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The yogurt aisle in any French supermarket is the largest, longest, most well-stocked aisle in the store. (Wine, I think, runs a close second.) While there’s a disconcerting number of dubious treats there (coconut macaron or lemon madeleine-flavored yogurt anyone?) the simplest varieties are wonderful.

I’m hopelessly boring, but I like whole milk plain yogurt, which is my afternoon snack. I eat it with dried fruits, a tipple of berry syrup, or just slicked with honey. Luckily yogurt here comes in handy 4-ounce portions, the perfect size, and I don’t miss those hefty pots of purple, super sweet, gelatin-thickened gloop, which barely resembles what yogurt even is. In between all the yogurts here, you’ll find a few oddities buried in there.

The bad ones in the brightly-colored packaging, though, I find oddly alluring, like the profiterole-flavored number I saw recently. But there’s plenty of good things in that dairy case. One of my absolute favorites is caillé.


This caillé is made from coagulating sheep’s milk (unlike caille, or quail, which are created by an entirely different process) and the first time I had it, I’d just arrived in France and was at a friend’s apartment, and he gave me one. All I could do was shout out an all-American—Oh my God!

It was a smooth, almost jellied, gently-sweet little pot of magic. I’m an unsweetened kinda guy, preferring to do my own tinkering. And although plain caillé is an option, for some reason, the small bit of sugar added makes this a perfect little treat exactly as it is. The sugar isn’t a full-on sugary assault, but kicks in a few moments after you take a bite, allowing you to savor the tangy taste of the lait de brebis first.

Un petit pot de paradis.

Curiously, my local Franprix grocery store has a staggering amount of yogurts, except—get this: they don’t carry plain, whole milk. So I’m often reduced to splurging on caillé. Not that I’m complaining. I just hope these don’t disappear, too. Otherwise, things are gonna get ugly.

Related links:

Making homemade cottage cheese

Le Petit Suisse

Brie de Meaux

Cheesecake Brownie Recipe

Fromagerie François Olivier

Caillé (Wikipedia)

Madame Loïk



    • Jennifer K

    I know what you mean about French yogurt aisles. At first I was amazed that they would carry so many different brands of unflavored yogurt. I thought all plain yogurts were probably the same. Now that’s all I buy (usually whole-milk Greek yogurt), and I add whatever flavorings I want. The caillé texture looks really nice, I want to give it a try. I hope they have it in my Intermarché out here in the French boonies!

    • Barbra

    I’m with you on the whole milk issue. Am I misreading the label or does Caillé also contain un peu de vanille? Sounds perfect. Now, if only I could pronounce “yaourt” correctly…

    • David

    Barbra: Ha ha! I got ya on the pronunciation of yaourt. It get poked fun of a lot on that one. Last night at a dinner party we practiced écureuil, which I think I got, and séchage, which is still my nemesis.

    • Jennifer K

    Had to chip in again…it’s funny you mentioned “écureuil.” While I can pronounce “yaourt,” there are still lots of words I have trouble with, and my French boyfriend laughs at me. When that happens, I just make him say the English word for écureuil, “squirrel,” and he can never do it. I laugh and laugh and laugh…

    • Aran

    Like I said earlier, seeing and reading about this is like torture for me. If I am not mistaken, this is the equivalent of the Basque mamia (like we call it in Basque) or the cuajada (like they call it in Spanish). This summer I went through a crazy dairy craving and ended up making mamia and petit suisse at home. I made the mamia with goat’s milk because I couldn’t find sheep’s milk. My favorite was always with a bit of honey. Ai ama!!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • priya

    what you write about seems similar to the homemade yoghurt that i make and eat everyday after a meal (except in winter when the curd doesn’t set). it is just like how you describe, but of course mine in made of cow’s milk.

    • holler

    I really enjoy eating natural or greek yoghurt plain, with no adornment, but I have to admit I am very intrigued by the coconut macaron and lemon madeleine-flavored yoghurt you passed. Still, the little pots of caillé do sound appealing.

    • Amanda

    Gorgeous photos & description. If I ever make it back to Europe I’ll be sure to try it!

    • Gera @ SweetsFoods

    Hi David!

