Grated carrot salad, ratatouille, and coucous….Yummy French school lunch menus from the lovely Languedoc

This week’s menus are from Montpellier, the fastest growing (and 8th largest) city in France. Home to one of the world’s oldest medical schools (and now largest biotech research centres in the country), Montpellier lies in one of France’s most beautiful regions: Languedoc, running along the Mediterranean coast west of the Côte d’Azur. Our favourite places to visit include the walled fortress city of Carcassonne (a UNESCO world heritage site), and the ‘Côte Vermeille’, where the mountains of the Pyrenees drop dramatically into the ocean. Montpellier, with it’s beautiful medieval town centre (l’Écusson), is a delight year-round.

So, what are children eating this week in Montpellier? First of all, there are three days of holiday (yes, the French do take lots of holidays, part of their ‘work hard, play hard’ philosophy!). So only two (admittedly yummy) menus are an offer this week. Note the inclusion of cookies for dessert on Tuesday. Ministry of Education regulations specify fresh fruit for dessert most days of the week. However, treats are allowed too! All part of the French philosophy of food: moderation, not deprivation.

As usual, the meals follow a four course structure: vegetable starter; main dish with vegetable side; cheese course; dessert. All meals are served with fresh baguette (eaten plain) and water. No flavoured milk, juice, sports drinks, or pop. No vending machines. No fast food or junk food. Food for thought!

Monday, May 14th
Grated carrot salad (a French kids classic)
Meatballs (beef) in tomato sauce (meatless option: chickpeas) with couscous
Cheese: Fromage frais, eaten plain
Dessert: Honey

Tuesday, May 15th
Salad Gourmande
Fish filet in butter, with lemon
Ratatouille (stewed eggplant, zucchini (courgette), tomato and red pepper)
Cheese: Pavé d’Affinois brebis (a soft cheese, with a white rind, made of sheep’s milk; somewhat like Brie)
Dessert: Petit Beurre (the classic French cookie, also known as a Petit Lu)

This blog post is part of my French Kids School Lunch Project. Every week, I post the school lunch menus from a different village or town in France, where three-course, freshly-prepared hot lunches are provided to over 6 million children in the public school system every day. These meals cost, on average, $3 per child per day (and prices for low-income families are subsidised). My hope is that these menus (together with my other blog posts about the French approach to kid’s food) will spark a conversation about what children CAN eat, and how we can do better at educating them to eat well.

2 thoughts on “Grated carrot salad, ratatouille, and coucous….Yummy French school lunch menus from the lovely Languedoc

  1. This is the first time I have come across honey. It would be a little bowl. Probably creamed honey (which the French eat more than we do). At school, the rule (not always followed) is: fresh fruit four days per week, and a ‘sweet treat’ on the 5th. French families wouldn’t have desserts in the evening on most weekdays. Or it might be something light, like a piece of fruit, or fruit yogurt.

    Good questions about accommodations for food restrictions: I talk about that on my ‘French School Lunch Menus’ page (at the bottom):

    ps My understanding is that eating something with fat content helps with satiety (feeling full for longer). I wasn’t aware that eating something sweet helped with digestion. Will have to do some investigating!


  2. I find this so interesting–honey for dessert? Is this normal in France to just have honey for dessert? Like a spoonful, or a little bowl?

    I tend to avoid sweets and limit them for my kids (one has caries), but I recently came across something in a Swedish cookbook I’m reading, that eating something sweet after dinner helps digestion (in this case it was fruit ‘cream’, a popular Swedish dessert). Makes sense. Do you know what else the French eat for weekday desserts, and do they have dessert every day?

    Seems in Montpellier, they make accommodations for vegetarians, or at least ‘”red meat” vegetarians;). Do you know what kids do who won’t eat the school lunches (due to religious, vegan or other restrictions)?


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