Even just two years ago, a request for gluten free or vegan food would elicit either a look of pure confusion or a slightly rude comment from Parisians. In 2017 however, vegan has arrived in Paris with a stylish, innovative and of course, delicious landing.
In a city known for cheese and steak-frites, this is not an easy field to cultivate, but thanks to a new generation of creative, curious and health-inspired chefs, you can go crazy on your quinoa, kale salads and cold-pressed juices while traveling in the city of lights. Gluten free bakeries are popping up left and right, offering just as beautiful, sweet and indulgent breads and patisseries. You won’t miss out on this trip to Paris.
The hot spots for creative and cool vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free fare are found the 10th arrondissement, in and around the picturesque Canal Saint Martin, and the stylish 3rd arrondissement, also known as the upper Marais, but there are restaurants and juice bars across the city. So never fear my vegetarian friends, Paris welcomes you with open arms!
One of the originals in Paris to promote the possibilities of fresh pressed juice and vegetarian living, Bob’s Kitchen, located in the Marais, is part of a mini-healthy food empire that includes Bob’s Juice Bar, Bob’s Bake Shop and a catering business!
Started in the early 2000s by Marc Grossman, an American in Paris looking for some fresh juice and healthy eating alternatives, it quickly developed a sort of cult-following and soon expanded forward. The kitchen offers hearty, organic meals that are affordable, and there is a fun and friendly atmosphere that makes it all the more enjoyable.
Established in the mid 1990s, Sol Semilla is part restaurant and part specialty food shop offering a selection of “super foods,” including products like acai, carob, chia, spirulina and lots more. They have a catalog that includes recipes as well as a line of their own food items such as kale chips or detox cuisine which is a pre-made preparation of cats claw and the tasty Mexican cactus, nopal.
The restaurant itself feels like how a classic vegetarian restaurant should, with well worn wooden chairs and tables and lots of plants. The menu is written daily up on the chalkboard and the staff are serious about what they do, giving advice and information on the dishes served.
With boulangeries on every corner in Paris, you certainly do not lack for places to buy bread and patisseries on your trip, but even if most of that bread is baked daily and with fresh ingredients, if you cannot take gluten you are out of luck. But if you, understandably, cannot bear the thought of not indulging yourself in baked goods while in Paris, Helmut Newcake is here for you.
Opened in 2011 in Canal St. Martin and now with a location near Madeline, all their breads and baked goods are gluten free and made with organic flour. Fresh, creative and delicious patisseries that are as French and fancy as those in a typical bakery are offered on site or to-go.
Even if your traveling partner can handle gluten, they will not miss it here. They also offer a lunch service that is all gluten free and always with vegetarian and lactose free menu option. Check the website for details.
It opened as a tiny stand in the indoor Marche Batignolles food market in the 17th, where the owner offered mostly juices and small, strictly plant based menu that included vegan sushi burritos and faux hot dogs. After a year or two in the market she was able to expand into her own small restaurant space up the street.
With the Rolling Stones mouth crunching a large raspberry, My Kitch’n has a bit of a rock and roll vibe to it, with tables plastered with old record covers, but the vegan fare remains deliciously homemade and fresh. This is a fun place for kids as well as it feels almost as if you are hanging out at a friend’s house, very laid back and friendly.
Wild and the Moon
There are some serious jungle vibes happening in this groovy boutique-café-juice bar located in the Marais. “Through food we align with the rhythm of nature. This is slow food set to an urban beat.” So states the website and indeed that feels true. Walking through the door transports to another place where you can relax, breathe in some fresh air, eat something tasty and escape for a moment the fast paced urban environment outside.
Their specialty is cold pressed juice, and there is a wide variety to choose from, but there are also cakes and snacks available which are created by a team of chefs, nutritionists and food lovers, and organic coffees and teas.
Besides the café they offer mail order detox juice programs from 1-7 days. The juice is mailed to you along with detailed instructions and all you have to do is open it and cleanse. Their simply feels like no excuse not to try it.
