Ah, Paris! Within its world-renowned culinary scene, locally produced cheeses, wines and meats are about as ubiquitous as the Eiffel Tower trinkets the street vendors are selling.
Walk along any rue and you’ll see dishes featuring French staples like brown butter, coq au vin and escargots. Red wine is served alongside, of course. And maybe a cigarette to finish everything off. But what’s on offer for those, like myself, who follow a vegan, or‘végétalienne’, diet?
After eight years as a vegan and researching the hell out of every chosen city I visit for where I’m going to eat, I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about journeying to the home of fromage.
But I was pleasantly surprised; my trip took me to quaint boulangeries offering a wide array of vegan-friendly baked goods, a high-end restaurant with innovative dishes, and my apartment’s kitchen to eat a plant-based burger after a particularly tiring day in the city, among other gorgeous spots.
Here’s where you should check out.
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Best for: Chill weekend brunch vibes
Location: 42 Rue du Chemin Vert, 11th arrondissement
A bakery slash cafe slash vegan clothing and food shop, Aujourd’hui Demain is just a five-minute walk from nearby Saint-Ambroise metro station and offers a laidback brunch or lunch scene with portions that’ll keep you full all day.
Situated in the Bastille area in the 11th arrondissement, the 100 per cent vegan eatery offers delights like fish and peas (battered tofu with peas and fries), a ‘cheddar’ burger, ramen, truffle mac and ‘cheese’... the list goes on. But as well as quantity, the quality’s there, too; the dishes were presented beautifully and the flavours were well-balanced.
I went for the quesadilla (not very French, but c’est la vie!), filled with vegan chilli and topped with herby chimichurri and a creme fraiche/sour cream concoction that finished it all off perfectly, alongside a tasty side salad.
We sat streetside to take in some Sunday morning people-watching, but inside you’ll find vegan-friendly bakery items, like the usual croissants and pain au chocolat, plus cakes that you can pre-order.
There’s a whole fashion shopping section too featuring vegan-friendly brands such as Matt + Nat, and a vegan mini-supermarket with pantry items, frozen goods and herbs and spices, as well as drinks. Club Mate fans, you’ll need to make a pitstop here.
Remember to make a reservation – there were lots of groups and couples having to wait on the street for a table.
Land & Monkeys
Best for: Parisian pastries
Locations: Beaumarchais, Place de Vosges, Amsterdam, Roquette, Pernety
A chance encounter with a fellow Scot who’d been living and working in Paris for five years clued us into Land & Monkeys, a 100 per cent vegan bakery chain with multiple locations across the city.
We were expecting a few croissants and some coffee, but discovered a cornucopia of cakes and pastries that were completely plant-based. Pain au chocolat, quiches, apricot and pistachio tarts, chocolate gateaux and cookies sat alongside ‘bacon and cheese’ and Mediterranean veggie baguettes if you fancied a little picnic in le parc.
The prices were affordable too, with a pain au chocolat costing just over €1; on the day we left Paris, we bought six to bring home. Because what’s a morning coffee without a pastry?
Le Potager De Charlotte
Best for: High-end eats
Locations: 17th and 9th arrondissement
The 17th arrondissement isn’t well-frequented by tourists, but it’s where you’ll find quaint wine bars spilling onto the street and gorgeous cafes and restaurants. And it’s also where you’ll find Le Potager De Charlotte, a gourmet vegan restaurant with a verdant interior that’s so cosy you’ll want to hole away all night with a bottle (or two) of red.
A starter of lemony hummus with black sesame cream, chopped pistachios and pop-in-the-mouth pomegranate, all mopped up with some delicious French bread, was followed by mains of rigatoni with balsamic and basil cream sauce, sunflower seeds, edamame beans and sun-dried tomatoes.
We took away a pot of chocolate mousse, served with edible flowers, raspberries, candied pecans and chocolate flakes, to eat by the Seine under the Eiffel Tower as the sun went down. Bliss.
It’s higher end, so do expect to pay a little more (but it’s worth it).
Best for: Extra dietary requirements
Location: 14 Rue Mandar, 75002, 2nd arrondissement
On our way to the Louvre one day, we were walking down Rue Mandar when we happened across a joyful-looking cafe, Charli’s Crew, lit up by the sunshine, with a sticker in its windows saying “vegan”.
We took a seat outside and a waitress popped out to say hello – the fellow Scot I mentioned earlier. She explained near enough everything on the menu could be made vegan, and even made us a list of other eateries around the city to try.
On the menu you’ll find bowls, cakes and brunch bites, such as avocado toast, which comes served with vegan feta, nuts and edible flowers, plus tofu salad bowls, mac and cheese, plant burgers and scrambled tofu.
Some dishes can also be made keto and paleo-friendly and gluten-free.
Best for: On-the-go eats
Location: Multiple spots around the city, including near Luxembourg Gardens
Supermarket chain Monoprix is like our version of Tesco Express, and while not perfect by any measure – we didn’t manage to find vegan eats in every location – we did come across a vegan wrap with a substitute chicken, crunchy slaw and a creamy mayo which was great for filling up after doing a lot of walking around the city.
They also do good ready-made salad and salad bar options, such as a green lentil salad or mezze bowl with falafel, hummus and leaves. Grab some Lays and fruit and you’ve got a recipe for some great picnic in the park bites.
Le Grenier de Notre Dame
Best for: A romantic date night
Location: 18 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005, 5th arrondissement
This spot in Paris’s Latin Quarter, literally just around the corner from the (still-closed) Notre Dame, is leafy and cosy – perfect for a romantic meal after exploring the sights.
It was the very first vegetarian cafe in France, launched in 1978, and serves dishes like lentil burgers, dauphinoise gratin, and chickpea ‘faux gras’, among others.
We opted for the burgers to takeaway – we wanted to eat in our apartment after a long day walking the city – and also got a chocolate brownie with chocolate ice cream for afters.
Overall, Paris has some top-notch veggie eateries, but you may need to organise your days around where you’ll be eating, as most vegan-friendly places won’t just be happened upon.
Happy travelling – and bon appetit!
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