Let’s pretend we’re sipping wine in Paris or strolling through the traboules of Lyon with this gorgeous and effortless French cheese board. Featuring a variety of French cheeses, cornichons, nuts, and seasonal fruit, it’s lovely for apéro with friends!

A French cheese board on a marble counter next to a bowl of walnuts, red wine, board of salami, and brown plate of crackers.

Anytime I need a little mental escape, I close my eyes and envision myself back in Paris sipping wine and eating cheese under the Eiffel tour with my friends. Or, I think of the time my aunt, grandma, and I found a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a Parisian alleyway where we ate beef bourguignon and snacked on an after-dinner cheese plate.

All that to say that I love a French-inspired appetizer like savory palmiers or honey baked camembert. There’s something so elegant about an effortless hors d’oeuvre, especially a no-cook one like this cheese board.

If you’re also in need of a little getaway, I definitely recommend a French-inspired dinner party with friends! Start with this cheese board and a bit of wine and you’re all set. Santé!

Why you’ll love this gorgeous board

Cheese boards have been my staple appetizer ever since I was in college and started throwing dinner parties for my friends. You truly can’t go wrong with a cheese board, everyone loves them! And in this version, we’re using all French cheeses to appreciate their gorgeous variety.

  • This board takes 15 minutes to put together for a simple, elegant, no-cook app.
  • The board features a variety of iconic French cheeses. Some classics, some unexpected.
  • Make this platter for picnics, girls’ night in, dinner parties, or holidays.
  • This board is a huge crowd-pleaser! Like, who doesn’t love French cheese?

Ingredients & variations

Cheese, walnuts, sausage, dried apricots, apples, grapes, crackers, nuts, and jams on a marble counter.

The cheeses

You’ll need 3-5 cheeses for this board. Pick a hard or semi-hard cheese, something soft or semi-soft, and a goat and/or blue cheese. For another option, pick something a bit more unique and unexpected.

  • Hard or Semi-hard – comté, emmental, beaufort, cantal, mimolette
  • Soft or semi-soft – brie, camembert, port salut, raclette, boursin
  • Blue/goat cheese – roquefort, chèvre, Bresse bleu, Valencay, bleu de chèvre
  • Unique – morbier, Le Brézain (smoked raclette), reblochon

Crackers + breads

Pick 1-2 crackers or breads to serve alongside the cheeses. Here’s a few I like!

  • Water crackers
  • Sliced baguette
  • Breadsticks
  • Herb crackers
  • Fig or olive bread

Fresh fruit

I like adding 1-2 fruits to add a pop of freshness to the board. Here are some classic French options!

  • Apples or pears
  • Grapes (any color)
  • Cherries or strawberries
  • Peaches, plums, or apricots
  • Fresh figs

Add-ons

Round out this French cheese platter with a few of your favorite add-ons! Try these ideas:

  • Pickled options – cornichons, Olives Noires (black olives), or Licques Olives
  • Nuts – walnuts and almonds are classic in French cooking.
  • Dried fruit – apricots, figs, and prunes are gorgeous on a cheese platter.
  • Jams/Sauces – French mustard, fig jam, citrus jam, or honey

How to make a cheese board

Three steps to building a French cheese board. In photo 1, four cheeses are on a wood platter. In photo 2, brown bowls of mustard, jam, and cornichons are on the board. In photo 3, the board has apples and grapes.
  1. Start by placing the cheeses in various areas of the board.
  2. Then, add any bowls of cornichons, jams, sauces, etc. next to the cheeses.
  3. Add fresh fruit or other large items around the cheeses and bowls.
Two steps to making a charcuterie platter. In photo 1, a wood board has cheeses, bowls of cornichons and jam, apples, grapes, and nuts. In photo 2, a charcuterie board is on a marble counter next to red wine, crackers, salami, and walnuts.
  1. Add piles of nuts and dried fruit in-between the cheeses, fruit, and bowls.
  2. Next, fill in the board with smaller items like olives, extra fruit, or even crackers.
  3. Garnish the platter with edible flowers or fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme. Enjoy!

