La Coop: Beaufort Cheese Cooperative in Paris

Beaufort cutter

It amuses me to see outfits that promise to let folks “experience Paris like a local!” While there’s lots too see and do here as a visitor, I wonder why so many people want to come and experience the more mundane aspects of life in a city, such as calling the gas company to find out why your bill is 300% over what it is supposed to be, or dealing with a forest’s-worth of paperwork that would make the most anti-environmentalist weep, when they could be exploring world-class museums, dining in historic bistros, visiting amazing chocolate shops, and gorging themselves on sublime cheeses all day?

reblochon

When I’m on vacation, I want to be on vacation, thanks. But every so often, I try being a tourist is my own city. Because I get to stroll around and discover wonderful new places, as I did when walking near the Jardin du Luxembourg and passed by La Coop.

jams from Savoie

La Coop is an entire boutique dedicated to the products of the Savoie, with a special focus on their famous cheese – Beaufort d’Été. And indeed, the moment you walk in, you’re faced with an impressive line-up of cheeses from the mountainous region, the crowning glory being an enormous chunk of Beaufort cheese perched on a giant slicing machine. But no need to be alarmed: when I was in the region where it was made, people sold so much of it that in order to save their wrists and shoulders, they finally resorted to taking to a machine to do the hard work.

The cheese is made from raw milk produced by cows that graze in the high alpine pastures, who munch of grass all day long as well as the tiny flowers and other tasty things (well, at least to cows) that grow up in the mountains. In addition to regular Beaufort (which can be industrial or artisanal), there is Beaufort d’Été and Beaufort alpage – the former being cheese made from milk produced mostly in the summer (été) and the latter, alpage, referring to cheese that is made at a chalet from the summer milk as well, but from a single herd of cows, and is considered le top du top of Beauforts.

French Roblochon cheese

The region is known for its wintery weather, and there are rounds of Reblochon, a cheese that gets its name from the double-milking of the cows and is the base – actually, some say, is the raison d’être – for the famous dish, Tartiflette, a layer of cooked potatoes and bacon with an entire disk of this cheese sliced in half through horizontally, splayed out over the potatoes, and baked until melted and gooey and crusty on top.

soupe

Obviously the people who live in the region expend a tremendous amount of calories to absorb all this rich food, although the last time I went, I found I was with a group of world-class skiers and eventually resigned myself to staying home by the fire, reading and making dinner for everyone after they spent a day racing at full-speed down the near-vertical slopes. (And peering down from perched atop a mountain, with a near-vertical drop, is not exactly my idea of a relaxing vacation. Although that didn’t diminish my consumption of the local cheeses.)

For those who prefer dining on the lighter side, there’s a full arsenal of soups in the shop that I want to buy just for the Weck bottles. And because this is mountain food, there are lots of sausages, crozets (buckwheat pasta squares, that are baked into a cheese-rich casserole, obviously best enjoyed after a day spent climbing the mountains of the Savoie, not slumped in a cozy armchair, reading…I’ve not made it because all the recipes I’ve seen have a terrifying richness to them), jams a-plenty, and – if you’re lucky – a sale on butter.

butter sale

Even though I’m livin’ like a local, I didn’t stock up on butter. Which I am now miffed at myself for not doing. But since I live here, I can continue to monitor the situation and go back to get my fill at a later date. (And I don’t have to worry about those Weck decanters breaking in my luggage, although no guesses on how well they’ll fare on a crowded métro.)

cheese ripening cavesausages
La Chanterelle sausagefromage blanc

If you’re not living like a local, but still want to taste some cheese (which I certainly would do), there’s a cave underground next to their ripening shelves, where you can do a tasting of 3, 4 or 5 of their cheeses (€8 – €12), plus a glass of wine from their cruvinet. Or two, if you’re on vacation.

Savoie cheese

La Coop: Beaufort Cheese Cooperative
9, rue Corneille (6th)
Tél; 01 43 29 91 07
Métro: Odéon



Related Links

Cheese Tastings and Tours in Paris

French Cheese Archives

Cheese Fondue Recipe

Warm Baked Goat Cheese

Blue Cheese Dressing

French Cheese Eyewitness Companion (Amazon)

30 comments

  • Those Weck bottles of soup remind me of the milk bottles of my childhood that the dairy man would leave on our porch. What a lovely array of cheeses! I’m drooling. Is the tasting tour held in the shop? Or is that at their facility in the mountains?

  • On an unrelated note, I saw this article on kale and France today in the New York Times and immediately thought of you:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/dining/in-paris-the-kale-crusader.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  • Beaufort is one of my favorite cheeses! Thanks or the explanation of étè vs. alpage, I was always confused by that. And thanks for sharing an excellent find!

