|Just a few of the many cheeses that are on display at Androuet|
Depending on which source you consult, France has between 350 to 400 distinct varieties of cheese. An impressive selection of the country's offerings was on display at an award winning cheese shop that I recently visited during a gourmet walking tour of the chic Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood with Preston Mohr of Paris by the Glass.
As I happily snapped photos of some of my favorite types of goat cheese, the log shaped Saint-Maure de Touraine and the truncated pyramid Valençay, I spied something that resembled a ... Hmm? I couldn't put my finger on it, but there was something vaguely familiar about the shape. Frustrated by my inability to figure out the enigma, I edged closer to read the name, "Boyard". Of course! It was a tiny replica of Fort Boyard, one of the places that Stéphane was determined to visit while we were in the Charente Maritime region of France in mid-November.
|Boyard cheese, currently 6.85 euros a piece|
En route to Fort Boyard, Stéphane explained that the fortification is famous for being the location of the game show, Fort Boyard. First aired in 1990, the show has been a French and international favorite for 24 years. The fort's precarious location in the middle of the sea off France's northwest coast and its grim history as a prison increase the adrenalin level of the show's contestants and its avid viewers.
Curious to learn more about the pre-television history of the impressive structure, I put my iPhone to work while Stéphane drove. Napoleon ordered the construction of Fort Boyard to guard the mouth of the Charente River, the harbor of the Ile d'Aix and the arsenal of Rochefort. Hindered by storms and attacks by the British, it took more than 30 years to complete. Before it was even finished, Fort Boyard was already rendered useless due to advances in artillery. Nonetheless, the construction of the fort was considered to be such a remarkable feat that a model of it was presented at the Exposition Universelle of 1867 in Paris. Napoleon never saw the finished fortification, which would have cost the equivalent of more than two hundred million euros ($248,000,000) today.
When we reached the windswept coast, I protected my camera from the downpour to take a couple of shots of Fort Boyard with my telephoto lens. Off limits to the general public, it's as close as we could get to Napoleon's fortification ... until I spotted the Boyard cheese in Paris!
Stéphane's surprise treat that evening was some goat cheese in the shape of the famous fortification served with raspberry paste in the indentation, as per the shop assistant's advice.
Boyard cheese is available at Androuet, 37 rue de Verneuil, 75007 and perhaps at some of the cheese shop's other locations.
|An aerial view of Fort Boyard via Wikipedia.|
|Fort Boyard as seen with a telephoto lens from the shore|