Hospital Food In France

Just wondering if anyone could share their experience on eating hospital food in France? I am halfway through my 4 week 'stage d'adaptation' to validate my foreign diploma to be a French dietitian. I have worked in several hospitals in the states and with the NHS for a few years. My feeling is that there is much more emphasis on the food served in French hospitals for taste and pleasing the patients. A significant part of the French dietitian's job is to be sure the patient is getting what they want on the menu and also that they are satisfied with the food.(In contrast with the UK and USA where there is more emphasis on the medical aspects of nutrition).


My question is to anyone who has been a patient in French hospitals, perhaps compared to other countries, have you found a difference in the taste, quality, presentation between the food in France and other countries?


Thanks for your response!

Hubby was in Niort hospital, firstly in Coronary care ICU, then later in the nephrology ward, he is diabetic. All I can say is that the dieticians’s were excellent, they took the trouble to have some things printed in English, took time to ensure he understood the questions and I found the food her was served was good, he thought it tasty except for the pasta, which was a bit too plain for his taste.

I recently spent five days in La Peyronie hospital in Montpellier and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food.

Breakfast was relatively uninspiring - a hot drink and a tartine. However, lunch was a salad, meat or fish, a carb, a fruit and a milk product. Gouter was a hot drink and a biscuit or small cake. Evening meal started with soup and then followed the same lines as the lunch. One day we had two of the best slices of roast beef that I have had in many a day!! All food was well cooked and piping hot. No complaints at all.

I also spent a few days in the Clinique du Vallespir in Ceret. Again the food was pretty good and what was even better was that we were allowed a small carafe of red with dinner :D

The people who award the contracts have a lifestyle to keep up!! cough, cough !!!

CHU Poitiers took me in for 4 weeks in September and the food was definitely superior to UK hospitals I've worked in, except for one private mental health unit which had better food than all of them. It's gone bankrupt.

Very, very bland, but 4 choices of starter, 2 choices of main meal and 3 of pudding, although virtually identical choices for everything apart from the main plat, daily and by the final week of 4, I hated every choice.

Very 'healthy' in the sense of lots of fresh vegetables, no fatty meat or sauces and no cakes or heavy puddings. Soup was awful. Couldn't eat it.(very rare occurence for me) Lots of protein content and low carbohydrate.

We chose our meals for the following day using a hand held pointing device that the nurse used.

Breakfast was frustrating as I have an intolerance to yeast and there were no cereals or un-yeasted biscuits or bread.

My aim was to loose weight so it was easy. I lost 3kilo.

I felt very sorry for those who needed to build themselves up though, and there were many complaints from the other patients.

It depends what you're in hospital for. I had a week for a hernia operation in our local town hospital and on Day 1 I was asked what I'd like for breakfast - of course i asked for a full, high cholesterol, fat-boy fry up and got a dog biscuit with red jam à la petroleum for breakfast ( apparently this was to help me go to the toilet) . For lunch every day for 5 days I was given mashed potato, a sliver of ham and an apple purée. The evening meal was a vegetable soup with another dog biscuit. I must admit that other people seemed to be getting nice 3 course meals that hadn't been near a dog bowl. My wife went in for a hip replacement to a big city hospital and had very nice meals including a small glass of wine!! I would add that we both have nothing but praise for the actual hospital care.

I do not give

The "food" is awful !!! I was in hospital in Trélazé for 4 days. After day 1 I used to creep out at night, and go across the road to McDonalds. And no, I am not a fan of McDo !.

ps. I'm thinking of writing a book about hospital ceilings in the Poiteau-Charente.

l'anglais de Brillac.

The municipality has a contract with Sodexo, which also caters for schools. The food is terrible and everybody is angry about them winning tender after tender." It's Marseille" is the invariable reply when people ask why such an unprofessional, expensive and unreliable company is selected for another long stretch.

Still, La Timone has good doctors and I hope your OH got good medical treatment.

awful....really awful.

I dont know your situation, but I believe that some doctors in France, prior to Gall Bladder surgery will do a low fat special diet before surgery...in cases like yours this could have been the problem with the diet. This low fat diet is to ensure that gall bladder doesn't go crazy before surgery/ or right after. Do not know, just guessing...

this vegetarian dilemma is unfortunately the same thing that happens all around France. French are not aware of the 'how to do' a vegetarian diet and the software in the computer is set up to give vegetarians fish or omellets. however, a good dietitian could perhaps work around this and at least give a protein source at lunch/dinner (eggs in different forms?? or extra cheese on pasta??) Or perhaps a lentil salad..? There is no 'substitute' for a vegetarian main meal, like a veggie burger or something like that. Neither is there a compensation for Halal foods, as there is no law in France dictating that you have to provide for this. (This is what I was told this morning). I think , like the cantine menus in France, that the attitude is you cannot eat 'balanced' on a vegetarian diet and thus it is not incorporated in the menus. Just a thought...

Sorry about your wife's experience...unfortunately, sometimes 'misunderstandings' happen with diets in hospitals. It is common after certain types of surgery to put a patient on a bland diet or clear diet to help transition to eating. Just to let you know. The 'aide soignants' who bring the food to the patient's table dont always know the diets that the doctor ordered and thus cannot explain why you get what you get.

glad for your experience. the awful segmentated plates are there to keep food that should be hot hot and food cold cold. these plates usually stay in a closed box (one side hot and one side cold) for up to 2 hours.

Hi Brian, really sounds like you had a bad experience. Where I am doing my training any special diets have to written by the doctor in the medical plan. Vegetarian diets are normally not a special diet. Dietitians do not see patients unless there is a request by the doctor or a nurse signals the dietary staff of a patient that is not eating. Your type of eating plan will usually cause problems at most hospitals because of the constraints of the computer system that has the menu and the 'restauration' that puts the meals on the plates. I think where I am now there is a lot of emphasis on pleasing the patient's desires, plus the menus are brand new (revamped a few years ago) and are integrated into a new software that works well. However, as with any industrialized food setting, nothing is perfect. When you need to serve 750-1,000 meals the odd diets don't always pass well on the 'plate' chain. Saying that, your case is a situation where a dietitian should have come in right away. (as i said, dietitians do not usually talk to the patient unless there is a trace of writing from the doctor/medical staff). Your weight loss in the hospital is a case of 'denutrition' and should be avoided at all costs. I would recommend for future *hope none!* visits that you ask for a dietitian to come right away. Normally they will send someone to talk to you. At least where I work.

Brilliant idea Catharine. I would have welcomed it with open arms! :-)

I think you have hit the nail on the head there Tracey - I've noticed exactly the same with my kids school dinners at various schools. On site = good, even great. Bussed in and vacuum packed = huge decline. :(

By the way, any chance you can post a profile photo please? It's so much nicer when we can 'see' each other! Thanks!

Hi ,i work in a hospital and i am part of a team who serve the patients meals,we are lucky as our hospital still have the kitchens on site ,the meals are excellent ,the patients get to choose their menus and we have lots of contact with the dietitian .Overall i feel that our patients requirements are catered for as much as possible ,there is talk of our kitchen closing and the meals being driven over in a lorry (60km away)vacumed packed plastic trays ,what is the quality of food going to be like ,i dont know??

Blimey! This all sounds like we need to start an SFN 'soup run' for anyone going into hospital!