British cheese is world class, of course, but if you love the Alps in winter or summer, and you love cheese, you’ll have come across some pretty special cheesy delights in the mountains.
Here are 11 great cheesy experiences you could enjoy in the Alps this National Cheese Day (4 June 2022).
Well, it seemed like a good excuse to indulge in some cheesy dreaming. Perhaps one of the new cheese hikes on offer this summer to the Alpine Cheese Olympics (yes, that’s a thing). Or you could choose from learning the art of raclette to making your very own cheese.
(Apologies in advance for the next three lines)
These are the ones we are really fondue of…
Here are our brie-liantly cheesy ideas…
A fromage bucket list if you will…
Try A New Cheese Hike in Megève
What better way to celebrate national cheese day than a hike through the spectacular mountains of Megève in the French Alps, stopping off at local farms to sample their finest cheeses and see the how the products are made.
As a true ambassador of mountain cuisine, Megève has 51 farms and local producers offering a treasure trove for those who choose to purchase their ingredients locally. The expression “from farm to table” has never made so much sense. Setting off from Leutaz car park, a new one-hour cheese hike takes food lovers to Alpage de Chevan, where local farmers, Aline and Guillaume, raise their 70 cows and make Abondance cheese.
Abondance cheese is a semi-hard, fragrant cheese made exclusively from milk produced by the Abondance, montbéliarde, and tarine breeds of cattle. It has a strong smell and combines a buttery and hazelnut flavour with a fine balance of acidity and sweetness.
The hike includes cheese tasting at the farm GAEC Les Alpagistes that must be booked in advance. Another cheese-must in Megève is fondue. Discover a menu of Savoyard classics at Restaurant Alpin at Les Fermes de Marie that have been developed by Frédéric Royer, master cheese monger of La Fromagerie Boujon.
The Traditional fondue of Les Fermes de Marie was named ‘Best Fondue in Megève’ at the annual Toquicimes culinary festival (2019) and costs €30 / £25.
Learn the Art of Raclette in Verbier
Legend has it, that on a cold day, a shepherd put his cheese a little too close to the fire. He ate the melted cheese anyway and was hooked – Raclette was born. The method has since been developed and perfected to the point where it has become an art that maestro Eddy Baillifard teaches.
Starting this summer, holidaymakers visiting Verbier in the Swiss Alps will be able to take a three-hour Raclette course with Eddy. Once the theory is out of the way – the origins of raclette, the tools used, and techniques needed to scrape well – it is time to put into practice all the valuable advice Eddy offers. A short sharp flick with the back of the knife, and that’s it. Once the move has been mastered, the long-awaited moment comes, eating. Full and satisfied, it’s time to head home with pride, having added a new string to your bow with a scraper’s certificate to prove it.
Dates: 15, 22 and 29 July, 19 and 26 August, 2 September and 28 October 2022 from 9am – 1pm.
Prices: Free for VIP Pass holders (stay one night in accommodation) / or Adult / Child: CHF 80 / £63.
Don’t Miss the Alpine Cheese Olympics in Ischgl
It’s time to get ready for the 28th Alpine Cheese Olympics in September, in the quaint Austrian village of Galtür near Ischgl the Austrian Tirol.
The “Olympics of good taste” is a dream come true for every single cheese lover around the globe. This event celebrates the best cheeses and awards the ones with the finest ingredients and the most delicious flavours. On 24 September 2022, more than 100 cheese producers will arrive from Germany, Austria, Italy, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland and battle it out for the coveted “Golden Cheese Harp” trophy.
Just like in the real Olympics, the event is all about peak performance, after all, the winning cheeses must excel in their field. It’s all about the look, the feel, the consistency, and the holes! The best thing about the International Alpine Cheese Olympics is that anyone can enjoy the fine taste of the exquisite cheese specialties.
Everyone is encouraged to sample, enjoy and, of course, purchase the gourmet cheeses. Around 3,000 cheese lovers are expected to attend the 28th Alpine Cheese Olympics.
Stay three-nights at the 3* Sport-Sonneck on a B&B basis from €262 / £223 per room based on two sharing. For more information, please visit. www.galtuer.com
Discover France’s soft cheeses on a Normandy Road-trip
Normandy is an ideal destination for cheese lovers thanks to its beautiful coastline, old towns, and range of delicious soft cheeses. Base yourself in the historic town of Deauville and take a cheese road-trip to visit the sleepy village of Camembert, where you can learn about the history of Camembert at the Cheese Museum (built in the shape of a Camembert cheese).
Taste the cheese at Fromagerie Durand farm and then stock up on the different types of Camembert as well as Livarot, Pont l’Evêque and Neufchâtel. Pierre & Vacances premium residence Presqu’Ile de la Touques is located between the beautiful French coastal towns of Deauville and Trouville in Normandy.
A seven-night stay, arriving 4 June 2022, costs from £1,226 (was £1,346) for a one-bedroom standard apartment, sleeping up to four people on a self-catering basis. Camembert is approx. a one hour drive from the residence.
