Food February: A Vegetarian In Paris

Vegetarian? Planning on going to Paris soon ? Oh, là, là ! Be prepared, vegetarians are not that common in France. As a matter of fact, only about 3 percent of the population of France is vegetarian, and vegans are even rarer. This may sound barbaric to some but, in France, only a few restaurants announce that they offer a vegetarian menu. And beware, there are horror stories about vegetarian menus being a mix of vegetables fresh out of a tin with a few leaves of lettuce!

However, you don’t have to starve in Paris . You can still go to most restaurants. Here are a few suggestions:

If you are brave enough to try your French over the phone, why not call the restaurants you are interested in and ask what they suggest for vegetarians? For example, at the trendy trattoria ‘Daroco’ (6 Rue Vivienne), only a few minutes away from the Louvre museum, you could have fresh pasta with gorgonzola cheese or linguini with truffle.

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Daroco’s trendy interior (credit: Le Figaro)

For those who don’t dare try the phone-calling experience, be aware that many restaurants have a website, and you can often examine their menu before even stepping outside. Let’s try the very French ‘Bistrot des Vosges’ (31 Boulevard Beaumarchais), close to the beautiful Place des Vosges. One of the first items on their menu (‘la carte’) is a vegetarian or vegan salad. You could also try their Galette au Chèvre, a buckwheat pancake with goat cheese, or their Omelette des Burons, an omelette with Buron cheese and potatoes. But sorry, they do use beef broth to make their tempting Soupe à l’Oignon.

Speaking of buckwheat pancakes, galettes de sarrasin are the main courses of Crêperie restaurants, where you can also have all sort of crêpes for dessert. You must take a look at the amazing décor of ‘Crêperie Josselin‘ ( 67 Rue du Montparnasse), near the Gare Montparnasse. Some of their buckwheat pancakes are served with vegetables only. Should you want to try any other pancake on the menu, just ask the waiter to make a meatless version of it – that will not be a problem.

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Fancy a French crêpe?

But you may be craving a more wholesome vegetarian or vegan meal. In this case, here are some places you should try:

You might want to know what ‘shrimp kebab (soy protein) with pineapple & lemon grass’ or ‘mushroom loaf with a blackberry-ginger sauce’ tastes like. If so, try ‘VegetHalles‘ (41 Rue des Bourdonnais), a restaurant dedicated to vegetarians and vegans. You can start by exploring their surprising menu online. It is advised to make a reservation as the restaurant is quite popular as well as being situated in the busy area of Les Halles.

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Soya protein kebab (credit: VegetHalles)

Tien Hiang‘(14 Rue Bichat) is a fairly original restaurant close to Canal Saint Martin. It specialises in Asian food that is also vegetarian and vegan. Whenever a dish traditionally requires meat, the meat is replaced with soya protein. Look at the pictures on their online menu, the result is truly amazing. Vegans, the only dish that is not for you is Marmite Tien Hiang, which uses cheese.

Le Grenier de Notre Dame‘(18 Rue de la Bûcherie), as you may have guessed, is only a few minutes away from Notre Dame Cathedral. It was the first vegetarian restaurant to open in Paris, in 1978. For decades, it has successfully persuaded Parisians to try vegetarian food. Unfortunately, they are currently closed for renovation. Good news is they are expected to re-open anytime around mid-March.

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Fresh, local produce (credit: Le Grenier de Notre Dame)

Now, as the French would say, ‘Bon Appétit’!

Love At First Bite: A Food Trip Around Paris

Escargots, steak tartare, soupe à l’oignon, choucroute, coq au vin, pâté en croûte, cassoulet, boeuf bourguignon … Have I got your attention? These mouth-watering dishes are on the menus of many Parisian brasseries and bistrots and might be the reason why visitors fall in love with the French capital at first bite.

