As you might imagine, my diet while abroad in Nantes, France these past few months has been vastly different than my typical diet in the United States. I certainly feel fortunate to be studying in a country where gastronomy is one of the most significant parts of their culture. Therefore, I have plenty to choose from every day when I am looking for a bite to eat.
Around lunchtime, I am usually at the IES Abroad Center and in need of a quick meal before my next class. Luckily there are several boulangeries that are just a few minutes away on foot. A boulangerie is a French bakery that makes and sells fresh pastries, bread, and sandwiches. This makes for the perfect place to grab lunch that is conveniently close, deliciously fresh, and authentically French. I like to order something different from time to time so that I can experience all that France has to offer. For anyone that plans on studying abroad with IES Abroad Nantes in the future, I highly recommend the boulangeries La Viennoise and Maison Bécam.
Here are some of my favorite sandwiches that I have been ordering regularly throughout the semester:
- Baguette with steak and cheese heated up in a toaster
- Baguette with goat cheese and tomatoes heated up in a toaster
- Baguette with chicken and mozzarella heated up in a toaster
- Baguette with camembert cheese, walnuts, and lettuce
- Wrap with smoked salmon and lettuce
Here are some of my favorite pastries that have served as dessert after munching on a fresh baguette or wrap:
- Pain au chocolat
- Riz au lait
Some of my other go-to lunch spots for something different in Nantes are Le Molière and Francesca. At Le Molière, I love to order a Croque Monsieur. This classic French dish is a sandwich oftentimes made with gruyère, parmesan, ham and béchamel sauce toasted in the oven. I also love a Croque Madame, which is essentially the same as a Croque Monsieur, but it also features a sunny side up egg on top of the sandwich. Francesca is a cute little pasta place, which is perfect for me because I am a huge pasta lover. This restaurant features dine-in and take-out options. When you order, first you choose which noodle shape you want (i.e., penne, fusilli, etc.), then you choose which sauce you want. Some of my favorite sauces at Francesca are Carbonara, 3 Fromaggi (three cheese), and Salmone (salmon, cream, and red onions). I always find myself picking up a meal from Francesca during the week when I am craving some delicious, warm comfort food.
At dinner time, I typically eat with my host family where my host mom cooks a meal for everyone. Especially now that the weather is quite chilly, we often start off with a cozy, hot soup. One of the soups that my host mom serves us the most often is a thick butternut squash soup. For the main dish, there is a wide variety of different dishes that we have depending on the day. Sometimes it is as simple as some buttered noodles or some rice and vegetables. Other times it will be a classic French dish such as a Quiche Lorraine. There will even be times where we have something as familiar to me as a frozen pizza heated up in the oven. After the main dish, my host family typically brings out a plate of cheese and a basket of slices of baguette. Because I love fancy cheese, this is probably my favorite part of dinner with my host family. My favorite cheeses from the cheese plate are goat cheese and camembert, and I love to spread these on the fresh slices of baguette. After snacking on some cheese for a few minutes, my host family likes to have a quick single-serve plain yogurt cup. I participate in this routine because I figure I could benefit from this healthy dessert. It seems that this is also a common habit among the host families of the other students in my program this semester, which is something that I learned about the French after arriving here.
In conclusion, my note to anyone planning on studying abroad in France in the future would be that if you are going to stress about anything while abroad, I promise that food is not going to be one of those things that you will have to worry about during your stay in this gastronomic country. As long as you love bread and cheese like I do, you will be just fine.
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<p>My name is Amanda Carrier and I am from Branchburg, New Jersey. I'm a senior at Gettysburg College double majoring in Political Science and French. When I'm on campus, you can often find me at rehearsal with the Sunderman Conservatory Wind Symphony as a percussionist. At home, I love playing with my two cats and going down to the Jersey Shore in the summer!</p>