The cheese of St-Nectaire has been growing in reputation ever since Louis XIV had it regularly served at his table; only cheeses made from herds grazing in a limited area to the south of the Monts-Dore are entitled to the appellation contrôlée. The cheese is made in two stages. First, a white creamy cheese or tomme is produced. This is matured for two to three months in a cellar at a constant temperature; the resulting mould on the skin produces the characteristic smell, taste and whitish or yellowy-grey colour.
There are two kinds of St-Nectaire cheese: fermier and laitier. The fermier (farmhouse) is the strongest and tastiest, and some of it is still made entirely on local farms, using just the milk from one herd of cows. Increasingly, however, farmers make the tomme using the milk of lots of different herds and then sell it on to wholesalers to produce the laitier (dairy) cheese, which is more of an industrial product, with an automated refining stage.