Experiencing Real French Restaurants/Bistros in Paris as a Vegetarian
I know that much has been written about this topic. We are ova-lacto vegetarians heading to Paris in two weeks. We have traveled all over the world and managed to sample, as best we can, the local cuisine. I understand Paris is difficult for vegetarians but there have to be some French bistros/restaurants that offer vegetarian dishes. We dined at Arpege several years ago and found it, frankly, underwhelming and a rip off. We would much prefer some nice bistros. So far with my own research I have discovered Mon Vieil Ami and Semilla. The menu at Maceo did not look that exciting. Please help! We don't want to eat Indian or Middle Eastern food (as others have suggested) in Paris. Thanks.
A few ideas here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/969303
In it I mention Le Cinq now has a veggie menu. The Maceo menu does change, I think the one on the site is an example - and I agree it doesn't look very interesting. My wife would often choose it over the omnivore menu and always enjoyed.
My sense is the newer chefs/restaurants are including more dishes suitable for vegetarians but the menu's tend to change frequently so tricky to predict what will be on them.
I'm sure you can eat pretty well at some omnivore bistros/ restaurants by just getting a combo of veggie starters... but, I imagine, rather hit and miss and, as a carnivore, I'm sorta at a loss to recommend which might be better for veggies than others. As PhilD points out, the Michelin-starred Le Cinq in the 8th does have a veggie option but rather expensive (100+ € for lunch and 200+ € for dinner). If you or your hotel call to arrange things beforehand, the new restaurant David Toutain in the 7th might be able to conjure up a total veggie theme for one of his dégustation menus. Also Cru in the Village Saint Paul/ rue Charlemagne in the 4th... more fusion/ world than French cuisine but often very good veggie mains and a charming setting. And a final but reluctant recommendation because it's so see-and-be-seen, L'Avenue on the avenue Montaigne in the 8th has great salads and a few veggie options and is a hangout for the always dieting and occasionally vegetarian fashion crowd.
Fondue restaurants are a good option for ovo-lacto vegetarians. Many have no-meat options (bread, mushrooms, veggie chunks, etc for dipping in the cheese soup) ... from the Savoy region/ southeast France/ French Alps so a cuisine that is not all that common in Paris but there are some decent examples. e.g Pain Vin Fromages on the rue Geoffroy l'Angevin in the 4th... in the ultra-touristy Marais near the Centre Pomidou but still quite decent.
And Salon du Fromage Hisada on the rue Richelieu near the Palais Royal... excellent cheese plates + salads... but lunch only.
And the same for soufflé restaurants. La Cigale Récamier on the rue Récamier in the 7th is my favourite... with the added attraction of a lovely terrace for that I'm-in-Paris feeling... and a couple of veggie and plain cheese soufflés. La Cuisine de Philippe on the rue Servandoni in the 6th also has a few no-meat no-fish soufflés on its menu ... and great setting just across from Luxembourg park. Third choice, (imaginatively called) Le Soufflé on the rue du Mont Thabor in the 1st near the place Vendôme...heavily patronized by tourists from the nearby hotels but decent enough... doesn't have the charm of La Cigale Récamier but quite decent if you are in the neighbourhood.
And let's not forget the usually fab French omelettes. Although quite a tourist haunt-- and quite pricey, the landmark café Les Deux Magots on the boulevard Saint-Germain serves a great one. And Aux Tonneau des Halles on the rue Montorgueil in the 2nd. Or Le Rostand on the place Edmond Rostand/ rue des Médicis in the 6th next to the Luxembourg. And and and... lots of choices.
Some restaurants fry their "frites"/ french fries in duck fat so, if you are a purist, ask before you order.
one more thing to know.
If you say you are "végétarien" in France, people will assume you eat fish. If you say you are "végétalien " this will more closely match your diet
let me also recommend my favorite Paris Bistrot which has great fare for both vegetarians and carnivore.
Bistrot D'Edmond in the 2e on rue du 4 septembre. great neighborhood so you can still outside for some great people watching as well
Similar pedigree and philosophy to Le Regalade.
They do do some great soups, I could bath in the Parmesan Soup it's so good but I would bet it probably had a meat stock base (yes I know Parmesan isn't a vegetarian cheese). There may be odd dishes but it's a pretty meat centric place.