Most of our apartments are located in Paris’s most prestigious and beautiful areas: the Marais, the 2nd Arrondissement, and the Latin Quarter. Paris is not only a perfect destination to discover the most skilled fashion designers, is also one of the  culinary meccas in the world. Let me tell you a bit about the history of these neighborhoods and the types of food you can find there.

Close-up on: Le Marais

It is home to the oldest covered market in the city, the Marché des Enfants Rouges, where fresh produce and different national cuisines abound. Interestingly, the French word ‘marais’ means swamp, and this is exactly what the area was well before it became one of Paris’s most beautiful neighbourhoods.

The first inhabitants were Templars and they arrived at this former pasture land in the 9th century. A Templar’s tomb was even found during engineering works for the Parisian metro at the beginning of the 20th century! Fleeing high taxes, others came to join the Templars in the 14th century, giving the neighbourhood an economic boost. By 1605, the Marais became a Royal Quarter, when Henry IV constructed the Place des Vosges (formerly called the Royal Square). From then on, and until the end of the 17th century, rich families built ‘hôtels particuliers’, mansions, and even churches.

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Detail at Place des Vosges

The Jewish community appeared as soon as the 13th century. Today, many people come to the famous Rue des Rosiers, the emblematic street of the Jewish Quarter, to taste the best falafels in Paris.

Last time I was in the Marais, I fell upon a true gem called Miznon, in a street parallel to the Rue des Rosiers. Their traditional pita bread is imported from Jerusalem and re-heated on site. They also offer wonderfully steamed, then baked, vegetables that will make you reconsider your view on cauliflower. I ended up asking for the recipe! The Marais is one of the only neighbourhoods where the shops are open on Sundays (the French take this resting day very seriously), so it can get crowded on the weekends.

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Wholesome food (credit: EC/EH in Timeout)

Walking along the Rue des Rosiers, pay attention to the shop signs and names:  you will often see “Boulangerie” written on top of a clothes shop, in an effort to preserve the history of the place. Quite a surprising contrast!

Close-up on: The 2nd Arrondissement

The 2nd Arrondissement is organised around the old Parisian stock exchange (the Bourse) and is home to La Place des Victoires, one of the five royal squares of the city. It was once surrounded by three medieval walls. Due to the limited space available, there was no more room for new constructions by the end of the 18th century.  Since then, if you are looking to construct a new building, you need to knock one down first.

This arrondissement is also where you can find most of the Parisian “galleries marchandes”, the impressive 19th century commercial arcades. Back in the day, entrepreneurs built the first of these paved pedestrian passageways as Paris lacked decent streets and sidewalks, a hindrance for to their business.

The area is full of theatres and close to the Opera Garnier, which famously inspired Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. What’s more, you can find the shortest inhabited street of Paris in the 2nd arrondissement: it is only 5.75m long. Technically a couple of steps, the Rue des Degrés links the Rue de Cléry and the Rue Beauregard.

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I’ll meet you at the top: miniature street (soundlandscapes.wordpress)

The area also features 12 Rue Chabanais which, until 1946, stood as the most famous brothel of Paris. Many politicians and royals from all over Europe would often visit… The place was extremely luxurious and even had Toulouse-Lautrec paintings on its walls!

The Montorgueil Market, located at the centre of the quarter, is full of traditional products. Its village atmosphere makes you travel back in time and space. You can find local butchers, fishmongers, breadmakers, and all kinds of other foods here.

It is also the home of the ‘Baba au Rhum’, the rum baba, first sold in the oldest patisserie of Paris, founded in 1725. Go visit La Patisserie Stohrer in the Montorgueil Market to get a taste of this delicious cake. The shop is actually classified as a historical, grade I listed building.

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Famous delicacy ‘Baba au Rhum’ (credit: Patisserie Stohrer)

You can also book a table at Gérard Depardieu’s restaurant, La Fontaine Gaillon, one of many good eateries of the area. Why not taste his wine and tell us what you think?

