Agriculture and Beaufort PDO in Haute Maurienne Vanoise

Mountain farming requires a special kind of know-how. Maintaining meadows and mountain pastures, milking cows at altitude, making cheeses... Agriculture is still very much alive in Haute Maurienne Vanoise. Come and meet the farmers, see 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, there were very few families who didn't have cows, goats or sheep. Today, there are still many farmers, and most of them supply the milk used to make the prince of Gruyères cheese, Beaufort, PDO since 1968, as well as Bleu de Bonneval sur Arc, butter and yoghurts, which you can buy from the Cooperative laitière de Haute Maurienne Vanoise.

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 every year by the Cooperative de Haute Maurienne Vanoise. Each one is made on site at 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 even the most discerning gourmets!
The cheeses are made every day at the cooperative (the cows give milk every day, so production doesn't stop on Sundays or public holidays!), and it's possible to see the cheesemakers at work every morning: you can visit the cooperative, see the cheesemakers at work, and discover the impressive ripening cellar where the cheese remains for several months (minimum 5 months of ripening) before being offered for sale. A sensory experience for all the 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

Firm yet creamy, this is an original product made from the milk of cows fed in mountain pastures. Matured in our cellars for a minimum of 3 months, it has the incomparable taste, freshness and character of the high mountains. 30,000 pieces, each 20 cm in diameter, 10 to 20 cm high and weighing around 2.5 kg, are produced each year. It is a registered trademark of the Cooperative de Haute Maurienne Vanoise.

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 at Haute Maurienne Vanoise (tome, goat's and sheep's cheeses, etc.). Discover them in cheese shops or directly from producers.


The high mountain pastures of Haute Maurienne Vanoise

Vast and numerous at Haute Maurienne Vanoise, the mountain pastures are home to cows, goats, sheep and ewes from June to September, producing high-quality milk at altitudes of between 1,800 and 2,500 m, right up to the foot of the glaciers. This milk is then 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.


At Haute Maurienne Vanoise, you'll often come across sheep of the Thônes and Marthod breeds. They are easily recognized by their spiral horns, white coat and black muzzle and "glasses". Their main quality is their resistance. They spend 3 to 4 months in the wild on the highest pastures, and are the best allies in maintaining the landscape and 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

Cheese dairies

Direct sales at the farm or in store
Beauforts, blues, tomes... Find below the different points of sale in Haute Maurienne Vanoise.
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