La Fromagerie du Comtat Cheese Shop Provence, France


I've been following the Facebook updates for Culinary Getaways, and Sherry Page, travel and foodie extraordinaire, is yet on another exciting Culinary Getaway, this time a week in Paris and another week in Provence.



Sherry had shared pictures of their chocolate tour in Paris and I've been salivating in envy seeing the group's experiences of attending macaron class, eating gorgeous buttery pastries and enjoying exquisite dinners. Oh, if I had the time to join them!


Seeing the pictures, I'm reminded of our visit to Carpentras, a small village in the South of France.  I have fondly nicknamed this place, "the village with the red shutters," because gorgeous Provençal crimson shutters adorn just about every window of the old cement buildings in town.


Our group headed to La Fromagerie du Comtat, a splendid cheese shop run by one of the most charming and enchanting personalities that I encountered on the trip, Claudine Vigier.


Within Provence, Claudine is one of the most talented fromager affineurs or cheese agers in the region, winning several accolades and international awards for several of the cheeses she develops. In fact, Claudine has even been invited by the Vermont Cheese Council to share her techniques of developing cheeses. She was recently named Milliere Fromager de France, in a contest organized by the French government. But you would never know such accomplishments if you met Claudine in person. Her sweet, down-to-earth and modest personality would never allow for such boasting, and so I shall do it for her in this post.


Claudine grew up in the countryside and nostalgically recounts her time spent bringing fresh milk from the pastures to her home when she was as young as seven. She describes it as an enlightening, nurturing and spiritual experience. The collection of various milk pails, both antique and new, all with charming character are evidence of her inspiration to become a cheese ager.


A scan across the shop will show cheeses of all kinds, most all unpasteurized, deep, rich and nuanced in flavor, and oh-so-delicious! 


Underneath the shop is Claundine's cave, where a majority (60%) of the cheeses are brought in very young from local producers and are aged and cared for by Claudine.  Depending on the cheeses, she does everything from massaging cheese wheels to dipping them in various wines, imparting a touch that takes cheeses in the rough to levels of greatness.  I asked Claudine that how she decides how to treat each cheese. She answered simply, "I respect the cheeses." I have to believe that Claudine has an innate talent for understanding and an exemplary way of developing each cheese to its fullest potential. 


One of the notable cheeses Claudine developed is a rich young soft cheese that is dipped in a sweet muscat wine, Beaume de Venise. This refined cheese exhibits a depth of creaminess with overt hints of drunken sweetness from the Beaume de Venise, and a wonderful wholesome nuttiness that makes it great to pair with any desserts.


In addition to the cheeses, Claudine designed a gorgeous cheese knife with an olive wood handle, which is serrated on one side and made by Forge de Laguiole, an acclaimed knife maker. The design of this unique cheese knife was inspired by a bridge she encountered in the center of France, which she calls futuristic, pure and simple. I brought one back for my husband and this remains one of the more special souvenirs from Truffle Week.


Before we left La Fromagerie du Comtat, Sherry imparted a gift to Claudine, a Culinary Getaways apron personalized with her name. As I was taking pictures of her, I told Claudine of the ease of which it was to photograph her, she's just so photogenic. Claudine responded, "It's because you are taking pictures of my soul." Even translated, the French make everything sound so enchanting.


La Fromagerie du Comtat is located at 23 place de la Mairie 84200 – CARPENTRAS. Tél : 04 90 60 00 17

If you would like to see some the amazing experiences on some of these Culinary Getaways tours, please visit its Facebook page.  Sherry integrates great recipes, advice on picking farm fresh produce, methods of preparation and offers insightful interviews with a broad range of culinary figures. I hope you can visit!

Related posts:

Chez Bruno, The Ultimate Truffle Experience

Truffle Hunting in Provence

Truffle Lunch Jardin du Quai

French Cooking Class in Avignon

First of Many Truffle Dinners

55 comments:

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I well remember your trip to Provence last year. This is a fabulous post about the la Fromagerie. How I would love to be there right now, enjoying this marvelous cheese. I must have been fabulous to actually meet Claudine.
Sam

Stella said...

Oh Christine, I want to go and visit Claudine's place. She sounds like she, indeed, does have a special and mysterious talent for creating beautiful things-namely cheese;) She must just 'know' the cheese and feel what needs to be done to perfect it, or at least it seems that way...
Yum!

