Some of the finest food in the world is to be found in France. But where the gastronomic fatherland did not, until very recently, perform so well was in the arena of healthy eating. In most regions of the country, announcing to a waiter that you are vegetarian would simply have caused his lip to curl in disdain. The further clarification that this means no meat at all, not even chicken, would have induced something closer to disgust.
And confessing to veganism or wheat intolerance might even have made his head explode. But the times are changing, albeit gradually. And at the forefront of this change are restaurants like Nice's BIOOS.
It evolved as a kind of lifestyle statement rather than as a marketing gimmick, when the owners decided that they would introduce the rigours of their own organic and health-conscious diet to the menu of their popular New Town restaurant. And it has gone from strength to strength. Some dishes are lactose or gluten free, others use only rice flour instead of wheat; nowhere is cow's milk to be found, with cheeses made from goat's or sheep's milk. Produce is organic, with the provenance of the meat meticulously charted, and the menu changes by the day (nothing is frozen; you'll hear no ping of the microwave in this kitchen). Evening seminars followed, of course, by food are regularly timetabled.