Top 10 French cheeses

France is famously known for having more cheeses than there are days in the year. Some are very widespread and available in every supermarket, some are regionally specific, and others are local to a village or community only.

This makes a 'top 10' a bit less valuable, because the best cheeses will usually be those that the restaurant bring out before your dessert, or that you buy from the local market, and are available nowhere else. There is little point in my listing cheeses of this type.

French cheese lovers will tell you something like, 'Just drive 41 kilometres north-east of Rodez, follow the small winding track to your left through the woods, and knock three times on the window of the shack. You will get quite the best goats cheese in the world'. Little benefit to you when on holiday in Normandy, I think.

So the cheeses below are the best (in my opinion) that are more or less widely available:

1. Brie de Meaux - soft cheese, often known as the King of Cheeses

2. Roquefort - rich strong blue-veined cheese

3. Camembert - soft cheese

4. Cantal - hard cheese (similar perhaps to cheddar / Monterey Jack)

5. Bleu d'Auvergne - milder blue-veined cheese

6. Pont l'Evèque - soft cheese, richer than cousins brie and camembert

7. Chèvre - there are lots of different goats cheeses, the most common coming in a cylinder shape about 10 cm across. the rind is not always eaten (but can be)

8. Bleu de Sassenage - our last blue cheese, and a firmer, more yellow cheese than Roquefort or Bleu d'Auvergne

9. Boursin - does it count as 'real' cheese? I'm not sure but this soft, creamy, wrapped in silver foil, cheese is as popular in France as most other parts of the world.

10. Comté - I would rate this much higher, but my fellow judge (my daughter) wouldn't include it. I think it is a magnificent mature, hard cheese, like the very best mature cheddar. She says emmenthal. Give it a try and see what you think.