One of the best parts about visiting any part of the world is enjoying the different regional foods and beverages. This is especially true when you visit France. Although France has many wonderful things to eat and drink, they are particularly known for their excellent and varied cheeses. Practically any region you visit has a locally made cheese, from mild Camembert to pungent bleu.

French cheese regions and the cheese they produce
French cheeses are as much a part of the region they come from as wine. The French concept of "terroir" describes this phenomenon and means the coming together of soil, grass, humidity, sun and temperature to create an ideal growing environment. Like wine, French cheese regions are protected by law. For instance, only cheese produced in Roquefort can be labeled as such. All other, similar cheese is bleu cheese.

Below are a few of the more popular French cheese regions and the cheeses they produce:

Pairing wine with cheese
Wine and cheese are a natural combination. However, the wrong wine with the wrong cheese can taste just awful. Follow these time-honored French wine and cheese pairings for success:

When in doubt, pair mild wines with mild cheeses and pair wines and cheeses together that are produced in the same region.

French cheese party tips
A French cheese party is a great way to share your passion for cheese with your friends. It's also a relatively inexpensive way to throw an elegant gathering. If you're hosting a French cheese party, follow these tips to get the most enjoyment from your Gallic cheeses:

Tasting French cheese on a barge vacation
Many barge cruise itineraries lend themselves to a cheese and wine sampling tour. Among these are cruises through the waterways of Burgundy and Champagne with visits to Auxerre, Chablis and Noyers; cruises on the Upper Loire River; and voyages on the Canal du Midi with stops at Colombiers and the walled Provencal city of Carcassonne. Of course, you don't even have to leave the barge to enjoy wonderful French cheeses and other dishes. Each vessel has its own chef on board who makes gourmet meals each day using fresh ingredients found in local markets along the cruise route. The barges also offer a fun cheese chat during your cruise explaining all the different cheeses and history. It's a delicious way to learn.

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