    As I’ m in a country full of cows, I see yogurts of every type with fruits, diet, more or less probiotics with several tastes.. mine plain yogurt sometimes flavoured with peaches or red fruits but sheep’s milk yogurt is a debt for me!!..
    I’ll search at the supermarket in French imported stuff…looks very interesting to try ;)

    • sheikhbake

    what about st malo david? what. about. st. malo????? it comes in the same style wax cups.. awesome graphic design with st malo btw.. its like they redesigned in the seventies and said ‘basta’ and fired their whole graphisme department.

    • Gemma

    I used to love all those flavouried yoghurts whereas my half French boyfriend has always preferred the plain home made variety (surprise, surprise) but now I am on his side. My preferred snack being Total 0% Greek yoghurt with a little honey, I need to restock as soon as I leave work. Must try the caillé next time we’re over.

    • TamiM

    Oh , David, how this brings me back to my first trip to Paris where I neary fainted at the yogurt ailse. The one I particular covet and dream of they sell in the fromegeries, in little small glass jars with a pile of vanillla beans in it. Only in France I say! I think it was abut 10% fat, but it is heaven. As a bonus the jars make excellent win glasses when picnicing!

    • Camille

    Funny, I just did a post about the expansive French yogurt aisle myself. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I will soon!

    • radish

    I can only wish for the day that our supermarkets might have such extensive selection of yogurt. I agree with you – the plain ones are just superior to the starchy goop. Though I have to admit, I’ve never had anything but a cow’s milk yogurt and i’m curious to try it. My mom is giving me a yogurt starter this weekend when I see her, so I can make the magic at home!! I can’t wait!

    • ThePurpleFoodie

    The yougurt there is available is so many flavours? WOW! You’re surely living a sweet life. I feel like making some vanilla yoghurt now.

    • Lynn in Tucson

    I lost my heart to frommage blance au sucre when I lived there. I blame my restaurant-owning host family….

    • krysalia

    I never tried sheep milk yaourt before (won’t be long till I try now, your fault !), but I really have a thing with plain yogurts with firm texture presented in little card pots instead of glass (noisy) or plastic (dull) ones.

    I hope those little treasuries are distributed anywhere in france :)

    • Fiona

    Yoghurt in France (and in England, I thought – the M&S flavors were yummy) is exceptional. But I have hope for us over here. When I was a kid there was *nothing* but Dannon (unless you made your own). Then there was Yoplait, various diet yoghurts, and finally (finally!) people starting to see greek yoghurt in the aisle.

    And I’m talking about at Meijer in Kentucky, not at Whole Foods in Boulder.

    These days, there are 2 different types of greek yoghurt to choose from. I figure that by the time I start saying, “Oh, I’m eating this for my bone density, not because it’s like dairy porn,” I’ll have even better options.

    In the meantime, next time we’re in France I plan to eat my way through that entire aisle at the Super U.

    • Paula Maack


    The Caille sounds excellent. Is there a gelling agent in it to give it that texture?

    I am a big fan of plain, whole milk yogurt, as well. Although I do enjoy a nice mild vanilla, on rare occasions, much like your caille. Have you ever tried making your own? My mom got into making her own yogurt when I was a kid – briefly. And, I am pretty sure the yogurt maker landed right in the Goodwill donation bin, after a half dozen batches, or so.

    I have been meaning to make my own yogurt, ever since I ran across Oggi’s post on I Can Do That!, about Homemade Greek-Style Yogurt. She makes it (and everything else) look so easy.

    You strike me as the diligent kind of guy who would make his own yogurt. But then, you would miss out on all that fun in the dairy aisle, now wouldn’t you?


    ~ Paula

    • Lee

    I miss European yogurt more than anything else I think.

    • Kristin

    The French supermarket yogurt aisle is one of the big things I miss about France. When I came back to Canada after living in France I had a hard time finishing an individual yogurt, partly because it’s just not as good here, but also because in North America everything seems to be bigger! The portion was 185g instead of about 115g in France!
    My favourite yogurts are the ones in the little glass pots a la vanille or au noix de coco. Mmmmmmm! I love how they are firm and so creamy, and when you lift your spoon out the indentation stays!
    And as for pronouncing yaourt, we have a little joke at our house. My boyfriends little (French) cousine couldn’t pronounce it when she was little and always called it ya-root. So that’s what we call it now. Much simpler than yaourt!

    • Laura

    Is the process the same as making cow’s milk yogurt (except, obviously you use sheep’s milk)?

