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Dining Out in Paris: Vegan French Food

July 14, 2010

Many of the vegan-friendly Parisian restaurants and cafes don’t exactly have French food–often, they serve Chinese, Lebanese, Indian, Ethiopian, Aztec, or fusion food. So, I thought I would dedicate one post to places where you can get vegan French food, that is, where you can get vegan food prepared in a way reminiscent of traditional French cooking, minus the cream. (Some of these places I have written about before, but I think are worth mentioning again.)

1. Le Grenier de Notre Dame

This place has two locations, one on the Isle Saint Louis, and one on a cute side street in the 5th arrondissement, just south of the Notre Dame cathedral (that one serves some fish–the Saint Louis location is entirely vegetarian). Their food is, I think, kind of like French “down-home” cooking, if there is such a thing–you get plates piled with different kinds of vegetables, alongside some sort of comforting main dish (like seitan schnitzel, or a fried seitan and onion kebab). And at the Saint Louis location, you can get sorbet to go!

2. Phyto Bar

Perhaps it’s a little bit of a stretch to call this French vegetarian food–but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch. This place has a lot of macrobiotic and vegetarian plates alongside their meat dishes, and nearly all of their appetizers are vegan. When we went there (on the 4th of July), we got a “taster’s plate” (which allows you to try a few of their appetizers), along with an extra vegetable rillette and a banana smoothie. 

We loved the food here–the vegetable rillettes, the seaweed “caviar,” our salad, and the fried vegetable roll were all flavorful and delicious–and, although we sat outside, the inside also looked very pleasant and cozy.

3. The Gentle Gourmet

See my post on “Birthday Celebrations.” The Gentle Gourmet is a vegan bed and breakfast that also makes 3- and 4-course French meals for groups of 2-8 people a few nights of the week. They’re extremely friendly, and are fantastic cooks. When we were there, we were treated to two different kinds of melon cups, a salad, olive tapenade, stuffed zucchini boxes, basil-stuffed tofu, fresh green beans, lemon sorbet with rhubarb compote, lemon birthday cupcakes, and lots of wine. In addition to enjoying all of the wonderful food, you also get to meet lots of interesting European travelers while you dine.

4. Fourmi Ailee

This is an adorable cafe, salon de the, and restaurant located very close to the Notre Dame cathedral. It was once a bookstore, and retains its very high ceilings along with a few decorative bookshelves. In addition to outdoor seating, they also have a lofted indoor mezzanine which I would expect to be very pleasant. The decor is a little kitschy, but I don’t think it’s overdone (think modest, casual decor plus bright yellow chairs).

This place is mostly non-vegetarian, but has a vegetarian menu with things that can be made vegan. When we went there, I got the taggliatelle, and Graham got stuffed red peppers.

My tagliatelle was wonderful: it came with a home-made tomato sauce, along with lots of olives and mushrooms. But I have to say that Graham’s stuffed peppers were amazing. Because of the light, I wasn’t able to get a great picture of them–but they were beautiful. The peppers themselves were extremely tender, and were stuffed with a perfectly seasoned rice and vegetable pilaf, and were served on a bed of provencal tomato sauce with a few dollops of a spinach-cilantro puree. (I’m only guessing about the contents of the puree–Graham thought cilantro, I thought spinach.) I’m looking forward to going back again and getting some of these for myself!

5. The Loving Hut

I’m not going to go on and on about the Loving Hut, since I’ve mentioned it several times before in other posts. Now, I would describe the Loving Hut as partly French–its serves some French food, and some Chinese food. However, I think it merits being on this list because a) it’s the only place in Paris where I’ve seen a vegan crepe (outside of my own apartment, of course), b) it’s the place to go if you want a vegan croissant or vegan pain au chocolat, c) it is, as far as I know, the only place where you can get the magical Swiss Vegusto cheese, which is the only vegan cheese I’ve tried that I can really recommend. They also make d) excellent savory, flaky pastries, stuffed with seitan and vegetables, and e) a vegan quiche.

6. Le Potuger du Marais

This is an organic and vegetarian restaurant located in the Marais, which serves excellent French vegetarian food. We went here again a while ago, and each got a “quinoa burger”–Graham got his with a creamy mushroom sauce, and I opted for a tomato provencal sauce.

These were fluffy, moist quinoa cakes served with a side of pureed cauliflower and broccoli and a salad. I have to admit that these were excellent–not too dense, not too dry, and wonderfully prepared with herbs de provence. The other time that we went here, you may recall, Graham got some fantastic moussaka, and I got a very good nut and mushroom “roast.” While the seating can be a little tight, the great food and location make this a perfect place to try some French vegetarian food.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. patricia leach permalink
    July 15, 2010 12:00 am


  2. jojo permalink
    July 16, 2010 8:56 am

    you have no idea how happy i am i found your blog. i am visiting Paris in september for the first time ever and my husband and i are vegan. thx for this post!

    • July 16, 2010 9:26 am

      I’m glad you found this helpful!

      Some other good resources for finding vegan food in the city are Happy Cow, and another blog called Vegan Paris (moderated by Emily). I think she no longer lives in Paris, but even her posts from a year ago are useful. (I think I have links to both of those up top.)

      I think Le Potuger du Marais is my favorite place for vegan French food, so far. The food is very good (at least what I’ve tried), most things are vegan, and the servers know what ‘vegan’ (or ‘vegetalien’) means. If you head to a place like Fourmi Ailee or Phyto Bar, you may want to be prepared to explain your dietary restrictions–but still, when we went to both of those places, our servers were extremely friendly and understood us quite easily, even though both Graham and I speak French quite badly. (I think in both cases, they spoke a little English and were willing to meet us half-way.)

      Have a wonderful trip!

  3. Robert permalink
    December 19, 2010 11:22 pm

    Thank you, I’m going to Paris in late December and wondered just how I was going to eat!

    • December 20, 2010 8:55 am

      You can eat well! And keep in mind: this is just the French food. You can also find fantastic Ethiopian, delicious Sri Lankan dhosas, tasty Chinese, fun Aztec fusion, over-the-top falafel… there’s really a great deal of variety.

      Have a nice visit!

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