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Seeking Advice: Pregnant in Paris (Esp. Cheese!)

Seeking Advice: Pregnant in Paris (Esp. Cheese!)

Sep 9th, 2004, 10:11 AM
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Seeking Advice: Pregnant in Paris (Esp. Cheese!)

Hello all - I'm seeking advice from folks who have been there done that, or at least have more knowledge than me! I'll be 20 weeks pregnant when my husband and I go to Paris for a week in October. My biggest concern is dietary - no unpasteurized cheeses and other "dangers" from poorly prepared food. For the most part I think, forget it, French babies turn out fine, but the cautious first-baby, first-pregnancy side of me says, what terrible things will I do to my baby if I eat a crepe from a street vendor or a slice of soft cheese?

Cheese is my real problem - I LOVE it. If I were to ask a waiter if it was some cheese was pasteurized, would they 1. know and 2. tell me? Or would they laugh at me for even wanting to know?

Also, is decaf coffee prevalent?

I'd love to hear any advice and comments (about non-food stuff too!). Thanks so much!
BLN is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 10:16 AM
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I hesitate to comment on the cheese, since I am not a physician.

Decaf coffee is available almost everywhere. Ask for "Day caf" or "Day ca fay".
ira is online now  
Sep 9th, 2004, 10:18 AM
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Lot's of these things are disclaimers - unpasteurised cheeses 99.9 per cent of the time (if they're from a proper producer, not homemade efforts) are absolutely safe.

Talk to your doctor about these things, but catching an illness (common cold etcetera) on the plane over is a far more likely and indeed serious risk.
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 10:18 AM
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This topic has come up once or twice before. You might be able to find the discussions if you do a search here on the word <cheese> in the little search box above, and also click on France in the other menu.

Decaf coffee is pretty prevalent in most restaurants and bistros, maybe not in the little snack bar on the corner. Ask for 'deca'--pronounced 'day-ka' sort of.

I have a file on Paris; if you'd like to see it, email me at
[email protected]
elaine is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 10:29 AM
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Most cheeses sold in France are made from pasteurized milk. Cheeses made from unpasteurized milk are identified as made from lait cru. They are generally more expensive than the cheeses made from pasteurized milk. As for restaurants, you might just want to skip the cheese course.
Michael is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 10:32 AM
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Congratulations to you and your husband, BLN! This must be such an exciting time for you, and a trip to Paris, as well!

If you google "travelling while pregnant" you will come up with a wealth of information, including tips on travelling abroad. I suppose the best advice, food-wise, is to err on the side of caution. That would mean saving street food for another trip, and the soft cheeses as well. It might be silly, but the peace of mind it affords you will be worth it.

Years ago (more than I want to say!) my husband and I made a trip when I was six months' pregnant. It was a wonderful trip with no hiccups, though I was very, very tired from it. I look at all the photographs and I look more and more exhausted in each picture, as the days went by! So this is the advice I'd give you: take it easy in Paris and don't wear yourself out. Make room in each day for a nap and sit at lots of cafes drinking your decaf. You can always go back to Paris later with your new baby. (We took our firstborn to England at four months and it was fantastic!)

Which week will you be in Paris? We'll be there ourselves the first week.
Sep 9th, 2004, 10:32 AM
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Just be ready for the decaf coffee. It is like that nasty old Sanka stuff they used to do here. I have yet to find decent decaf in France (but in Italy yes, for some reason).
Patrick is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 10:38 AM
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First you need to talk to your doctor to find out what he/she advises because it may be a little difficult finding pasteurized cheeses anywhere in France. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I doubt you'll find any pasteurized cheeses being served at a Parisian restaurant.

Food served in France, if you are dining at a decent restaurant, or even one that's not so decent, is never poorly prepared. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but they are few and far between and are geared toward the uneducated tourist. You will find that food preparation in Paris will be somewhat different from what you are used to if you've never traveled abroad before. A number of dishes are served cooler than what Americans are used to and meats are never overcooked as they often are in many American restaurants.

Decafe coffee is available, but then again, coffee is not consumed in the same manner as it is in the States. There is far less caffeine in a cup of espresso than there is in coffee prepared in a drip coffee maker.
Robert2533 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 10:51 AM
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Please don't let Robert alarm you - the statement that finding pasteurized cheeses in France will be difficult, and particularly difficult in a restaurant, just ain't true. I think it's safe to say there are far more pasteurized than unpasteurized cheeses all over the country, and in Parisian restaurants most every cheese tray I've ever seen was composed if not entirely, then almost entirely, of pasteurized cheeses.
You might want to check out www.fromages.com before you leave to learn about which cheeses are pasteurized. If you have any questions about any of the cheeses, there is an e-mail address on the FAQ page - [email protected] - you can write to Pascal and ask him for recommendations on what to enjoy and what to avoid.
StCirq is online now  
Sep 9th, 2004, 10:52 AM
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woops - since it's Pascale, perhaps it's a she (though I've never met a woman named Pascale)
StCirq is online now  
Sep 9th, 2004, 11:17 AM
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As everyone has said, talk to your doctor. Here is a list of pasteurized milk cheeses--as St. Cirq said, they are much more prevalent than is thought.

