Ahh, the sweet luxury of traipsing around Paris on holiday. Hobbling along lovely cobblestone roads, gaping at Gothic cathedrals, taking romantic strolls along the Seine … and indulging in famously divine Parisian cuisine is reason enough to go, n’est-ce pas?
Perhaps — unless, of course, you’re a vegetarian, considered by many the lowliest target of French disdain. Sure, crepes, quiche, and good ol’ baguettes and cheese are ubiquitous. Even so, some meals demand a palate a bit more refined, which is where a vegetarian’s trouble lies.
But amid Paris’s go-meaty-or-go-home mantra, a few veggie-friendly havens are serving tasty (and yes, leafy) meals in charmingly authentic Parisian kitchens.
• Down the hill from Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, teensy Au Grain de Folie (24, Rue la Vieuville, +01 42 58 15 57) offers a limited menu of healthy meals featuring platefuls of crunchy vegetables. Friendly banter with the English-speaking chef included.
• East of the Panthéon, La Petite Legume (36, Rue des Boulangers) serves a flavorful array of vegan-friendly dishes, some with seitan, in a welcoming dining room lined with organic groceries for sale. Purists, beware: The menu includes seafood options.
• It isn’t exactly “refined” per se, but if you find yourself wandering the funky alleys of the Latin Quarter, re-fuel with falafel, fries, and the well-stocked salad bar at one of our favorite European fast-food chain restaurants, Maoz (8 Rue Xavier Privas, +01 42 58 15 57).
• Or take a suggestion from the October 2007 issue of VegNews magazine, which features their own Parisian veggie favorites: Indian restaurant Krishna Bhavan
(24, Rue Cail, + 01 42 05 78 43), “the best deal in the city” with “lip-smacking favorites such as masala dosa and idli sambar;” Marché d’Aligre, a produce and flea market in the 12th arrondissement; and Tesnime
(207, Rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine, +01 43 48 60 97), a Right Bank Algerian bakery/restaurant with “exquisite vegan pastries” and “addictive olive oil-and-semolina bread called kesra.”
But if true romance is what you’re after, be sure to reserve at least one meal for a leisurely picnic in the postcard-perfect Place des Vosges in the Marais. Our recommended nosh is a classic spread of baguettes, cheese, Nutella, and red wine, which you can pick up along the way at a local boulangerie and magasin d’alimentation.
- Nat Geo Expeditions