America’s cheese merchants have never been more knowledgeable or numerous, but for me, Paris still sets the bar. With only three days to spend there in June, I didn’t make the grand rounds, but I did find a few shops that were new to me and thrilling to visit. File these addresses for the next time fortune brings you to France.
Au Coeur du Marché
28 rue d’Aligre
I stumbled on this well-stocked shop while exploring the bustling Marché d’Aligre, a daily (except Monday) outdoor market that occupies several blocks of a lively retail street. The cheeses are international, and the goat cheese selection is especially strong. If I were a cheesemaker, I would copy the charming Olivia, a fresh goat disk studded with chopped black olives and accessorized with an olive sprig (pictured above). With crostini and a glass of rosé, a perfect hors d’oeuvre.
62 rue de Sèvres
Is this the most tantalizing cheese shop ever? I nominate it. The huge inventory is deep in washed-rind cheeses (why offer one Epoisses when you can stock three?), Loire Valley goat disks and alpine wheels, including a three-year-old Comté. Shimmering fruit jams in unusual flavors, pâtes de fruits (fruit jellies) in gemstone colors and a wine selection long on Alsatian whites convinced me that Quatrehomme would suck up a lot of my income if I lived in Paris. Another idea to borrow: the bar of cheese dips and spreads, including fromage blanc with roasted red peppers and another alluring version with cucumbers.
133 rue Saint-Charles
I’ve been a fan of Pascal Beillevaire, the French cheese maker, merchant and affineur, since he began shipping his cheeses to the Bay Area a few years ago. The sheep’s milk Tomme Brulée, washed-rind Secret du Couvent, and the cow’s-milk Vendéen Bichonné from Brittany are among the gems Beillevaire either makes or matures. This shop was his first—he now has a small chain in France—and although it is not large, it carries several of the Beillevaire creamery’s own inventions, like the walnut liqueur-washed Brun de Noix. Fabulous Beillevaire butter, too.