  • Claire: You can taste the cheeses in the shop, at tables in the cave. If you’re in the area you can visit the cooperative there and have a tasting, and guided tour, as well.

    Liz: I saw that. Great – hope it leads to not just more kale, but more leafy greens, too!

  • The blueberry and raspberry jams; are they spiced with something?

  • Your posts are always so interesting and timely. We’re heading to Paris in 2 weeks and we were looking for a new cheese shop near to our apartment. Can’t wait!!!!!!

    • There are a lot of great cheese shops and cheese merchants at the market but my advice is generally to find one place near where you are staying, and go in there as much as you can. The first time they will be polite (hopefully!) – but if they see you again, they will likely spend more time with you and give you more advice. Of course, tell them what you like, and what you don’t like…which will help them pick something out for you. Enjoy : )

  • The Beaufort – ah the Beaufort – THE hard cheese surpassing all other. There is nothing like it.
    Wonderful with the Coop.
    I bought 2 kilos of it online immediately – a few minutes ago – surprisingly inexpensive in comparison to my Paris cheese shops. Online price actually includes
    freight, no small advantage.
    A slice of Beaufort on your plate beside a piece of the divine soft cheese, the Epoisses (that is the Epoisses from the Berthaut family of Bourgogne) and voilà,
    Paradise wide open.
    Thank you David.

  • Here (in Canada) on TV5 France we often see documentaries on the famous French and Swiss alpage way of producing milk and cheese. It’s reassuring that this is still happening in 2013. Now if I could only get my hands on some of those cheeses…

  • Oh, doesn’t that faisselle look absolute heaven – it’s one of the things you simply can’t get here, only distinctly inferior fromage frais, usually fat- and taste-free. I have GOT to get over to France very soon – we are nearly out of all sorts of things that are cheaper or nicer over there.

    You didn’t mention whether the shop sold one of my favourite foods from the Savoie – ravioles. Those wonderful miniature ravioli filled with Savoie cheese…. mmmmm. You can’t get those here, either! Or my husband’s favourite cheese, which is Tomme de Savoie.

  • cheese heaven indeed – made me instantly dream of ‘my’ Gruyère surchoix of Switzerland….. as of tomorrow night I shall have my fill of it – but if that’s not possible, I always go for the Savoie cheeses – they are truly wonderful (too)!

    it’s funny, we were singing for 10 days in the Savoie in summer and we got twice per day tremendous meals served, in truly frightening quantities…. (yes, incl tartiflette, crozets, fondue [in July], saucissons, tommes, etc. with tons of wine on self-service display. we all ate too much, drank too much, had too much of everything, sang for 8-9hrs per day and didn’t put on any weight ——> even without ANY mountain climbing! neat, eh?!

    oh, such yummyness.

    Thanks for this -

  • @ suedoise: I LOVE YOU for what you wrote…. :)

  • OK, so as I sit here in for my one day Savoie (Le Bourget du Lac), having gorged on cheese at every meal since arriving in France 8 days ago, having had fondue for lunch (shared) as I thought the tartiflette would just make eating dinner impossible, I am thrilled to see your post. I think I will pick up a cheese before heading to Paris tomorrow (we will have a small apt w a kitchen). Where the meal plan is cheese and dessert. Seriously. Well, maybe a bistro or two.
    I am warming up the pastry app. All tourist destinations will be geared to what is near the pastry shop du jour. And thank-you for this app; because last Paris visit many many years ago, I tortured my travel partner by walking into every single pastry shop we passed, just for a look see, just in case I had missed something!

    • Enjoy the Paris pastry app! Note that because there are a lot of photos (I couldn’t resist!), it helps to download it when you have a WiFi connection.

  • Thanks for much for sharing this place- I’ve never been to specialized cheese shop in France outside of the ones in the regions themselves and look forward to seeing what one’s like in Paris. Maybe more high heels clicking on the shop tiles…
    And buckwheat pasta squares? Wow. The heartiest gratin waiting to happen.

  • Early on I got a hunk of Beaufort at one of the moving gastronomic marches that turn up unexpectedly on weekends in Paris and I haven’t recovered.
    Nothing comes close to it in deliciousness in my opinion.

  • As an english girl living in the haute savoie I think I take all this deliciousness for granted. Beaufort (all types) is our everyday cheese, my three little girls ask for it as their gouter on their return from school every day. Fresh raw still warm milk is delivered daily to our door from the farmer up the road before he sends his quota to the local coop for the beaufort cheese. There are also fresh yogurts plain or mixed with myrtille (picked from the same mountain pasture where the beautiful cows graze).
    As well as all of this we have mushrooms in abundance picked five minutes from our front door, dinner this evening was a plate of chanterelles with a fried egg (we had our first cep of the season last night).
    Sometimes we need a little pinch as a little wake up call as to how lucky we are – so thank you.
    On another note I just read the kale related post – I have started growing kale this year
    and my french neighbours are very curious as to what it is. I too will be having an evening of ‘kale tasting’ – at the moment they regard it as goat fodder!

