The Pyrénées on a Cheese Board

Dominique Bouchait is one of the great French cheese masters. Based in Montréjeau, Les Fromagers du Mont Royal is a reference in the Haute-Garonne region… and internationally.

By Fédération Française des Associations de Commerçants

By Hans WildLIFE Photo Collection

Cheese has been part of the Pyrenees’s heritage since the 12th century for its strong terroir identity. Stretching over 400km from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, mountains cross different climates: the richness of their pastures gives the cheeses unique and varied flavours. 

There are still many dairy farms in the region. In Montréjeau, a small town between Lourdes and Toulouse, Les Fromagers du Mont Royal is an institution.

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Learning from the books 

The son of shopkeepers, Dominique Bouchait says that he grew up "surrounded by cheese", although he hated it as a child: "I absolutely didn't want to do this job! But, today, I owe it to my parents". His grandmother, a grocer, had already passed on the sense of service to the family. 

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Dominique’s mother taught him how to sell, and his father told him all about the link between origin and taste. But if he ended up in the family business, it is mostly due to... his school French teacher. 

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In their store, Dominique's parents sold cheese, delicatessen, pâté... When he joined the company at the age of 20, Dominique decided to focus on cheese and to drop the grocery part. He helped his parents during the tours of more than thirty villages all around the Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrénées and Gers regions.

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At the age of twenty, he started selling on farmer markets. In 1988, he succeeded his parents and created "Les Fromagers du Mont Royal", still in Montréjeau. He kept on providing these tours ever since as a service to people living in remote valleys and mountain villages. 

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A cheese restaurant 

Les Fromagers is present in two food halls and in local markets. Dominique has also opened its own cheese restaurant in a shopping centre in Saint-Gaudens. 

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The concept is at the crossroads of a traditional store and catering and promotes the best cheeses with home-made recipes. Customers can leave with a piece of cheese and an idea for a dish to cook at home.  

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An expertise to share 

For Dominique, the reason for his success lies in his enthusiasm for sharing his expertise and his passion for the product. He loves communicating and informing the customer, and even offers milking and manufacturing workshops. 

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Dominique also passes on his knowledge in cooking schools where he is regularly invited to talk about the cheese making process and even to exchange a few recipes. 

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The recognition 

In 2011, at the age of 45, Dominique won the "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" award, which rewards the country's best craftsmen. 

Blind tasting, buffet judged at the Salon de l'Agriculture, and an intimidating oral exam in front of a professional jury... The competition required a lot of preparation and taught him to always plan for everything, even today.

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Together with his son, he also received the Mercure d’Or in 2016, an award he had been dreaming of since he was a child.

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Prestige and simplicity

Among other prestigious places, his reputation has earned Dominique the right to deliver cheese to the Élysée Palace. "With the chef's permission! "he laughs. He also proudly mentions a few television appearances and numerous invitations abroad. But he has kept his humility and his taste for simple things. 

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Dominique's son joined the company. He helps in developing the business and recently launched a drive service. The company has 15 trucks, is active on about fifty farmer markets in the South-West, and serves more than 3000 customers per week! A success that Dominique Bouchait also attributes to his team of 50 people from his village, whom he himself trained.

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