Norman cheeses 

The livarot

(AOC since 1975)
Livarot, Petit-Lisieux , Mignot.

A livarot
A livarot


Type Washed rind cheese
Milk Cow milk
Aspect Cylinder (12 cm diameter, 5 cm thick).
450 gr.
40% of fat.
Rind washed cheese that has an orange/ yellow color and surrounded by five stripes of natural sedge (typhia latifolia) (These stripes explain its nickname: "the Colonel", representing the colonel's badge of rank in the French army.).
The rind is slightly sticky.
Country Livarot countryside.

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Probably one of the oldest Norman cheeses with the Neufchatel and the Pont l'Evêque, it comes from the countryside around Livarot, a small village (2700 inhabitants) in the Auge country.

In 1693, J.B. Pommereu de la Bretesche evoked the cheeses produced in that country the "angelots" that were commonly eaten in Paris and that are, depending on the historians, the ancestors of the Livarot and the Pont-L'Evêque.

At the end of the XIXth century it was the most produced Norman cheese ... 4.5 million of them were produced per year and this production was done by more than 200 "caveurs". During that period, making and maturing the cheeses were two different tasks. Usually the farmers produced the cheeses and sold it "young" to a person (a "caveur") who would refine and then sell it.

Although it contained only 10 to 15% of fat, it was called the "viande du pauvre" (the poor man's meat) and it was only during the XXth century that its fat percentage increased. The five stripes of sedge were used at that period to ensure that the cheese retained its original shape.

In 1997, the production of Livarot was around 1187 metric tons.

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  • The milk is collected (its temperature should not rise above 37° Celsius).
  • The rennet is added and the milk curdles quickly.
  • The curd is cut twice and drained a little, then it is moulded.
  • The cheese is first matured in a "hot" room for approximately twenty-four hours. It is turned upside down many times.
  • It is wiped and then salted.
  • It is then matured in a cellar for abou one month and washed from time to time.
  • The rind becomes yellow or orange; that color is intensified by final wash with Annatto.
  • Matured during two or three months.

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The Livarot has four official shapes. The standard one is a cylinder of at least 230 gr but there is also the three-quarter livarot (135 gr), the half livarot (120 gr), and the quarter one (60 gr).

  • The "Petit-Lisieux" is another name for the half livarot.
  • The "Mignot", a cheese produced in the Vimoutiers country side is close to the Livarot..

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Links, addresses and information

Syndicat des fabricants du Pont-l'Évêque et Livarot
82, rue de Bernières
14000 Caen
Tél: +33 (0)2 31 85 50 93
Official web site fo the Livarot AOC

Musée du fromage
Manoir de l'Isle
68, rue Marcel Gambier
14140 Livarot

Fromagerie Graindorge
42, rue du Général Leclerc B.P. 38
14140 Livarot
Site de Graindorge
One of the oldest, biggest producers of Livarot (and as far as I am concerned the best one).