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Paris with a vegetarian and a teenager

r
ribblet Aug 26, 2013 05:30 PM

I will be in Paris for a long weekend with a group with very mixed food tastes. My husband and I will arrive on a Thursday morning and leave early on Monday. We eat everything and eating well is one of our priorities (he is the pastry chef of a 3* Michelin restaurant). We have invited his mother and sister to travel from England to join us in Paris from Friday night through Sunday afternoon. His mother is vegan, but willing to relax to vegetarian for this trip (she would still prefer to avoid most dairy -- things cooked with butter are okay, cheese/cream heavy dishes are not). His sister is 17, excited about French food (first time in Paris), but will most likely not be the most adventurous eater. They do not eat out very often. We want them to have an amazing experience, but budget is important, as we are already covering their traveling expenses and are cognizant of the fact that food is not their biggest priority -- I'd rather put the money towards activities they will fully appreciate. We also have 10 more days of eating our way through France, post-Paris, including dinner at Bocuse. In Paris, we'll be staying in the 6th arrondissement.

I would love suggestions for restaurants that will please all 4 of us, as well as thoughts on our other meals. Our current plan:

Thursday dinner: Le Chateaubriand (husband and me only)

Friday lunch: L'ami Saint Jean (husband and me only)

Friday dinner: Need ideas for a place to take mother & sister in the 6th once they arrive (Gare du Nord at 9:15pm, so probably eating something around 10pm). Casual, as I assume they will be tired from traveling.

OR

If they tell me they plan to eat while traveling, someplace for my husband and I to have something quick before they arrive. Perhaps Abri, which is close to the Gare du Nord?

Saturday lunch: will depend on our itinerary for the day -- any general suggestions as to how to find something appropriate for his mother on the fly? Or recommendations near the usual suspect tourist spots?

Saturday dinner: After reading this thread, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/913689 , where the OP seems to have a situation similar to mine (without the added vegetarian/vegan complication), I'm thinking that we should try Jeanne B, combined with Sacre Coeur/Montmartre sightseeing. Any other ideas? Dans Les Landes looks wonderful, but it seems as though the vegetarian options would be limited.

Sunday lunch: ???

Sunday dinner: Le Comptoir du Relais (husband and me only again

)

Thank you in advance for your suggestions and advice. This board has been invaluable to me as I plan our trip. (A separate post on Provence coming up....)

  1. v
    vipa Aug 26, 2013 06:31 PM

    Hi Ribblet,

    My partner and I just returned from a trip to France and found it to be pretty challenging to find good vegetarian food in Paris. We're not vegans though so we were able to default to pizza and Indian food when in a pinch. There are a lot of Indian restaurants near the Gare du Nord so that might be one option. In Montmarte, near Sacre Cour, there's a small vegan restaurant called 'Au Grain de Folie': http://www.happycow.net/reviews/au-grain-de-folie-paris-864. We had a dinner here and it was pretty basic: veggies, lentils, and grain of the day with a special accompaniment (I choose the seitan). It was nice as we had been feeling deprived of vegetables and vegetarian protein up until that point but it was very simple food that we could have easily made at home with little cost or effort.

    For more ideas based on where you'll be visiting you might want to check out: www.happycow.net. Also, some of the older posts on this 'vegan in Paris' blog might be helpful too: http://myveganparisianadventure.blogs....

    Have a great trip!

    1. s
      shakti2 Aug 26, 2013 10:47 PM

      Mon Vieil Ami on ile St Louis makes a point of its focus on veggies, is handy to a lot of sights and open on Sundays when the river-banks are closed to vehicle traffic and wonderful for leisurely strolling. Similar pricing to the places you've named plus a very reasonable plat du jour when we were last there.

      1 Reply
      1. re: shakti2
        p
        Ptipois Aug 26, 2013 11:54 PM

        The only problem with Mon Vieil Ami is that the food is terrible. Honestly the best vegetarian option near Notre-Dame is Krishna Bhavan (rue Galande).

      2. Parigi Aug 27, 2013 01:34 AM

        First of all, you're a saint.
        One restaurant that always has a vegetable main dish (rare in Paris) and is good and has nice ambiance and is not expensive is Café des Musées.
        Jeanne B is getting better and better. Since I'm a carnivore fundamentalist, I did not notice the purist vegetable dishes. The vegetable garnitures were good.
        Dans Les Landes usually has only one vegetable dish and one salad dish, both tasty. Is it ok for the Antichrists to have just that while you two have a fabulous meal of half a dozen (minimum) tapas? If so go for it.
        Lastly, you're a saint.

