Traveling to Paris as a vegetarian or vegan and wondering where to eat? This blog post shares my favorite budget-friendly spots for breakfast, dinner and dessert.
This past October I traveled to Paris with my boyfriend for an unforgettable ten-day vacation. I had the best time, but going into it I was a little nervous because:
A. Apart from the basics, I don't know French
B. Paris is not known for its vegetarian food
I did a lot of research before our vacation because I wanted to make sure that the trip was as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.
I hope that this information is helpful to any other vegetarian foodie planning a vacation to Paris.
Before we start, let me say one thing:
It is easy to eat vegetarian on a budget in Paris. We did not do any fine dining in Paris, so I cannot speak for those options. By "fine dining" I mean anything above $$$ or with multiple courses.
This is something that I wish I'd known before traveling. Yes, Paris is best known for non-vegetarian dishes, but there is a wealth of delicious vegetarian and vegan choices in Paris.
Of course, there is always bread and cheese that us vegetarians can rely on, but I knew going into this trip that I would need all the fuel that I could get -- that means plants, please!
We stayed in the 9th and 11th arrondissements, so many of my favorite restaurants are based in these areas. I have also included a few other options that were on my list that we didn't make it to.
A few myths about eating vegetarian in Paris
Myth #1: It is hard to find vegetarian choices in Paris
False! Most cafes will have a vegetarian option. It may not be the most balanced option -- I'm talking bread and cheese, or pasta -- but you won't starve.
With a little research you will be able to enjoy wonderful vegetarian meals.
Myth #2: It is impossible to eat vegan in Paris
With a little extra planning, you can find vegan options throughout the city. This is especially true if you are willing to forgo traditional French cuisine and partake in the city's diverse food culture.
I noticed that many vegetarian options were actually vegan, too. For example, 4-5 euro vegetable sandwiches are available at many boulangeries. Most of the time these sandwiches were actually dairy-free and composed of an array of seasonal vegetables and delicious, delicious bread.
Out of the four or five vegetarian sandwiches I ate, only one had cheese on it!
Myth #3: It is hard to find meals with lots of vegetables.
Again, this one comes down to planning. Most of my meals were surprisingly veggie-packed, but there will likely always be a simple salad option at cafes.
Now, let's get dig into the best vegetarian options that Paris has to offer!
I found breakfast to be the easiest meal of the day because of one thing: boulangeries. The word boulangerie is French for bakery, and let me tell you: there are so. many. delicious. bakeries.
Buttery croissants, pain au chocolate and many more pastries in between.
Cafes and hotels: Many cafes and hotels serve le petit dejeuner (breakfast) which consists of a pastry, such as a croissant or tartine, and espresso or orange juice. Breakfast at the hotel is usually more expensive than at a cafe and you can find cafes on most every street.
Boulangeries: Mamiche was my favorite boulangerie -- I had a beignet and a vegetable sandwich there, then went back the next day for a cookie and another beignet. The beignets were just so good!
I also enjoyed BO&MIE, which has several locations and an amazing chocolate croissant. They also serve a variety of quiches.
More substantial: If you are looking for something more substantial, check out La Compagnie du Cafe. I had their pancakes and fruit which was doused in maple syrup and so tasty, but they also had a vegetarian omelet on the menu.
One of my favorite meals was a vegetable bowl at fringe, a trendy coffee shop. They serve a variety of breakfast items but the "vegan bowl" is not to be missed. My boyfriend said this was his favorite meal of the entire trip!
This website does a great rundown on breakfast in France.
I take my caffeine intake very seriously, especially when jetlag is inevitable. Do not expect a big ole 16-ounce cup of coffee when you order an americano or café allongé. More likely you will be presented with 6-8 ounces of coffee.
I enjoyed spending a few rainy mornings reading at KB CafeShop. Coffee Spoune has good coffee/espresso and a quaint area to relax in the back of a shop. Both serve coffee and pastries and have a cute ambiance.
Bakeries also have espresso available.
I found this guide extremely helpful for learning how to order coffee in Paris.
Lunch and Dinner
Sandwiches: We often ate sandwiches for lunch because they are inexpensive (4-6 euros) and readily available. It is delightful to enjoy a sandwich from a boulangerie while sitting on the Seine, as we did a few times.
Like cafes, you can easily find a boulangerie on most streets.
Even at the Louvre, they had vegetarian sandwich options, although these were not nearly as good as those that we had at boulangeries and you will pay a premium at the museum cafes. At the Louvre I had a vegetable sandwich and at D'Orsay I had a butternut squash and goat cheese sandwich.
