is not renowned as one of the most famous regions of France in terms of
wining and dining; but like many other regions of the world, it is
nonetheless a region with plenty to offer when it comes to regional
specialities. The region also produces some very reasonable wines, and
is relatively well endowed in good restaurants.....
A profoundly rural and mountainous region, the Auvergne is one of the
leading French regions (some indeed claim that it is the leading
region) when it comes to cheese
A cheeseboard made up exclusively of
Auvergne cheeses can hold its own against a board of cheeses from any
other French region, both in terms of variety and of quality.
principal cheeses of the Auvergne:
A very tasty uncooked pressed cheese from the Auvergne mountains,
Cantal is a cheese that many consider to be quite close to an
English farmhouse cheddar or chester. A lot of this
contrôlée" cheese is made on farms, but
local dairies in the
region also produce it in large quantities. (Some also produce Cheddar
for export to the UK)
Cantal comes most commonly in
two varieties: "jeune" (young) and "entre deux" (between two), meaning
cheese that has matured for longer. This cheese's strength and taste
increase with ageing, and generally speaking cantal cheese is stronger
Two smaller areas within the Cantal department
produce specific appellations of their own, Salers
These cheeses - made from the milk of cows grazing at high altitude,
tend to be more expensive than generic Cantal, and are generally aged
longer. They are unpasturised cheeses made only during the summer, and
only from the milk of cows grazing in the high pastures.
Bleu d'Auvergne /
; Possibly the most famous of all French blue cheeses, Bleu d'Auvergne
is manufactured through most of upland Auvergne. It is a cheese that
can vary considerably in taste and strength, depending on how old it is
and how it has matured; but a good Auvergne Blue can be spread on bread
La Fourme d'Ambert
is a mild blue cheese , often with an almost nutty flavour.
should find this too strong. It is produced in the sector
of Ambert in the Forez mountains of the Puy de Dôme.
Saint Agur :
this is a well known brand, not a traditional cheese. Made in the area
of Le Puy, it is essentially a fairly creamy Auvergne blue.
(AOC) can be one of the greatest of French cheeses - but it is
also a cheese that varies considerably in quality and taste. To start
with there are two distinct types, the farm variety and the dairy
variety. The farm variety is generally better and more expensive, the
dairy variety, usually found in supermarkets, is frequently sold too
young. When this cheese is young, it is quite dry and hard; a properly
matured Saint Nectaire should be soft and elastic, with a slight
tendency to flow if left at room temperature. One does not eat the rind
of a Saint Nectaire.,
other Auvergne cheeses
is a dairy cheese that is quite similar to
Nectaire, and is an appellation contrôlée cheese
dating from 1945.
Bleu de Laqueille
is the original Auvergne blue cheese; legend has it that a farmer,
called Antoine Roussel, produced the first Lequeille blue in
1850, after leaving a lump of fresh cottage cheese in a draw with some
crumbs of mouldy bread.
Another similar cheese is Montagne
which closely resembles Savaron.
a soft cheese from the north of the Auvergne, Gaparon is a cheese
strongly flavoured with black pepper and garlic.
Auvergne wines and aperitifs
Until 2009, Auvergne did not produce any Appellation
Contrôlée (AOC) wines, but several VDQS
wines (Vin délimité de qualité
However, in that year the best-known Auvergne wine, Saint-Pourçain,
attained the coveted AOC status.
This wine comes from vineyards in the area of Saint Pourçain sur
in the Allier department; these are light red and white wines, from
the Gamay, Tressalier, Chardonnay and Pinot noir grape
was the first Auvergne AOC wine.
Contrary to information given on
some websites, Cotes du Forez AOC wines do not come from Auvergne.
Further south in the Puy de Dôme, the Côtes d'Auvergne
area, lying between the villages of Madargues
of Riom) & Boudes (south of Clermont Ferrand)
mostly light red wines. The most reputed of these wines come from the
vineyards of Boudes and Corent. This area obtained
d'Auvergne qualification in 2010, and the first AOC wines came on the
market in December 2011.
Here and there, in areas lying below about
600 metres, there are other small vineyards, mostly producing for local
and individual consumption and on a very small scale. For example, the
Allier Valley area, between Brioude and Langeac in the haute Loire, was
a major wine-growing area until the late 19th century; it was the last
wine-growing area in France to be killed off by the Phylloxera epidemic
that totally destroyed French vineyards in the late 19th century. While
there is no longer any commercial wine production in this area,
artisanal wine growers in the area are now producing some excellent
Chardonnays and Gamays.
among the oldest in France, and in the Middle Ages they supplied a lot
of wine to Paris and the north of France. The wine was shipped down the
Allier and Loire rivers on rafts, as far as Orleans, where it was
despatched by road to Paris. By the time it reached Orleans, some of
the wine was quite undrinkable, and could not be sent on to the capital
- which explains why the city of Orleans is now famed throughout France
as the nation's vinegar capital. Gentiane
is an aperitif or liqueur made from distilling the juices from the
roots of the yellow gentian plant. It is a traditional drink of the
Auvergne, popularized in the 19th century, and is also made in the Jura
and the Alps. The yellow gentian plant normally grows at altitudes
above 1000 metres.
Les lentilles du
Puy / le Puy lentils
and plenty of
other good things to eat; simply delicious rural fare......
for over 2000 years in the region of Le Puy en Velay, the "green
lentils" are still produced using no chemical fertilizers. The
"Appellation contrôlée" production area covers
88 communes in
the Haute Loire department, from Saint Georges
Retournac in the north, to Pradelles in the south. Lentils are an
extremely nutritious and tasty vegetable, and a rich source of
auvergnate / Auvergne hotpot
La potée auvergnate is a classic country dish made up of
easily available ingredients; cabbages, potatoes, bacon, pork and
sausage. Sometimes white beans are added. After an initial stewing, the
cabbages are removed from the pot, then drained and fried up with
pieces of bacon. .
A delicious type of meat loaf, with herbs, and stuffed with prunes.
This speciality of the Cantal can be eaten hot or cold.
Cured raw ham from the mountains of Auvergne. In some rural inns, you
can still get ham that has been produced and cured on the spot or in
the local village.