Agriculture and Beaufort PDO cheese

Mountain farming requires a special know-how. Maintenance of meadows and mountain pastures, cow-milking at high altitude, cheesemaking, etc. Agriculture is still very much alive in Haute Maurienne Vanoise. Go and meet the farmers, and their herds on the mountain pastures, and taste quality produce made by these mountain dwellers with a passion.

And where there’s good produce there are culinary delights! Sewn ham from Bessans, Sollières trout with blue cheese from Bonneval sur Arc, blueberries from Mont-Cenis, wild strawberries and raspberries, goat’s cheese from Aussois, sheep’s cheese from Sollières, mountain honey, beer from Oé and the Vanoise Springs… so many recipes to try, and to share with family and friends!

In the last century, rare was the family that owned no cows, goats or sheep. There are still many farmers even today, most of whom supply the milk used to make not only “Beaufort”, the star of Gruyère cheeses produced under a PDO since 1968, but also Bleu de Bonneval sur Arc, butter and yoghurt. You will find these products in the sales outlets of the Haute Maurienne Vanoise Dairy Cooperative.

The herds of sheep and cows that graze at high altitude all summer long contribute to maintaining the pasture landscape. Several mountain farms are open to visitors and will reveal the difficult but wonderful life of the farmers and the products of which they are rightly proud. They’ll be happy to tell you about their work, the milking, the haymaking, the calving, the patou dogs, the wolves, etc.

Haute Maurienne Vanoise Dairy Cooperative

Created in 1954, the Lanslebourg Cooperative merged with the other village cooperatives between 1966 and 2008, to form the agricultural unit represented by the dairy cooperative, the Coopérative Laitière de Haute-Maurienne Vanoise.

Today, it is owned by 40 farmers. They entrust qualified professionals, the employees of their cooperative, with the collection, processing, maturing and marketing of their milk for Beaufort PDO and Bleu de Bonneval-sur-Arc cheeses.

Take advantage of your stay to visit the cooperative and maturing cellars located in Val Cenis Lanslebourg, in the morning when you can see how the Beaufort cheese is made. A feast for the senses that the whole family can enjoy!

Book your visit

Do you miss Haute Maurienne and its culinary wealth?

From home, place an order via the Terroir de Maurienne website and receive the great products that you enjoyed or tasted while staying in our villages!

A real showcase for the work and expertise of the valley’s farmers and craftsmen, Terroir de Maurienne is an outlet through which these producers can promote their products locally. A charter of ethics that unites all the members of the project guarantees that production is carried out according to the rules and with respect for the environment and the local region.

Passionate men and women

Vast and numerous in Haute Maurienne Vanoise,

From June to September, the mountain pastures are home to cows, goats, and sheep that graze between 1,800 and 2,500 metres above sea level, right up to the foot of the glaciers, to produce high quality milk, which is then quickly transformed into cheese by the Alpine farmers.

Cheese is made in 8 stages:

  • Storage of the milk for a limited time
  • Maturation of milk with ferments to develop lactic acid bacteria
  • Renneting and curdling, which changes the milk from a liquid to a solid state.
  • Separating the curds from the whey
  • Stirring and heating to drain the curd grains
  • Moulding of the curd grains
  • Pressing and turning to evacuate the serum from the cheese
  • Salting in brine or with dry salt
  • Maturing, a crucial stage that brings out the products’ character

The cows

The Tarine breed has a uniformly fawn brown coat, and the mucous membranes, muzzle and eye area are black. Its lyre-shaped horns are white with a black tip. It measures 1.30 m at the withers and weighs 600 to 800 kg.

Abondance cows have a mahogany red coat and matching “glasses”, with a white face, belly and tail and the lower part of the legs is also white. It measures 1.30 m at the withers and weighs 600 to 700 kg.

These are hardy breeds which makes them good walkers, strong and robust.

The sheep

These are often Thones and Marthod breeds, with spiral horns, white wool, and a black muzzle and “glasses”. Their main quality is their endurance. They spend 3 to 4 months roaming in total freedom on the highest pastures and are the best allies when it comes to maintaining the mountain pastures.

The goats

are most often of the Alpina breed which originates from Savoie. It is easy to recognise by its buff-colored coat. This stocky and robust animal produces good dairy milk and is very good at adapting to high altitudes and the sometimes difficult weather conditions.

The cheeses

Beaufort

also called the “star of gruyères cheeses” is produced from raw whole milk. Since 1968, it has been produced under a Protected Designation of Origin which imposes very strict specifications, including regular checks on milk producers and a minimum 5-month maturing period.
It is produced in wheels, each weighing around 40 kg, of 11 to 16 cm in height and 35 to 75 cm in diameter, with a concave heel. It has a smooth texture and an ivory to pale yellow colour, and begins firm in the mouth before softening.
11,000 Beaufort wheels are produced each year by the Haute Maurienne Vanoise Cooperative. Each of them is made on the premises in Val Cenis Lanslebourg from the 5 million litres of milk collected annually from Modane to Bonneval sur Arc. Cheese connoisseurs will appreciate the finesse of the Beaufort d’Alpage, the Beaufort d’Eté and the Beaufort d’Hiver!

Bleu de Bonneval sur Arc

This firm yet creamy blue cheese is an original product made from the milk of cows that graze on the mountain pastures. It matures in the cellars for a mininum of 3 months, which gives it an incomparable taste and the freshness and character of the high mountains. 30,000 pieces of a diameter of 20 cm and a height of 10 to 20 cm, each weighing about 2.5 kg, are produced every year. Its name is a registered trademark of the Haute Maurienne Vanoise Cooperative.

Bleu de Termignon

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

Meet the experts

Here, in the heart of Savoie, mountains and agriculture merge. Men and animals share the great outdoors to give us their very best.

Listen to the sound of the cowbells, go exploring the mountain scenery, farms and pastures, taste the exceptional produce, and get closer to nature…

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