When you think of Paris, I bet you envision baguettes, wine, and cheese. It’s pretty much the reality, too. You can go to a boulangerie to buy a baguette on just about every corner and cheese takes up half of the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Typical French restaurants also center their main courses around meat or fish.
This made eating plant-based and healthy quite challenging, especially when traveling with other bread, meat, and cheese lovers. A couple of years ago it was nearly impossible to eat vegan meals in Paris, but times are-a-changing! Plant-based restaurants can now be found all over the city and there is even a Vegan Food Tour on Airbnb Experiences. Europe also seems to have fully embraced organic food more so than in the US (“bio” indicates organic and can be found at both restaurants and grocery stores), so we can also be comforted to know that most of the food in Paris is free of pesticides.
Heading to Paris? Here are my recommendations for finding good plant-based food!
Download the Happy Cow app
This is my go-to resource whenever I’m trying to find a place to eat. When you download the app and load it up it will show you all of the restaurants near you (map and list views) with plant-based food options. There are additional filters for “vegan-only”, vegetarian, and restaurants with veg-options (this last option comes in handy particularly when traveling with others who do prefer to have non-veg options). Reviews and descriptions are helpful in pointing out specific vegan options on the menu.
This is how I found:
A delicious coffee shop with pastry options as well as breakfast foods. I got a matcha latte and avocado toast, plus a vegan croissant to go.
this is *the* vegan pastry shop in Paris. It’s a little out of the way (read: not in a touristy area), but this was one of the highlights of my food experience in Paris. I ordered the lemon tart pastry and a chocolate viennoiserie while my family tried some of the other beautiful pastries and vegan croissants. My sister, who is quite the pastry chef herself, said the vegan croissant from VG Patisserie was perhaps the best croissant she had in Paris!
This is a small mostly-raw 100% organic seasonal vegan food spot run by an American chef who’s spent the last 20 years in Paris. There’s a small menu, but he makes everything in-house himself (even the fermented vegetables). He clearly has a lot of passion for what he’s doing there and he was a joy to talk with about eating healthy in France. We got the “bowl of the day” and the turmeric rice-noodle bowl and some fresh juices. Typical French food can be heavy in meat, cheese, bread, and wine, so whether you’re vegan or not these phytonutrient-rich bowls are a welcome health boost!
wow just WOW! I really wanted to have at least one nice gourmet vegan meal in Paris, so I went ahead and made Sunday brunch reservations here for the whole family (all 8 of us). I figured if they were going to drag me to French restaurants the whole trip where I could only eat the french fries, they could indulge me in one all-vegan meal, whether they loved it or not. Well, I wasn’t the only one blown of the water by this brunch—everyone LOVED it! We all ordered the “petit dejeuner tardif”, which was a three-course brunch complete with a hot chocolate, smoothie or juice, a chickpea & rice pancake, and avocado filled with a chickpea turmeric hummus, a cacao cream dessert, and finished with a buckwheat and rice pancake topped with hazelnuts, coconut whipped cream, and fresh fruit.
This was one of the most interesting dining experiences, but I’ll have to say the vegan entree was not the best I’ve ever had (in his defense, this was not a strictly vegan restaurant and the translation issues were a bit challenging). If you go, make reservations in advance by emailing the chef Giovanni. He only speaks French & Italian, which as I mentioned, made for an interesting dining experience. Apparently, my Italian is better than his English so he provided a menu in Italian for our group and had me translate it to everyone. We were his only customers that night, so he chatted with us in between cooking our starters and entrees. There were lots of misunderstanding and laughs and overall it was quite a lot of fun. We had organic wine from his region of Italy, freshly baked bread, baked cauliflower, soup, and fresh pasta topped with lentils.
Book a Vegan Food Tour with Alice
The best way to find authentic up-and-coming local restaurants is from the locals themselves! That’s why I booked a Vegan Food Tour with a vegan Parisian, Alice to show us around to all the vegan food spots in the Canal St. Martin area. For $15-30 each, she took us on a 4-hour journey including breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack, and finishing with a cafe for drinks and dessert. My only regret? Not having enough space in my stomach for all that food!
Use the vegan grocer
Buy a baguette from an artisanal boulangerie (organic and better quality processing may reduce the inflammatory potential of wheat) and grab some vegan cheese from Mon Epicerie Paris for those days when your friends are having a cheese and bread picnic and you don’t want to be left out :-p
When all else fails…
When in doubt, a salad (ask to remove the meat and/or cheese or just get a side salad) and french fries would hold me over until I could get something else. Note: French fries are not on my list of healthy foods because potatoes fried in oil at high temperatures are carcinogenic, but I believe they’re OK every now and then, especially when you have limited options when traveling!
If this helps you and you end up going on the Vegan Food Tour, use the Happy Cow app to find a great place to eat, or know of another good vegan food spot I didn’t mention, leave a comment below to share with others!