With a French grandmother–and my undergrad and grad studies completed in Paris, France–I am pretty much 50% French. Sometimes 80%, when it’s about table manners and wanting to take an hour lunch break and sometimes 10% when I get annoyed about lines in France (lines don’t exist, it’s usually just a crowd or loosely assembled mass of people passively aggressively trying to all be the first ones). One thing I definitely never knew, though, is how vegan-friendly Paris has become.
When I left France in 2013 to move to New York City, I was just on the verge of becoming vegan. Self-conscious and hypersensitive to offending the French traditions, I had lived as a more or less open vegetarian in Paris during grad school. While my friends, lots of them international, tolerated my eating habits, it wasn’t easy to eat out in Paris. Or let’s say, it wasn’t easy to eat out and feel satisfied as a vegetarian. Sometimes, the only option was eating a pound of cheese and bread and calling it a meal. I’ve been back to Paris since I moved in 2013 but never with Noah, my American better half, who is vegan now, too.
As much as my recent trip to Paris was supposed to let me catch up with some close friends, I also decided to give the city of lights and love a chance to show me her vegan-friendly side. And I found myself absolutely blown away by the abundance of plant-based options–not just some hidden vegan items on carnivore menus but whole neighborhoods that turned out to be little vegan gems.
The 9e Arrondissement and the Marais are definitely the places to be when it comes to vegan food. Not that you can’t find option elsewhere, but the vegan food in these neighborhoods seems to be more omnipresent.
Açaí and smoothie bowls have definitely taken off in Paris. One of my favorite places for these is Sloe, where they serve up fresh bowls for breakfast and lunch.
Another favorite is Cafe Pinson, with one location in the 9e and one in the 3e, this breakfast, lunch and brunch spot offers a wide variety of vegan options. I loved their chia pudding and the vegan brunch menu in the Marais doesn’t leave anything to be desired.
Le Potager du Marais blew it out of the water for dinner. While the menu isn’t huge, all their food is incredible: fresh, local, flavorful French-ish food in a laid-back, yet refined restaurant environment. Their desserts are to die for too, especially the lemon cashew Creme.
Speaking of Desserts, there are two places you need to check out. If you are looking for refined French pastries, check out VG Patisserie in the 11th. The Pink Baba and the Paris Brest are an absolute must. If you are craving more American style sweets, Cloud Cafe is perfect. The carrot cake is rich and indulgent and their Croissant aux Amandes is seriously incredible.
If you are looking for a faster lunch bite (not as fast as NYC-fast) So Nat offers affordable and creative Buddha Bowls. L’Abattoir Vegetal also offers wonderful and locally sourced deliciousness–the Mezze plate is a must and so are the Gnocci.
Wild & The Moon is a hip smoothie place that also makes all types of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages–the Tumetic Latte is the bomb. And their banana bread with cashew sauce is perfect for an afternoon goûter.
Looking for brunch? Definitely check out Soys Cantine for a $29 unlimited buffet that blows it out of the water. Personal highlights: the dal, the sweet potato purée as well as their vegan quiche bites. The atmosphere is relaxed and you can definitely hang out for a couple lazy hours.
Other discoveries: Un Monde Vegan and the 100% vegan Naturalia all over Paris are entirely plant-based grocery stores. My personal highlights were the vegan cheese options, especially from Jay and Joy as well as La Petite Frawmagerie.
Have you been to Paris? Let us know about your favorite restaurants in the comments!
Also by Isabelle: French Tartine-Inspired Loaded Toast–4 Ways
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Photos: Isabelle Steichen