Agriculture and Beaufort PDO in Haute Maurienne Vanoise

Mountain agriculture requires a particular know-how. The maintenance of the meadows, the mountain pastures, the milking of the cows in altitude, the manufacture of cheeses... Agriculture is still very present in Haute Maurienne Vanoise. Go and meet the farmers, the herds in the mountain pastures and taste the quality products made by passionate mountain people.

And who says good products says Gastronomy! Bessans ham, Sollières trout with Bonneval sur Arc blue cheese, Mont-Cenis blueberries, raspberries and wild strawberries, Aussois goat's cheese, Sollières sheep's cheese, Termignon blue cheese, mountain honeys, local beers... so many recipes to try out, to share with family and friends!

An agricultural land above all

Milk from Tarine cows to make Beaufort cheese

In the last century, few families did not have animals, cows, goats or sheep. Today, there are still many farmers and most of them supply the milk used to make the prince of Gruyère cheese, "Beaufort", PDO since 1968, but also Bleu de Bonneval sur Arc, butter and yoghurts that you will find in the sales outlets of the Haute Maurienne Vanoise dairy cooperative.

The herds of sheep and cows graze at high altitudes all summer long and thus contribute to the maintenance of the landscape. Several alpine farms welcome you and let you discover their life, hard but beautiful, their products of which they are proud. They tell you about their job, milking, haying, calving, patous, wolves...


The Dairy Cooperative

A collective system created in 1954, the Lanslebourg Cooperative merged between 1966 and 2008 with the cooperatives of the other villages to form the agricultural unit represented by the Haute-Maurienne Vanoise Dairy Cooperative.

Today, it belongs to 40 farmers. These farmers entrust the collection, processing, maturing and marketing of their Beaufort PDO and Bleu de Bonneval milk to qualified professionals, employees of their Cooperative.

11,000 wheels of Beaufort cheese are produced each year by the Haute Maurienne Vanoise Cooperative. Each of them is made on site in Val Cenis-Lanslebourg with the 5 million liters of milk collected annually from Modane to Bonneval sur Arc. Alpine Beaufort, Summer Beaufort and Winter Beaufort delight the taste buds of the most discerning gourmets!
The cheeses are made every day at the cooperative (the cows give milk every day, production does not stop on Sundays or holidays!) and it is possible to see the cheesemakers at work every morning: it is indeed possible to visit the cooperative, to see the cheesemakers at work and to discover the impressive ripening cellar where the cheeses stay for several months (minimum 5 months of ripening) before being offered for sale. A sensory experience for the whole family!

Alpine pasture, summer, winter

The different kinds of Beaufort

Beaufort cheese has an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) which imposes very strict specifications, including regular checks on the milk producers and a minimum maturing period of 5 months.
Beaufort cheese comes in the form of a wheel weighing about 40 kg, 11 to 16 cm high and 35 to 75 cm in diameter with a concave heel. This particular shape comes from its history: originally, the cheeses were produced in the mountain pastures and were brought down on the backs of mules. To prevent the cheeses from slipping during transport, this heel shape was developed to wrap a cord around the cheese wheel. All that remained was to hang a cheese on each side of the mule!

The Beaufort cheese is smooth and its color ranges from ivory to pale yellow. Its paste is initially firm at the attack in mouth then melting.

There are several types of Beaufort cheese:

  • Beaufort d'alpage : a cheese produced in altitude from a single herd
  • Summer Beaufort: a cheese produced from the milk of several herds. The cows graze directly in the meadows and mountain pastures. The cows feast on fresh herbs and flowers, so the cheese is generally more fragrant.
  • Winter Beaufort: a cheese produced from milk collected when the cows are in the barn (generally from November to May). According to the very strict specifications of the Beaufort appellation, they eat mainly local hay harvested in the summer in the valley. It is softer in the mouth.

Other cheeses from Haute Maurienne Vanoise

The Blue of Bonneval sur Arc

Both firm and unctuous, this is an original product made from the milk of cows fed in the mountain pastures. The maturing in the cellars, at least 3 months, gives it an incomparable taste, the freshness and the character of the high mountain. 30,000 pieces of 20 cm in diameter and 10 to 20 cm in height, weighing about 2.5 kg, are made each year. It is a registered trademark of the Haute Maurienne Vanoise Cooperative.

The Blue of Termignon

A cheese so rare that it is often sold before it is even made! This mild, blue-veined cheese with a natural rind is produced exclusively in the mountain pastures of Val Cenis Termignon, from the milk of herds of Tarine cows grazing at an altitude of over 2,500 m during the summer. It comes in the form of a cylinder weighing about 30 kg, 30 cm in diameter and 15 cm high. It is prepared from a sour curd mixed with a curd of the day, it is matured for 4 to 5 months.

Other cheeses are also produced in Haute Maurienne Vanoise (tome, goat and sheep cheese...). Discover them in the cheese shops or directly from the producers.


The high mountain pastures of Haute Maurienne Vanoise

Vast and numerous in Haute Maurienne Vanoise, the mountain pastures welcome cows, goats, sheep and ewes from June to September. They produce, between 1 800 and 2 500 m of altitude, up to the foot of the glaciers, a high quality milk. This milk is quickly transformed into cheese by the mountain farmers.

Cheese making consists of 8 steps:

  • Milk storage limited in time
  • The maturation of milk with ferments to develop lactic bacteria
  • The renneting and curdling process which transforms the milk from a liquid to a solid state
  • Decanting to separate the solid matter from the whey
  • Stirring and heating to drain the curd grains
  • Moulding in a curd form
  • Pressing and turning remove the serum from the cheese
  • Salting in brine or with dry salt
  • Refining, a crucial stage that gives the products their character



Hello calves, cows, goats, sheep

In the heart of the mountain pastures, you will meet several breeds of cows:

The Tarine has a uniformly tawny brown coat, black mucous membranes, a black muzzle and eye rims. Its lyre-shaped horns are white with black tips. 1,30 m at the withers for 600 to 800 kg.

The Abondance has a red mahogany dress, matched "glasses", a mask, a belly, a tail and the end of the white legs. 1,30 m at the withers for 600 to 700 kg.

For the production of Beaufort cheese, the milk of these two breeds is authorized. They are rustic breeds which make them good walkers, solid and robust.


In Haute Maurienne Vanoise, you will often come across sheep of the Thônes and Marthod breed. They are easily recognizable with their spiral horns, their white coat, their black muzzle and "glasses". Their main quality is their resistance. They spend 3 to 4 months in full freedom in the highest pastures and are the best allies for the maintenance of the landscape and the mountain pastures.

The goats

The goats present in the mountain pastures are most often of the Alpina breed, whose origin is Savoyard. They are also easily recognizable by their buff colored coat. The Alpina goat is a stocky and solid animal with good dairy qualities and a great sense of adaptation to the altitude and its sometimes difficult climatic conditions.


Men and women with a passion for multi-tasking: farmers and ski instructors


Vente directe à la ferme ou en magasin
Beauforts, bleus, tomes… Retrouvez ci-dessous les différents points de vente en Haute Maurienne Vanoise.