Cooking Gallery said...

The first two pictures are beautiful!! So delicious and colourful!

From the Kitchen said...

Ah, the cheeses! How I would love to pack my bag and visit Claudine. Thanks so much for this delicious post. I haven't finished my pot of coffee yet so I shall linger awhile and check out the Culinary Getaways.

Best,
Bonnie

Belinda @zomppa said...

What a trip!! Why am I not with you? The knowledge she has...not to mention the cheeses. Those photos transport me away....

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

These are such beautiful photos from your trip to Provence. It takes me straight to a Peter Mayle novel.

Gloria said...

OMG!! Christine this post is absolutely lovely and belle! I love cheese, I love France, and the pictures are awesome (like always) I love Provence... I wanna go there!! xx gloria

Velva said...

Wow, this post really makes me want to return France. Like NYC, each visit, you discover something new.

This was a fabulous post.

Yes, the French do have a way with words.

Lyndsey said...

I would love to visit the city of red shutters! What a wonderful visit to the cheese shop! Everything looks so interesting and fun to visit. Thnaks for bringing us there!

Debi (Table Talk) said...

I loved reading about your trip last year. I would love to get away and explore France~Italy~Spain...some day!

high low said...

Love all of your Provence posts, so I was happy to see another goodie! Oh, how I wish I could go back to France!

Chez Loulou said...

I think I need to make a field trip to La Fromagerie du Comtat. SOON!
Thank you for your beautiful introduction to this Fromagerie and to Claudine.

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

It just shows that with talent you can take beautiful pictures in the rain. Love,love,love the cheese shop.

cocinadiary said...

This is such a lovely post. The South of France is in my places to visit before I die. :) Your post makes me want to go there even more. Thanks for sharing! Angie

Emily said...

Oh my goodness...such lovely photos, and suddenly I find myself longing for a visit to France! I hope I can see all of those beautiful places in person one day. :-)

Claudia said...

"I respect the cheese." That says it all. It is a statement I will invoke - with care and when it is true and a remembrance to make it so.

Bridgett said...

Stunning, the food, the colors...you always do gorgeous posts.

bellini valli said...

I would gladly give up dessert for some of those delectable cheeses. Just stunning. What an adventure!

Magic of Spice said...

A magical post...How I would love to visit in person. Christine, you always share such delightful treasures... Cheese is a culinary blessing, and your ode to this great cheese maker is enthralling. I will not be visiting France soon, but I have passed this on to a friend that will be in Paris this month :)

El said...

What an incredible tribute to this master cheese maker. I would love to take a trip to France and learn from the best. Amazing!

Chow and Chatter said...

got to love France

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I want to live in that auburn house with the red shutters! Great photos and memories...sigh.

Mari said...

Oh my!! Those tarts look delicious. I would love to be there too! Thanks for sharing the pictures.

Have a great week :D

Asha @ FSK said...

Sighh!! Every time I talk to you/read such posts, you convince me abt going on a culinary tour!! I think one day I just might!!! see you soon! YAY

Debinhawaii said...

Your pictures are always so gorgeous and make me feel as though I was right there with you. It is so beautiful! ;-)

Kay Heritage said...

What am amazing trip,Christine! Beautiful photos of places and people.

Sherry said...

Claudine is one of the most beautiful people that I have ever met - both inside and outside. It was such a pleasure to spend time with her again last week. Your post truly captured her beauty and that of her work. Thank you so much, Christine - you are amazing! I can't wait for another Culinary Getaway with you!

tasteofbeirut said...

Carpentras is a beautiful village and Claudine sounds delightful! I love how the French carry everything to an art form and the art of caring for cheese is filling me with awe and respect: this is something one really should grow up with, I think! Did not know or imagine it was so complex and required such knowledge! Oh I wish now I had a bite of that Beaume de Venise!

A Canadian Foodie said...