        1. l
          Londonlinda Aug 27, 2013 02:32 AM

          I've found creperies good for both vegetarians and non adventurous eaters, and since your guests are coming from the UK, this will be a novelty for them since we don't have that many creperies here, more's the pity. There are several threads on Chowhound about creperies, the main creperie district is around Rue Montparnasse, but they are all over Paris.

          1. PhilD Aug 27, 2013 02:47 AM

            If you want nice vegetarian menu and a good omnivore menu Maceo may work They have the menu's on line deliver creative classical French food and a real plus its a beautiful room - not a veggie hair shirt fundamentalist place at all.

            1. w
              wellworld Aug 27, 2013 10:13 AM

              Le Saotico in the second did a great job putting together a thoughtful delicious vegetarian meal for me this May. I gave them a day's notice. The proprietors are lovely, and from Normandy. My husband is a very adventurous eater, and enjoyed what they served. They also have a selection of Norman ciders by the glass and the bottle.
              www.saotico.com

              1. r
                ribblet Aug 27, 2013 10:56 AM

                Thank you all for your advice. Le Saotico sounds as if it could be wonderful and what we are looking for -- when the website says "Weekend selon reservations" does that mean private parties only? Or it depends on how many people make reservations? Does anyone know the price of the menu? It seems as though it's perhaps a bit more expensive than what I was looking for, but if it hits all the marks and accommodates my husband's mother's dietary restrictions (I just found out that she is also gluten-free(!!! - my reaction to that certainly disqualified me from sainthood), it will be worth it.

                I love Indian food, but I'm not coming to Paris from the US to eat it....especially with guests from England!

                Saotico may be exactly what we are looking for (if they are open) or I still think that Jeanne B could be a good option. Dans les Landes sounds delicious for me, but I am concerned about having to wait for a table, when not everyone will have the same enthusiasm for the food and patience for the wait.

                22 Replies
                1. re: ribblet
                  Parigi Aug 27, 2013 11:03 AM

                  "I am concerned about having to wait for a table"
                  One never has to wait for a table when one has a reservation. When one does not have a reservation, one may not have a table at all, wait or no wait.

                  1. re: Parigi
                    r
                    ribblet Aug 27, 2013 11:17 AM

                    Good to know, I thought I had read that at Dans les Landes specifically, reservation times were not always upheld. And that's not at all uncommon in NY.

                    1. re: ribblet
                      Parigi Aug 27, 2013 11:28 AM

                      " reservation times were not always upheld."
                      Really? In my experience, that has not been true. What about others on this board?

                      1. re: Parigi
                        mangeur Aug 27, 2013 12:27 PM

                        We've been seated as scheduled.

                        1. re: mangeur
                          John Talbott Aug 27, 2013 01:01 PM

                          I've never had a problem there, but then I eat sensibly.

                  2. re: ribblet
                    John Talbott Aug 27, 2013 12:02 PM

                    "I love Indian food, but I'm not coming to Paris from the US to eat it....especially with guests from England!"
                    I agree. As I am wiidely known as a cranky, old, outdated curmudgeon, and in no way "pc", I have trouble wrapping my arms around why anyone on earth (unless dragged in irons) would come to France for other than French food.
                    I love Indian, Paki, Thai, Japanese, etc., food but when in Rome, etc.
                    Although, I must admit that after 6 straight months in Paris, one does hanker for sushi.
                    But if you want Indian, go to India or lower Manhattan or Queens.
                    My grand-kid who is vegetarian (one of the 12 in the EF) does just fine in Paris or Normandy (as recently as 8 weeks ago).
                    I don't plan to accomodate her wishes/needs, I reserve, go, she copes.
                    End of story.
                    Americans who serve 6 different dinners every night to their 6 members have become too far from the food chain.
                    Sorry.

                    1. re: John Talbott
                      p
                      Ptipois Aug 27, 2013 02:12 PM

                      Krishna Bhavan is South Indian 100% vegetarian food, it is high-quality even by British standards (never had a good Indian meal in Lower Manhattan since the mid-80s). The food is very well prepared, with excellent products. It is truly is the most consistent vegetarian option in the area if that is the thing that is needed.

