The delightful cuisine of Hotel Esprit Montagne is reason enough to venture into the Abondance Valley. The breakfast there is also legendary, and that’s to be taken literally. Because did you know that there’s a big secret lurking behind the Tomme cheese you can taste at the buffet every morning? And the Abondance cheese has a mythical side too.
abondance kaas

Abondance, cash or cheese?

Since the 11th century, cheeses have been a lucrative venture for the inhabitants of the Abondance Valley. The monks of the Abondance Abbey had a knack for business and created high alpine pastures where farmers happily let their cows graze in the summer. Collecting taxes, the monks did, you guessed it, in the form of cheese. It was a smart move because the mountain herbs that the cows eat give the cheese an extra special flavor. And this delicacy didn’t go unnoticed by the nobility. A piece of Abondance cheese became a must-have at a noble banquet. Over time, the cheese became so renowned that it could be used as currency.

Today, Abondance cheese even has a protected designation of origin, and can only be made from milk from cows in the region and of the Abondance, Tarine, and Montbéliard breeds. You’ll always recognize the cheese by the notch in the rind. The two pointed tips seem to pay homage to the Abondance cows that you can easily find in the mountains in the summer. Just follow the sound of tinkling bells or the smell of fresh cow dung. Whether you can still pay with a slice of Abondance cheese between your sandwich is uncertain, but it’s worth a try!

The Legend of Tomme de Savoie 

For the origin of Tomme cheese, we descend to La Giettaz, a village a stone’s throw from Mont Blanc. There, very long ago, lived fairies who delighted in the fresh milk that farmers received from their cows every day. In exchange, they taught the mountain dwellers how to make Tomme cheese. So, the mountain dwellers and the fairies lived in harmony for years. The farmers milked the cows and prepared delicious Tomme cheese according to the tricks of the trade, and the fairies flew cheerfully through the chimneys to come sip milk from their little fairy bowls.

However, after all those years, an idea dawned on the people: why do we continue to give our milk to those fairies when they no longer teach us anything? Instead of milk, the farmers began putting horse manure in the fairies’ bowls. They were furious! Enraged! They packed up all their belongings and left the village without warning. They still had so much to teach the mountain dwellers, but due to ingratitude, it never happened. Perhaps one day they will return to pass on their other culinary secrets? A bowl of fresh Alpine milk on the windowsill certainly couldn’t hurt. 😉