France is the most visited tourist destination in the world. Its capital, Paris, is the second most visited city in the world. The city is home to a host of landmarks, museums, cathedrals, and scenic walking routes that keep tourists engaged. The food culture of Paris is one of its most iconic identities. The city has plenty of small cafes and eating joints offering French and international cuisines.
Unfortunately, most of the famous food places have meat-heavy menus. Finding vegetarian food in Paris can be quite challenging. However, if you know a few things beforehand, then you can truly enjoy local French food that is vegetarian or vegan. The trick is in knowing where to eat and how to communicate your dietary preferences with the restaurant. We have all those aspects covered in this guide on vegetarian food in Paris.
1) Learn to say a few vegetarian phrases in French
To say “I am a vegetarian” in French, you have to say “Je suis végétarien”. If you are vegan then say “Je suis végétalien“.
You can then follow up by pointing out the foods that you do not eat. To say “I do not eat ….” in French, you have to say “Je ne mange pas ….” and then add the following words as per your dietary preferences:
de viande, which means meat, de poisson which means fish, de fruits de mer which means seafood, and so on.
A complete checklist is provided below. So, if you want to say “I do not eat meat”, just say “Je ne mange pas de viande“.
You can end with a simple “thank you” or “merci“.
2) Print the following image and show it to your server while ordering
* if you have trouble printing the image below directly, then you can copy paste the image onto a word document and then print*
The following are phrases that can be used to explain dietary restrictions, and what you can and cannot eat. Tick whatever is applicable. They are written in French. You can show this to your server while you order or ask the restaurant staff before you get seated. Being a tourist hub, Paris might have a good number of restaurant folks who understand English. But, this sheet will be helpful when English isn’t spoken.
You can also use the cards below to communicate your dietary preferences.
3) Try these local dishes
Crêpes are thin pancakes. They are generally made of wheat flour. Sometimes, you can also find buck-wheat crêpes. Crêpes can be sweet or savoury. There are plenty of vegetarian filling options. Just make sure there is no egg in the filling if you do not eat eggs. Crêpes filled with jams, preserves, and fruit spreads are common. Head over to the Montparnasse district to find lots of crêperies. La Creperie de Josselin has crêpes with vegetables, goat cheese, spinach and other vegetarian fillings. The Breizh Cafe is also famous for its dessert/sweet crêpes with vegetarian options.
Ratatouille is a stewed vegetable dish that first originated in Nice. It is made using tomato, garlic, onion, eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers. All the vegetables are slow-cooked in a pot till the juices and flavors blend and till all the vegetables become soft. Even though the ingredients seem vegetarian, not all places in France serve vegetarian ratatouille. The dish is often made with anchovies or meat in it. So, it is best to inquire before you order a ratatouille. Use the food translation sheets above to ask the server if they can prepare a vegetarian version. Miznon and Le Puits de Légumes are two restaurants that are known to serve vegetarian ratatouille.
France, and Paris in particular, is famous for its baked items. There are multiple types of breads available in the city. You can try the famous croissant, which is a type of bread, or go for a baguette. The Pain complet is a whole wheat bread. Brioche is another type of French bread, but it may have eggs in it. Basically, there are many options of breads that you can slice and eat with some butter, jam, or veggies.
The quiche is a French tart made of a hard pastry crust that is filled with cheese, savoury custard, vegetables, seafood, or meat. Just like in the case of Ratatouille, you will have to inquire and ask for a vegetarian quiche. East Side Burgers serves a vegetarian version. You might find a few more places on Happy Cow that serve vegetarian quiches.
4) Eat at these restaurants
Le Potager du Marais – If you want to try some of the classic French dishes in a vegan format, then Le Potager du Marais is the place to go to. You can get the most famous delicacy of this joint – the French onion soup. Other classic dishes on the menu include a crepe dish, the cassoulet, and the bourguignon. The creme brulee is also very popular.
Hank Vegan Burger – If you are in the mood for some burgers and fries, then head over to Hank Vegan Burger. This restaurant has 3 locations in Paris and they have now even started a pizza restaurant called “Hank Pizza”. Coming back to the burgers, Hank Burgers all have a veggie patty in them along with tomatoes, onions, pickles, some greens, and melted vegan cheese. You can opt for different sauces like tomato-basil, smoked bbq, mustard, fig sauce, and a chef’s special. You can even order carrot cake and organic cola. The fries here look like original home-made chips rather than the McDonalds-type thinly cut “french fries”.
Le Potager de Charlotte – This vegetarian restaurant is a family-owned joint. It serves gourmet plant-based food. You can find dishes like avocado stuffed with hummus, rice pancakes, soba noodles, and mashed potatoes. The baked chocolate pear is a popular dessert at Le Potager de Charlotte. Vegetarians and vegans will enjoy this place.
