The Good Life France Magazine




The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...


Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

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7 months ago

Issue No. 13

A fun and festive edition: Provence, Christmas markets, brilliant book nooks in Paris, recipes, expat stories to inspire and a whole lot more - fall in love with France with us.

A young woman came out

A young woman came out of the house opposite the café and seeing we were alone asked if we would like a warming drink as by now it was raining and a slight chill was settling, high at the top of this mountain. We followed her into the farm kitchen where an old lady sat by a wood fire over which washing hung, a light steam hissed from shorts and T shirts, the previous days had been sunny and hot. Pans gleamed on a traditional dresser and in front of the window through which the mountains looked like a particularly lush and verdant painting, was a large cage with several canaries cheeping away. The old lady is Alexia Bibollet, at 89 years young she has a permanent smile and a twinkle in her eyes. The young woman who invited us in, is Rafaëlle, her granddaughter. She makes us hot chocolate with freshly pulled milk from her cows, it’s delicious and for the first time that day I’m happy the sun has gone in. "Would you like to see how we make the cheese" asks Rafaëlle, and grandmère adds "then come back and try some!" I don't have to be asked twice, this farm is very well-known for its delicious cheeses and we traipse out across the wet courtyard and into a barn. They make the cheese by hand - grandmother and granddaughter, together with several family members. "I try to make my grandmother slow down" says Rafaëlle "but she won't".

The family's 75 cows have already been milked by the time I get there. It takes 2 litres of milk to make a small Reblochon, 5 litres for a large "Rond". The curds from fresh cows milk are poured into moulds to drain and Rafaëlle pats them lovingly, this is Reblochon in the making and passion is certainly an ingredient. Within minutes the drained milk forms a round shape that wobbles like a jelly but holds together. The round cheeses to be, are put into boxes and taken into a chilled room ready to be turned and sent to a cave to mature for three weeks. They are stamped with a green label of authenticity and unique farm number 420. The cheese makers do this twice a day, 7 days a week. “Every day, Christmas Day too” says Rafaëlle when I ask if she gets at least that special day off. DID YOU KNOW Reblochon derives from the word 'reblocher' which literally translated means 'to pinch a cow's udder again'. During the 14th century, landowners would tax the mountain farmers according to the amount of milk their herds produced. So the canny farmers didn’t fully milk the cows until after the landowner had measured the yield. The milk that remains is much richer and makes for the creamy taste of Reblochon. In the 16th century Reblochon became known as "fromage de dévotion (devotional cheese) because it was offered to the Carthusian monks of the Thônes Valley by the farmers, in return for having their homesteads blessed.