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A trip to Roquefort-sur-Soulzon

Roquefort Site Remarquable du Gout on eatlivetravelwrite.comLast summer, when we were staying in Languedoc-Roussillon, we ventured a little further afield in our day trips a couple of times.  We visited the Camargue and its salt marshes one day and another day we headed to Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the Aveyron department. Being four big cheese fans, we decided we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to check out where one of France’s most famous blue cheeses comes from.  The legend goes that a shepherd was getting ready to eat his lunch of bread and cheese in a cave in the Roquefort region when he was  distracted by a pretty girl.  He abandoned his lunch in pursuit of the girl and only returned to the same spot a few months later. On returning there he found the cheese coated in a blue-ish mold but was so hungry that he ate it anyway. Et voila – the first Roquefort as we know it today!

La Grande Visite Roquefort on eatlivetravelwrite.comRoquefort is a sheep’s milk cheese that is aged in the Combalou caves in the region and only cheese that has aged here can call itself Roquefort, according to European laws.  The blue mold that Roquefort is famous for is Penicillium roqueforti and can be found in the soil of these caves. Traditionally this was made by leaving bread in the caves for six to eight weeks until it was consumed by the mold, then the inside of the bread was dried to make a powder. These days, the mold is laboratory-produced and can be either added to the curd or introduced through holes poked in the rind of the cheese.

Inside the caves at Roquefort on eatlivetravelwrire.comIn 1925 Roquefort cheese was granted the title of “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée –AOC”, (Controlled Designation of Origin) and in 1961, the Tribunal de Grande Instance at Millau (Aveyron) declared that though this cheese could be made in many regions of southern France, it could only be classified as true Roquefort if it was ripened in the Combalou caves in the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.  The French, they take their cheese very seriously!

View in Roquefort on eatlivetravelwrite.comThere are seven Roquefort cheese producers, the largest by far being Roquefort Société  (they account for around 60% of all Roquefort cheese production).  You can visit Société and several other Roquefort cheese producers in the village – make sure to bring a sweater because it gets really cold in the caves!

Caves Roquefort on eatlivetravelwrite.comAs well as learning all about the actual cheese production, our trip to the Caves Société included a lovely retrospective of cheesy publicity through the years…

Roquefort advertisement on eatlivetravelwrite.comSociete Roquefort poster on eatlivetravelwrite.comVintage Roquefort advertisement on eatlivetravelwrite.comThe village itself is tiny but never fear there are a few places to eat once you’ve checked out the caves. And yes, most items on the menus feature Roquefort. Bien sûr!

Streets of Roquefort on eatlivetravelwrite.comIf you’re interested (and if you need to after copious cheese tastings), you might like to check out some of the hikes in the region.

For information about visiting the caves, head to Roquefort.fr Un fromage, Un village.

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9 Responses to A trip to Roquefort-sur-Soulzon

  1. Mr. Neil May 6, 2014 at 09:29 #

    Mmmm…memories of that cheesy lunch going through my head right now!

    • Cathy May 6, 2014 at 13:58 #

      Yup – me too. And the (only in France) small child who was unfeasibly excited by “le vrai roquefort!” A true 5yr old gourmet!! Cx

    • Mardi Michels May 9, 2014 at 17:04 #

      Best!

  2. Ann May 6, 2014 at 19:14 #

    Aveyron is very dear to me and it is my DREAM to visit these caves!!! Loved this glimpse of it!

  3. Coco in the Kitchen May 7, 2014 at 03:45 #

    I love that your sweetheart always reads your posts and is the first to post a reply. The romantic legend of how Roquefort cheese came about is lovely!

  4. bee salmon May 8, 2014 at 04:50 #

    This has left me mouth-wateringly hungry and it’s only late morning … Fortunatly I have some Roquefort ( société ) in the house at the moment and now know what my lunch will be

    • Mardi Michels May 9, 2014 at 17:03 #

      Mmmm – Roquefort is always good at any time of the day!

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