Monday, December 10, 2012

Vegan in Paris


I recently returned home from a trip to Paris. My husband and I decided to go for a fun sight-seeing vacation as well as to celebrate our first anniversary. We fit a ton of museums, historical sights, wandering and shopping into one week and we had a great time. I was nervous about finding things to eat in a city that in famous for loving it's meat and cheese, but with some planning ahead of time things were actually easier than I thought. Check out my restaurant stops below as well as some general tips if you are planning a trip to Paris!

The one food related activity we booked ahead of time was a market tour and cooking class with La Cucina di Terresa. It offers vegetarian cooking classes with Terresa in her quaint Paris apartment. We met her at the Sunday organic market and picked out ingredients for our lunch, and some extra things like homemade dairy-free chocolates. Terresa was a great tour guide and pointed out some sights to us as we walked back to her home. It was great to have a local to show us around and give insider tips on shopping. We created some tasty dishes in her kitchen: a farinata (chickpea flatbread), a Swiss chard pasta with a lemon walnut sauce, and a traditional French dessert made from almond milk with pomegranate called Blancmanger. Terresa was happy to make our menu fully vegan for me. We tried some local natural wines too. I was feeling a bit jet lagged and Terresa sent me home with leftovers and herbal tea at the end of the class- so nice! It was a pleasant way to spend a day in Paris.

Farinata made in our Paris Cooking Class

We had dinner one night at the vegan restaurant Le Potager du Marais. It is a small place, but was not at all crowded when we got there around 7pm. They have an impressive menu with some vegan versions of french food and some other interesting creations. We ordered the soup of the day which was Green Pea and vegetable, a French Onion soup, and then a Quinoa Burger with gratin potatoes and a dish called "Pink Lentil Balls". We enjoyed the soups a lot - the portions were way bigger than we expected. The main dishes were good too, but just not quite to our taste. I think from reading some reviews online that the dishes here are a little hit or miss. We did split the chocolate mousse for dessert and this was excellent. I would say it's a good vegan option in Paris but maybe not a "must go".

Chocolate mousse at Le Potager du Marais.

Here are some other various foodie photos I took while in Paris. The top left is a veggie and hummus sandwich, tabbouleh salad, and juice that I grabbed for lunch from Le Bio d' Adam et Eve, near the Les Halles station. Let me tell you, when we got to this place I was SO happy because they actually had vegan labels on their selections! The food was very tasty too, and is all organic. Wonderful place!
The top right is another meal we had from Veggie, a place we found on the fly while realizing we were hungry after visiting the Musee d'Orsay. It's a small shop and deli type restaurant and while they didn't have menus the waiter told us 3 specials for lunch that day and assured me of which was vegan. We weren't really sure what we were getting but ended up with a stir fry and vegetable type dish with salad, and a tasty baked vegetable dish that had potatoes, carrot and squash and was served with rice. Definitely a solid stop if you're near the area.
Bottom left - the fresh french bread that we enjoyed almost every day. There are a lot of choices in the bread shops (boulangeries) but I felt pretty safe with the Pain Traditional.
Bottom right - selection of tofu and other mock meats inside a natural grocery store called Naturalia.

paris6_veganflingPictured above is the fabulous lunch we had at Les Cinq Saveurs d'Anada which is located near the Pantheon. They have mostly vegan options, but do serve some fish and other things. If I remember right the menu was marked with what was vegan. This place is amazing! I tried fresh carrot apple juice and a salad plate, and my husband got a tofu plate with rice, quinoa, and salad. Everything was really delicious, especially the tofu. It was so nice to have a fresh and healthy meal. This place would be on my "must go" list for sure!
The last recommendation on my list is the Gentle Gourmet Cafe. This is a fairly new vegan restaurant in Paris (It used to be a B+B) and we had a great dinner here on our last night. Pictured above is a pumpkin leek soup (with a hot chocolate in the background), a Mediterranean salad with chickpeas, a potato gratin type of dish with salad, and the most amazing dessert crepe of all time. We seriously almost licked that plate clean. I got my wish of trying a crepe in France, and it was even filled with soy milk ice cream! Yum. Definitely make a stop here!

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe at night, Pyramid at the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Seine, Stained glass inside Sainte-Chapelle.
Some General Tips
1. You can't really just pop in to any place and expect to find something vegan-friendly on the menu or be able to modify something like is common in the US. Most places we passed just walking around I would have had a hard time finding something to eat. I did a lot of research ahead of time on Happy Cow and other sites and made a list of restaurants that had vegan options. My husband got a map app for his phone and we put in all the sites we wanted to see as well as my list of restaurants. That way if we were out sight seeing and wanted to find food nearby, we could just look it up and see what was close. This was seriously a life saver!

2. We rented a small studio apartment through Flipkey, and this turned out to be a great advantage too. In addition to feeling like you are living more like a native, we had a small kitchen and were able to eat some easy meals at home. We would get fresh bread and bring it home for a snack almost every day. I stocked up on snacks like trail mix and fruit, and would bring something along when sight seeing.

3. Neither of us speak any French, and I was a little worried about getting by. Almost everywhere we went like restaurants and shops we had zero problem. We asked people nicely if they spoke English and most either said "of course" or that they would try their best. I think being friendly and not expecting things goes a long way. Most of the menus in restaurants had English translations too!

I hope that this post will help anyone planning a Paris trip, and maybe inspire a few people to think about going! I think traveling and experiencing new places is worth it, and I'm happy that with careful planning it's easy to find some great vegan food there as well.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. i have been bugging dayv about paris for the last couple of years. i want to go SO BAD. it's definitely the next big vacation we are going on for sure.

    thank you for all of these recommendations! all of the food looks amazing. any chance you can share the farinata recipe? it looks out of this world spectacular.

    1. I hope you guys get to go, we had a great time! That is super idea- I will have to try to recreate the farinata at home. :)

  2. Beautiful photos :) All the food looks so delicious!! I am glad you are back :) I hope I will have the chance to go there one day!!!

  3. I really wish this post was available 2 months ago when I was there! I am not a vegan, but I am trying to decrease my dairy intake and I found Paris is one hard city to eat butter or dairy free. They seriously love their cheeses. :) This is a great post and I'm so glad I found your site!

    1. Thanks for your comment Annie! I know what you mean about the difficulties finding specialty foods there. Hopefully you did ok!

  4. Ohhhhh Paris. How I want to go back to badly! We definitely found it tough to find vegetarian/vegan food while in Paris. England was MUCH easier. But Paris is manageable if you prepare ahead and such. Sounds like you had a magical trip! xo

  5. This is such a great resource, Melissa! And what a wonderful way to celebrate your anniversary (And happy belated anniversary, by the way!)! Paris is on our list of places to visit (we've both been, but never together), so this will come in handy for sure! :-)


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