France Is Home To More Than 1,200 Cheeses, Literally

Brie. Camembert. Livarot. Pont-L'Évêque. Bleu d'Auvergne. Fourme d'Ambert. Mimolette. La liste est longue (The list goes on). When it comes to fromage, the country of France certainly knows a thing or two. In fact, France is the top consumer of cheese, according to the World Population Review, with an average annual consumption rate of nearly 58 pounds per capita.

Cheese, as one can imagine based on that bold statistic, plays a major role in French culinary culture. While most cheeses can obviously be enjoyed by their plain selves, the nation's official website lists some of its most popular delectably cheesy dishes, such as Aligot (a fondue-esque medley of mashed potatoes, crème fraîche, garlic, and melty cheese), raclette, and extra fluffy cheese soufflé.

It's been estimated that there are approximately 1,800 cheeses in existence around the globe, as Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin reports. And yet, it is believed there are well over a thousand varieties of cheese hailing from France alone. Yep, you read that right. France produces more than 1,200 cheeses, according to La filière laitière française.

Cheese is a noteworthy product of France

French cheesemongers and consumers share a deep-rooted appreciation for the iconic dairy staple. And with so many types of cheese in the land known for its fashion, architecture, romantic landmarks, and of course, its gourmet cuisine, it's easy to understand why it is significant. French cheese comes in various shapes, sizes, colors, flavors, and aromas. That said, certain cheeses come in all sorts of profiles that allow them to differ from one product to the next, even slightly. As a result, France is the origin of more cheese than most turophiles can begin to imagine.

Produits Laitiers de France explains that French cheeses are primarily made from the milk of cows, ewes, goats, and buffalo, giving each and every one a unique taste, texture, and preferred usage. In addition to their animal source, French cheeses are also categorized by how they are manufactured and preserved.

The country that brought us parachutes, Braille, vaudeville, aspirin, and the little black dress has also built a cheese empire — and boy, do they take their cheese to heart. According to Cheese Connoisseur, an Appellation d'Origine Protégée (literally "controlled designation of origin") charter is a classification that certifies a cheese's authenticity. So, why is this accreditation important? An agricultural government organization called the Institut national de l'origine et de la qualité (INAO) helps steer the AOP guidelines, ensuring the consistency of genuinely French creations, including wine, butter, and yes — cheese.