Roquefort cheese: your guide to the stinky, blue cheese

MyFrenchLife™ – - Roquefort cheese - blue cheese - stinky cheese - famous cheese - roquefort

You either love it or hate it; Roquefort cheese is rich, creamy, tangy and salty all at the same time. Distinctive veins of blue mould run through the moist, crumbly cheese, which can be off-putting to some foreigners, but in France, Roquefort is known as ‘the King of Cheese’.

Legend has it that Roquefort cheese was discovered after a young shepherd abandoned his lunch of bread and ewes’ milk cheese in a cave to follow a beautiful girl in the distance. When he returned to the cave a few months later, mould had converted his basic cheese into what is now known as Roquefort.MyFrenchLife™ – - Roquefort cheese - blue cheese - stinky cheese - famous cheese - aveyron - Roquefort town

Living in the South of France where Roquefort cheese is produced, I decided to visit the unique village of Roquefort in the Aveyron region.

The village is peaceful yet industrial, with close to a thousand people working to produce this famous cheese. I toured the largest of seven Roquefort producers: Société des Caves de Roquefort.

Here’s my guide for all you need to know about this renowned cheese and how best to enjoy it.

A collapsing mountain

Contrary to legend, Roquefort cheese came about after the Cambalou Mountain collapsed one million years ago. The collapse created a messy pile of rocks with natural faults and caves. These caves were turned into cheese-making caves, and the faults, known as ‘fleurines’, act as climate and humidity control systems allowing for the constant renewal of air.

Penicillium roqueforti

Funnily enough, Roquefort cheese is made with the help of bread! Cheesemakers leave bread in the caves for six to eight weeks until the bread is completely covered in a mould known as Penicillium roqueforti.

MyFrenchLife™ – - Roquefort cheese - blue cheese - stinky cheese - famous cheese - health - Penicillium roqueforti - mould

Once the bread has completely moulded away, different strains of Penicillium roqueforti spores are added to ewe’s milk at the dairy. The Société says: “It is this harmonious ‘marriage’ between Penicillium roqueforti and the cellars that give each cheese its distinctive character.”

Time to ripen

The ripening process of Roquefort cheese is a delicate one, requiring constant monitoring by the ‘master-ripeners’. At the Société des Caves de Roquefort, long needles are inserted into the cheese to create holes for aeration. The cheeses are then placed along wooden shelves with small spaces between them and salt is added to the surface of each cheese. The addition of salt, in combination with the Penicillium roqueforti, allows the cheese to ripen nicely.

MyFrenchLife™ – - Roquefort cheese - blue cheese - stinky cheese - famous cheese - how is Roquefort made - ripening stage - cheese wheels - société

Now for the waiting game, this process can take between 14 and 25 days depending on the strain of mould. During this time, the Penicillium roqueforti enters the holes made by the needles and grows from the inside out, creating the famed blue-green vein effect.

The cheese ripener is essential to the making of Roquefort cheese, monitoring the cheese throughout its life to ensure the best result.

Surely eating mould can’t be good for you?

MyFrenchLife™ – - Roquefort cheese - blue cheese - stinky cheese - health - famous cheese - eating mouldy cheese - how to store Roquefort

Eating mould may, in fact have health benefits! According to The Telegraph, eating Roquefort cheese could help to prevent cardiovascular disease due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Research has also found that this strong cheese is great for gut health and slowing down arthritis and signs of ageing, such as cellulite.

But don’t get too excited and start chowing down on Roquefort cheese for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The delicious Roquefort is, unfortunately high in both calories and cholesterol. Also, even if Roquefort mould is harmless, other kinds of dangerous moulds can easily grow on this cheese if left too long or incorrectly stored.

Tips for eating and storing Roquefort cheese

  • To best keep your Roquefort, wrap it in aluminium foil and place it in the vegetable compartment at the bottom of your fridge.
  • If refrigerating, only keep your cheese for up to four weeks. In the freezer, it can be kept for up to six months.
  • To avoid wastage, only cut off the amount you plan to eat.
  • For the best consumption, take your Roquefort out of the fridge half an hour before serving it.