Dine on Delicious Cheese in Morzine
Keen to show off the region’s best cheese, La Chamade has a cheese bar dedicated to the finest Savoyard, Swiss, and Italian delicacies. La Chamade was the first restaurant to be created in Morzine in the French Alps and opened its doors in 1969. It started out as a homemade creperie, before being taken over by Thierry Thorens in the 1980s. Guests can dine on delicious cheese in the bar every afternoon and evening, all of which are matched with wine.
Earlier this year, La Chamade was awarded the ‘Tour des cartes 2022’ trophy, signifying it to be one of 100 establishments with the best wine list in France; the pairings will be spectacular.
Cheese tastings, with wine, cost from €28 / £24 per pairing, or with Champagne, cost from €49 / £42 per pairing.
Try a New Cheese and Learn How To Creating your Own in La Plagne
Perched above the ski slopes in the Montalbert sector on La Plagne in France, Chalet du Forperet has one of the best views in La Plagne. First preserved by Longefoy commune, Roland – a native of Longefoy – decided to buy the rudimentary farm in 2001. Since then, Le Forperet has gained a loyal following (80% repeat customers) always happy to travel to try some of Roland’s new dishes, made entirely from the farm’s inhabitants.
Try the unique cheese Roland and his cheese maker created, La Chaudronnette (a mixture of raclette, Beaufort and other ingredients) and as evening falls, crack open a bottle of wine and watch the wonderful sunset. Guests can visit Forperet every day and reserve a table in the evening (free shuttle from/to Montalbert).
Families can enjoy an educational tour of the mini farm, plus a chance to milk a cow / goat by hand and learn how to make Tomme cheese (costs €13 / £11 pp).
Love Blue Cheese? Discover Bleu de Gex
Bleu de Gex is produced from raw cow’s milk in the Haut Jura region.
Aromas of Bleu de Gex are mild but clearly nutty, and the distinct flavour is reminiscent of mushroom and tarragon. This local-blue cheese was granted AOC status in 1986.
It is more supple and less creamy than other blue cheeses, and is traditionally eaten on boiled potatoes, but is also delicious by itself and in salads. Visit the traditional co-operative cheese dairy at Fromagerie De L’Abbaye, located in the small village of Chézery-Forens in the Pays de Gex.
Today, the Abbaye cheese dairy is the union of eight farms located in the Valserine valley, perpetuating the heritage of the cooperative system of fruit dairies in the Jura massif.
Taste Four Cheeses in the Kitzbühel Alps
The four main cheeses include Rettensteiner (a tangy mountain cheese), Schöntaler (a mild cream cheese), Hintenbacher (sliced cheese), and Gerstinger (soft cheese), which can all be purchased in the dairy shop. Guided tours show visitors how the cheese is made in a traditional mountain dairy works. The dairy also offers a tasty breakfast with homemade cheese, dried bacon and other dairy products.
A guided tour including cheese tasting costs €8.50 / £7 pp. Open daily in summer.
Discover Raw Milk Cheese in Lech Valley
Raw milk, fresh from cows, has been used to make cheese in the village of Steeg, Lech Valley in the Austrian Tirol, since 1903. Raw milk contains up to twice as much Omega-3 fatty acids compared to normal milk, making it as unadulterated and healthy as possible.
In 1955, the Sojer Family took over the local cheese business and now take care of the whole process – from the herb-fed cows to the delicious and creamy end result. Visit the Sojer Artisan Cheese Dairy and join in with a tour to see how everything works. At the end taste a selection of cheese, ranging from delicate flavoured chèves to powerful and spicy harder varieties.
A cheese and wine duo in Saint-Marcellin
Originating from the village of Saint-Marcellin, in the Isère region of France, this little round cow’s milk cheese has been made here for centuries.
It is a soft, mould-ripened cheese that has a mild, slightly salty flavour with fruity notes. It varies from firm to runny, depending upon the ageing period, and is mainly covered in a white, sometimes bluey, yeast. The cheese can be bought in several places in Isère and pairs well with a glass of Côtes du Rhône red wine. Time a visit when the wine and food show is held in the village in November each year.
Make your Own Fondue and Charcuterie Picnic in Les Gets
Visit the Cheese Farm La Fruitière des Perrières, in Les Gets, in the heart of the Portes du Soleil. It has been making cheese for a hundred years and specialises in making Abondance, Tomme, Raclette, and an original cheese called ‘Flavour of Les Gets’.
As well as a farm and a cheese factory, it is also a restaurant and a shop. Every Wednesday at 10 am, visitors can take a free tour that lasts around 90 minutes and finishes with a cheese-tasting session in the shop.
The farm shop provides delicious kits for making fondue at home and a raclette tray with the classic raclette cheese (made at the factory), brézain (a smoked raclette cheese) and goat raclette cheese as well as terrines, rillettes and saucissons – perfect for making a charcuterie platter or picnic.