Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Banon: Rotten Cheese but Sausage Heaven for Bookworms

Banon is a small village situated on the “Route de la Lavande”, the Lavender trail in the mountains of the Haute Provence. Banon is famous for its goat cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves and tied with a raffia ribbon that was awarded AOC (Appelation Origine Controllé) status in 2003. And it is famous for “Le Bleuet”, a bookshop you'd be happy to find in a town like Aix-en-Provence or Avignon. “Le Bleuet” is a bookshop with personality, any serious book lover's dream – extremely well stocked (also with books in English and German), the salespeople are knowledgeable and charming and there are little corners that invite you to sit down and properly look at a book before buying it. Bookworm heaven!
The wonderful Le Bleuet bookshop

So when I heard that Banon was about to hold its annual cheese festival and “Le Bleuet” would have some authors lined up for a book signing that same day and that my favorite Provence author Pierre Magnan who writes detective stories that play in the villages around Banon would be there - well I made sure to get up early that Sunday morning!

When the French do a village fête, they do it properly – we were greeted by marching bands, made to try I don't know how many variations of goat cheese and wines, ate deliciously roasted sucking pig and I even got to meet Pierre Magnan who signed his new book for me! What a lovely gentleman!

Pierre Magnan

One thing though dear Banon cheese producers you really should not do: use the festive spirit of this lovely festival to flog off your old cheeses. We were well and truly ripped off – the famous Banon AOC's we were sold (and we bought six to bring home to friends and family) were all old and inedible. So much for fancy wrapping, from now on I'll only buy cheese I can see first.

What you see is what you get: Brindille sausages

Seeing what you bought was no problem at Maurice Melchio's Charcuterie: he makes handmade “brindille” sausages that are very thin and very long and utterly delicious. Don't you just love his shop? And the delighted faces of his customers?
Happy customers in sausage heaven


  1. Barbara Im so sorry about your spoiled cheese...I would have be soooo annoyed! The rest of the day sounded delightful. I would love to meet you for lunch or even a cup of tea...just dont bring that spoiled cheese with you!! ;D Jayne

  2. I was there too (but only arrived mid-afternoon).
    The cheeses we really enjoyed were those we could see. We bought leaf-tree wrapped ones from the gold-medal winner and they were terrible, far too strong for me. I blamed it on my own delicate palate but perhaps you were right, they were off. I'm not a connoisseur of Banon cheese so I'm not sure what it should really taste like.

    The other goat cheeses we bought at various stalls were LOVELY.

  3. @figtree: Don't worry, I never serve awful cheese! Looking forward to a lovely lunch with you!

    @Nathalie, too bad we didn't meet! I guess we bought at the same stall....

  4. I love bookstores! I could spend hours in them. The festival looks so fun! Can you take the cheese back and exchange it?