living underground in the real world

things to do in Paris if you’re me

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I:
am vegan
a chocolatier
like vintage weird things but otherwise doesn’t enjoy shopping
don’t have a lot of money but aren’t looking to do things on such a cheap scale that the entire trip feels sort of painful.
*
if you’re any of the these you might be interested in this post.

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I actually know very little about things to do in Paris. I’ve only been to Paris twice.
But I’m hoping to go again, maybe next year, and for some reason I’ve gotten four emails in the past two months asking me what I’d recommend to do in Paris. It’s pretty funny. So I’ll put down the things I did that are fun, and maybe if you live in Paris or have been there a bunch you could tell me better things to do. OK?
The first time I went I wrote this post which is a collection of previous advice from friends on what to do, so be sure to check it out first thing.
EATING STUFF
You will do best to just Google “vegan Paris,” and to check out this blog, helpfully named Vegan Paris. Be sure you’ve setup your smartphone to work, if you’ve got one, so you can find your way around easily.
There is vegan sorbetto in all of those little ice cream shops with the cream-colored awnings all over town. Really fucking good sorbetto. The cones are vegan, too.
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We went to a few vegan restaurants, but the food was often meh. Lots of weird macrobiotic-style brown rice 1970s things (an example: Saveur Vege’thalles. No, thank you.).  Strange. I’m spoiled, of course, since I live so close to NYC and its 100+ wonderful options, but a cassoulet with crunchy white beans and corked vin blanc in the company of other American veggie tourists (Le Grenier de Notre Dame—avoid it!) is not an experience I’m looking to repeat. When we stuck to falafel and the food of non-white people generally we fared much better, as you always will in any city.
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Whenever Jacob swings through Paris on tour everyone goes to L’as du Falafel and, as is generally the case with food, people who travel for a living have a knack for finding the best places: it truly is the best I’ve ever had. Lots of great toppings. Eggplant salad that will make you quiet with regret for the live you’ve lived in darkness until this moment. Cute Israeli boys abound. Excellence.
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I really really enjoyed Le Potager du Marais, a vegan place that was everything you hoped you’d find in Paris: a romantic little bistro with rustic and lovely food. Pricey, but worth it. Jacob’s been many times and reports that it’s always a treat.
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Jacob’s been to The Gentle Gourmet on other Paris trips & liked it a bunch too. He told them about our shop and they’d heard of it! Aww. Other Jacob picks: Tien Hiang, which he says was “insanely busy, really fucking great, not your typical fake-meat-crap type of place.” Also: Soya: “great atmosphere, great food. Not vegan but lots of options.” And: If you’re hungry near the Loving Hut, “I’ve actually enjoyed it a lot” (coming from someone who’s eaten in Loving Huts* of varying quality all around the world).
There is a M.O.B. in Paris. I walked past it, but it was closed. I love the Brooklyn M.O.B. with a slavish and puppyish affection, so I’d imagine the Paris branch is fun and weird and delicious and maybe has comic books too.
Jacob had this mission on our trip to get baguettes only from places that had won awards for their baguettes.
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It was a fun way to organize our gluten consumption. There’s probably a map of them somewhere, or when you’re passing by they usually have medals in the windows.
One of the best parts of this trip was meeting and hanging out with L, a blog reader for years who turned out to be one of the coolest humans on the planet and now a dear pal. Internet victory!

One of the best parts of this trip was meeting and hanging out with L, a blog reader for years who turned out to be one of the coolest humans on the planet and is now an IRL dear pal. Internet victory!

 
I had a mission to go to Poilâne, and I brought back a 5 lb loaf and a huge bag of fleur de sel.
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The farmer’s markets. Sometimes you get trucked-in produce from Africa or other faraway (but not as faraway as usual [for me]!) places at the markets, so be aware.
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Even without access to a kitchen you can do an awful lot with some nice lettuce and a little bottle of e.v.o. and a lemon, plus: FRUIT!
The farmer’s markets are nice, is what I’m saying.
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There are a few health food stores that are fun to poke around in, to see what kind of milks Parisians buy or if you have a craving for vegan junk food or anything. We stayed in Montparnasse and there was a cute one right around the corner.
There’s a vegan bakery we didn’t go to. Let me know how it is if you go!
CHOCOLATE STUFF
I didn’t go to any specifically vegan chocolate shops (are there any in the world except mine? Tell me if you find one!), except for one, ChocoLatitudes, which focuses on organic chocolates and was awesome, though they don’t make chocolates there. I found a little about it online here: http://organicjetsetter.com/Cities/Paris/Montparnasse. They had vegan Drinking Chocolate, which was lovely and even thicker than ours—so thick it was served with a cup of water so you don’t die from the richness.
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If you go, say hi to the owner, Laurence, from me! She probably won’t remember, but maybe!
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Laurence was so personable and sweet, and she had lots of other recommendations for other great chocolate places, too. She told us about the Farmer’s Market special (la tablette du samedi) at the shop around the corner at J. C. Rochoux, which in turn inspired our Flower Tablets. J. C. Rochoux was one of my favorite chocolate shops in Paris, tooI just liked the vibe. Patrick Roger was another standout. He had all these modernist chocolate sculptury things. 
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Don’t hesitate to go into fancy non vegan-seeming chocolate shops. I went into like 50 and every one had something vegan.** There are lots of lists of chocolate-shop walking tours and things online. Here’s a short list of what to look out for:
—pâté de fruits are almost always vegan.
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They should always be thickened with pectin, but sometimes people are dumb and make them with gelatin so ask to make sure. 552084_10150644612058295_825559137_n
—candied grapefruit peels (pamplemousettes!)
—candied orange peels (orangettes!) 530122_10150644602373295_1795422561_n
—sometimes nice marzipan things
—sometimes you luck out and get a randomly completely vegan bonbon. Just ask for “végétalien” items. Most of the time they’ll stare blankly but sometimes you get lucky.
—solid dark chocolate, natch, totes boring to a confectioner-type chocolatier like me, but whatevs. It’s a cliché but if you get yourself a good baguette and sit on a sunny park bench and put that baguette on your lap and lay an entire chocolate bar on top of it, let it sit in the sun and melt a little, then fold it in half and eat that thing. What else do you need for lunch? Nothing. You’re set until dinner. Rent a bike and roll around town, you’re set until supper.
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SHOPPING / BROWSING / LOOKING STUFF
I mean, it goes beyond saying, but THE MUSEUMS. Like, it’s cliched or whatever, but who cares. Moma is worth schlepping it to Midtown for when you’re in NYC, and the Musee D’Orsay is worth waiting in the ridiculous free-day lines for. & the Louve, too. Just go, stop whining about how it’s touristy. The Centre Pompidou is more modern, you’ll whine less there.
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All the cemeteries. We stayed near the Montparnasse one and it was a gem. Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre!
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Also the flea markets. I only went to one but it was lovely and I got all my gifts there. Nude studies for Than, who collects them, weird old cat figurines for my mom who collects cats, etc etc. Honestly it doesn’t matter what the hell you actually get, the point is to be able to say, “Oh, I got it at the Paris flea market.” And then they put the useless piece of crap on their shelf and tell their friends the same thing. Easiest gifting ever.
 
