French people eat a lot of fresh raw leafy greens. And they are very precise about nomenclature. Laitue can be translated as 'lettuce' but to a French person, laitue is a quite specific type of lettuce, and the generic term for what in English would be lettuce or salad greens is salade in French. Within the salade section of a market stall you could get labels for laitue, batavia, scarole, mesclun, mache, feuilles de chene, endive, frisée, romaine, roquette and no doubt a few more that I've forgotten or don't know about.
One that I hadn't noticed before is reine des glaces. I was alerted to its presence on Madame Morin's stall on Saturday by the woman behind me in the queue. 'Oh!' she exclaimed, 'You have reine des glaces! You hardly ever see it these days! It's so good to see someone growing the old varieties! My husband loved it and used to grow it! It has such a distinctive taste!'
So I brought it home and we had some in a simple tomato sandwich for lunch. Very nice - very crunchy and a flavour as if it has been seasoned with salt and pepper.
It turns out, now that I've googled the subject, that batavias are iceberg lettuces. This will give anglophone readers a vision of a melon sized ball of tightly packed pale green leaves with no taste but plenty of crunch. French batavias are picked before they get to that stage and are a small loose head of bright green leaves. It further turns out that reine des glaces is an extremely popular 200 year old variety that everyone raves about. It is reliable no matter what the weather, and particularly so in the cold (hence the name, which means 'ice queen') making a small round head and best if not watered. Those who are particularly enamoured even talk about its unique 'hazelnutty' flavour. Its only drawback seems to be that it sets very few seeds and so can be difficult to source if you want to grow some.