Auvergne is one of the main PDO cheese-producing regions, representing nearly a quarter of all French production and no less than 5 cheeses of Protected Designation of Origin.
And here you are in the land of one of those PDO cheeses, Saint-Nectaire!
Made since the days of the Arverni, the unique PDO Saint-Nectaire cheese originally won its spurs in the 17th century when it was introduced to the court of the Sun King (no less!) by Henri de Senneterre, a Marshal of France. Louis XIV also became fond of this cheese and, ever since, Saint-Nectaire has been one of the stars of the Massif du Sancy.
It is savoured at every table, both in restaurants and in households.
The Massif du Sancy, in the very heart of the Saint-Nectaire PDO production area
The ancient authenticity of traditional Saint-Nectaire farmhouse cheese is guaranteed by the very specific requirements of its Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
The Saint-Nectaire PDO area extends across the French departments of Cantal and Puy-de-Dome, with the Massif du Sancy sitting right in the middle! Indeed, the villages of Besse et Saint-Anastaise, Chambon-sur-Lac, Chastreix, Compains, Egliseneuve-d'Entraigues, Espinchal, La Bourboule, La Godivelle, Le Vernet Sainte-Marguerite, Le Mont-Dore, Montgreleix, Murat-le-Quaire, Murol, Picherande, Saint-Diéry, Saint-Genès-Champespe, Saint-Nectaire, Saint-Pierre-Colamine, Saint-Victor-La-Rivière and Valbeleix are all within the geographical area where traditional "Saint-Nectaire" cheese is produced on farms and in dairies.
You can taste this outstanding PDO cheese at the farm or during a meal in one of the region’s traditional restaurants. Our tourist office suggests various restaurants serving local dishes, where you can taste this product during a family meal and match it with a good local wine!
Did you know...?
The people of Sancy love their food and are generous too! Besides the inevitable PDO Saint-Nectaire cheese, you can also try the other cheeses of Auvergne: Cantal, Salers, Fourme d’Ambert and Bleu d’Auvergne. No less than four other PDO cheeses.
Some of the farmers open their doors twice daily, every morning and evening, to share with you their love of the job and show you first-hand how they milk the cows and produce Saint-Nectaire and other local cheeses. This is an experience nobody should miss!
Saint-Nectaire PDO farmhouse cheese is made from raw, whole cow’s milk, straight after the morning and evening milking sessions and always with milk from a single farm. It is a cheese of character with a grey rind and a strong taste.
Dairy Saint-Nectaire is made at the dairy with milk from different farms located within the designation area. Made from pasteurised milk, this cheese has a milder flavour and is popular among children. Its rind is orangey-yellow.
Apart from their colour, the cheeses can be identified by the casein PDO sticker placed on each one, an oval sticker for farmhouse cheese and a square one for dairy cheese.
Yummy ! It has a small taste of hazelnuts, an unique flavour directly coming from surrounding pastures.
It ripens for a minimum of 4 weeks to give the cheese its specific taste. This stage requires the special care and attention of an expert.
The cheeses are ripened at the farm or in a cheese-ripener’s cellar.
Over the first fortnight they are washed several times in salty water, then rinsed in clear water. Next they are turned at regular intervals to allow the characteristic rind to form. The rind is edible and has a multiple, more exquisite taste.
Did you know...?
In the Massif du Sancy, unlike other cheese-producing regions, you cannot visit the ripening cellars. For reasons of hygiene, their access is restricted to the profession.