I splurged on one thing in Paris, and it was a pair of fucking pantyhose. The best pair of pantyhose I own. I went into a Wolford shop, a French brand available all around the US but oh well, and bought these, and holy shit. If you’ve been buying $10 pairs of tights, like I have, your entire life, someday you need to buy yourself a $50 pair and see how the other half lives, in a smooth, wedgie-less, soft, silky (yet vegan-y) world that you never even knew existed. No stomach bunching, no cutting off of circulation, just comfort and happiness, at least in my size which I admit is on the small size, but still, tights seem to always fit me weird and are uncomfortable yet I still wear them every day.
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I noticed everyone in Paris was wearing cute little blouses, dark tights, and chic jean shorts with nice heels. How women walk around in heels on those cobblestone streets I have no idea, but my by third day I couldn’t take it anymore and I went into a crappy friperie (used clothing store!)
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and emerged with perfect used cheap denim short shorts which I wore every day with tights and I was happy as a damn clam. When in Rome!
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It was a great trip.
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Go to Paris!
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*I have affection for Loving Huts because they are run by the hilarious vegan cult of Supreme Master Ching Hai followers, which I was once in for a few months 20 years ago, so take this recommendation with a grain of salt.
**Obviously, I’m not going into every chocolate shop and inquiring whether or not the sugar is vegan. I wonder what the deal is with bone char and European sugar? Let me know if you know!

 

 

 

8 Responses to “things to do in Paris if you’re me”

  1. Katie

    I can vouch for the Paris M.O.B. and say that it freaking rocks. I highly recommend the corn soup with popcorn and the grilled artichokes. They seem to have a less extensive menu than their Bklyn counterpart but everything is still delish. They also have a selection of vegan desserts (mostly slices of cheesecake), cookies, and soft serve, which I haven’t tried but look great. So go go go if you can!

    Reply
  2. Ann

    Thanks, Lagusta! Just back and had a great meal at Soya. I read about the flea market while there, but too late to go–so bummed. Otherwise, didn’t eat as much as hoped to b/c spent some days just seeing sights all day, without even a coffee break.

    Reply
  3. Sarinya

    I went to an (accidentally) vegan chocolate shop in Quetzeltanango, Guatemala. It’s a matriarchal chocolate shop that had passed through many generations. Chocolate bars had grainy sugar like taza chocolate but they also had vegan fondue and chocofrutas and of course vegan drinking chocolate. I think the drinking chocolate made with milk might be the only non vegan thing there: http://xela.elmetropolitano.com.gt/es/171/metro_impulso/3966/Chocolates-Doña-Pancha-con-nueva-sala-de-ventas.htm

    Reply
  4. Unisexy

    I’d be surprised if you didn’t like Mussubi on Rue d’Hauteville – it’s a weekday lunchtime-only bento spot, run and staffed exclusively by Japanese women. It isn’t actually vegan, but they have have a really creative and varied selection of vegan rice/grain balls, and two vegan special dishes every day – ask for the bento special vegetalien. It is a little expensive for lunch, 13,5 euros last time I was there iirc (or 15 with a drink), but definitely worth it.

    I would advise getting there early though, especially if you want to eat in (although if the weather’s nice there’s a church across Rue la Fayette you could sit outside), and also because the veg dishes tend to sell out before the non-veg, annoyingly! Also worth noting its proximity to the Gare du Nord if you were planning to take the Eurostar over to the UK, as it would make a fantastic ekiben!

    And Tien Hiang is indeed excellent, as Jacob says.

    Am going to Paris for my birthday in a few weeks, so will report back if I discover anything new!

    Reply

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