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Hold your nose! These are France’s five stinkiest cheeses

PUBLISHED: 11:04 05 September 2018

A delicious selection of cheeses. Pic: Chris Buecheler/Wikimedia Commons

A delicious selection of cheeses. Pic: Chris Buecheler/Wikimedia Commons


The significance of cheese in the French way of life simply cannot be underestimated and while discussing our favourites, we decided to investigate which ones pack the biggest punch when it comes to smell.

Epoisses de Bourgogne. Pic: Olivier Colas/Wikimedia CommonsEpoisses de Bourgogne. Pic: Olivier Colas/Wikimedia Commons

From the fromage so stinky it’s been banned from being taken on public transport, to the pungent offering that scientists have proven to be the pongiest, we run down the top five of France’s smelliest cheeses.

5. Epoisses de Bourgogne – You know you can expect a sharp pong from a cheese so infamously stinky that people are banned from taking it on public transport in France.

Said to be a favourite of Napoleon – maybe during his years in exile where his friends couldn’t complain about the smell – it is made from raw cow’s milk and its rind is washed with brandy. It is normally presented in a round box and when left out to be eaten, it quickly softens and can even be eaten with a spoon. If you can ignore the smell, it really is a delicious cheese but just remember when buying Epoisses, to ensure you have your own car or a short walk home.

4. Roquefort – One of the most well-known and sought after blue cheeses has a history as remarkable as its odour. On June 4, 1411 King Charles VI of France granted a monopoly for the ripening of the cheese to the people of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon but it had already been made for centuries and is though to date back to AD79. In modern times, under European law, only the cheeses aged in the natural Cambalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon may bear its famous name. Made from raw ewes milk, the taste soon overcomes anyone’s fears over a lack of pasteurisation.

Munster cheese has a fat content of 45-50%. Pic: Arnaud25/Wikimedia CommonsMunster cheese has a fat content of 45-50%. Pic: Arnaud25/Wikimedia Commons

3. Munster – This cheese made mainly from milk from the Alsace, Lorraine and Franche-Comté regions, is referred to by some as a monster cheese (see what they did there) due to its particularly pungent smell. But the name actually comes from the small town of Munster where abbeys and monasteries have made the cheese since the middle ages. The tasty, soft cheese is left to mature in damp cellars and its rind is washed regularly with salted water which offers protection and gives it a penetrating aroma. It’s also not the healthiest of cheeses – it has a fat content of 45-50%.

2. Pont l’Évêque – Said to be one of the oldest cheeses in France, dating back to the 13th century and the block you buy from the supermarket today smells like it could have been made hundreds of years ago. A semi-soft cheese with an edible rind, some reviewers have referred to its interior as smelling like horse droppings – shall I cut you a slice now or later? But like many of its stinky fellow fromages, the creamy taste and rich flavour make it a delight for those who get over the aroma. The square-shaped product is an excellent dessert cheese and goes down well with a robust red.

1. Vieux-Boulogne – Scientifically proven to be the smelliest cheese in the world, this pungent offering comes from Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France. A test was undertaken by experts who used an ‘electronic nose’ and a panel of human testers who were asked to sample 14 of the whiffiest cheeses available and give their views. The results showed that Vieux Boulogne was the real humdinger of the cheese world, beating allcomers from around the globe. The smell comes from its rind which is soaked in beer for up to nine weeks, with the beer reacting with enzymes in the cheese.

Article by France Magazine France Magazine

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