Are some of you in the group into gluten free or vegetarian but others not? Season is the perfect solution. Both the small to-go café and the two-floor restaurant around the corner are bright and cheerful places, with lots of light wood, white tiles, and plants. The owners were inspired by the gluten free and healthy food options they encountered while traveling across the United States.
But the deal breaker here is that the delicious menu can be served gluten free or not, so for those travelers who seek out compromise in the food category, here is your new favorite spot in Paris! Delicious sandwiches or tartines as they are called here, salads, pizza’s and other daily specials, wine and beer are offered as well as the required detox focused juice selection.
It is a small café and restaurant on rue Charlot in the 3rd arrondissement that offers up a purely vegetarian and organic menu that focuses on ingredients like raw veggies and properly cooked grains that help you detox those impurities.
All the food is locally sourced and cooking and preparing of foods is all well researched and maximized to its potential to avoid producing added waste. A serious selection of cold-pressed juices and to-go snacks can keep you powering through your day of sightseeing and shopping if you don’t have time to stop.
Welcome to one of the few raw foods only restaurants in Paris, and because it is Paris, the menu and food itself is a far cry from just crunchy carrots and radishes.
A small restaurant/café in the Marais opened by a well known chef, William Pradeleix, RAW offers a really detailed and diverse menu that might include soups, ceviche and sushi, beef or veal tartar, as well as interesting grains and veggie dishes that are all well spiced and full of flavor.
Dishes are beautifully prepared and presented, making it both a fine dining and raw food experience. A hard combination to pull off, but it has been here.
It Opened in the quirky, restaurant-filled Passage de Panoramas in 2012, one of the first gluten free restaurants to open in Paris. An elegant, yet casual two floor space and take-out café across the way, No Glu makes its own breads and patisseries and changes its menu daily to keep a fresh and creative presentation.
The menu offers meat and fish as well as vegetarian and vegan options, and offers products that are lactose free. Here you can dip the bread in your soup (the Gazpacho is delicious), and indulge in the thick poppy seed buns that cradle the burgers, and you won’t feel heavy or sleepy after.
No Glu seems to make it all easy, no fanfare, no lecture, just a great place to have great food. Look out for a new space to open in the Fall of 2016 on the left bank 7th arrondissement.
It first opened in 2013 on they tiny rue Forez in the 3rd arrondissement, and a year later opened a space on rue faubourg poissonnière in the 10th. Design lovers as much as healthy eaters will appreciate these restaurants as the interiors were done by Dorothée Meilichzon, a talented, young designer who is making her name in restaurant interiors.
But beyond the décor, the food is why we keep coming back to Pinson. The menu changes daily but is always organic and centered around locally sourced ingredients, mainly vegetarian and frequently vegan. Don’t miss out on dessert either with tasty pudding with chia seeds, apple crumble or dark chocolate tart.
And if you want even more!
Take the afternoon or plan to spend the evening up at La Recyclerie, in the 18th arrondissement, a truly unique concept in Paris. Located in a former rail yard on the other side of Montmartre, this large indoor and outdoor space which opened in 2014, is dedicated to promoting and encouraging a lifestyle centered on reducing, reusing and recycling.
With a calendar of events that includes music, creative workshops, gardening tips and more, there is always something happening. Wander around the garden and the “petit ceinture” or small belt in English, which refers to the renovated rail lines that are now a public park.
With its own vegetable garden, you know the produce is fresh. Mostly vegetarian and vegan, all food is local and all waste goes into a compost to nourish their “urban farm.” Great for kids too.
In French organic is referred to as Biologique or simply Bio and is distinguished with an AB (Agriculture Biologique) label. Shops like Naturalia, La Recolte and Les Nouveaux Robinsons (yes that is a reference to the Robinson Crusoe, marooned on a deserted island story), are dotted around Paris and offer a variety of organic products from toilet paper to tofu to coffee and pay by the weight granola.
Though the grocery stores will offer a small range of organic products, these are the way to go if you are renting an apartment and want to go food shopping.
Side Note: Did you know that macaroons are naturally gluten free? Yes! Made with egg whites, almond flour and sugar, gluten is not a culprit in these tasty bite-sized treats.