Vegetarian in Paris

Everyone I talk to about spending a month in Paris says some variation on “The food is so amazing” and I feel almost apologetic about admitting I’m vegetarian, so it was actually harder than usual to find good meals. We did eat very well, but we couldn’t just wander into any restaurant and assume they’d have something we could eat*.

There are quite a lot of vegetarian restaurants in Paris, but many are macrobiotic, which is fine once in a while, but if the French think that all vegetarian food is like that, it’s no wonder so few of them are vegetarian. We did go to a few of these macrobiotic restaurants and had good meals, but they don’t offer a lot of variety.

I’m a big fan of fake meat (one of my favourite foods is the fake buffalo wings at Red Bamboo in New York. The fake crispy chicken skin is amazing), so I was hoping for more restaurants serving French food with meat substitutes, or French-style sauces with vegetables or something more interesting.

I’m mostly just going to list the places that were great, but the macrobiotic category deserves a more thorough review.

French Cuisine

***** Le Potager du Marais might have been my favourite of the restaurants we tried, but sadly, we only ate there on our last day. They served exactly what I’d been hoping for the whole trip: delicious French food with meat substitutes.

**** I had an excellent seitan Bourgignon at Le Pas-Sage Obligé (a mostly vegetarian restaurant).

**** The service wasn’t great at Soya (possibly because we were in a separate little room next-door to their main dining room), but the food was delicious, and all vegetarian.

**** Little Breizh was a yummy little Brittany-style buckwheat crepes place, not far from where we were staying. They had a few vegetarian options (and plenty of dessert choices).

*** The fondue at Pain Vin Fromages was delicious, and I always love melted cheese, but I would have liked some vegetables to dip in the fondue, along with the potatoes and bread.

**** I’m not sure this belongs in French cuisine, but I did have eggs cocotte for my birthday breakfast at Eggs & Co. I love giant breakfasts with several different foods, so the brunch here (juice, hot chocolate (or coffee), eggs and potatoes, pancake and fruit for dessert) was perfect.

Macrobiotic Restaurants

*** The oldest vegetarian restaurant in Paris, Le Grenier de Notre Dame, was probably my pick of this type. I think we got the cassoulet and the escalope de seitan (and a delicious peach kir).

** Le Puit des Légumes was more disappointing. I had the special of the day, which was tasty, but Jeremy’s soup was just pureed steamed vegetables.

** When we read the menu at Saveurs Végét’Halles, we were excited to see so many different options and envisioned returning for multiple meals. Sadly, the food was fairly bland, and despite ordering what seemed like very different meals, we ended up with almost identical food.

Non-French Cuisine

**** L’As du Fallafel (link goes to a NY Times review; they don’t have a website) is supposed to have the best felafel in Paris. We didn’t do any comparison testing, but it was certainly excellent.

**** Our first night in Paris, we wanted something very different after eating nothing but Italian food for nine days (almost all of it superb), so we went to Akash, an Indian restaurant. It was delicious enough that we thought we’d go back, but we kept following the lure of new restaurants instead.

*** Fratelli/Au Club des Siciliens only had two vegetarian dishes, but one of them was better than most of the Italian food we’d had in Italy, so it deserves mentioning.


***** My favourite lunch place was Boulangerie Julien. The baguettes were yummy, but the real reason to go there is the peach-pistachio tart (or the pear-chocolate). Heavenly.

**** After trying several local bakeries, I settled on Boulangerie Carton for our regular breakfast. Jeremy liked the pain au chocolat, and I kept going back and forth on whether the pain aux raisins or the apricot croissant was better.

***** We discovered Grom‘s amazing hot chocolate in Venice and were delighted to discover they had a shop just a few blocks away from where we stayed in Paris. They have locations in LA and New York, as well as all over Italy. I’m hoping Chicago is next. We did try the famous hot chocolate at Angelina’s, but I preferred Grom’s milk chocolate to Angelina’s dark.

**** Several people told me the macarons at Gérard Mulot were the best (despite Ladurée’s hype), but we weren’t that impressed by them. Pierre Hermé‘s chocolate/passionfruit macarons, however, were amazing. Sadly, I think they were just a temporary flavour.

*** We didn’t eat there, but we had fun at the geeky-stuff-themed Dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde (the last bar before the end of the world). I didn’t take any photos, but you can see some here.

*In the US, you can assume that any well-reviewed restaurant will have something vegetarian. In Australia, you can assume that they’ll have a vegetarian risotto or gnocchi. In Paris, it’s unlikely that a (French) restaurant will have a vegetarian main dish.

Beckie reads The Parallel Apartments by Bill Cotter

Why did you read this? Jeremy handed it to me in Shakespeare and Company in Paris and asked me to read page 65 (our standard method of choosing books to read). It seemed well-written and interesting.

Has Jeremy read it? Just a few pages before he gave up.

42-word review: A complicated story about a multigenerational family of women. Clever use of imagery and themes, but too full of horrible things happening to unlikable people for me. If I’d seen the humor compared to Confederacy of Dunces, I wouldn’t have read it.

Rating: 2 murder attempts (out of 5)