Pro tip!

Slice any hard cheeses before adding them to the board. It makes serving much easier! For soft or semi-soft cheeses, make sure you have a different cheese knife for each so the flavors don’t mingle too much.

Serving ideas

This French cheese plate is great on its own or with other appetizers on a grazing table! It’s also perfect for a lunchtime picnic, girls’ night in, holidays, parties, or other get-togethers.

  • Enjoy this board with red or white French wine. Or champagne!
  • Serve it as an elegant appetizer before a dinner party.
  • Eat this board with a refreshing cocktail like a French 77 for apéro at home.
  • Customize this board for the season from cozy holiday parties to warm summer get-togethers!

Quick tip

Bring the cheese to room temperature for about 30-60 minutes before serving. This will bring out all of the best flavors and textures in the cheese!

Wine & cheese pairings

It simply isn’t a French charcuterie board without some good wine. But, I know that pairings can get a little overwhelming with all the options out there. Here are a few tips as well as my favorite pairings to make things easy!

Pairing tips

  1. Match by region – the simplest way to pair wine and cheese is to simply match them by region. Since they’re produced in the same place, they usually taste great together!
  2. Pair by boldness – sharp or funky cheeses go great with bold wines while mild cheeses taste lovely with lighter varieties. You don’t want a complex wine to overpower a delicate cheese and vice versa.
  3. Contrast the flavors – try pairing a rich and creamy cheese with tart wine or a firm and salty cheese with fruity wine.

Pairing ideas

  • Camembert and Chardonnay
  • Brie with fruity, dry rosé
  • Roquefort with a full-bodied red like Bordeaux
  • Chèvre and Cabernet Sauvignon or Sauvignon Blanc
  • Port Salut and Pinot Noir
  • Comté with dry champagne
A French charcuterie board on a marble counter next to red wine, a bowl of walnuts, a board of salami, and a beige linen.

Storing & make-ahead

To store leftovers, place any perishable items like cheeses, meats, fruit, cornichons, etc. in airtight containers. Refrigerate for up to 1 week. Any non-perishable ingredients like crackers, nuts, or bread can be stored in their original packaging or airtight containers for up to 1 week.

You can also make this French cheese platter board up to 2 hours in advance! Just assemble the board, cover it loosely with plastic wrap or a clean linen, and refrigerate. Take the board out 30-60 minutes before serving so the cheeses have time to come to room temp.

Quick tip

Don’t slice the cheeses more than 2 hours in advance! Otherwise, they could dry out. For the best texture, slice hard/semi-hard cheeses about 1-2 hours before serving and let them come to room temperature.

Helpful tools

A French cheese board on a white counter next to red wine, a bowl of walnuts, a beige linen, and crackers.

Tips & tricks

  • I definitely recommend visiting a local cheese shop! Of course, any French cheese you find will be delicious, but a cheese shop is the best place to find unique and authentic cheese.
  • For the effortless French vibe, keep the board simple. You don’t need a hundred ingredients for a stunning cheese platter.
  • To make this a French charcuterie board, add 1-2 cured meats. Try saucisson, jambon, boudin, or pâté.
  • For an interesting looking board, use a mix of different shapes and colors. Look for ingredients with bold colors, unique textures, and fun shapes.

Recipe FAQs

What is a cheese plate called in French?

In France, a cheese board is known as a plateau de fromage. It’s a go-to option for apéro, which is basically French happy hour.

What goes on a traditional French cheese plate?

Cheese plates in France usually come with an odd number of cheeses – 3, 5, or 7 depending on the number of people. There’s usually a variety of cheeses – soft, hard, stinky – for a more complex board.

Cheese boards are typically served with jams, fruit, nuts, and bread. Items like cornichons and Dijon mustard are usually served on charcuterie boards, so if you’re serving meats, I would have a couple savory options!

What is the difference between a cheese board and charcuterie?

While they’re similar, a cheese board is cheese-based while a charcuterie board has more of a focus on cured meats. In France, cheese boards and charcuterie don’t typically cross paths. Cheese platters are served for apéro or in-between dinner and dessert. Charcuterie boards are only served as an appetizer.

