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Auvergne cheeses: Le St Nectaire



An entrance in style


St-Nectaire labels

Saint-Nectaire is a fromage à pâte pressée non cuite (uncooked pressed cheese) exclusively produced from Salers cow’s milk.

It is the smallest AOP (Protected Designation of Origin) areas in France but its creamy and dense texture, unique scent and flavour of hazelnuts and mushrooms are unforgettable!

The French will tell you that cheese is a king’s delicacy and they might be right when it comes to St-Nectaire…

St-Nectaire was named after the Count of Auvergne Henri II de Senectère who served it at the table of Louis XIV during the 17th century!

The story goes that the noble bon viveur also introduced Salers and Cantal cheeses to the king!

Another version relates that in the 12th century the Counts of Auvergne bequeathed their domain of Senneterre to the abbots of La Chaise-Dieu who founded a priory dedicated to St-Nectarius, the first evangelist of the region.

From milk to cheese

It takes about 13 liters of milk to produce a St-Nectaire (21 cm in diameter by 5 cm in height and of about.1.7 kg).

St-Nectaire was exclusively fermier (farmhouse cheese) until 1964, date after which the production of St-Nectaire laitier was authorized in the AOC area.

It contains 45% of fat in dry matter and its dry extract is 52%.



The St-Nectaire laitier (dairy cheese) is produced in a dairy from pasteurized and standardized fat milk.

Once collected the milk is inoculated with lactic ferments that will develop its flavour, then heated to 32 °C and inoculated with rennet (a natural enzyme found in cows’ stomach) to trigger coagulation.

The curd is then cut in cubes and stirred in a vat to drain the whey then placed in individual moulds and pressed for 24 hours.

Once turned out the cheeses are placed in a cool cellar to ripen over a period of 45 to 50 days.

They are salted in order to drain the excess whey and regularly turned upside down to obtain the St-Nectaire’s specific orange gray flowery rind and unmistakable aroma.

The cheeses are washed with brine once a week for 3 weeks.


St-Nectaire fermier oval label

The St-Nectaire laitier is produced with the same high quality standards than the St-Nectaire fermier which is only produced from raw milk immediately after milking.

An oval label – specific to St-Nectaire fermier – with a reference number is placed in the center of the cheese in order to identify the farm of production and the number of cheeses produced in the farm.

The St-Nectaire laitier has a green rectangular label.

The St-Nectaire was granted an AOP in 1996, and is the 5th AOC cheese (since 1955) in France with an annual production of over 14,500 cheeses.

St-Nectaire AOP groups 72 communes scattered at an altitude of 750m to 1200m of altitude in the Monts Dore or Chaine Des Puys, a superb chain of dormant volcanoes with breathtaking landscapes located to the south of Clermont-Ferrand.

Lush meadows thrive on the rich volcanic ground where cows graze during the warm season to produce one of the finest milks.

A superb region we recommend you to visit…

Credits: Photos ©PapyPoustache – Source article Jean Piludu alias @Poustache1 – Translated and edited by and for Travel France Online

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j'aime beaucoup ce fromage !