Close-up on: The Latin Quarter

Until 1789, Latin was the language of teaching in this quarter, hence its name. The neighbourhood is still the home of many universities today, including France’s prestigious La Sorbonne (founded in 1253). The Sorbonne still has many beautiful, specialised libraries. Due to its high number of students, the quarter was also the hub of the events of May 1968.

In 52 BC, the Romans settled in the area, and certain vestiges of their time can be visited today, such as the roman baths. You can also see go visit the Pantheon, the Arabic World Museum and many more places of high culture.

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The Pantheon’s impressive ceiling

La Tour d’Argent, founded in 1582, is one of Paris’ historical restaurants. Head to this institution and taste their specialty: a pressed duck made from the same recipe the chefs used back in 1890. The restaurant raise the ducks on their own farm. Those who order the duck receive a postcard with the bird’s serial number. President Franklin D. Roosevelt received #112 and 151, and Charlie Chaplin #253 and 652! They have now served over a million.

The Tour d’Argent’s well-guarded wine cellar contains more than 450,000 bottles, evaluated at 25 million euros in 2009. The wine list contains 15,000 of them, and is 400 pages long.

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Difficult decisions: La Tour d’Argent’s wine list

The restaurant is also mentioned in many works of art. In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway explains that you could rent a room at La Tour d’Argent, and lodgers received a discount on the meals. Marcel Proust also mentions the restaurant in his famous work À la recherche du temps perdu. And, last but not least, La Tour d’Argent also inspired scenes in Ratatouille, the 2007 Pixar movie.

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World-famous duck (credit: themightyrib.com)

Paris: The Best Restaurants To Dine In This Year

When visiting a gastronomic restaurant, you may feel overwhelmed by the numerous food choices in front of you. On the other hand, you may already be well aware of the Parisian fine dining scene, but just not sure where to start. Fret no more, here are a few of Paris’s hottest restaurants for you to visit this year.

Daroco (6 Rue Vivienne) a former workshop space, serves modern Italian cuisine and has become one of Paris’s most sought after restaurants. The green marble table tops paired with designer chairs gives this restaurant a unique decoration. All the pizzas are cooked in a wood fire oven giving them an authentically rustique Italian taste, contrasted by waiters wearing typically Parisian Breton stripes. Try their grilled octopus as an appetiser or indulge in their ‘linguine alla carbonara’, before moving on to the homemade tiramisu if you still have room for dessert. This Italian eatery with modern crafted cocktails and fashionable dining will quickly become your go-to restaurant for special occasions or date nights.

For all seafood lovers who not only want fresh produce but also enjoy washing it down with innovative cocktails, head down to The Fish Club (58 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau). The name speaks for itself. The fish-focused menu of this previously ‘ceviche’ restaurant has been revamped, now offering a selection of seafood served in a minimalist restaurant. Amidst a selection of marine dishes, the appetiser assortment includes smoked eel, grilled lobster and grey shrimp. You can even order octopus with beetroot: the menu will surely tickle your fancy! If you’re feeling more romantic, or just want to treat yourself, why not order a glass of champagne to accompany their fresh oysters.

If, after a long day of shopping, or a night of dancing in Parisian clubs, you’re looking for something more casual to satisfy your hunger cravings, head to Big Corner (143 Avenue Jean Jaurès). With melted mozzarella, fresh french cheeses, pesto, and more, slathered on an oozing beef patty between two sesame buns, this New York-style burger joint will have any meat lover drooling. It’s an artsy, brightly-coloured restaurant serving only the freshest ingredients. If you’re not a burger addict but get dragged by friends, why not go for one of their club sandwiches, hot dogs, salads or even fish and chips? There’s nothing Big Corner can’t do.

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For those of you with a sweet tooth, La Crêperie Bretonne (56 Rue du Montparnasse) is the place to be. Aside from the fact that you can’t go to Paris without trying one of their world famous crêpes, this cosy little crêperie is typically French and its lovely staff will make you feel right at home. Their homemade salted caramel crêpe will leave you wanting more. In addition to crêpes, La Crêperie Bretonne also serves the Parisian speciality of ‘galettes’, which you can coat in jam, Nutella or whatever your heart desires.

