Monica Shaw

A Vegetarian in Paris

The International Indian - May 14, 2009

A Vegetarian in Paris

There are reasons why Paris is known as "The City of Light." True, the name may come from its early adoption of electrical lighting, but visitors and locals know that Paris glows with more than mere wires and light bulbs. A stroll along the Seine or a trip up the Eiffel Tower proves that even the most touristy of tourist sites possess an indescribable charm. Even food is worshipped with almost religious devotion, and rightfully so. With dozens of Michelin stars to its credit, Paris is one of the great culinary cities of the world. And fortunately for vegetarians, this reputation extends far beyond the bounds of boeuf bourguignonne and escargot. Today's Paris is brimming with vegetarian options true to the French tradition. So venture off the beaten path of baguettes and Brie and let "The City of Light" charm you with its greener side.

Peckish Near the Pompidu

Lovers of modern art and architecture should not miss the Centre Georges Pompidou. After browsing the collection at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, head down the road to what many consider the best vegetarian restaurant in Paris. Le Potager du Marais may be small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in rich, flavorful and totally organic vegetarian food. Customers rave about the inventive dishes, particularly the cassoulet. Word to the wise: le Potager is both very popular and very small, so be sure to book a table to avoid disappointment. Le Potager du Marais: 22 Rue Rambuteau; +33 1 42 74 24 66

Bhajis on a Budget

Paris may seem an unlikely place to find hot samosas and masala dosas, but venture to the 10th arrondissement and you'll find a small community of Sri Lankans, Pakistanis and Indians who call this neighborhood their home. Seek out Krishna Bhavan, an Indian vegetarian restaurant whose prices are as perfect as their pakoras. The food is authentic, the staff friendly, and to sweeten the deal, everything on the menu costs less than seven euros. Krishna Bhavan: 24 rue Cail; +33 1 42 05 78 43;

French Pastries

At most French patisseries, those tempting pan au chocolats and glistening croissants are almost always made with butter, but at Tesnime in the right-bank neighborhood of Faubourg St. Antoine, even vegans are well catered for. Find a seat in the restaurant of this trendy Algerian patisserie and tuck into a vegan baklava or a filling tagine. To drink, don't miss out on their trademark mint tea. Tesnime: 207 rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine; +33 1 43 48 60 97;

Marché Madness

Paris is famous for its open-air markets, and the Marché d'Aligre in the 12th arrondissement is the biggest and most famous of them all. But for a more intimate and totally ‘bio' experience, head to one of Paris' organic markets such as the friendly Marché des Batignolles in the 17th or the trendy Marché de Raspail on the Left Bank. Grab a basket and stock up on fresh produce and artisan cheeses for a picnic lunch. To get more veg for your euro, show up in the afternoon when the markets are closing and haggle for a last minute deal. Marché des Batignolles: Boulevard des Batignolles; open 9am-2pm Sat. Marché de Raspail: Boulevard Raspail; open 7am-2:30pm Tues. and Fri., 9am-3pm Sun.

Fast and Furious Falafels

Planning to spend the day site-hopping your way through Paris? Don't forget to break for lunch. Time your visit to the Latin Quarter with a break at Maoz and load up on falafel, fries and their plentiful salad bar. Maoz may not be haute cuisine, but it's quick, cheap and reliably good. Hefty tip: Maoz is small, so take your lunch to go and enjoy a riverside lunch on the Seine. Maoz: 8 rue Xavier Privas;; +33 1 43 26 36 00

Unbeatable "Bio" Burgers

"Bio" is the French word for "organic", and Bioboa is certainly true to its name. The perfect spot for a healthy lunch, this self-named "food spa" serves up delicious veggie burgers, soups, salads and smoothies from a counter at the back of the restaurant. With modern furniture and a minimalist interior, Bioboa is a pleasant respite from the usual crowded and smoky Paris cafes. Bioboa: 3 Rue Danielle Casanova; +33 1 42 61 17 67

Hold the Boeuf

Vegetarians needn't stick to purely vegetarian restaurants to get a great meal. Maceo, conveniently located near the Louvre, proves that even omnivorous establishments appreciate the importance of vegetables. In addition to a la carte treats, Maceo even has a vegetarian set menu where you'll find dishes such as chickpea tagine, vegetable pastilla, and wild mushroom crepes. Alternatively, snag a seat in the tiny restaurant behind the bar of Au Petit Fer A Cheval for a bit of French charm. As long as you don't mind your neighbor feasting on beef carpaccio, you can't beat this cafe for atmosphere. They also serve a few veggie options, including generous salads and creative mains. And if you fancy a refreshing beverage, Au Petit's mojito is top notch. Maceo: 15 rue des Petits-Champs;; +33 1 42 96 37 86. Au Petit Fer A Cheval: 30 Rue Vieille du Temple; +33 9 62 09 23 38

Don Your Aprons

Looking for an experience that's a little more hands-on? Then grab an apron and get in the kitchen at La Cucina di Terresa for an organic, plant-based cooking class with an Italian flair. From market to plate, Theresa Murphy shows you how to prepare a sumptuous vegetarian feast with all the fixings, including tasty food, delicious wine and great conversation. Theresa offers both private and group classes, which can four hours for a lesson and lunch, six hours with a market visit, or nine hours for a full day with a food tour. And if you're renting an apartment in Paris, she'll even come teach you in your own kitchen. La Cucina di Terresa: