With the Tour de France well underway and mountain stages beginning, viewers might be feeling that familiar vicarious pang. We all want to be world-class cyclists, but who can afford to blood dope now-a-days? (badum ching) Luckily, there is a way to have your own mini-tour without starting a grueling training regimen. Stay ahead of the peloton with these cheesy primers for the famous stops along the route.
Stage 5: Coeur d’Arras
Start your tour strong with a northern cheese for this flat, urban section. Coeur d’Arras is a type of Maroilles cheese, which has AOC protected status (and which we wrote about in a past blog series!). This soft cheese is normally heart shaped, and despite its pungent smell has a mild sweet flavor.
Stage 7: Livarot
Stage 7 starts in Normandy, and any cyclists would hate to leave the gentle countryside, least of all because of the delicious AOC Livarot. Purportedly 700 years old, the unpasteurized version of this cheese is currently made by a single creamery.
Stage 10: Ossau-Iraty
After a plane ride from north to south, a rest day, and maybe a brief refresher course in some Hemingway, our tour is ready for the mountains of Basque country. If even the sight of distant peaks makes your knees shake, you might want to fuel up with Ossau-Iraty. Not only is this cheese both AOC and sheep-based (a rarity!), but it also dates back to 1000 BCE, or about 2800 years before the bicycle was invented.
Stage 12: Tomme de Chèvre des Pyrenées
You’ve probably given up trying to pronounce these, but you may have noticed the word “chèvre,” or goat cheese, which is actually quite rare for this region. Overtones of caramel linger after tasting.
Stage 17: Beaufort
The final stages of the tour take place in Savoy, a region of the Alps that gives us Beaufort cheese. Lesser known than Gruyère and Comté, Beaufort might be something of an underdog. These are the stages when boys become men, challengers become champions. And Beaufort is the cheese for them.
Feature Photo Credit: Tour de France