Cloud Cakes – If you have a sweet tooth and want to try some baked goodies, then head over to Cloud Cakes. They have an excellent menu of vegan pastries, cheesecakes, pies, and plenty of other baked items. Their cupcakes are very famous as well. You can also try a vegan version of one of the most iconic French foods – the croissant. Cloud Cakes serves hot and cold drinks including a variety of coffees. Being a vegan joint, there are non-dairy options for coffee as well. You cannot go to Paris and not eat at a local bakery. Cloud Cakes has something for vegetarians who do not like eggs in their cakes as well as vegans who do not eat animal-derived products.
Famous Non-Vegan Bakeries of Paris – If you are ok with eggs being used as an ingredient to make your desserts, then there are some iconic pastry shops and bakeries that you must visit when in Paris.
The first patisserie is Stohrer. This place is almost 300 years old. Have a look at their sweet menu and you will get pretty excited about making a visit.
The second patisserie that we recommend is Du Pain et des Idées. They are known for their pistachio escargots.
If you are looking for something innovative, then head over to La Patisserie du Meurice par Cedric Grolet and try one of their sculpted fruits. Yes, pastries that look just like a real fruit except they are filled with all kinds of sweet goodies. This place is pricey and will have an average wait-time of 20 mins to half-an-hour.
Another excellent patisserie is Pierre Herme. They are known for their croissants and macarons.
5) You cannot go wrong with Indian food
You can always opt for Indian food when in Paris! There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan items available at Indian restaurants. It is a perfect option when you cannot find anything vegetarian or are simply tired of eating pizzas, breads, and French food. Paris is a mega-city and there are quite a few Indian restaurants across the city. In general, Indian food across Europe is localized and tends to taste bland and flavorless. Many of the so-called “Indian” food places are actually run by Bangladeshi, Nepali, or Pakistani owners. So, the trick is to find places which have Indian food that isn’t too localized or altered. We recommend the following restaurants:
Sarvana Bhavan – Sarvana Bhavan is perhaps one of the most famous South Indian food chains of India, with branches in Europe, Middle East, East Asia, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and various parts of India. It serves extremely delicious South Indian food, and as a vegetarian you simply cannot go wrong with Sarvana Bhavan.
Mayfair Garden – Located across the Seine river and within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower is an Indian restaurant by the name of Mayfair Garden. It is a little bit pricey, but the food there is worth the money. The cuisine is north-Indian. The portion sizes are a bit small, but they are still larger than what most other Indian food places in Paris offer.
Lakshmi Bhavan – Another great north-Indian restaurant is Lakshmi Bhavan. It is run by a Punjabi owner and the taste of the food reflects that. The restaurant is very close to Anvers metro station. The veg biryani receives high praise. You can order a la carte or go for a 15 euro combo. All-in-all, a decent option for vegetarian and vegan food that is not too localized and still retains some authentic taste.
6) Try global cuisines and other types of foods
Paris is a pretty global city. There are immigrants from various parts of the world living there. You can go to a Chinese restaurant, try some falafels, order a pizza, grab a sandwiche, or try vegetarian sushi at a Japanese restaurant. There are enough options for vegetarians too. L’As du Fallafel is the most popular falafel joint in Paris. It often has a wait time of over an hour if you want to sit inside and eat. You can opt for a take away but you might have to wait in line for that as well.
If you are in the mood for some pizza, then check out Motorino and Guillame Grasso. Both these places are True Neopolitan Pizza Association certified restaurants (yes, there is actually a Neopolitan pizza association which certifies pizzerias around the world!)
If you are craving Asian food, then head over to Tien Hiang. This place calls itself a vegetarian Asian restaurant and uses tofu or mock meat in its dishes. You can get Thai and Vietnamese food here. They even serve the Japanese Kare (curry). Lots of options for vegans and vegetarians.
Paris has lots of cafes and small coffee shops. Not only can you try some local coffee flavors at such places, but you can also get a muffin, croissant, or bread. Such vegetarian items in coffee shops are alternative snacking options.
7) Shop at a grocery store
You can always walk in to a grocery store and pick up chips, chocolate, milk, yogurt, bread, and more. Grocery stores would also have a section with fruits and vegetables. You can pick up some to toss up a salad. If you have access to a kitchen, then you can cook a can of beans and eat it with some rice. Check out the outlets of Franprix, Monoprix, and Carrefour. They should have local food, packaged foods, and imported food items on their shelves. You can also visit any neighborhood convenience store and find quite a few vegetarian items.
8) Planning food for your trip
Check out these links to discover/find vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Paris.