It is not a runny paste like the Camembert. It is covered by a velvety bloomy rind and matured for 8 to 10 weeks. The taste is quite salty, which is why I like it so much, it is rich and nutty, like the Camembert. It got the AOC designation in 1969.

I like to taste it with a baguette, of course, but also paired with nuts, to highlight its rich nutty flavour. The perfect cheese to finish your Valentines day dinner!

Pair it with Cahors, Riesling or Beaujolais, and crusty bread.

3. Pont L’Évêque

Originally manufactured in the area around the commune of Pont-l’Évêque, between Deauville and Lisieux in the Calvados département of Normandy, it is probably one of the oldest Norman cheese still in production. It is reported that its production started during the 12th century.

Pont-l’Évêque is an uncooked, unpressed cow’s milk cheese, with a square shape. The texture is soft yet very rich, and it has a creamy pale yellow paste inside. Pont L’Évêque has this full-body flavor that tastes even better when kept at room temperature. The washed-rind has a light subtle orange coloration. It is generally ranked as one of the most popular cheeses in France.

Pair it with a Chianti, a Riesling, or even Champagne, as a dessert cheese.

4. Livarot

Livarot is also supposedly named after a town in Northern Normandy. And like most Norman cheese, it is also a cheese made from raw cow’s milk. This one is also known as “The Colonel”. This nickname comes from its particular appearance – it is encircled with 5 stripes of raffia, similar to the ones you can see on French colonels’ uniforms. These stripes were initially used to help maintain a round shape, but it serves more today as a step towards obtaining the AOC designation. It was created by monks about 700 years ago.

Livarot is a smooth, rich, and springy cheese with powerful aromas of nuts, lemon, and spices. It is recognizable thanks to the tiny holes inside the paste, its orange color on the rind, and its intense smell. The wheel is washed in salty water, then coloured in annatto and matured for up to two months in humid cellars.

Pair it with white wines from Alsace or with Calvados.


Murray is obviously the go-to cheese shop in the big apple! I also used to visit Zabar’s when living in the Upper West Side. Their cheese offer is quite impressive. But my ultimate favorite hidden gem in NYC is The French Cheese Board. This is the home of French cheese in NYC, where you will discover new varieties each week, at a very affordable price. They also offer cheese tastings and great pairing recommendations.

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  1. […] is not only my home. It is the home of internationally famous cheeses like camembert, home of Gastronomy. It is the region where the Impressionist movement started, where Monet lived […]

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