I have wanted to go to Paris since I was in high school. But it just never happened. Visions of croissants, crepes and the Eiffel Tower, along with ten years of studying French wasted, collecting dust.
So…when Veg Jaunts and Journeys announced Paris in their 2019 tours, I had to go.
Until recently, I never considered revisiting my high school dream. You see, I have been vegan since 2010 and Paris was just not that vegan-friendly.
Recently, however, the vegan scene in Paris has exploded! There are 49 vegan restaurants listed in Happy Cow, and even more vegetarian and veg-options.
Our tour included breakfast at the Mercure Paris Bastille Marais hotel and they did a good job. We had baguettes with smashed avocado. I topped mine with little French radishes. We also had soy yogurt, delicious jams, and pancakes. Granted there weren’t croissants but, for a hotel breakfast, they did well.
Did I mention that we were a short walk away from a vegan coffee shop? We loved this place. It’s exactly the size of my future cafe (well, at least the one in my dreams).
But, the absolute best was the vegan patisserie right across the street from our hotel! Yep, you guessed it—vegan croissants, chocolate and plain, along with all kinds of other pastries!
During the tour, we got to all the major sights I wanted to see, but for me, this part was disappointing. Everything is so commercialized. And the security lines take forever! Everyone warns you about pickpockets so I walked around with my hand on my purse the whole week.
My partner and I got to Paris a couple days before the tour started so that I could go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. If you want to do this, you must get your tickets months in advance. Although I really wanted to go to the top, I enjoyed the Eiffel Tower much more when we walked by it and saw it from a boat ride on the Seine at sunset—perhaps my favorite thing we did, beautiful!
After our welcome dinner, we went to Sacré Cœur for sunset. Breathtaking!
Versailles was huge. The security line took two hours (even with tickets!) The palace was opulent. Marie Antoinette’s house was more my speed. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This white river rat was cute.
The subway was clean and easy to navigate. So were the trains and buses. We used public transportation a lot but we walked…and walked. Good thing too, because we ate…and ate. So much good vegan food.
We went on two vegan food walking tours and visited three different fully-vegan food shops! We saw a vegan backpack store, a vegan and eco-clothing store, and a vegan cheese making shop! I crammed a lot into my free time but never did make it to the organic, vegan grocery stores (three of them). I found three vegan soap shops, one of them being zero waste! There was a raw vegan patisserie, too. There were more vegan patisseries than I had time for. No shortage of vegan things to do!
We also had a walking tour, which hit all the major monuments. We saw Notre Dame just days before the fire.
High tea at the Shangri-La Hotel. Whoa! It’s a 5 star hotel, that offers a high tea every day, which is completely vegan! It was magical. There were so many beautiful, delicious treats.
I also highly suggest going to the after hours private tour of the Garnier opera house. We did this during our free time. Again, the opulence was disturbing to me but the story of the opera house, the Phantom of the Opera, and our tour guide made this a great time.
The people were friendly and most spoke English. I tried speaking French to everyone. I polished up for three months before our trip. Although many times they spoke back to me in English, they seemed to appreciate my effort. One aside, watch out on the streets. Some sidewalks are crowded and narrow, and watch out in the crosswalks! The motorized bikes and scooters are scary!
I highly recommend both Veg Jaunts and Journeys’ tours and vegan Paris. I enjoyed both. I would definitely take another tour. I’m not sure I would visit Paris again, because as the world is becoming vegan, there are so many places to go!
Laura Beck, Your Vegan Mentor, is a MSVA-certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, living in Asheville, NC, where she recently opened a wholesale vegan bakery, Butterfly Baking Company. She also serves on the board of the Asheville Vegan Society and participates in Anonymous for the Voiceless’ Cubes of Truth in three different locations.
You can find her on Facebook at YourVeganMentor and ButterflyBakingCo, as well as Instagram @ButterflyBakingCo