In the rarefied world of haute cuisine, where the top chefs are national celebrities, a battle is currently raging between traditionalists, determined to preserve the purity of French cuisine, and those who experiment with different flavours from around the world to create novel combinations, for example seafood and cinnamon. At this level, French food is still brilliant in both camps and the good news is that prices are continuing to come down. Many gourmet palaces offer weekday lunchtime menus where you can sample culinary genius for under €45.
France is also a great place for foreign cuisine, in particular North African, Caribbean (known as Antillais) and Asiatic. Moroccan, Thai or Vietnamese restaurants are not necessarily cheap options but they are usually good value for money.
On the whole, vegetarians can expect a somewhat lean time in France. A few cities have specifically vegetarian restaurants (detailed in the Guide), but elsewhere you'll have to hope you find a sympathetic place (crêperies and pizzerias can be good standbys). Sometimes they're willing to replace a meat dish on the menu fixe with an omelette; other times you'll have to pick your way through the carte. Remember the phrase "Je suis végétarien(ne); est-ce qu'il y a quelques plats sans viande?" (I'm a vegetarian; are there any non-meat dishes?). Vegans, however, should probably forget all about eating in French restaurants and stick to self-catering.
Pages in section ‘Eating and drinking’: Breakfast and snacks, Cheese, Meals, Drinking.
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