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Vegetarian in France

Pauline Kenny

I am a vegetarian and on a recent trip to France was able to find some restaurants with vegetarian options, but there was not a large selection of dishes and some restaurant had no vegetarian options. French cuisine is very meat and fish oriented. You can usually have a salad, but you might have a hard time finding anything else. If you eat dairy and eggs, you will have a greater choice. If you eat fish, you will find lots of options.

Vegetarian/Natural Foods Restaurants

The good news is that there appears to be an active vegetarian/organic/biodynamic movement in France and we found very good natural foods stores and vegetarian/natural foods restaurants in most good sized towns.

We found this excellent natural foods restaurant in Avignon. Restaurant Terre de Saveur, 1 Rue St. Michel. The guidebook for vegetarian restaurants in France (see Resources below) listed a second vegetarian restaurant in Avignon.

Restaurant Terre de Saveur, cuisine traditionnelle et Vegetarienne, Avignon

Restaurant Terre de Saveur, cuisine traditionnelle et Vegetarienne, Avignon

Vegetarian Options on Menus

Some vegetarian possibilities you will find on menus in Provence are:

  • There is usually at least one vegetarian entree (appetizer). Common vegetarian entrees in Provence include: salad with goat cheese; mozzarella, tomato and basil (like the Italian Caprese); Papeton d'Aubergine (eggplant pate); vegetable tart. Be aware that tappenade (olive paste) usually has anchovies (fish) as do vegetable tarts.
  • Many restaurants offer large salads which can be the main meal. Most have cheese.
  • Some restaurants offer a pasta with tomato and basil as a main dish. We saw this on many menus.
  • You can have a cheese course as the main part of the meal.
  • In Provence, we found fresh fish dishes on the majority of menus, so if you eat fish, you are in luck.
  • Many restaurants offer pizza and will have vegetarian ones.

Chinese restaurants may be willing to give you noodles or rice and vegetables, but the menus that we looked at did not even have vegetable sections, so we did not try this on our recent trip.

Your best bet is to stay in a vacation rental where you can do most of your own cooking. Read more about vacation rentals.

Ask for a Vegetarian Meal

A good restaurant will be happy to make a special vegetarian meal for you. Not all will be willing to do this. Some restaurants we asked at were happy to do this; others would not.

We had lunch at the restaurant in Hotel des Voyageurs in a small Luberon village (St. Saturnin les Apt) and asked if it was possible to have a vegetarian meal (for me) and a fish meal (for Steve). The woman running the restaurant said "of course" and we had the best meal of our two weeks in France. Click to see photos of the meal.

Vegetarian entree at Hotel les Voyageurs in St. Saturnin les Apt, Provence, October 2004

Vegetarian entree at Hotel les Voyageurs in St. Saturnin les Apt, Provence

Books

Vegetarian France: Over 150 Places to Eat and Sleep, by Alex Bourke, Alan Todd, Vegetarian Guides, 1998
Lists of vegetarian friendly restaurants and hotels in France. This is the English version of the La Plage guide in French listed below. This version is not as up-to-date as the French version.

Order from Amazon

Vegetarian Europe, by Alex Bourke, Vegetarian Guides, 2000
Lists of vegetarian restaurants in all of Europe.

Order from Amazon

Guide des restaurants bio et/ou vegetariens en France 2004, editor La Plage,
We found this good book (in French) listing vegetarian restaurants throughout France. If you want to know the ones in the area you are going to, post on the message board and I will look it up for you.

Order from Amazon.fr (this links to the publishers page which has a link to Amazon.fr)

Vegan Passport, edited by George Rodger of the Vegan Society, 1996
The vocabulary you need to tell a waiter your dietary restrictions in 38 languages. For vegans (strict vegetarian - no meat, no fish, no dairy).

Order from Vegetarian Guides

Resources

Happy Cow's Vegetarian Guide (France): www.happycow.net/europe/france/
Restaurant listings, in English, for vegetarian restaurants in France. Lists vegetarian and "vegetarian friendly" restaurants, natural foods stores.

Alliance Vegetarienne: www.allianceveg.org
General information and some restaurants for France. From the home page, click "Adresses vegetariennes" then "Restaurants vegetariens" for a list of vegetarian restaurants. Read their page in English on Vegetarians Visiting France. Click "Don't Worry" on the sidebar to read basic information and "Phrases" to see a list of phrases to explain that you are vegetarian in many languages.

European Vegetarian Union: www.europeanvegetarian.org
Link to France section. Information about vegetarian groups in Europe and a database of vegetarian restaurants throughout Europe with listings for Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Portugal (and only a few for France, Belgium, Ireland).

International Vegetarian Union: www.ivu.org
Links to worldwide vegetarian resources.

Veg Dining: www.vegdining.com
Worldwide list of vegetarian restaurants. Only a few listed for France.

French Entree: www.frenchentree.com/fe-vegetarians/
Vegetarian France, a section on a website about moving to France.

Vegetarian Guides: www.vegetarianguides.co.uk
Publisher of vegetarian guidebooks for England, France, Italy, Spain, Israel, US.

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