To add to the Michelin-starred Parisian dining scene, Jacques Faussat, a famous Michelin-starred chef himself, recently opened what has been described as a little gem hidden away between the Parisian streets. His restaurant, aptly named Jacques Faussat (54 Rue Cardinet), has quickly become well-known for its exquisite dishes. Although very rarely discovered by tourists, this unique brasserie offers Parisian cuisine in a more luxurious environment to make your evening very special. Whether your adventurous side urges you pick the tasting menu, or you opt for ordering à la carte, the small yet carefully crafted fresh menu will not disappoint.

For a more relaxed but still exciting dinner, head to Mascotte Montmartre (52 Rue des Abbesses). The more laid-back bistro is perfect for an alternative Parisian night out and its extensive menu will satisfy all of your cravings. Though specialising in fresh seafood, choosing between their delicatessen sea products and their homemade ‘cassoulet‘, a beef stew marinated in red wine sauce, will prove a difficult choice. It is recommended to pair these dishes with a crisp French wine before topping off your meal with a selection of cheeses, or a delicious goat-milk yoghurt accompanied with sweet red fruit puree. For the chocolate addicts, try a slice of the chocolate and praline ‘love cake’, you’ll definitely love it!

Paris: Why It Is Still One Of Europe’s Greatest Destinations

A fascinating city, Paris has enchanted many travellers and received an incredible number of love declarations. One of these came in 1953, when the American composer and songwriter Cole Porter wrote the popular song I love Paris. Recently, the French singer Vanessa Paradis released a new version of the song, which indirectly raises the question : why is Paris still so amazing today ?

A Vibrant City 

I had the chance to grow up in Paris and I can say that what has always struck me about my city is its very complex beauty. It is both irregular and multiple, as it includes the elegance of the old French aristocracy, the many flavours and vibrant colours of the African district in the north of the city and the Asian charm of Little Tokyo, the Japanese corner situated next to the Garnier Opera. The typical architecture of Haussmann buildings give Paris a unifying theme, as well as the numerous coffee shops painted in shades of red. Walks in Paris are never disappointing, and the metro exit of every station reveals a charm of its own.

Arts & Leisure 

From an artistic point of view, Paris is a main destination for European culture, a must-do city for art lovers. You can decide whether to visit museums (such as Le Louvre, Orsay, Orangerie, Rodin Museum), exhibitions (Grand and Petit Palais, Pompidou Centre, Fondation Louis Vuitton, monuments (the famous Eiffel tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Versailles estate, guided tours (amongst the most charming, the Paris by Night in a Citroen 2CV époque car), galleries, theatres and I will finish this non-exhaustive list by recalling the magic of the Disney Parks. According to Condé Nast’s Traveler, Paris is the world’s Best City for arts and culture.

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A Fashionable City 

Paris is equally regarded as the fashion capital of the world, and France is considered as a leading country when it comes to the fashion design industry. To name but a few, there is Chanel, Pierre Cardin, Chloe, Dior, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hermès, Lanvin, Rochas, Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent. If you are interested in style and glamour, take a walk on Avenue des Champs-Élysées and Avenue Montaigne or even plan to attend the biannual Paris Fashion Week.

French cuisine and Parisian tastes 

When in Paris, you have to try traditional French Parisian food and gastronomy: don’t forget to have some macaron sweets, a baguette, good red wine and a helping of blue cheese. These products, as well as dishes like the beef stew Pot au Feu or the steak Entrecôte Marchand de Vin, will definitely make your visit to Paris more authentic.

With glass of champagne in your hand, you will feel like humming to Cole Porter’s song, and you will see why Paris is such an amazing destination today….

I love Paris in the springtime.

I love Paris in the fall.

I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles,

I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.

I love Paris every moment,

Every moment of the year…