                      I am only answering the question, on the grounds that if you're in the area and in need for a vegetarian meal, better some good food at Krishna Bhavan than bad food at Mon Vieil Ami.

                      After I've said that, let people do as they please.

                      " I have trouble wrapping my arms around why anyone on earth (unless dragged in irons) would come to France for other than French food."
                      Perhaps, but of course that is the opinion of a cranky old outdated curmudgeon, as you wrote yourself. Non-French food can be excellent in France if you go to the right places. Like everywhere else.

                      (Come to think of it, I can't even begin to express how much I disagree with your statement. Going to a good non-French-food restaurant in Paris (be it Maghrebi, Vietnamese, Laotian, or even Chinese) is *also* a fully Parisian experience.)

                      1. re: Ptipois
                        PhilD Aug 27, 2013 03:20 PM

                        Pti - I think it depends on where you come from and how long you are in town for. I personally don't think much of the immigrant food (apart from North African) I have sampled in Paris, although I admit my knowledge is a few years old. Other cities are famed for their immigrant foods, IMO Paris' lack of reputation is justly deserved, but maybe that's because I live in Asia and travel very widely.

                        I am in town or just over a week next week and see no point in trying anything apart from French food. My choices range from traditional to leading edge so lots, and lots of variety without straying. I even canned Dans Les Landes as I am heading to the Basque regions next and think I have that style covered.

                        1. re: PhilD
                          p
                          Ptipois Aug 28, 2013 12:13 AM

                          Like before I disagree about the "immigrant food" in Paris, and I have traveled extensively to Asia and regularly spend some time in South and East China. Of course no "immigrant" food anywhere can compete with the original, finding the good stuff takes a little legwork, and the bar is set high for you because you live in Australia, but still I am tired of hearing "ethnic" restaurants in Parys being badmouthed by people who simply haven't been to the right places.

                          If you think you'd be "covering" the Basque regions by sampling "Dans les Landes" and thus are avoiding it because you're going to the motherland, you're missing the whole point. "Dans les Landes" is first and foremost the work of a talented chef. Not just "regional" food, which besides you will find through every kind of creative transformation in the Basque regions - there is no such thing as a standard regional preparation.

                          1. re: Ptipois
                            PhilD Aug 28, 2013 04:03 AM

                            Ref Dans les Landes: I don't need convincing its good, but I have eight meals over eight days and it seems logical not to duplicate (no matter how good the chef is) a style of food we will get during the second half of my trip - and my Basque itinerary does cover many bases. Maybe I can squeeze a light lunch at DlL to judge myself.

                            We have agreed to disagree before abouth non-French food in Paris. One day I will have the luxury of a longer stay in Paris to try it again. However, for a relatively short trip it just seems to risky when the other options are so good, so reliable and so much better on their home ground. I would also argue that most French restaurants outside France pale in comparison to the real thing. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. Even the expat French chefs seem to compromise for local tastes or because of the quality of ingredients e.g. good (not even great) unpateurised cheese or the wonderful fruit like the small strawberries or greengages, or the charcuterie etc etc. Some cities are much better than others but even with classic French food coverage is patchy.

                        2. re: Ptipois
                          mangeur Aug 27, 2013 05:19 PM

                          "Going to a good non-French-food restaurant in Paris (be it Maghrebi, Vietnamese, Laotian, or even Chinese) is *also* a fully Parisian experience.)"

                          Interesting to have suggestions for truly "Parisian" bred cuisine. It was probably corrupted by the invading Romans.

                          1. re: mangeur
                            p
                            Ptipois Aug 28, 2013 12:14 AM

                            Paris did not even exist at that time.

                            1. re: Ptipois
                              mangeur Aug 28, 2013 05:18 PM

                              I was giving residency to the Parisii.

                          2. re: Ptipois
                            s
                            Steve Aug 28, 2013 08:06 AM

                            I agree with Pti - in some cases it makes perfect sense for a Chowhound to try certain foods in Paris, especially from the Francophone world. Creole, West African, North African, Vietnamese, Reunionnais, just to mention a few.

