Are you looking for an authentic French immersion experience? First thing to say is it is an absolutely brilliant idea and it will give you so much both personally but also professionally. You may also be part the ever growing movement of dietary choices that seems to be gaining momentum right now across the world. Many people have expressed to me a bit apprehension about being able to easily continue this lifestyle whilst learning French in France; the land of foie gras, cheese and sausage. Montpellier is a fantastic city for those of us who are wanting to control our consumption whether you are doing it out of curiosity, to save money, health, ethical or environmental reasons. It has so much to offer to make things not only convenient and easy but fun, interesting and exciting. I will be focusing on your day to day diet here and I will dedicate another article to restaurants to visit whilst studying French in Montpellier.
Pescatarian French Student’s Paradise
If you are a Pescatarian the south of France and in particular Montpellier is going to be a revelation for you. This is their speciality; being just 10km from the sea fresh fish is shipped daily to the markets on Montpellier, whether it has fished from the sea or one of the many sustainable ‘étangs’ where they cultivate mussels oyster and many breeds of fish in a way that doesn’t impact of on the ecosystem of the sea. These wonderful markets are dynamic vibrant places where you can profit from loads of choice, practice what you have been learning on your French course with the real life long Montpelliéraines. They do amazing mixed seafood platters which are ‘incroyable!’. As is a recurring theme the size of the city is an advantage as you can walk from a market on one side of the city to the other within 30 minutes so you can browse, sample and wander through this beating heart of Montpellier and be sure to find something somewhere that excites you. Here’s a link to a previous article on one of these great markets: Sunny Montpellier and Marché des Arceaux.
Can A Vegetarian or Vegan Survive Learning French in France?
In Montpellier they can survive and thrive. We are here to help you! The supermarkets here in Montpellier have an ample choice of products for whatever diet you’ve chosen. You don’t to have to go to some old dusty corner of the store either, the products are mainstream now so most will appear in most stores. Yes you might have trouble getting hold of specific products you are used to in your home country but there is always something similar and you are supposed to be trying new things anyway; you’re studying in France! As you might expect there are some vegan products unavailable in other countries. Little pureed fruit compotes are popular here and make a great little snack, I haven’t seen them in the UK and they’re delicious. A huge asset is the huge amount of pasta available, accompanied by vegan pesto widely available and heaps of tomato based sauces to choose from this provides a nice base line to work from.
There is a big company called Sojasun who produce loads of vegan products of all different kinds and they have a strong foothold in the market. I recommend doing a bit of research on this company as they have been swimming in ethically unclear waters. It seems they were accused of funding research which tests on animals but they have apparently defended themselves by saying that was only for research into treatments for people with rare diseases. So you can make up your own mind on that one.
Monoprix is a great supermarket for vegan goods and there is one just round the corner from the Easy French Language School. They have fresh food available, including seed based salads which are great! Also tofu, meat substitutes and all your alternative milks. It’s a veggie/vegan buffet and right near the language school, it’s so easy.
For something a bit more exciting there are regular ‘meetup’ groups in Montpellier that focus on particular types of cooking. Everyone cooks a course brings it to a meeting point, you eat and share tips, meet and greet etc. It’s great fun! More common are the seafood and vegetarian options but they update each week.
Here is an example.
Of course there is an abundance of health food stores also scattered around the city so whether you are the residence for the Easy French Language School or with a host family you are bound to be close to one and again the relative size of Montpellier means no matter where something is it’s just a gentle stroll through the beautiful city streets to get there. Here are a few to start with:
So I hope this makes you confident to start your adventure of learning French in Montpellier confident you can continue your lifestyle with ease and enjoyment.