MyFrenchLife™ – - Roquefort cheese - blue cheese - stinky cheese - famous cheese - served with fruit

To get the most out of your Roquefort cheese try it with some fresh bread, ripe fruit and rich, sweet wine – the perfect way to end a meal.

Do you like Roquefort cheese or do you find it too strong? What is your favourite kind of cheese? Let us know in the comments bow below!

Image credits:
1. ‘Cheese-onions-walnuts-grapes’ by Unsplash, via pixabay.
2, 3 & 4 © Simone Allen
5. ‘Roquefort-Cheese-Blue Mold-Mold-Noble Mold’ by PDPhotos, via pixabay.
6. ‘Blue Cheese’ by NY, via

About the Contributor

Simone Allen

After spending 10 months in France at the age of 15 as an exchange student from Australia, I fell in love with all things French; the language, the food, and the lifestyle. I now live in the South of France and I am an Editorial and Communications Intern at My French Life™.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!


  1. Jacqui Brown May 5, 2018 at 4:35 PM - Reply

    We stumbled on the village of Roquefort about eight years ago on a road trip in our Mini Cooper, we had dropped down from the hills where we had seen the milking ewes grazing, but sadly didn’t have time to stop and take a tour. One day I will go back!

  2. Kathryn Baber Sep 12, 2020 at 1:40 AM - Reply

    Roquefort is sublime!

  3. Debbie Oct 9, 2020 at 5:38 AM - Reply

    I make my own Roquefort salad dressing. I find it sooooo superior to cow’s milk blue cheese. I grew up with Roquefort dressing. You could order it anywhere, but now it seems nobody even knows what it is. Such a shame. I get my Roquefirt cheese at Trader Joe’s. It’s the only place to get it anymore.

    • Ro Miller Jan 31, 2021 at 2:38 PM - Reply

      I got mine at Trader Joe’s. It is my favorite cheese!

  4. Jeny Cooper May 15, 2021 at 4:56 AM - Reply

    I’ve never had it. But I would love to try it. I wish there were cheese & wine tasting events in my area.

  5. Patricia Sawchuk Feb 13, 2022 at 12:20 PM - Reply

    I love aged cheese. Of any kind and having lived these past 50 odd years in Italy I have great choices. My favorite of all is a 30 month old Parmigiano Reggiano. Another is Gorgonzola and yet another aged goat or sheep’s milk cheeses. Now… if you take all
    If these wonderful taste and mingle them: Voilà! You come vaguely close to Roquefort! Divine!! But the clincher is that with only a small amount of Roquefort you get your entire percentage of calcium for the day!! Soooo few people know this!!! The only difficulty is… keeping the amount…small!

    • Judy MacMahon Feb 15, 2022 at 10:42 AM - Reply

      yes Patricia, I love aged cheese too and I adore cheese at the opposite end of the scale – soft and creamy and strong!

  6. Michael Oct 3, 2022 at 6:11 AM - Reply

    Sauternes is the perfect pairing for Roquefort!!!!!

  7. Tomas May 25, 2023 at 1:30 PM - Reply

    I’ve been living in Bocas del Toro, Panama and everytime a small shipment of this wonderful cheese comes in I buy them all. I’m obsessed!

  8. Bjorn Sep 6, 2023 at 10:25 PM - Reply

    I can not describe what i like so much about Roquefort. Its the same as ansjovis, parmesan, smoked fish, bacon and that sort of food.
    But Roquefort and ansjovis are the pinnacle of that specific taste. Everytime i eat it i taste all these different flavors, and te experience somehow goes really deep. The way the taste seems to come from far away. Or in the way you can remember a dream. Its really weird how the taste develops in your mouth. Waking up bored tastebuds that have ‘tasted it all’. Like i said, i cant explain it.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.