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May 7, 2012 09:00 AM

Galleries Lafayette for cheese, my bad.

Ok,OK, l know it is not the best for a food source, but l always go first thing after dropping off luggage. It is convenient, and l can get my Bordier butter with no grief. l often stop at the cheese counter for a Clacbitou as well. This time devils were in my brain and bought 5 cheeses. When l got to the stand the employee of long standing, a small man with tiny moustache around 50 served me very haughtily as only he can. He really is the only PITA frenchman in trade l have ever had the misfortune of meeting. Bought a big chunk of mimolette 24 month on sale, seems perfect, a pair of the creamy cheese covered with big raisins that smooshes on toast so well, fine we are doing well. The last three were in such condition, yes l should have tasted them, but with this gentleman l knew that was not an option without too much looking down his nose, that this post was written. First, got a large hunk of Sbrinz which often is wonderful, this one was older than most and was so dry it would not cut when l got it home, just shattered, it cannot be chewed. The second was a petit fiance that was OK, but with a good affineur it might be as good as cheese gets.The third, oh the third, was a fermier Gaperon, instead of the outside being white and Camembert rind like, it was very moist, not necessarily a bad thing, and when unwrapped it smelled quite dreadful. Not Epoisses or Fromage Fort dreadful, as l love both, not cellaresque as Tomme de Savois, and not generally stinky, again a good thing. l have never smelled this smell, and with luck never will again. My point is not that these products were not to my liking, but that they were either aged wrong or way too long as to make them a bit less than edible. When l worked at a variety of cheesestands around the world, when a product reached a stage that one would not eat it, it was chucked, not passed on to a very easy foreigner. Yes my bad, but more his bad. He knew exactly what he was doing, and should have warned me off these specimens. l may visit GL for other things, but the cheese counter will not be getting my business again.

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  1. Wow. I don't know GL in terms of cheese. 'We usually pick up deli or packaged stuffs there, maybe a wine we know they carry but not cheese. We have successfully bought picnic quantities of cheese at Bon Marche or even St. Germain Monoprix with decent results. Is it possible that these two latter sell to more locals than GL, which may have a naughty tourist bias?

    1. What an awful experience.
      You should send a copy of your post to the director of the Rayon alimentations of Galeries Lafayette. The management should know that these practices are going on.
      Come with me to my Ultimate Cheese Guy this Friday afternoon, followed by some gruyère d'alpage at Beillevaire. Then we'll go moon the GL.

      16 Replies
      1. re: Parigi

        The more I think about this, the more I would be inclined to pack up the two inedible cheeses and cart them back to GL. If your PITA frenchman stonewalled me, I'd simply leave him the cheese and let him dispose of it himself. It would be a plus if he had other waiting clients at the time. :)

        1. re: mangeur

          All this time i thought you were an angel !
          But I agree with your solution.

          1. re: Parigi

            LOL! We should meet sometime. ;)

          2. re: Parigi

            Parigi, Who and where is your Ultimate Cheese Guy? We leave for Paris tomorrow.

            1. re: ScottnZelda

              The Friday afternoon market on Place d'Anvers. The gentleman is in a wheelchair, operating a stall on the very north end.
              He always has chavignol on the counter for everyone to sample:
              He is also mentioned in detail here:
              and here:

              1. re: Parigi

                Thanks so much! I look forward to it!

                1. re: ScottnZelda

                  Don't be like all those jerks. Report back !

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Will do. Our restos are pretty low key: Chez Clement on arrival, L'Villaret, Sunday lunch at Chez Casimir, dinner at Breizh Cafe, Mansouria. Couldn't get in to L'Ami Louis (for roast chicken.) Have two dinners open. My shopping list is in hand for Grand Epicerie, G. Detou, Bruno, etc. Looking forward to the Brocante at Bastille this weekend. DH hits museums. I shop, not for clothes, but for the kitchen. Thanks again.

                    1. re: ScottnZelda

                      If you have not been, Bachelier in Clignoncourt has wonderful kitchen stuff.

                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                            I remember some years ago sighing in this shop and telling Mme B that I wanted it all. She smiled and said that I could HAVE it all, and that she would be delighted to accompany the shipment to San Francisco and install it all for me! Ooooops.

                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                              Hi Deluca,
                              My wants are simple: a good carbon steel paring knife/chef's; a good crepe pan;
                              some eclair "papers" for serving hot dogs at my Bastille Day BBQ this summer. I already have enough copper from Dehillern that the heirs won't appreciate, anyway. At this point in life, most of my purchases are consumables, though I can always be tempted by something at Bovida, Simon, even marches. This month marks the 40 anniversary of my first trip to France. Some wonderful times in between, too.

            2. I really feel for you being taken advantage of Deluca. With your credentials, experience and passion for cheese, it is really unfortunate that this happened, but who better than you can stand up to their petty treachery of passing off inedible cheeses to foreigners.
              I agree with Parigi and Mangeur to bring this to the attention of the gerant responsible for the cheese stand. If this happened to you, lord knows what else has been passed on to unsuspecting buyers, irregardless of nationality!
              Beautiful cheeses are a French pride and this complete lack of integrity from GL must be brought to their attention. You certainly have my backing too! Please keep us updated.

              1. DCM - I always remember hastily purchasing some great Brie from a fantastic little cheese shop on the Ile de la Cite. I was perfect that evening. I didn't want to "kill" it by putting it in my too cold fridge so left it under the cheese cloche that night. When I went into the kitchen the next morning my perfect Brie was a writhing, pulsating mound of maggoty goo.

                From then on we only purchased our cheese from known and reputed sources - OK we may have missed a few unknown gems, but have not had (to our knowledge) such protein enriched cheese since.

                2 Replies
                1. re: PhilD


                  In several years of having Brie of every origin imaginable sitting around, both in and out of the fridge, I have *never* come across anything like that.

                  It was a piece of very pedestrian, industrial Brie, though, that pointed out to me right after we moved that Dorothy, we are not in Kansas anymore -- I put a small round of non-AOP, industrial Brie (I know, I know -- but we'd just moved and I hadn't found My Cheese Guy yet) in the fridge after we'd cut a few pieces. We went away for the weekend, leaving the cheese in the fridge. I was shocked to find that the bloom had grown completely over the cut surface, healing it completely to look like the rest of the rind.

                  And *that* was the end of storing my cheese in plastic was a pretty eye-opening reminder that cheese is a living thing. (Ideally, however, not quite as living as in Phil's experience)

                  1. re: PhilD

                    I hope your "fantastic little cheese shop" was not the Ferme St. Aubin. I've always thought of it as the best in the Ile St. Louis/nearby Marais area. It's where I go when I don't have time to go to my usual favorite, Alléosse, or several others favored by many posters here.

                    I have even gotten some cheeses sous vide to bring back to the US when I was strapped for time. No bad experiences. Yet?