Paris – the ‘City of Light’, romance and, surprisingly, an extremely vegan-friendly location. You can visit France and enjoy the deliciousness that French cuisine has to offer, sans cruelty.
The city’s attitude to veganism will make you fall even more in love with it, as Rachida Brocklehurst discovers…
Where to eat
Typically, French-style food is pretty meaty and cheesy, although they do like to use seasonal, wholesome ingredients as a matter of course, which is great for those who prefer to eat fruits and vegetables that are in season and grown locally. We all know the French love affair with cheese, bread (hooray!), pastries and desserts, but being a vegan in Paris no longer means you have to miss out on all that sweet stuff – I promise.
Le Potager du Marais – 24 Rue Rambuteau
Le Potager du Marais is one of my favourite places to eat in Paris, and is located in the stylish and trendy Marais area. If you dine here you will be able to enjoy the very best of French dining – vegan style. Vegan crème brûlée anyone? Please be sure to book a table in advance, especially on a Friday or Saturday night, as you really will struggle to get a seat otherwise, and this is one place you do not want to miss out on.
42 Degrés – 109 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière
42 Degrés is a completely raw restaurant that will leave you feeling vibrant and as healthy as can be, especially if you’ve overindulged a little earlier on in your trip. It is on the expensive side, but the ‘cheese’ plate comes well recommended. Bon appetit!
La Bauhina at Shangri-La Hotel Paris – 10 Avenue d’Iéna
The La Bauhina at Shangri-La Hotel Paris is the perfect place for a (very) indulgent afternoon, as they offer vegan afternoon tea, with beautiful French patisseries, sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, scones… Oh, the list goes on! Plus, you can even opt to take yours with a rather decadent glass of champagne. It’s not cheap, but totally worth it, from the décor, to the service, to the quality of the food. The restaurant also offers several vegan options at dinner time if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Again, please do book in advance to avoid disappointment. It’s a short walk from the Eiffel Tower, so an ideal spot for a bite to eat after a leisurely stroll.
For a quick bite
If you’re not in the mood for a slap up meal, then there are, of course, plenty of spots where you can either grab something to go and continue your city exploration, or spend half an hour people watching with a tasty light bite. The choice is yours.
Cloud Cakes – 6 Rue Mandar
French vegan cakes? Yes please!
The rule is, go with an empty tummy because you will want to try and buy everything, from vegan croissants and cupcakes to turmeric lattes and the famous brunch.
Hank Vegan Burger – 55 Rue des Archives
For something tasty, cheap and cheerful you really can’t go wrong here, plus there are also gluten-free buns available. The only issue will be choosing from the big list of burger options. Oh, and make sure you try the coleslaw salad too.
Café Ginger – 9 Rue Jacques Cœur
This vegan café serves only seasonal produce in the form of a set menu, with a cosy and laid back atmosphere to accompany your healthy meal.
Le Tricycle – 51 rue de Paradis
The speciality here is vegan hot dogs, and by all reports they are meant to be fantastic. You can either sit in, or take away, but be prepared that if you decide to dine inside, you might be in for a bit of a wait.
Super Vegan – 118 rue des Moines
If you’re a fast food fan then you’ll be delighted to discover dog-friendly restaurant Super Vegan if you’ve overindulged in a few too many glasses of wine and need something greasy to soak it up! Super Vegan’s menu offers a tempting array of junk-food classics such as kebabs made from seitan, burritos, burgers, wraps, fries and ice cream.
Love Juice Bar – 26 rue Chapon
Need some healthy fuel to keep you going whilst you explore the city? Love Juice Bar offers a range of healthy and wholesome snack foods, acai bowls, salads and a huge selection of cold-pressed juice and smoothies to keep you healthy and hydrated.
Eating out at non-vegan places
You can always find something vegan at ethnic restaurants like Indian, Middle Eastern and Oriental places, although you might need to ask for some adaptations. As veganism becomes more known in France, and Paris in particular, you might not find a vegan option in a standard eatery. However, if you tell your waiter you are végétalie(ne) they will hopefully understand what you mean. My top tip is to look for things that are easily veganisable – for example, pizza with no cheese, veggie burgers with no mayo or cheese, salads and so on. If you can offer a suggestion first, then the chances are the dining experience will be much more enjoyable and less stressful for you.
