Excited has to be the world's biggest understatement when it comes to my feelings about going to Paris. Which girl doesn't love the city? Paris is known for many things - romance, art, fashion, the Eiffel tower - but, until recently, the city of baguette and crepes in the land of cheese and wine hasn't earned much of a reputation as a healthy eating hotspot. Apparently, less than 2 % of the French identify themselves as vegetarian, compared with four times as many Brits and Germans. Over time, I have become used to receiving weird, confused, bewildered and annoyed faces when requesting a meal for specific dietary needs. Thanks to more and more healthy restaurants, cafés and juice bars popping up, the grass is starting to look a bit greener.
Paris is very dear to my heart, as I used to live there for three years when I was younger and have very fond memories. Thankfully, it is only a short train ride away from Lausanne, so I have had the chance to visit Paris a handful of times in the last couple years. _Back then, I used to get excited (still do!) about being able to savour macarons, puff pastry and the mandatory crepe. The difference is those foods have become the occasional small treat amongst an otherwise healthy trip. I know it can seem hard to resist all the French delicacies, but once you give the healthy alternatives a go, it ain't that bad.
If you love falafel and anything chickpea-based as much as I do, you must absolutely stop by L'as du Fallafel in Rue des Rosiers. You can't miss the place thanks to the long queue in front of its green facade (make sure to not go if you are already starving). It's not theeee healthiest option, but I simply can't go to Paris without stopping by for at least a small snack.I suggest grabbing the meal to go and to wander around Le Marais. To me, the beauty of Paris lies in discovering the city by foot. I love getting lost in it's little streets and finding new cute stores, cafés and exhibitions every time I go. If you have time, you should make a quick pit stop at the Marché des Enfants Rouges, a deluxe food market with an impressive range of Italian, Lebanese, African, Japanese and other stalls.
Another suggestion is Pousse Pousse, a small raw & vegan café tucked away in a small street in the 9th arrondissement and the area of Notre-Dame-De-Lorette. This small 16 seat restaurant and juice bar offers all kinds of raw foods as well as cooked vegan options using ingredients such as sprouts, seaweed and mixed herbs. Accompanied with most meals are raw dried crackers with a mixture of (secret) seeds. Always on the menu is one cooked soup and one raw option. It really can't get any "cleaner" than this; even tofu is not allowed on the menu because it is too processed.
This is the first raw restaurant that I had ever visited, so it was a true experience for me. Lawrence, a true advocate of the fact that healthy eating can be fun, experimental and not at all boring made the stay even better by explaining all the astronomical sounding ingredients to us (mind the fact that it was in French on top of it all..). She's a lovely personality, and if you live in Paris, I suggest you take a look at her raw cooking workshops.
My last trip to Paris was right after coming back from Hong Kong & Phuket, so I was in desperate need of some cleansing. After a bit of research, I decided to check out the cold-pressed Vegalia Juice Bar in walking distance of L'as du Falafel. To my surprise they didn't just have yummy juices, but also a variety of snacks from Lifefood (think organic spicy coconut buckwheaties and kale chips). It gets better: They even had Australia's finest dairy free Pana Chocolate made from organic ingredients only. I had been meaning to try these for ages, so naturally I couldn't resist to get them in numerous flavours. So much for detoxing!
If you are looking for more juice bar tips, take a look at this link here (Food unrelated tip: This is also the website I discovered the Underground Paris Street Art Tour, which I can highly recommend. Make no mistake, even though Berlin and London are more well known for their street art, Paris has quite some funky stuff to offer. If you want to explore the city's edgier parts, I can only highly recommend this tour.)
For my last visit, I made sure to check out Noemi's ParisbyVegan blog to look for restaurant suggestions. And boy, they didn't disappoint! I opted for Gentle Gourmet Café ( 24, Boulevard de la Bastille, 75012 Paris), a 100% vegan restaurant with a seasonal, mainly organic menu that changes four times a year. Their menu offers gluten and soy free options as well as raw dishes. I remember sitting there and flipping through the menu for minutes, incapable of making a choice because everything sounded so unique and extraordinary. Deborah, the founder and Head Chef , assisted me in my choice and we ended up having a lovely chat about the difficulty of acceptance of a vegan diet in France and the lack of education surrounding the topic. Deborah and her team are truly committed to veganism and to promoting healthier lifestyle choices through their restaurant, which was lovely to witness.
In the end I went for a rather simple salad (remember my detox goal?) with the most amazing cashew cheese. It was the first and only time I've ever had vegan cheese, and no words can describe how good it was. I savoured every moment, chewing slowly and consciously while glancing out onto the sunny Seine and passing pedestrians. There was no way I could have left that place without having a taste of their dessert offer, so I gave the raw carrot cake with walnuts, raisins and a cashew cream ago. Kind of ironic how Switzerland is the land of carrot cake, and I end up having one during my stay in Paris.
That's it for now! I hope you enjoyed my second healthy travel guide and will give one or the other suggestions a go. For more of my Wholesome Travel Guides and tips on how to stay healthy while traveling, click here. I've already got a bunch of places lined up that I want to visit during my next trip, so hopefully I'll be able to update you on this soon.