The French love their meat, and the only thing they might like more is cheese. Living here as a vegetarian or vegan is viewed as comedic and somewhat impossible. I recall once, when asking what was vegetarian on the menu the tired looking french waiter replied “Bah le poisson?” (Uh the fish?).
Luckily over the past few years vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants are sprouting up in the hidden streets of Paris; from cheap takeaway burgers to three course meals, everything is available in vegan form, that is if you know where to look! Here are a few of my favourite places to go that you might not find in your guide book, from cheap and cheerful to fancy:
With three bistros located throughout Paris, Hank’s is by far the easiest and cheapest vegan restaurant around. 100% vegan, including in house mayo and desserts, they serve a nice selection of burgers, with one aptly named “La Touriste” changing seasonally. The best hangover cure in town! They also offer gluten free buns, but do not promise that they are completely gluten free.
They do have a sister restaurant, Hanks Pizza, which is completely gluten free despite not being 100% vegan.
A great place to go for breakfast or brunch, Holybelly always has a line out the door and rightfully so. With a delicious selection of vegetarian dishes, (and a few meat eater friendly dishes too) great coffee and delightful decor Holybelly is all you could want in a local brunch place. Most of the staff are native english speakers, and the restaurant has a very anglophone feel. Their in house tomato sauce puts anything your grandma makes to shame, they will actually sell you bottles to take home with you too if you ask (Yes I asked, yes I have a bottle in my fridge)
They alsohave Holybelly 19 just down the street, for those looking for a more intimate dinning experience; a completely different menu and a wine list, at a slightly higher price tag.
A chain of ever so hip 100% vegan food known mostly for its quick and delicious take aways. Although the price is a tad high for my student budget they serve consistently good vegan food, pressed juices and sweet bites all in an eco friendly, responsible way. No plastic is used, instead any takeaway order you receive comes in plastic looking bowls and cups that are made using sugarcane and corn starch. I love their seasonal gluten free sandwich, and their chia bowl with home made muesli as a treat!
One of my favourite little brunch spots in the third arrondissement. Season has a wonderfully bright atmosphere, usually packed and in full sunlight in the summer months. They offer a lovely range of vegan and vegetarian meals, including vegan mac and cheese, shakshuka and sweet corn fritters I would die for. A nice place to bring your less veggie friendly friends as salmon and chicken are in a couple of the dishes too. Plenty of gluten free options!
Sense Eat €€€
Of a slightly higher echelon, Sense Eat is a gluten free, vegetarian Italian restaurant situated in the sixth arrondissement, not far from the wonderful shopping of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. With vegan options, and a delicious range of traditional Italian dishes Sense Eat offers a nice change from stereotypical veggie restaurants and instead gives us a way to enjoy creamy dishes and carbs in the best way possible!
My personal favourite, and a wonderfully kept secret, Le Potager de Charlotte is a 100% vegan, gluten free restaurant in the ninth arrondissement. It may surprise some that this place is absolutely phenomenal. Run by a pair of young french brothers, the chef David Valentin takes the limitations of vegan and gluten free cooking and throws them out the door. Instead creating wonderfully imaginative, creative food in an ever changing seasonal display of his skill. The one dish that is fixed on the menu is their chocolate mousse, which Adrien Valentin, the other half of the team (who happens to be a trained naturopath) loves to point out, is actually made from avocados!