Hank Burger: I was pleasantly surprised at how good this vegan burger tasted and it is also very affordable at only 7 euro. They also have a pizza location, which I didn't check out but heard was just as good.
Pub food: If you are looking for American or British style food, Frog Beer has several locations throughout Paris. We went to FrogBurger Bastille, where I enjoyed the best quesadilla ever, simply because the cheese was so delicious. Otherwise, it was really just a quesadilla from a bar.
They serve a variety of pub food and beers, so if you are feeling homesick this may be the place to go.
Falafel. There is a street in Le Marais (4th arrondissement) that has several falafel shops. L'As du Fallafel is arguably the most famous, but it was closed while we were there. We ended up getting falafel at Chez Marianne, which did not disappoint. Lots of vegetables, including a slice of eggplant on top!
Fast-casual: Veggie Tasty serves wraps, smoothies and a variety of healthy vegan eats. We were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed our meal. It is also very affordable and filling. This is a great option if you want a quick, healthy meal with lots of vegetables.
Creperies. You will cross many creperies while walking along the streets of Paris. Crepes are a very affordable option (2-5 euros!) and there are endless flavor options, from goat cheese to honey to chocolate.
La Palanche d'Aulac. This Vietnamese vegan restaurant was hands down my favorite meal. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a casual, filling and flavorful dining experience. We shared vegetable spring rolls and I had the Soupe Mi Kathi, a coconut-based dish.
Breizh Cafe has delicious dessert crepes and savory galettes. These are more pricey than the creperies you see on the street. However, the galettes seem to be made with lard, so if you are vegetarian you will want to stick to sweet or specify with the waiter before ordering.
I had an apple, honey and cream galette that was out of this world delicious. They also serve cider, and it is some of the best cider that I've had.
Janine Loves Sunday. This restaurant serves vegan cuisine from pizza to spaghetti bolognese. I had the Pad Thai, which was very good. They also have great cocktails and a happy hour where select cocktails are only 5 euro.
Cafes and Bistros. If you are staying in the city center of Paris, there will always be a cafe or bistro within walking distance. The menus are posted outside so it is easy to quickly identify if they have vegetarian options available.
On our last day, we ate lunch at a cafe called Le Chinon in Montmarte. While it wasn't my favorite meal, it was nice to have a large veggie-filled salad and the cheese and baguette were beyond good.
As I have mentioned before, boulangeries are a good and affordable option for desserts. Cloud Cakes is an all-vegan bakery that I heard is great but we didn't get a chance to stop there.
Cat cafe: While walking near our hotel we found Le Cafe Des Chats, AKA a cat cafe. This is a fun stop for anyone who loves cats, as they have 12 (though we only saw 6) friendly cats who live at the cafe. They have a few vegetarian options on the meal, such as a veggie burger and vegetable lasagna.
We had wine and dessert, which was a chocolate mousse that was actually specified as being vegetarian. It was so rich, chocolate-y and delicious. And what can beat sipping wine and eating dessert next to a snoozing cat?
Ice cream: One of my favorite stops was Glace Bachir. They serve ice cream dipped in pistachios (there is an option to forgo the pistachios, which I accidentally did the first time that we visited). Yes, we enjoyed it so much that we visited twice!
Amorino has several locations throughout Paris. They are best known for their rose-shaped gelato topped with a macaron. It is totally kitschy and totally worth it.
Several restaurants and bakeries that were highly recommended that we didn't get a chance to go to:
Make your own meal
If you stay at a hotel or Airbnb with access to a kitchen you can save money by making your own meals.
The main grocery stores are called Monoprix and Franprix. Some are larger than others, but all will mostly likely have the staples you need to make a simple meal.
For cheese and produce, stop in a local fromagerie or produce market. You will likely pass by many of these while wandering around Paris.
The American section at the grocery store is funny to see (condiments seem to be the main theme) but probably not the best option for a well-rounded meal!
Vegetarian Travel Tips
- This French phrasebook really saved us on a few occasions. It is laid out very usefully, with an entire section for ingredients. On our first day, jetlagged and confused, this book was my saving grace at a pizza restaurant.
- I also recommend downloading Google Translate because it allows you to translate offline. This comes in handy when you don't know a French word on a menu.
- I use Google Maps to bookmark restaurants and points of interest. You can do this by clicking the "save" button and making a new list.
- To save maps offline in the Google Maps app, click the menu (the three lines) and select "offline maps". Under "download an offline map" select "custom map". Choose the area you want to save and -- voila! Your map should be available offline, including the items you saved in that location.
Check out this Google Map featuring the restaurants mentioned in this article:
Wherever you end up eating during your trip to Paris, I hope it is delicious!