Port Salut
Pont-l?Eveque (most)
Olivet cendre
Neufchatel (some)
Coeur d?Arras
Coeur d?Avesnes
Baguette Laonnaise
Fontainebleau (fromage frais)
Fourme d?Ambert
L?Amise du Chambetin
Emmental (Not grand cru however)
Aligot/Tomme Fraiche (some)
Saint Remy
Cantal (some)
Coulommiers (some)
Bresse Bleu
Bleu de Sassengage
Bleu du Quercy
Bleu d?Aubergne
Trappist de Chambaran
Trappe Chourgnal
Tomme de Romans
Tomme de Savoie (some)
Sainte Paulin
Le Pitchout
Rigotte des Alpes
Rigotte de Saint Colombe
Pithviers au Foin
Raclette (some)
As someone posted above, you can get the information from the label--lait cru.

Gretchen is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 11:20 AM
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Thanks to all of you! Great advice, all around. I will definitely check out fromages.com and get more info on which cheeses are likely "safe."

I've been to Paris twice and we've traveled to Europe several times (I lived in Germany for a year as well), so I'm fairly familiar with general differences (ie coffee) - but I've never been there with this set of concerns!!

I will also ask my midwife, that's a great idea, not sure why I didn't think of it. (I'm afraid she'll tell me something I don't want to hear!) She did okay the trip - reminded me to get up lots on the plane, drink lots of water, and take it easy. I am concerned about the recycled air on the plane, but... what else can you do if you want to get to Paris?

dln - special thanks for your post! We'll be there mid October (12-17). I'm praying for good weather....

Thanks again all!
BLN is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 11:21 AM
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One word of advice:

You can't make up for a lifetime of cheese deprivation in a week.

I tried. I got sick.
ira is online now  
Sep 9th, 2004, 11:26 AM
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The primary hazard in unpasteurized cheese is contamination with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes, which can be extremely damaging to your baby. Listeriosis can cause stillbirths or miscarriages.
Anonymous is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 11:27 AM
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I have read that in France doctors have different concerns. They tell pregnant women not to eat salads and raw vegetables. Those can also be contaminated with listeria, which is why pregnant women are advised not to eat unpasteurized cheese. (Salami and deli meats can also be contaminated with listeria.) I'm not mentioning this to get anyone paranoid, just to point out the differing emphases in different countries.

In BLN's situation, I would probably just stick to eating cheese that has been cooked in sauces. There will be many more opportunities to eat unpasteurized cheese.
WillTravel is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 11:28 AM
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Pascale is always a female name, I think (male is Pascal). I've known a few women with that name (not Americans), but not many.

I agree that decaf coffee is usually findable in cafes, but I think it is usually awful instant. Sometimes not, if you are lucky. Now I don't think street crepes have any unusual danger for pregnant ladies, they are just junk food in general, but I don't think they can be that harmful since they are sugar and flour, mostly (I'd avoid ones with meat).

I guess it depends what you mean by poorly prepared food, I think you mean spoiled or not kept properly. Of course there are restaurants that may not cook that well, and so have poorly prepared food in that sense. I would definitely avoid any restaurant in the tourist street areas around St Michel metro stop (ie, rue de la Huchette). I wouldn't ever eat there as a destination, but I did have something once in one of those Greek restaurants as I was around there and hungry and it was convenient -- the meat was really suspect and I wouldn't ever eat in one of those places again. Some of them even smell, I don't understand how people can be eating in them (smell from the rancid grease, etc).
Christina is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 11:35 AM
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ira - THANKS I'm so sorry about your little (big??) cheese problem!

Anonymous - yes, I'm aware of the issues. Thank you for your concern. Everything in life is a risk however, I'm sure my baby is in my more danger driving around my city than from the small chance of listeria. We all make decisions and we all live with them.

One more question for folks - we're staying in the 1st (I stayed in the 6th and 5th the other times and was ready for something Right Bank - also wanted to be able to walk to quite a bit). Any good restaurant recommendations given my concerns?? (I will scour the board for other suggestions, no worry!)
BLN is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 11:39 AM
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Agree totally about avoiding the restaurants on and near the rue de la Huchette. A long time ago, a friend and I were lured into one of those places and halfway through the meal I realized the thing I kept hitting with my foot under the table was a dead pigeon.
If there's someone standing in the entrance begging you to come in, that's a place to avoid at all costs.
StCirq is online now  
Sep 9th, 2004, 11:42 AM
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I was going to post the same question, as I'm going to Paris next week and was concerned about the whole cheese issue. Caffeine, not so much. I've mainly been avoiding it while pregnant, but you can safely have a couple of coffees a day, even though I never have more than one.

Not sucking down the wine is going to be much harder than avoiding unpateurized cheese.
Ann41 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2004, 12:00 PM
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My husband and I are thinking of going to Paris this fall as well, when I will be about 6 months pregnant. We live in Northern California, but my OB is French, as is a large part of my family (who live in Paris). From what I understand, the French worry more about toxoplasmosis than listeria, though there is concern about that as well. For cheese, stay away from unpasteurized and fermented. There are so many other cheeses you can still enjoy, as others in this post have mentioned. If you do eat raw vegetables, make sure they have been well-cleaned. For whatever reason, toxoplasmosis is more of a threat in Europe than here. My doctor said she has only treated one patient for this in the States, and it was someone who had recently traveled in France.

By the way, if it helps, just before I found out I was pregnant, I had a few bites of a very soft, fermented French cheese. Tasted fine at first, then I had what felt like an extreme allergic reaction to it. Guess it was my body telling me not to bother. Every other cheese has tasted fine to me, so the forbidden cheese might not even taste that great to you right now.

As for a restaurant in the 1eme, we had a wonderful meal at Le Dauphin in May. The cuisine is South-Western French -- grilled meats, cassoulet, a good selection of vegetables. Address is 167 rue St. Honoré, 1eme; Pyramides or Tuileries metro.

Hope you are feeling great and have a wonderful trip!
Rupe is offline  

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