Tips for Vegetarian Dining in Paris

veggie

While Paris is a meat eater’s paradis, there are pockets of places that are vegetarian-friendly, or are completely vegetarian. As a sideline to my guest post Vegetarian Restaurants in Paris, here are my tips for dining out and getting by.

Root Vegetables

  • If you’re looking for a typical ‘Parisian’ meal, don’t limit yourself to bistros and brasseries. Nowadays, Parisian cuisine includes ethnic dining. There’s excellent Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern restaurants that offer lots of options. The good Indian places are clustered by La Chapelle, behind the gare du Nord, and the Asian places are mostly in the 13th. Couscous restaurants are scattered across the city. L’Atlas (12, blvd St. Germain) is a favorite, and offers a lot of seafood couscous selections.

  • If you eat cheese, crêperies are good places to go for authentic French food. Note that if you want a buckwheat ‘crêpe’, they might not know what you’re talking about since they’re called a galette au sarrasin; galette is the term for a crêpe made with buckwheat. Curiously, sometimes they’ll call it a crêpe de blé noir, too. Check links below for addresses I recommend.


  • Cafés at lunch usually have lots of main course-sized salads and you can certainly ask for that croque Monsieur without the jambon. Bakeries and pastry shops all sell le sandwiches and invariably offer one well-stuffed with cheese. In French, crudités means ‘vegetables’, which will likely be lettuce and tomato, and sometimes comes on sandwiches. A salade de crudités is a salad composed of various vegetables.

  • ‘Salade’ means ‘salad’ in French, but it also means ‘lettuce’. So if you ask for sandwich or soup with salade you might just get a mere leaf or two of lettuce alongside. If you want a plain green salad, ask for “une salade verte”.

  • It’s very uncommon to order just soup or salad for dinner in a restaurant as a meal. At lunch, it’s more acceptable. Most waiters might look taken aback if you order a salad for dinner, but it’s mostly because they’re surprised, not offended.

  • As with any special requests in Paris, be nice. Service people, including waiters, are used to calling the shots, so you want them on your side. It’s helpful to first apologize for asking for special assistance. Remember: they’re doing you a favor. In spite of their reputation, French people can be quite helpful and if prompted, will take care of you pretty well—if they want to.

  • Be aware that in France, if you tell them you’re vegetarian or that you don’t eat meat, they might just assume you don’t eat beef. Some don’t consider chicken or pork ‘meat’ since they’re not sold in butcher shops, but at charcuteries and volailleurs. It’s a cultural difference so just make your preference known when ordering.

  • There’s a few good natural food stores in Paris, including the chains Naturalia and biocoop, where you can stock up if you want to do your own cooking or for snacks. They have organic vegetables, tofu, soy products and other staples.

  • The two organic markets are Raspail (Sunday) and Batignolles (Saturday.) The first is a little chic (think women in fur coats with matching children), while the second is more laid-back. Most of the outdoor markets have one or more stands that sell products that are biologique (organic) or ‘bio’. See below for locations.

    Winter Salad Greens

    Vegetarian Paris Links

    Please note that like other businesses, vegetarian restaurants come and go. Always call ahead.

    Menu Translation Guide

    Vegetarians Restaurants in Paris

    Consider taking a vegetarian cooking class at La Cucina di Terresa

    Two Dining Guides to Paris

    Vegetarian Paris: Comprehensive guide to vegetarian restaurants, juice bars, organic food shops, and organic bakeries. (Updated annually)

    French Vegetarian Society

    Cuisine Végétarienne Gourmand: Click on bonnes adresses for list of restaurants

    Paris Outdoor Market List

    Yoga in Paris

    My tips for gluten-free dining in Paris

    Annuaire-Parisien: List of vegetarian restaurants in Paris

    L’As du Fallafel: Great budget dining spot in the Marais

    Gridskipper list some vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Paris

    Site for Eco-Friendly Bed & Breakfasts in Paris

    Eat-Out Paris: List of vegetarian restaurants in Paris

    Two crêperies I recommend: Crêperie Bretonne and Breizh Café

    Compilation of Paris Favorites

    Mon Vieil Ami has a vegetable-friendly menu.

    10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris

  • 21 comments

    • what you say about creperies is pretty accurate but for one thing : la crêpe de blé noir is a crêpe (with eggs and milk ) with buckwheat used as flour.

      La galette de blé noir has its own recipe : buckwheat, water, salt, butter on the crêpiere, that’s all.

      (I admit sometimes creperies do otherwise, but it’s not typical then).

    • salut krysalia: Hmm, I’m still not sure I understand the difference! Guess I should start looking for some recipes to compare : )

    • I love your blog, it is always full of so much inspiration. I put a link to your blog on my post today. Karen

    • Hey David,

      Thanks for this post. I’m vegetarian and I love happycow.net – I’ve used it when I’ve gone to Paris. Picnics were also resorted to often.

    • :)

      the crêpe is something more elaborated (composed dough ?) than the galette : the liquid is milk for softness, there is a quarter of eggs for texture, the white flour, and sometimes sugar, or butter inside the dough. it’s like a flat cake that won’t raise.

      If we were talking about breads, regular crêpe would be the brioche. it’s considered as a dessert, more or less something rich to eat and delicate.