What an amazing opportunity you made for yourself, Christine! I recall that is when I first started reading you - your truffle posts! These culinary tours are amazing that your friend is on... and I will get to do that kind of thing next year when I retire from teaching! Teaching has been my love, and my passion and my hobby for most of my life - but, I am so ready for another chapter!
A friend of mine, and myself, are starting a culinary tour and travel company. We have both travelled and toured extensively, and have decided to do this so we can go, too... and at a reasonable rate so that we can be very competitive. We shall see how that develops throughout this year as we plan for next. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! If you make your own turkey, I would love to have you chime in on my turkey dressing post and tell me how you do yours.
:)
Valerie

5 Star Foodie said...

Those cheeses sound amazing! As do the culinary tours! I hope I will get to go on one of those sometime :) In the meantime, I'll be sure to check the facebook page!

Cristie said...

What a sweet post, and I love the comment about "taking a picture of my soul". What a great post!

Ingrid De Villiers said...

Dear Christine

Awhhh...what a lovely post! I enjoyed every single photograph..what candy for the eyes!
thanks for posting!
I :)

Barbara said...

A lovely post, Christine! I agree about the red shutters. Such charm in Europe...you find unexpected things around every corner.

A delight to meet Claudine and hear about all those mouth-watering cheeses.

Heavenly Housewife said...

What wonderful photos. I am especially drooling over the first picture: c'est magnifique daaaahling. I so want to go back to france now and eat some yummy stuff.
*kisses* HH

bunkycooks said...

Provence is one of my favorite places to visit. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos.

lisaiscooking said...

I'm ready to pack my bags for the next tour. Sounds incredible. After reading this, I think I'm also ready to become a cheese aging assistant. How fun to be around so much delicious cheese!

Sara said...

You're killing me with all of this cheese and chocolate talk. I was in Paris for a weekend while I was in college, but I'd love to go back there now, as an adult (and foodie) and really experience it again. What a fabulous trip. So jealous!

Lori said...

Oh that cheese! There is just nothing like it in my book. Such a great recap of that wonderful trip.

Patty said...

I am embarrassed to admit that i know and understand very little about cheeses, but I would love to learn from Claudine! She seems adorable and charming (based on photos and your beautiful description) - maybe another trip to France is in store! As always, beautiful photographs...stunning.

Victoria K. said...

I miss France!! This looks like an incredible experience. As a cheese-lover, I'm especially salivating over these photographs. I hope my next vacation involves some serious cheese-tasting :)

The Duo Dishes said...

The pictures of all that cheese are quite enticing. So much cheese!

Betty Ray said...

What gorgeously delicious photos!! And Claudine looks like such a beautiful soul. What a nice vacation to look back on through your pictures.

Chef E said...

I have to learn how to slip pieces of memory into my blog as you do...this makes me yearn for Italy and Spain all over again...cheese, oh how I could dive into that with a glass of wine!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I could live in a cheese shop like this! And, nothing entices me more than a charming home with red shutters!

Chiara said...

I love cheese, probably in my previous life I was a mouse ... your report is really wonderful, I want to return to France!

nancy at good food matters said...

Wonderful post, Christine. You have really captured Claudine's love for her craft. What a sweet soul!

and, amazing looking cheeses---such an enticing shot of the array of cylinders and balls and discs of cheeses

I am intrigued by her unique knife...

Cristina said...

Christine: What a great post with fantastic images and narrative. I would love to see France one day and experience these things too {sigh}. Thank you for sharing. :)

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

I love your photos! I remember visiting some amazing cheese shops in Southern France about twenty years ago. Brings back memories...

sweetlife said...

Claudine is a sweet heart truly a warm soul, such a beautiful post, I fondly remember you truffle post,

sweetlife

Trix said...

I want to live in that house with the red shutters ... and walk to the fromagerie every day. Hmm .. is that too much to ask?? Sigh.

girlichef said...

Oh my goooooosh...wish I was there!!! So awesome and amazing photos :)

mr. pineapple man said...

those are some delicious looking desserts!

Otehlia said...

What a great story about a beautiful place. You captured the her soul in the picture, and the soul of the place in your photos and story! Lovely!!!

She's Cookin' said...

I saved your beautiful post in hopes of visiting the fromagerie during my trip to Cannes. Alor, not enough to
time and delays due to the strike! Next time!

OysterCulture said...

What an amazing and wonderful trip that must have been for you, just incredible. She reminds me of one of the instructors, also French at the Cheese School here in SF. Loved this post, I was swept to France and wishing I had an Epoisse to savor while reading.