    • It’s a pretty beautiful region – with a lot of rich food! A while back I wrote up a Savoie cake recipe from the book, The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth. If you get a chance to read it, it’s really about the splendor of the region from a certain time and place and you might enjoy it. Fortunate for you to have all those farmers and a cheese cooperative close by.

  • Thanks for another cheese shop suggestion. On our list.

    I had a tartiflette once at Pain, Vin, Fromages. That was in 2009. I’m still full.

  • Mmm cheese. Clearly I need to move to France. You just don’t get that kind of stuff here (in Canada). Well there are some smaller, artisanal places but they are hard to find. It’s always best to just go to a market that imports such products.

  • Yes, there are downsides to being on an extended vacation and trying to “live like a local”. The good side is being able to go back to favorite places again and again. Just even walking through an area and after time, it becoming “your” neighbourhood. I looked in the App Store for a Paris pastry app but it can’t find one. Help, please?

    • @Ruth Lane, I wondered about David’s comment about wanting to live like a local vis a vis being a tourist. Our whole mode of travel is to rent an apartment in a neighborhood in whatever country for a month or more, and try to see what a different culture is all about. If I wanted to be a tourist, I would go to the Caribbean and stay in an all-inclusive resort. That’s not us. We like to walk around neighborhoods and look at architecture, explore the neighborhood markets and shops, maybe make some friends with the proprietors, as opposed to standing in long lines for whatever museu Guess we just have a different travel mode.

    • There’s a link in the right sidebar of the site, just to the right. You can also find it by visiting the Paris Pastry Guide website. Enjoy the pastries (and chocolate)!

  • I take your point, and living as I do in another fabulous corner of the world I too cherish the times when I can enjoy San Francisco as a tourist. But there is a valuable something to be gained from having an authentic experience in a strange place. And depending on the tourist culture that can be difficult. In my experience Paris is such a feast for the senses that it does a pretty bang up job of hosting tourists. But a place like Havana is different. If you want an authentic experience you’re going to have to “work” for it by paying close attention and asking the right sort of questions. By the way, a tour with David Lebovitz is definitely on my bucket list…There is nothing like the inside knowledge of an outsider.

  • Aw man, you are killin’ me, Smalls! ;) I’m vegan (why, WHY did I do that, again…?? Doh!) and normally don’t miss cheese…that much. Then, I read your posts. And I start to lament the lack of beautiful, creamy, delicious cheese in my life! Which then makes me wonder, “what am I doing with my life?” Then I think maybe I’m just wasting my life not eating that glorious cheese! Then I think that maybe I should stop being such a neurotic vegan and just eat some cheese. ;)

  • 2 cheese postings in a row?!? are you trying to kill me ;)

  • Hi David! I saw a post of your trip to Israel last year with the photos of their version of rugelach :) I found a recipe!

    http://www.oogio.net/nutella-rouglach

    scroll all the way down for instructions in english :)

  • I just went on Saturday afternoon, and can not thank you enough for the amazing recommendation! My friend and I each got the 5-choice plate, which was excessive (but necessary) and in that way got to taste all 10 varieties that they had available (for a measly 12€??). We were alone in the room, which felt all the more special, but also so tragic! Why weren’t people beating down the door?? We spent a ridiculously paltry 18€ on 6 glasses of wine, and after THREE hours emerged into the daylight barely able to walk we were so full of cheese and happy, and promising the lovely people there that we would return the next day. In fact, we were still full the next day and couldn’t, but it will be on the top of my list next time I return to Paris. Also, we loved the Maoz, and the Hi-Matic among your other Paris tips! THANK YOU DAVID <3

    • @ Liz; This MUST be the dream-comment for Coop!!! If they don’t invite you at every single future visit for this publicity, I don’t know…. Your words are so full of enthusiasm and praise that they made me smile and gave me ‘envie’ to top my (belated) lunch meal (fresh pasta with an excellent Roquefort-Cheese-Sauce & a huge mixed salad…) with a morsel of Beaufort! I will make do with the last bit of my Swiss Gruyère Surchoix which I bought 10 days ago when I visited my home country.

    • Glad you enjoyed it (and the falafel at Maoz, too!) I think it’s a great idea and terrific way for folks to experience a number of cheeses at a reasonable price, with the experts on hand to answer any questions. I think their location might make it not quite on the tourist trail – so was glad to feature it so people might make a slight detour to get there.

      (And now that you mentioned Maoz, I feel like I need to head back there this week…!)