      At the contrary the real buckwheat galette is really rough, plain and simple, and was first the basic meal for people of any condition in britain : as I was saying there’s only buckwheat flour, water, sometimes ONE egg for texture and salt.

      if i take back my breads analogy the galette would be way more like country bread : simple, dark inside and with strong taste. rough flour, salt, raising agent and that’s all.

      as a good bread, and instead of the crêpe, a good buckwheat galette needs some skills to be done : not only to spray the dough with the wooden instrument on the bilig (hot plaque), but also to prepare the dough and to give it the proper texture, it’s a matter or proportions, family secrets and things like that :).

      that’s why a lot of crêperies add a lot of eggs inside the dough to controle the cracking problem of the galette. the taste is not the same, and it’s some kind of cheating process purists doesn’t like :} .

      So the buckwheat crêpe is something in between, a kind of dessert, soft and rich, but less delicate since it uses buckwheat flour instead of white flour.

      As a matter of fact this is probably a way to add some ” Britain typical buckwheat taste ” into a dessert that every family in france knows and make themselves. buckwheat flour isn’t used much outside Britain, so buckwheat crêpe is fancier : one’s will probably say that he/she can make crêpes at home, but will be tempted to try the buckwheat version because he/she has no occasion to eat this every day, whith this unusual ingrédient.
      It is probably a nice dessert and i have nothing against it, but it’s not really typical from britain as a recipe.

      taking back again my bread analogy (ok, last one :}), buckwheat crêpe would be like pain brioché or baguette viennoise (soft bread ?) : bread with elaborated dough, with milk and eggs, not a dessert but softer than regular bread.

      (sorry for all the doodles in my sentences, probably i would have explained it shorter in French. (maybe :}) )

    • What a useful resource.

      I recall a scene in Eric Rohmer’s film Le Rayon Vert where the main character explains to her dining companions her vegetarian sensibilities. The lack of comprehension she provokes is priceless. Says one: “I used to feel bad about buying meat in a boucherie where I could see the whole animals but now I just shop in a supermarket.”

    • thanks Krysalia! It must take a master of the griddle to make a pure buckwheat galette. I’m going to have to give galettes made without eggs a try. Sounds like a challenge : )_

    • crudités? why not legumes? what is the difference? I am Canadian and we learned vegetables = legumes in grade school :)

    • Thanks so much for this post. My husband and I will be visiting Paris in May (from SF) and I was a little worried about our veg options! I’m looking forward to your friend’s post as well…

    • Actually most of the La Chapelle places are pretty skanky…i like dip

    • We just ate at L’Atlas on Thursday and can confirm at least for poultry eaters that the tagine with chicken, preserved lemons and olives is divine. Add to it the vegetables from our kids’ chicken couscous (heresy probably but no matter) and you have very happy customers. I would have to assume that for couscous poisson it would be equally wonderful. This was truly the finest semoule I’ve tasted – a buttery powder that we couldn’t stop eating. Merci!

    • Thanks for the great links, David. Our vegetarian friend has visited Paris a couple times in the last few years and love Paris, but complains about the lack of vegetarian meals. We’ll pass this on him for his next trip.

    • Pam: no-one has answered your linguistic question! Crudités are raw vegetables (cru = raw) as opposed to légumes (generic term). I.e. you go shopping for légumes and you can buy some crudités for lunch!

    • I have had wonderful vegetarian meals at La Victoire Supreme du Coeur as well…as long as you don’t mind the Indian guru staring at you from his portraits on the walls.

    • Thanks for posting this. I’m a lifetime vegetarian, and I was starting to worry that I’d lose out on all that fine food when I finally got to visit Paris.

    • As a cook in Paris, the problem I see with being a vegetarian is all the hidden ingredients. For example, most vegetable soup is made with chicken or beef stock and most salad dressings contain one egg yolk (for vegans). However, many restaurants will be happy to make a vegetable plate for vegetarians upon request. Even meat eaters ask for it, if they’ve been loading up on the calories. Ask for an “assiette des legumes” and see what they say!

    • I agree with Ms. Glaze; sometimes the vegans will have a bit of trouble, but others, not so much. As David said, I find that every cafe I saw and ate at recently in Paris had the “salade compose’e”, which consisted of fresh vegetables with a delicious “sauce,” but frequently contained a delicious dollop of fresh chevre cheese…not so good for those who will not eat dairy.

    • Krysalia – thank you for that detailed explanation. I have long wondered exactly what the differences were, because there didn’t seem to be any real consistency in what was galette and what was crepe. Every time I thought I had worked it out, something came along that contradicted my conclusion. (I note that by ‘Britain’ you must mean ‘Bretagne’, which is Brittany in English.)

    • La Vie Claire is also a great natural, bio, foods market! I actually prefer this chain to Naturalia! There is one in the 20th arr and the 15th that I know of. They have a great variety of tofu, soy yogurts, gluten free products etc. Also des restos libanais are great for vegetarians. There are plenty in Paris, and although they serve meat they offer a lot of veggie dishes as well. My favorite is by Nation.

    • Hum l’Atlas ???, for a couscous try the red ball “la boule rouge” paris 75009

    • I dined in France with a vegan, and we had a lot of difficulty with salad dressings and even — wait for it — steamed potatoes. I speak French fluently, and although I asked for pommes a la vapeur nature – and I specified that we wanted no butter, creme fraiche, nothing — they were steamed with pork (this was in Alsace) and tasted of same. My guest would have nothing to do with them.