    • David

    sheikhbake: I’ve never tried St. Malo, but love the way you describe their packaging. Like they just fired the graphics crew in the 70s. Perfect description!

    Laura & Paula: This is made with rennet (no gelling agents), I believe, unlike yogurt, which is cultured so it’s pretty different tasting. Not tangy at all.

    holler: For some reason, I love looking at those weird flavors. There’s a brand, Mamie Nova, that’s always coming up with some odd-ball varieties. I’ve seen green tea, lemon macaron, violet (ick!), white chocolate (hmmm….might not be so bad…), licorice (ick!), rhubarb, melon, gingerbread, chestnut, and chocolate-coconut.

    • Sara

    Caille sounds lovely.
    I like Greek yogurt with honey or a little granola to sweeten it, or even better made into frozen yogurt!

    • Ann

    Oh David! I gulped as soon as I saw the picture! I absolutely adored the yogurt in Paris, but unfortunately the yogurt sold in supermarkets here don’t come close… I’ll definitely be trying the Caille when I go to Paris next

    • Hilary

    I also remember my first encounter with a French supermarket dairy aisle and the delicious treat that I am on a seemingly endless quest to find or recreate Stateside; the pot au creme. Sold in convenient, indidvidual baby food-sized jars with flavors and creamy texture I’m still dreaming about. Ah, thanks for the memories.

    • dawn

    I do love European yogurt. I wish it was here in the usa. I think of all places Whole Foods would jump on that band wagon and serve it already–I know they would make lots of cash doing so.

    • lindaust

    I miss those little glass jars with vanilla yaourt and will try all these other suggestions next time in Paris. I am making lots of EasyYo Yoghurt at the moment – greek style full fat unsweetened. I use a yohurt maker instead of their flask that they suggest. It is such a smooth thick yoghurt that I find it hard to believe that it contains only natural ingredients. It is manufactured in NZ and is available worldwide I believe. I suggest if it is available to you that you give it a go and you will be very surprised. Thanks again for the great site David!

    • Roberto N.

    When I worked for Eric Briffard at Les Elysées, we used to get this wonderful Caillé de Brebis. We used to make a delicious sorbet from it. Pretty straightforward recipe too. Just mixed it with simple syrup and churned.

    • Mimi

    We buy so much yogurt in France that we have a cupboard full of those little glass jars and bottles here at home because I cannot bear to through them out. I really have to try some of those other flavors. To date, it’s been vanilla and unflavored. I’m so boring.

    • Stephanie

    This may be heresy, but I just never got into the yogurts in France. I’m not really a lover of them in the US either. My host family ate each had their favorite that they had every night after dinner. I was probably missing out.

    • charlotte

    Ohhh…. le yaourt français…. so good. And so decadent. I really like Mamie Nova, even with all her odd offerings.
    I would take a liégeois gourmand café over dessert most days.

    • Rachel

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who misses European yogurt (especially French, but British runs a very close second). I’m also glad to see I’m not the only one amused by – even occasionally tempted to try – all the dodgy flavours in France. The only one I ever dared try was canteloupe, and… well, canteloupe is lovely, and yogurt is lovely, but together – I think not. :P

    I always wondered what caille was, so that’s going on the to-try list for my next trip to France.

    • Margie

    It is hazardous to my health that I read your posts right before bedtime. Boo-Hiss. Now I am off to raid the refrigerator, oh, and to pull the yogurt maker from its recesses. Maybe this is a good thing? Yes. This is a wonderful thing!

    • David

    Mimi: I’m with you. I find the taste of the plain yogurt so good that I don’t really want it messed with.

    dawn: There’s a place in San Francisco called Made in France that had open warehouse sales, and you could buy French yogurt and other goodies there. I never went, but I heard they were mobbed with French people yearning for a taste of home.

    The discontinued the sales (perhaps because, admittedly, the French don’t excel at waiting in lines…), but they are introducing some sort of online events. You can check at Le Village for more info.

    Rachel: I’m with you (too) on those oddball flavors. Sometimes I think, “Well, I should give it a try…” but then I can’t bring myself to do it. Perhaps if they were sold individually, instead of in a 4-pack, it’d be less of a committment.

    Roberto: That sounds great! I’ve been trying to get my hands on some sheep’s milk, or even goat’s milk that’s not sterilized, to churn up some ice cream. But I haven’t been able to find any. Perhaps next summer when I head out to the countryside I’ll find some.

