The nice thing about driving around in the rural areas of France is to explore the little byways to find out where they lead to. Very often we have been rewarded with a look at the operations of local producers of artisanal foods and a taste of something fresh and new.
Recently we were in the North of France, near Crequy, and as we wound our way about the incredibly lush, green countryside of Les Pays des 7 Vallees in our rented, but spiffy, new , blue Renault we came across a very friendly family making delicious sheeps cheese and yogurt.
Les Brebis d'Esgranges,which is what they call it, comes in two varieties. A young soft cheese and an aged one which is the popular Tomme D'esgranges. It was first made by Christophe and Sylviane Henguelle in 1991. It was a little unusual, at that time, to rear sheep in the north of France as the area is considered too rainy and cold. But Sylvaine had a dream of having a sheep farm and persisted. They began rearing sheep on their farm, despite all conventional wisdom, bringing the sheep into the fold during the rain and cold. The sheep began to thrive and the Henguelles started the cheese business as well.
Christophe took us for a quick tour through the farm, their main cheese making unit and their shop where you can taste their products and buy what you need. The shop also works as a little presenatation room with charts and tools to explain the processes of cheese making to young children.
They get several groups of school children in the summer. The farm ,with sheep and lambs gambolling about, is an ideal place to visit for families with children holidaying in the area.
They were selling their products during the recent ( 11 & 12 October ) Cheese festival in Meulan where several other producers of cheese collected .The festival is an annual event and a great way of testing several varieties of cheese. Les Brebis d'Esgranges is now well known in the region, where it has a dedicated clientele, and is also sold across the country. Chez S. et C. Henguelle La Ferme du Bois d' Esgranges 62310 Crequy , France Tel and fax: 03 21 81 13 14