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eating in France

OTISMA@xxxxxxx writes:
>I am going to Barcelona, Bilbao and France in the spring.  We will be 
>travelling through Provence, Dijon and Leone, Normandy and Paris.  I need 
>vegetarian restaurants that will be  low fat.  Any help will be

Thank you for asking, this is one of my favorite subjects and
I look forward to the periodic questions about eating in France!

First, in general, despite the fois gras and fromage and cream
sauces, there are plenty of good fatfree things to be had in
France.  My experiences there have been much better than in
Italy (where everything takes an oil bath).  General tips:

* Picnic'ing at lunch time is a great idea, people do it all
  over France, and you will find yummy fatfree things in the
  grocery stores.  I take a variety of canned vegetables, my
  favorites are brussel sprouts, leeks, and palm hearts.  The
  markets also are just incredible and found in all the towns.
  There you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables.

* Bread is almost always fatfree.  Not the nut or olive breads,
  of course, but baguettes, pain de siegle (rye), pain complet
  (whole wheat), pain au levain (super yummy) are all fatfree
  and you can find them anywhere.  The only danger is eating
  too much.  Bread is so much better in France than in the US.

* Obviously, avoid croissants, pain du lait, etc at breakfast.
  Most restaurants will give you croissants in the morning.
  Opt for the baguette.

* I love the selection of yogurts and fromage blancs in the
  grocery stores.  Plenty of choices that are fatfree.  You must
  try the fromage blanc, it is like plain yogurt but thicker and
  not bitter at all.  I eat it by the kilo.  :-)

* All over France there are restaurants that have a typically
  fare of entrees (appetizers), salades, pizzas, main dishes,
  etc.  The salads are typically great, you can have it with
  no dressing, and ask them to leave off forbidden items.

  Particularly in the southeast of France, near Nice, the pizzas
  are EXTRAORDINARY.  The crust is super super thin, and has no
  fat.  You can ask for no cheese.  The sauce probably has some
  oil, but they put very very little.

* Also in restaurants, I look for grilled fish (if you eat fish)
  and plain vegetables (steamed or boiled).  I am always surprised
  at how many places I can find this.  They are happy to leave off the
  sauces, and often the cooking method is a fatfree one.
  Often in the dessert choices there is fresh fruit.

* Crudites (raw vegetables) is a great safe appetizer everywhere.
  Just be sure to ask for it without sauce.

* If you are going to cheat, I suggest cheating with a very small
  portion of very strong cheese.  Try to find a *dried* goat cheese
  in a market.  They are small disgusting looking hockey pucks that
  are delicious.  You only need a bite or two to have a wonderful

* As for crepes, if you find galettes au sarrasins (buckwheat crepe)
  there is a high chance there is no butter and no eggs in the
  dough.  For regular crepes (crepe au froment) there is normally
  butter and eggs.

* For specific restaurants, there are several in Paris that are
  vegetarian, but as we all know that does not necessarily mean
  lowfat.  I can recommend 3 restaurants in Paris, but unfortunately
  I don't have their names with me, just descriptions.  I remember
  seeing them listed in many guidebooks, so they are not hard to

  * A very good vegetarian buffet restaurant in the 8th district,
    near the opera house.  It has a country-type name "country
    home" or "country life" or something.

  * An excellent vegetarian restaurant in the 4th district, on a
    corner.  Specializing in mushroom dishes.  You have to ask them
    to cook your meal w/o oil, which they will do if you insist.
    It also I believe has an "earthy" name "Pied sur Terre" or

  * The best recommendation is an organic/vegetarian/healthy place
    in the 5th district -- right on the edge very close to the
    Rue Mouffetard and the Place Contrescarpe (approx, my memory
    is failing).  The Maubert/Mutalite metro is the closest.  They
    definitely make an attempt at healthy cooking -- no butter for

  Sorry I don't have more details!  And do enjoy your trip!