    When I lived in upstate New York, there was a goat dairy just down the street and they made the most amazing strawberry ice cream with goat milk.

    • Evie deMoller

    David……… The memory of the most delicate,flower-scented yogurt in Italy just can never be forgotten. Have you ever heard of this?? That was over 20 yrs. ago and I have not ever seen them in my travels again.

    • Karen

    I fell in love with the yogurt on my first trip to Paris with my best friend. The small market where I bought it was around the corner from our apartment. I hated yogurt but bought it because it came in a cute terra cotta crock that I was charmed by. I decided to taste it as I was about to scrape the yogurt into the garbage and I fell in love. I was so taken with it that I got my best friend to also try it and she was hooked. We came home with a suitcase full of those crocks. I searched far and wide for something like it here in the states, but went back to hating yogurt. Last year, my husband went to Paris with me. I insisted on stopping in every market looking for that yogurt. He, being a yogurt lover, bought several different kinds and loved them all. In the middle of our trip, I made it to the market where I had bought the yogurt on my last trip and there it was! I bought all they had and even my husband admitted it was the best. It had strawberry in the bottom. Of course, I hauled home the crocks! Wake up US yogurt makers!!

    • Kristin

    I love yogurt. I just recently started making my own and it’s delicious. My favorite is plain with a swirl of maple syrup.

    • K

    This is one thing that I do from scratch that you buy – I can’t believe it!

    It is just so blooming easy, and, at my house, so darned much cheaper – we make it.

    My kids don’t sweeten nearly as much as the store-bought crap (can you believe they sell cotton-candy flavored yogurt for kids?). And, we can plow through a half-gallon (no kidding) in a few days.

    • Sunny

    My KID prefers whole milk plain sweetened yogurt. Hubby eats the fruit stuff, we stick to the nature sucre.

    On your recommendation, though — bought the 100% brebis from the bio aisle today. Wasn’t sweetened, though, so stirred in a little marmalade. Gorgeous texture — will try the caille another time!

    Also gave in and tried Mamie Nova’s coquelicot today — a little too sweet, but I love coquelicot, so it was a nice change. (that was late breakfast and a late lunch, by the way, lest anyone have images of a crazy lady curled in the corner of her kitchen surrounded by empty yogurt pots).

    Mamie today had white chocolate and Grand Marnier, which I thought about long and hard.

    • parisbreakfast

    YES! Bonne idee
    Surely there is some way you can become the yogurt messiah and bring French style home to the USA?
    Why have they overlooked this?
    Soooo frustrating
    I even saw where Stoney Brook Farms had the nerve to take their organic yogurt to France?!
    What can they be thinking?
    Did they bother to taste the local brew?
    I simply don’t get why we can not have this yogurt here!!!

    • La Rêveuse

    This is why we make our own in the states. Cornstarch and pectin have no place in yogurt. I’ll be there in May, will have to stop in for some. :)

    • Sunny

    The amazing thing is that Yoplait and Dannone both produce and sell yogurt in the US — but the US products will never, ever be comparable to their French counterparts. It’s sooo much better here.

    Stonyfield is far too sweet for my tastes, although I used their plain as a starter when I had a yogurt maker. THEN I could make my whole-milk, lightly sweetened plain yogurt to my own tastes. I love them, though, for their commitment to sustainability and lack of chemical additives.

    I don’t have a yogurt maker here, because of the voltage issues — and am having a hard time justifying the cost, because good yogurt is so cheap and plentiful here.

    • Anna

    When I arrived in France two weeks ago (for a semester abroad), I nearly passed out when I saw the yogurt aisle in Monoprix. I think most of the calories I’ve consumed since then have come either in the form of yogurt or bread. or butter–speaking of which, do you know of any Lyon purveyors of that Bordier butter you enjoy so much? i love the supermarket butters with sea salt crystals that are available everywhere, but it sounds like the butter you use is on a whole ‘nother level of fatty, salty, dairy goodness.
    Mamie Nova does have some wacked-out flavors, but the noix de coco is, well, orgasmic. but then again, i’m a real sucker for anything coconut. however, i just tried the caramel flavoured one…my advice would be to avoid that one. unless you like your yaourt slimy.

    • Karen Schaffer

    I have sweet memories of the Fruits et Fleurs yogurts I ate in France, oh, 20 years ago. They’ve long since disappeared, afaik, but they had charming flavors like Pêche et Rose, Fraise et Lavandre, and more.

