Going to a restaurant when you have some sort of dietary restriction can be difficult enough as it is, let alone when you’re in a foreign country where you may not speak the local language. Never fear, we’ll show you how to find restaurants in Paris where you can eat freely or simply communicate your circumstances “en français.”
Vegetarian/Vegan restaurants in Paris
Being a vegetarian in France is something of a punchline, and veganism is all but unheard of. However, there are some options for herbivores in Paris. A vegetarian friend of mine recommends Macéo (15 Rue des Petits Champs) and Brasserie Lutetia (45 Boulevard Raspail), both of which have vegetarian menus.
She further suggests using the website Happy Cow to search for restaurants in Paris. The site lists four vegan eateries, and includes several other vegetarian and veg-friendly options.
While it may not be “real” French cuisine, you can also try Asian restaurants, which may be more used to the idea of meat-less dishes. Check out the Chinese and Vietnamese places in Belleville in the 19th and 20th Arrondissements.
Celiac/Wheat-free dining in Paris
My dad is a celiac, so when he came to visit me he looked up gluten-free restaurants on CeliacHandbook.com. Le Charlain (23 Rue Clauzel) was on the list, and we enjoyed a great meal there – with a delicious flour-less chocolate cake for dessert.
Celiac disease is not as well-known in France as in places like Italy, but it is possible to find wheat-free dishes in most restaurants. Just tell your server, “Je suis allergique à la farine” (I’m allergic to flour). Stay away from mysterious sauces, and (depending on the restaurant’s recipe) you most likely won’t be able to eat the “frites,” either.
Disappointingly for my dad, we couldn’t find any bakeries in Paris that make gluten-free products. Naturalia, a chain of natural food stores, sells some wheat-free bread products, but they generally aren’t the same quality you’d find in the United States.
Lactose Intolerance and Other Allergies
Although the French are fond of cheeses and cream sauces, it should be easy to avoid dairy products in most Paris restaurants if you make your intolerance known. Simply say “J’ai une intolérance au lactose” (I’m lactose intolerant). Another option is to try kosher meat restaurants, such as those you would find in the neighborhood of the Rue des Rosiers.
Similarly, for other food allergies it’s just a matter of telling your server. Start with “Je suis allergique aux…” (I’m allergic to…). Some common allergy words include “noix” (nuts), “fruits de mer” (seafood), and “graines de sésame” (sesame seeds).
Are you a vegetarian, vegan, or have a food allergy? How was your experience eating out in Paris? Let us know!