In my French-inspired version, I did a mix of cheese and a meat option since I was serving it as an appetizer. But feel free to keep it more traditional with just cheese!

Can I serve this board for dessert?

Definitely! The French typically serve cheese plates in-between dinner and dessert or in lieu of dessert. If you’re serving this in-between dinner and dessert, I would recommend keeping things on the sweet side with cheese, fruit, jam, nuts, and bread. Leave the cured meats, cornichons, olives, and savory sauces for an appetizer.

A French cheese board on a white marble counter next to red wine, a beige linen, and a bowl of walnuts.

More cheese appetizers

Marinated Mozzarella Balls with Basil & Lemon
Tempura Fried Cheese Curds with Sriracha Mayo
Mini Cranberry Orange Cheese Balls
Fried Burrata with Pesto

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An Effortless French Cheese Board

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Let's pretend we're sipping wine in Paris or strolling through the traboules of Lyon with this gorgeous and effortless French cheese board. Featuring a variety of French cheeses, cornichons, nuts, and seasonal fruit, it's lovely for apéro with friends!

Ingredients

  • 3-5 French cheeses (~8 ounces/227 grams each)
  • 4 ounces cornichons (112 grams)
  • 1/4 cup fig jam (80 grams) – or another sweet jam/honey/etc.
  • 1/4 cup whole grain or Dijon mustard (60 grams)
  • 1/2 pound grapes (227 grams)
  • 1 apple, cored & sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots (80 grams)
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves (60 grams)
  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds (60 grams)
  • 1/2 cup French olives (90 grams)
  • Rosemary or thyme sprigs, for garnish
  • 2-3 packages of crackers or bread (4 ounces/120 grams each)
  • 1-2 packages of cured meats (4 ounces/113 grams each) – for a charcuterie board, optional

Instructions 

  • Start by slicing any hard, semi-hard, or semi-soft cheeses into cubes, wedges, or slices. Arrange the sliced and whole cheeses in different areas of the board for easy serving.
  • Next, add bowls of ingredients like cornichons, jams, mustard, etc. next to the cheeses. Then, add grapes, sliced apples, or other seasonal fruit you like. Place piles of smaller items like dried apricots, walnuts, and almonds in-between the cheeses, bowls, & fruit.
  • Fill in any gaps of the board with olives or other smaller items. Stick sprigs of rosemary or thyme in small gaps for garnish.
  • If you're using cured meats, slice the meats and place them on a separate board or plate. Arrange crackers or bread on a separate board or plate as well. Serve the cheese board with French wine and enjoy!

Notes

You’ll need 3-5 cheeses for this board. Pick a hard or semi-hard cheese, something soft or semi-soft, and a goat and/or blue cheese. For another option, pick something a bit more unique and unexpected.
I definitely recommend visiting a local cheese shop! Of course, any French cheese you find will be delicious, but a cheese shop is the best place to find unique and authentic cheese.
For the effortless French vibe, keep the board simple. You don’t need a hundred ingredients for a stunning cheese platter.
To make this a French charcuterie board, add 1-2 cured meats. Try saucisson, jambon, boudin, or pâté.
For an interesting looking board, use a mix of different shapes and colors. Look for ingredients with bold colors, unique textures, and fun shapes.
Bring the cheese to room temperature for about 30-60 minutes before serving. This will bring out all of the best flavors and textures in the cheese!
Don’t slice the cheeses more than 2 hours in advance. Otherwise, they could dry out. For soft or semi-soft cheeses, make sure you have a different cheese knife for each so the flavors don’t mingle too much.
This board will serve 8-12 people depending on how much food you’re serving. Feel free to scale it up or down!
Cuisine: French
Course: Appetizer
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 341kcal, Carbohydrates: 17.9g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 24.1g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 56mg, Sodium: 1000mg, Potassium: 190mg, Fiber: 4.2g, Sugar: 7.4g, Calcium: 285mg, Iron: 1mg
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xo Sara Lynn

Song of the day – Vanille Fraise by L’impératrice