Earlier this month I celebrated a very important birthday in the beautiful city of Paris. We’ve visited once before and it was lovely to see the city again, we revisited some of our favourite places to eat and tracked down some new places. From my research it seemed like Paris was becoming easier for vegetarians, the hipsters have certainly landed (I think they are called bobos in Paris) and this means their cafes and restaurants nearly always have a vegetarian option, and it’s not your usual salade au chevre either. Mr was very happy for the few days we spent in the city as he ate well instead of being drowned in cheese based dishes.
Here’s my guide based on where we ate, there is fine dining, breakfast and brunch and eating on the hop. Enjoy mes amis…
Breizh Cafe, 109 Rue Vieille du Temple (Le Marais, 3rd arr.)
A busy little cafe serving sweet and savoury crepes with lots of different fillings and lovely staff. This is our favourite place to eat in Paris, it pays to get there early because it is very popular, and note it is closed on a Tuesday – go just before 12 for lunch or about 5.30 for dinner. We went on our last trip and I have been dreaming of their apple crepes since then. This time around I had a ham, gruyere and onion confit gallette followed by a ‘Dame Tatin’ crepe with slow cooked apples and ice cream.
Mr went for a goat’s cheese and vegetable galette and a chocolate crepe to finish off. Being a little early in the day we washed down our crepes with apricot juice and coffee instead of the usual Breton cider.
Maceo Restaurant, 15 Rue des Petits Champs (2nd arr.)
Fine dining with vegetarian options in the heart of Paris – it’s not impossible! On my birthday I wanted to celebrate in style somewhere with white tablecloths and great food. After a bit of Googling I found British owned Maceo restaurant which had great reviews and a very interesting menu. It is centered around vegetarian food but there is also plenty to keep the meat eaters happy. We started with some gorgeous housemade cheese biscuits and kir royale before moving on to a pre-starter of fresh asparagus soup. Starts for both of us was butternut squash soup with truffle oil – so rich with a generous amount of truffle oil.
For main I had half smoked duck breast with spring vegetables and nuts on top, which really worked with the fresh vegetables and soft duck. Mr had spiced tofu steak, which was silky soft inside and crispy and spicy on the inside – it was tofu which is typically something vegetarians get given but not as we knew it! Pudding was mango canneloni for me stuffed with vanilla ice cream and a tuile, but Mr won on the pudding front here. His was carrot cake which had been given the French toast (pain perdu!) treatment by being fried til crispy on the outside and soft inside, it was served with some lovely soy milk ice cream.
We loved our meal at Maceo, it was inventive and there was lots of choice for vegetarians, more like this in Paris please!
Holybelly Cafe, 19 Rue Lucien Sampaix (10th arr.)
I have to thank Miss Igs for this one, I spotted it on her Instagram feed during her trip a few weeks beforehand and immediately added it to our list. Holybelly is a cafe serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and brilliant coffee. After having a fair amount of wine with our dinner at Maceo the night before we headed over to the 10th arrondissement for some coffee to shake the hangover.
They serve an all day breakfast type affair where you can choice 2 items to go along two eggs done to your liking and fresh bread. Mr had a hashbrown and homemade baked beans to go with his, whilst I opted for bacon and beans alongside two perfectly poached eggs and bread from Du Pain Des Idees.
Everything is great quality, cooked well and the staff are really lovely – they are Canadian too so they speak English which is handy! We made ourselves quite comfortable there and once our breakfasts had gone we decided we couldn’t skip on cake, freshly made lemon and poppyseed buttermilk cakes were just lovely. They make a different selection of cakes each day, and the main menu changes monthly. A lovely spot.
Balls Restaurant, 47 Rue Saint-Maur (11th)
Tucked over in the 11th this restaurant has a silly name but great food. They do meatballs, as the name suggests with a choice of sides. They have a good meaty offering, I had the chorizo, and vegetarian ‘balls’ made with aubergine and chickpeas, deep fried til crispy, a bit like falafel with a twist. Each is served with your sauce of choice (tomato or yoghurt with herbs) and you pick a side – I had some very creamy polenta and Mr had a gorgeous lentil salad with feta, pomegranates and walnuts.
Paris is a pricey city and our previous 3 meals weren’t cheap, but Balls is good value – balls, side, soft drink and bread for €13 each if you go at lunchtime.
L’as du Fallafel, 32-34 Rue des Rosiers, 4th arr
Tucked away in the the Jewish quarter of Le Marais is the busy and crazy L’as du Falafel, lots of guides including David Lebovitz, said it was the best falafel in Paris and if a vegetarian can’t get their hands on a veggie meal at a falafel place, where can they? You can have them to take away or eat in, the service is pretty brusque and they’ll squish the tables together so closely you could steal a chip from the neighbouring table, despite this it’s a great place to eat. Each wrap is packed with piping hot falafels and lots of crunchy salad, coriander chutney and chilli chutney are provided on each table for you to spice according to your tastes. You can also order a platter or various meat kebabs, but most people come here for their huge falafel wraps. We didn’t have room but I’d next time I’d stop at one of the many Jewish bakeries on the way back for something sweet, or a loaf of challah bread.
Other notable mentions – not necessarily related to vegetarian eating but delicious and need to be mentioned:
G. Detou – shop
Everything a baker could want to bake with. So many different kinds of chocolate and cocoa, huge bags of chocolate chips, nuts, pink praline, sugars, syrups, honey, all of it. Plus savoury too – flavoured mustard (we bought tarragon), olive oil, pasta, tinned sardines, truffles. Marvellous little shop stacked with goodies.
Pain de Sucre
A pretty bakery in Le Marais packed with goodies – we bought our morning croissants here and I was pleased to report the chocolat in pain au chocolat runs from beginning to end, something which never happens this side of the channel. They also do all manner of sandwiches, tarts, savoury pies and delicate pastries. They have a patisserie next door too which specialises in even more delicate creations.
L’Eclair de Genie
Eclairs that are works of art, delicious too. I’m not going to tell you how much we spent on 2 eclairs because I am embarassed, they were nearly worth it and certainly memorable. One was vanilla cream with caramelised pecans and the other chocolate with hazlenut mousse.
Les Halles for cookware
There are about half a dozen large and small shops in this area specialising in cookware for chefs, and the general public. We went on the last day and our suitcases were already packed, but we spent a long while wandering around these homages to cooking staring at beautiful mixers, cake pans, copper saucepans and marvelling at weird and wonderful gadgets. I was highly tempted to buy a comedically large whisk but I thought I might get funny looks on the Eurostar.
And there is our trip! For more read my last post from 2012, and go forth to this gorgeous city.