    • Gina

    Ah, real yogurt. I never liked yogurt until I went to Italy. Once I tried the real deal, I understood. Now I can eat American yogurt, but the cornstarchy, pectiny texture, excessive sweetness, and lack of tang is so disappointing. My local grocery briefly carried a wonderful Canadian yogurt, but now it is only available to me via Whole Foods which I rarely visit as it is 45 minutes away: Liberté. The plum walnut is divine….

    • Irene

    Ah, for a second I thought this might be lait caille, the Senegalese specialty. It’s a delicious, thin yogurt sauce with a slight lemon taste that my host family ate poured over hot millet. Frankly, no idea how to make it even though I ate it once a week for a summer. Seriously, seek this out, it’s amazing. Also known as thiakry.

    Have you eaten much Senegalese food in your travels? If so, more specifically, any recommendations for Senegalese food/restaurants in Paris?

    • serena

    @Irene: You inspired me to comment because I have just returned from a year in West Africa (based out of Dakar) & really miss it! no surprises where the Senegalese lait caille comes from, although I think thiakry is cut with sour cream too. There are heaps of Senegalese restaurants in Paris I should think, based on the listings we used to find in le 221. This may be a start.

    • martine silber

    try “yaourt”, it’s easier

    • Lisa

    Among my favorite souvenirs are those teeny little glass yogurt jars. I have a service for eight now. Perfect for a late afternoon sherry.

    • Karen

    My favorite is grapefruit (pamplemousse) yogurt. I have never been able to find it in the States, but I’m not surprised by this fact. It was the perfect mix of slightly sweet and tart, finishing bright and refreshing a citrus should. (I have no idea what brand it was, as it was whatever my host family bought.)

    • Cheryl

    Okay, just to clarify (from what I’ve read here)- what makes it caille is it the rennet or is it the sheep’s milk? DUH- just looked up the verb ‘cailler’ in a dictionary- ‘to curdle’. THAT mystery is solved.

    Why is it then considered a yogurt and not a fromage frais (faisselle?) if it uses rennet instead of bacteria?

    As an aside, I mis-heard someone who was talking about this the other day and thought they said ‘les cahiers’ and couldn’t understand why that entered in a food conversation, especially when used with words like creamy… In all fairness, it was an American talking, but she has a fabulous accent and I am not sure that it would have made a difference if it had been a Lyonnaise talking…at least that’s my story and I am sticking to it! (apologies to my friend who is taking the rap!).

    • David

    Cheryl: I don’t think this is considered yogurt, although it’s found in the same aisle, along with faisselle and fromage blanc. I guess one would call is, technically, a cheese (or if you want to get super-technical, a potted cheese) since it’s curdled with rennet.

    Yes, it’s funny how cahiers sounds remarkably similar to caillé to non-native French speakers, kind of like we have words like they’re and their which sound the same, but mean two different things.

    • Bathsheva

    The next time you are in the New York area, try Ronnybrook Creamline
    Yogurt. It’s even better than Brown Cow or Butterworks Farm yogurt.
    Thank you for your wonderful posts

    • Susan

    We just tried caille’ this morning. It’s…interesting. I think it would be brilliant stirred into lentil soup or a Greek-style lamb stew, but mutton-flavored yoghurt first thing in the morning, and on an upset stomach to boot? Doesn’t quite hit the spot. Back to plain old boring Activia or equivalent. Might have to tr.y the coconut flavor..

    I never fail to marvel that over here food really tastes like what it is, without an arm’s-length list of stabilizers, flavor enhancers, preservatives, and sweeteners.

    • Elisabeth

    Okay, David – I’ve exhausted my options for getting French yogurt (preferably in glass pots) in the Midwest. My first inclination when I first tried it in France was to tuck the beautiful glass jars in my suitcase, but my husband and friends thought I was nuts! Now, I’ve scoured Indiana, Michigan and even called San Francisco and Seattle in search of French of the Italian Spega yogurt. I even contacted Spega in Italy who told me it is carried by Costco in the US. I don’t think Costco knows this, because I called several stores and I was put on hold for an eternity and they do not carry it. So, any leads? Thank you!

    • David

    Elisabeth: Since I don’t live in the US, I can’t advise where to get French yogurt but Le Village does carry a certain amount of them, so give their site a look.


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