Eat Your Way Through European Cheeses At Paris' Second Cheese Day

French President Charles de Gaulle famously said (translated), "How can you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese?" In fact, there are between 350 and 400 distinct varieties of French cheeses. Not only that, but France divides its cheeses into eight categories called familles ("families") so that the number of cheeses is actually said to be closer to a thousand. In fairness to de Gaulle, who died in 1970, France has been busily adding cheeses to its roster year after year.

If turophiles wants to get around to sampling every French cheese, they'll have a very good place to start at Paris' second Cheese Day on Feb. 20. The event, which last year drew 34 cheesemakers and more than 2,000 visitors, will take place at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand.

There, an extraordinary gathering of French and international culinary luminaries will participate in an all-day event. In addition to French cheeses, neighboring cheesemakers from Italy and Switzerland will also participate. A seven-hour tasting will take place starting at 11 a.m., but the tasting doesn't stop there. Cheese Night will start at 6 and continues until 10 p.m. Throughout the day, there will be master classes, culinary challenges, and a lunch created by two Michelin-starred chefs, Laurent André of Le Café de la Paix and Juan Arbelaez of Le Nubé.

There will even be a lecture on The French Paradox by Dr. Marie-Claude Bertière, a nutritionist. The doctor will explain the science behind the reason, despite a high consumption in fat and saturated fatty acids (like cheese), France presents a rate historically low for cardiovascular disease. After that, participants will undoubtedly feel far better about their cheese consumption. And because this is France, every cheese tasting will be accompanied by a tasting of wines and spirits from 12 top producers. Not to be left out, bread maker extraordinaire Eric Kayser of Maison Kayser will provide extraordinary breads to complement each cheese.

Tickets for this event cost €20 (around $22) for Cheese Day and €25 (around $27) for Cheese Night. They can be purchased online.