Manigodine: The Wonder of Fromage – unveiling one French cheese at a time

Manigodine is nothing if not a terroir-driven cheese, a washed-rind delicacy made with the milk of Abondance, Montbéliarde, and Tarine cows whose very name evokes the Savoyard Valley of Manigod from whence it hails. But to hear Jean-François Paccard tell it, its roots are anything but local.

The idea kind of came about thanks to the Americans,” he says. Les Américains in question were the owners of Boston’s Formaggio Kitchen, long-time lovers of Paccard’s cheeses.

One day, they came to visit us, and I was showing them around the Reblochon cellars,” Jean-François recalls. “And as we were coming out of them, they said ‘It’s such a shame we can’t sell this in the States.’”

Jean-François knew why: Raw milk cheeses sold on the U.S. market must be aged upwards of 60 days, while creamy Reblochon would turn into a veritable puddle if aged upwards of its typical two to five weeks.

But I played dumb,” he recalls — and he offered a compromise.

I said, ‘If you like, I’ll ask one of my producers to make a massive Reblochon,’” he recalls, hoping it would be possible to age the larger cheese long enough to render it exportable to the U.S. And he knew just who to ask: long-time Reblochon producers Murielle and Guillaume Burgat-Charvillon of La Ferme des 4 Seuillis in Manigod.

Murielle Burgat-Charvillon of La Ferme des 4 Seuillis in Manigod

When the first trials resulted in cheeses so rich and creamy they dripped all over their aging boards, Jean-François recalls, a passing technician suggested taking a page out of the book of Mont d’Or producers in the nearby Doubs and wrapping the rounds in a strip of spruce bark to help hold them together.

Manigodine was born… or so Jean-François recalls.

Murielle remembers things a bit differently.

After growing their farm in 2012, she says, she and Guillaume suddenly could produce more Reblochon. But for the team at Paccard, the demand just wasn’t there. They said,

We’d love to buy your cheeses, but we can’t buy any more Reblochon,’” she recalls. “So we had to do something different.”

She and Guillaume jumped at the chance to fulfill Jean-François’ request to produce a larger Reblochon, and, she recalls, she was the one who came up with the idea of wrapping the massive Reblochon, Jean-François had ordered in its spruce corset.

I thought it would hold up in the boxes better, on the boat,” she says. “And that’s how it started.”

However, the idea came to be, the irony, perhaps, is that Manigodine is not exported to the U.S., due to a secondary rule Jean-François and his American colleagues had overlooked. The dry matter in any American cheese must be higher than 50 percent, and given the high moisture content of this runny, creamy cheese, it was blacklisted in the U.S.,” Jean-François says. “I can’t export it anymore.”

But Manigodine is an extraordinary cheese for visitors to France worth a second look. The proof is on the farm, where, after seven years of producing both Manigodine and Reblochon, Murielle and Guillaume dedicated their entire 30-ton production to the former four years ago.

They don’t even make Reblochon anymore,” Jean-François says.

What Makes Manigodine Different From Reblochon?



French skiers and snowboarders have undoubtedly encountered Savoyard Reblochon, beloved in that après-ski delicacy known as tartiflette. The cheesy, creamy casserole sees the cheese settled atop a base of potatoes, cream, onions, and lardons and baked until it oozes into the crevices, becoming caramelized and burnished on top.

The cheese goes back to the 13th century when taxes were levied on local cheesemakers based on how much milk their cows produced. To attempt to lower what they owed, cheesemakers would often stem their cows’ milk flow prematurely on tax day, finishing the job only once the taxman had gone. This technique, dubbed reblocher in local Patois, resulted in richer, creamier milk from which they made Reblochon cheese. Washed lightly in brine, the rind of the cheese is slightly orange and sticky, with umami notes that play off the nutty, milky flavor of the semisoft pate.

These days, according to Jean-François, nine out of ten customers seek this cheese exclusively to use in this famous casserole. But Reblochon is just as delicious on its own, thanks to its rich, creamy texture and only slightly funky flavor even the washed-rind averse can get behind.

The kind of Reblochon we promote is the one you’ll find on a cheese plate,” he says. As affineurs, he and his team “are not looking for Reblochon as an ingredient.”

The reason why is simple: Once baked, he says, the cheese loses not just its soft, creamy texture but the subtleties in its flavor — a boon for poorly-made iterations, whose flaws are diminished by baking as well.


Jean-François knows some customers will be baking his treasured Reblochon in the famous local casserole. That said, he never hesitates to remind them:

OK, you’re making tartiflette. It’s good to get a good product, because the dish will only be better.

But don’t forget to have a piece as-is!”

Manigodine started with the recipe for Reblochon, so it’s no surprise they share many characteristics.

From a textural perspective, there’s no real difference,” says Jean-François, “except that Manigodine is a bit creamier.” This, he says, comes from the longer aging afforded by Manigodine’s spruce support system, which also lends a lovely woodsy, smoky, floral flavor to the finished cheese.

For those looking to experience the differences first-hand, Jean-François suggests beginning with Reblochon.

Reblochon is a bit finer,” he says. “And this finesse might be hidden by the woodsiness of Manigodine.”

Flavor isn’t the only way that Manigodine and Reblochon differ


  • Reblochon has boasted an AOP since 1958, and today, it is one of the most-produced AOP cheeses in France by volume, second only to Comté. The AOP for Reblochon designates where it can be produced and requires that the cheese be made exclusively with raw milk.
  • Manigodine, meanwhile, has no such rules governing it… but that doesn’t mean it isn’t made with the same quality-driven mindset.

Despite no longer making Reblochon, Murielle, and Guillaume still hew to the standards of the quality charter.

There’s no regulations,” says Murielle. “It’s not official. But we maintained these norms. We didn’t want to do any old thing.” And since she and Guillaume are the only people making Manigodine in France, consumers can rest assured it boasts the same quality of the very best Reblochon.

How to Enjoy Manigodine

Manigodine is a product of passion: both on the producer and aging sides. A wheel of Manigodine begins with only the best milk from local cows, who spend winters in the valley and summers grazing on the open pastures. Once the cheeses have been formed, each wheel is wrapped in a specially designed spruce band made in the Jura and aged three to four weeks in Jean-François’ aging cellars.

The original Manigodines weighed 1,300 grams — more than double the 450 to 550 grams of a typical Reblochon. These days, one can also find Reblochon-sized Manigodines perfect for a couple or smaller family, though a big wheel also keeps well in the fridge for several days or even several weeks.


Manigodine’s complexity makes it perfect for enjoying alone, which is Jean-François’ preference.

That way, you really get all of the flavors of the product coating the palate,” he says. That said, he notes, a slice of country bread isn’t unwelcome, and neither, for that matter, is a glass of local wine or two.

A roussette de Savoie marries perfectly with Reblochon or Manigodine,” he says, noting that Marin, a Savoyard white wine hailing from the shores of Lake Geneva, is another excellent pairing.


Image credits:

1-4 Murielle and Jean-François
5-6 Emily Monaco

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About the Contributor

Emily Monaco

“Born and raised in New York, I fell in love with France young and have been based in Paris for over 15 years. I am a professional freelance writer, tour guide, and cheese connoisseuse, as well as the host of Navigating the French and co-host of The Terroir Podcast. Follow me on Instagram and sign up for my newsletter for my favorite bites and more from Paris.”

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