                            What irks me more are people who have never been to France and insist in eating at a litany of starred restaurants in Paris - as if that is somehow a picture of French food or represents the best of French food. It can only be the best of a certain kind of restaurant - which leaves out some mighty terrific food that is more representative of French cuisine and what it has to offer.

                            1. re: Steve
                              John Talbott Aug 28, 2013 08:12 AM

                              "What irks me more are people who have never been to France and insist in eating at a litany of starred restaurants in Paris"
                              And I might add, sometimes book because the NYT says it's hot and t 20h30 cancel or don't show, which,when you've got 20-40 covers, hurts.

                              1. re: Steve
                                p
                                Ptipois Aug 28, 2013 03:41 PM

                                I could not agree more. Starred restaurants are no longer the best way to experience French food in France. The more starred, the less local. The one-star level is still likely to retain some couleur locale but above that, you eat pretty much the same stuff in 2 or 3-star restaurants all over the world. Three-star food has become an international style, and at that level you eat just as well in NYC or Hong Kong.

                                To get the real thing, you need to reach for lower distinctions: one star can satisfy, no star is better, and the best French food in my opinion is to be had at the fermes-auberges, tables d'hôtes and "restaurants ouvriers" in the countryside. Simple food, but the last refuge of the "true" taste.

                                Sometimes you go to a 2-star restaurant in a remote region and you sample both the "gastro" and the chef's bistrot next door that keeps the money rolling. 9 times ouf of 10 the food at the bistrot is better - and more original - than the food at the gastro.

                                1. re: Ptipois
                                  PhilD Aug 28, 2013 03:59 PM

                                  Isn't the best agenda to sample restaurants across a spectrum. Starred restaurants add one dimension, the local bistro another, and the farmhouse restaurant another. If you religiously stick to one style or another you will miss out (will not may).

                                  France does have a wonderful selection of restaurants and some good locl guides, for example the funky Le Fooding through to traditional Michelin. Each option has its pros and cons sticking with one source of information or discarding one source for obtuse reasons always strikes me as odd (apart from Trip Adviser IMO).

                                  So read widely and choose a broad selection and you should get the best from trip to France. Follow a single source and its unlikely to be a perfect match for your own taste so is risky - even if it is the ancient institution of Talbott, the red book, a certain ice-cream expert or a particular well known concierge.

                                  1. re: PhilD
                                    p
                                    Ptipois Aug 28, 2013 07:03 PM

                                    I rather think that the best agenda is the one that suits each person individually, according to their preferences.
                                    I am not referring to the Michelin guide (which includes all sorts of restaurants without necessarily giving them a macaron) but to a certain style that has become, in recent years, increasingly internationalized and soulless.
                                    Aside from places like L'Arpège that show some personality, but I think a lot of 3-star food in France is generally overestimated, not in terms of quality, but in terms of representing French food in its essence. Some of my French friends who are familiar with haute cuisine claim that the best French food they ever had was at Le Bernardin.

                                  2. re: Ptipois
                                    s
                                    Steve Aug 28, 2013 06:02 PM

                                    I used to spend a lot of time in the provinces, not quite as much in Paris. It was true back then you could walk into a bar and have a memorable meal (not always, but in the Auvergne it was commonplace). I am not sure if it still the case, but I can tell you those meals will resonate with me forever. You decided what you would eat by where you would eat. No (or limited) carte, just a menu du jour. I too am a big believer in the ferme-auberge and the table d'hôtes - alas i can no longer give specific recs.

                                    1. re: Steve
                                      mangeur Aug 28, 2013 06:06 PM

                                      We couldn't agree more, Steve. I book all of our country stays where the hosts show pride in their table d'hote. Local, most often on site produce, most often traditional plates. Usually almost free.

                                      1. re: Steve
                                        Parigi Aug 29, 2013 12:40 AM

                                        I too am a ferme-auberge fundamentalist and have been championing the genre on this board forever.

                              2. re: ribblet
                                w
                                wellworld Aug 28, 2013 03:09 PM

                                Riblet, as far as I know and I have dined there about 4 times in the last year, or made reservations for such, a firm reservation at La Saotico means that they seat you on time. You can make reservations for any night, and I have made them for two persons to 10 persons. The cost of the meal there is a great value. I think that you could probably eat very well there and spend about 35 to 50 Euros.

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