Of course, sometimes you will find a vegan option in a typically French bistro like I did earlier this year at La Taverne de l’Arbre Sec (109 Rue Saint Honoré) – the veggie burger was vegan, and the waitress told me before I could even ask – parfait!
I’ve always found the Parisians to have a very good grasp of English and, although I do speak reasonable French, it’s always nice to know that you can communicate in English if you need to. However, it’s wise to know the basics when it comes to making sure you get what you order, so here are my top French vegan phrases:
• I am vegan – Je suis végétalien/végétalienne
• Please use olive oil and not butter – S’il vous plaît utiliser l’huile d’olive et non du beurre
• I don’t eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy – Je ne mange pas les viande, les poisson, les oeuf ou les produits laitiers
• With soya milk please – Avec du lait de soja s’il vous plaît
• Without milk – Sans lait
• Without cheese – Sans fromage
Top five sites to visit
There’s so much to see and do in Paris, it’s impossible to fit it all in over the course of a few days. You’ll just have to go back again and again! It’s also one of the best cities to just walk around, with every twist and turn taking you down somewhere enchanting.
1 The Eiffel Tower
If it’s your first time to Paris, or you’ve never had chance to see her up close, then take a gentle stroll through the Tuileries Garden en route to see the symbol of the city. You can choose to go up the tower, or to stay on solid ground – either way, it’s an experience to remember (and to photograph – a lot!).
2 Jardin d’Luxemburg
Famed for its beauty, this UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts 25 hectares of gardens as well as a geometric forest and a large pond and is perfect for a relaxing stroll.
3 The Louvre
Close to Notre Dame, if you want to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo and many other wonderful works of art, set yourself aside half a day (or a day) to spend here.
4 Moulin Rouge
The world’s most famous cabaret is in the romantic area of Montmartre. If you book to see a show, they offer a vegan menu. Whilst in the area be sure to visit the Basilica Sacre-Coeur.
5 The Pont des Arts and the River Seine
Although the city has taken the decision to start removing the love padlocks from this famous bridge, it’s still romantic to walk across and take in the view. Afterwards, walk along the river bank and see all the lovely stalls offering paintings, drawings and trinkets.
Fancy getting getting tickets to the Moulin Rouge, taking a trip to Disneyland, scaling up the Eiffel tour, or cruising down the Seine? You can book all these experiences in advance at Isango! to ensure you don’t miss out on a single moment.
Getting to Paris
To get to Paris, either fly or go on the Eurostar – my preference. It is usually cheaper to fly and if you head to Skyscanner.net or Google Flights you can find some very reasonable flights to Charles de Gaulle Airport. From there, get a train into the city – around 50 minutes – then use public transport,
taxi or uber to get to your hotel. Make sure you get the RER B (Blue) train, from Terminal 2 or 3. A ticket will cost about €10, and a train heading towards Robinson, Antony or St-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse will stop in central city stations.
Although pricier, the Eurostar offers occasional deals and is especially good if you’re based in and around London, or wish to travel with a little more luggage than your flight will allow. It takes 2 hours 15 minutes to get to Gare du Nord from London St Pancras. A word of warning: Gare du Nord is a hotbed of pickpocketing. Keep your belongings secure and close to you at all times, and if somebody approaches you to offer a cheap taxi, do not accept! If you want to take a taxi, get an official one from the rank.
Where to stay
To my knowledge, there are no 100% vegan hotels in Paris, however, Hotel Eiffel Trocadero is an eco-friendly establishment that will cater for vegan diets happily. It runs on 100% renewable energy and actively works to reduce water consumption. All food is 100% organic, just contact them when you book to let them know you are vegan. If you are able to get a room or suite on the 6th floor you’ll see some fabulous views of the Eiffel Tower, the most beautiful backdrop to a romantic evening in Paris.
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