Paris is the city that pushed me over the edge to vegetarianism. While living here as a student, I rented a room in the apartment of an Algerian woman. Each Sunday night, she would prepare a dinner of little Cornish hens. I came to dread those dinners, and by the end of the semester, I had decided to become vegetarian – which pretty much meant subsisting on bread, cheese and pain au chocolate.
During our recent vacation, I was hoping for a bit more variety in my vegetarian cuisine, and I found it – with a bit of work. I researched quite a few vegetarian and vegan restaurants in advance, but was disappointed to see so few of the traditional French restaurants and bistros offering veggie-friendly options on the menu. I can’t help but feel like I should be able to walk into nearly any restaurant and eat a meal. Is that too much to ask? Turns out, it’s not … but you do have to ask. Just like in American restaurants, most French restaurants will make a vegetarian option upon request. So between the vegetarian restaurants we visited and the veggie meals prepared just for me at the not-so-vegetarian restaurants, our vacation resulted in some amazing meals … And the daily pain au chocolate didn’t hurt.
01 Bread & Roses
Located just outside Luxembourg Gardens, Bread & Roses is great place to stop for a tarte or quiche before strolling through the gardens.
We rented an apartment in Montmartre during our trip, and the intersection just outside our window seemed to be the nexus of great restaurants in Montmartre. We ate at 3 of the restaurants that were within feet of our front door, and Miroir was definitely the most gourmet. Although it didn’t have any vegetarian options on the menu, the chef prepared a cream of asparagus soup and a very unique vegetable plate that I wish I had taken a picture of.
Cheri-Bibi is also located in Montmartre, a few blocks away from our apartment and a bit closer to Sacre-Coeur. Similar to Miroir, the menu wasn’t very vegetarian friendly, but the staff certainly was and they easily accommodated my request.
04 La Pierrade
Serving fondu probably shouldn’t qualify a restaurant as “vegetarian friendly,” but I love cheese and bread so, to me, fondu is about the best vegetarian meal ever. We picked this restaurant because it was the absolute closest to our front door and we were exhausted after a day of sightseeing, but it turned out to be one of my favorite meals of the whole trip.
05 Bob’s Kitchen
Bob’s Kitchen is super minimal, from the long wooden tables to the selection of 4 or so items on their menu each day. It’s not often that you leave a vegetarian restaurant feeling like you just ate a super hearty meal, but that was definitely the case with Bob’s Kitchen. I had the Lentil Soup and my husband had the Oriental Stew. Both were fantastic.
06 Breizh Cafe
Breizh Cafe is a creperie, and there are many great crepe places in Paris. What I liked about Breizh, however, was the fresh ingredients and very veggie-friendly filling options.
07 Du Pain et Des Idees
This bakery was our only foray into the much-hyped St. Martin/Canal District in Paris. I read about several highly rated new restaurants in this area, but we stopped by early in the day when only Du Pain et Des Idees was open. The tarte aux pommes was pretty amazing, but the lack of coffee and the uninspiring surroundings left us regretting the long metro ride to get to the neighborhood.
08 Pain Poilane
Pain Poilane was my favorite bakery when I lived here as a student. I love the rustic bread and would have eaten it with a bit of cheese or even butter for every meal if I could. I’ve since tried their shortbread cookies which are also pretty amazing. In fact, I carried home a giant box of Pain Poilane cookies on the airplane!
Cosi was my favorite sandwich shop as a student, and I was a bit surprised to find that what seemed like a little hole in the wall at the time is still open – and not just open, thriving. There was a long line out the door when we stopped for lunch. This time, I had my usual (cucumber and goat cheese sandwich) along with an apple crumble.