Cheese, glorious cheese… is revered all over France and none more so than the well-known Reblochon cheese. Hailing from the Haute Savoie, the local Savoyards are very proud of their cheeses. An annual summer fête for the famous Reblochon is testament to this fact…
Reblochon was born in the 13th century in Thones, a small market town that still proudly calls itself the capital of Reblochon and it’s where the main production of this creamy cheese is centred. It gained AOC status in 2008 and is one of only 47 French cheeses currently to hold this prestigious status.
This was my first visit to the annual Reblochon Festival in La Clusaz in the Haute Savoie and I had no idea how popular it would be. La Clusaz is a traditional Savoyard village in the Aravis mountain range with a town square and attractive church and is a well-known ski resort. People were swarming in from all sides and all parts of France, coach loads delivering eager Reblochon and tartiflette fans and free bus services running from opffsite parking areas. The wonderful aroma of tartiflette cooking wafted all around, and a local Savoyard band in their regional costumes were enthusiastically singing and playing to a happy swaying crowd.
Woodsmen showed off their skills, demonstrating classic wood crafting and carving. It was fascinating to watch them make a small section of a traditional wooden tiled roof (a tavaillon) using the historic tools that would have been used in years gone by.
There were other craftsmen and women demonstrating traditional skills used in former times in this region such as spinning wool and working with leather. A procession of sheep, goats and cows travelled through the town to the fête, along with carnival style floats carrying the craftsmen. There are competitions for the best herds and I even saw a guess-the-weight-of-the-sheep competition! The herdsmen paraded ringing huge cow bells and many local people dressed in their traditional costumes. The conviviality and feeling of a close community at this fête was really heart-warming, especially for those who understand the importance of good French produce.
Cheese tasting was very much at the fore and the cheeses on offer alongside the Reblochon fermier were Abondance, Tomme de Savoie, Tomme Blanche and Chevrotin (a Reblochon style round cheese made with goats cheese). All cheeses hailing from the Savoie region. Other Savoyard specialties were also on offer, including mountain charcuterie and artisanal breads and beers.
I hardly need to tell you what the main item on the menu for lunch was, but I have never seen such an enormous tartiflette pan, in fact there were two. Other Savoyard dishes included Diots with polenta. A gorgeous array of sweet tarts were on offer too.
This Reblochon festival was clearly thoroughly enjoyed by the local farmers and Savoyards, many of whom were dressed in their traditional costumes. The celebrations continued well into the evening with dinner and dancing
This is a fun day out for all the family offering great rural entertainment. It is normally held annually mid-August and I think it may have to become an annual pilgrimage for me…
Check out our delicious recipe for mussels and white wine with Reblochon cheese
Caro Blackwell is a passionate foodie and professional photographer living in the Haute Savoie, Rhone Alps region of France. She blogs at www.tasteofsavoie.com indulging her passions – photography and French gastronomy. Caro says her region has many wonderful food traditions and is steeped in foodie history with a plethora of local produce which she adores writing about & photographing.