designer vegetarian: in Paris

Hi all. I am starting a new sub-theme on my blog on our vegetarian eating exploits. I’m excited to inaugurate this with a write up on what we ate in Paris.

Most vegetarians complain about the dining options in Paris, and it is true it can be tough. The best way to prepare is to research ahead of time and create a list, by arrondisment, of places that  have vegetarian options, and note which Metro stop is nearest to the restaurant along with the address. It’s a lot of work, yes, but this way you can fully appreciate the loveliness of the food in the City of Light even if you skip the meat, and even if you find yourself somewhere off the beaten path.

I am hoping some of you reading this will be able to use this listing as part of your research.

My first bites in Paris were at our hotel, Paris Castille. Truly the best coffee I drank the entire trip, as well as the best bread, served as mini rolls with excellent butter and confiture (jam).

CAFES

On the first day I wanted to dive into French food by having crepes for lunch, but the place we were looking for was closed. We settled for one of the many cafes, and since it was our first, we loved it. Aadi ate Croque Monsieur without the ham (sans jambon) and it was delicious. Michael and I had salads loaded with cheese, avocado, sliced eggs, beets, and more, which we enjoyed.

The salad, cheese and bread options are pretty standard in Paris cafes,  and we had a few meals like that. We fully enjoyed coffees or glasses of wine and the atmosphere of these charming places. And we were glad we our list of other places so that there was some variety over the week.

Cafes we enjoyed:

Le Village Ronsard: 47 Ter Bd St Germain, 75005, Paris. First cafe in Paris. Friendly service.

La Cafe Coupe d’Or:  330 Rue St.-Honoré, First Arr. Paris. Hip feeling cafe, and very accommodating.

Le Nemrod: 51 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006, Paris. Very family friendly. Berthillon ice cream and french fries available : ).

SPECIAL MEALS IN NON-VEG RESTAURANTS

Because we have a toddler in our clan, we planned for all of the more formal meals at lunch time. This worked out great with toddler in tow, and it is a good cost saving strategy as well. Our first, and best, meal like this was at Maceo in the 1st Arrondisment. I had to search the internet every night for a week to turn up this option. Maceo offers an entire “Green menu.” There is a 33 Euro prix fixe where you can partake of appetizer, entree, and dessert.

They sat us in the bar seating area, since we had Aadi and were perhaps a tad under-dressed, but it was acutally perfect and very beautiful with colorful leather chairs and rustic tables.

I had chilled green pea and coconut milk soup that was like decadent velvet in each bite. The entree was a floating “ravioli” stuffed with smoked vegetables in a wonderful curry-like broth. I had a wonderful cheese plate to top it all off. Michael’s food was equally delicious. That was the brilliance here. It wasn’t like there was only ONE choice for vegetarians. There were a few options for both appetizers and entrees, and all of it was magnifique!

The next day we did lunch at Le Fumoir. Located behind the Louvre, this place was ALL ambience and charm. Here are some shots from their website that perfectly capture it.

We just loved it the minute we stepped inside. It was filled to the hilt with Parisians lunching, there were a few families with kids, students on laptops, and GREAT FOOD! There are always 2 vegetarian entrees on the menu, and I noticed they have changed since we ate there last month, so seasonal! It is easy to take a lunch break here on the day you decide to “do” the Louvre.

Towards the end of the trip we had a much welcome meal at Noura near the Opera. Noura offers Lebanese cuisine in a fashionable yet casual enough setting. The meal was welcome because quite frankly we were getting tired of eggs, cheese, and rich creamy concoctions. The Vegetarian tasting plate was sizable. We added one or two smaller plates and it was MORE than enough food for the three of us, and we were very, very hungry. Aadi loved the hummus. I loved the Moussaka. Michael loved the Moujadarra. We were all happy!

VEGETARIAN HOTSPOTS

Even non-vegetarians rave about the Rose Bakery. It was indeed so incredibly fresh and tasty. We went for brunch at the location in the Marais and had great eggs, sandwiches, coffee, hot chocolates. The vibe was like being in a bakeshop with lots of really beautiful people who looked like they could be sophisticated grad students, plus expats and a few tourists. Rose Bakery has a British owner, and indeed it doesn’t feel exactly Parisian, save one thing: It is busy without a lot of waitstaff, so, like most places in Paris, prepare for a meal that is twice as leisurely as any meal you would have in NYC. Definitely not to be missed.

Our last meal in Paris was at the Potager du Marais, also, as the name would imply, in the Marais. We so loved the food. I had a quinoa cake topped with goat cheese with a vegetable salad that seemed heavenly. It was truly the most unique feeling of all the cuisine we had. Definitely had a more down-home feel, so know that you will be taking a break from Paris posh. It was that experience of being faced with a menu of options that made it difficult to decide that will take us back there the next time we are in town. Or maybe just the chance to eat the quinoa cake again.

Paris: a child’s eye-view

Traveling with Aadi to Paris certainly defined how we experienced the trip. At 3 and a half years old, he is both enchanting and challenging, and having him with us impelled me to plan each day, to slow down, and to nix things from my agenda as each day unwound. This post is about the child’s side of our journey.

Can you tell how happy we are to be in Paris? After Notre Dame we walked to the point of Ile de la Cite and hopped on one of the Vedettes de Pont Neuf for a boat tour of Paris.

I wanted the whole trip to feel very special for him. I spent weeks making a Paris treasure hunt for him that featured special sites, works of art, or shops that we might see each day. Every morning Aadi would bound out of bed anxious to find the day’s sights and also to find special presents of books or small toys, that usually appeared in a “magic gift bag” right before lunch and dinner.

Our first real view of this Paris icon was from the Vedette. Designer’s note: the colors of dusk define the color palette of this decade. Always check out the sky while day turns into night for inspiration.

We went to the Eiffel Tower that very first night in Paris. Aadi wouldn’t have it any other way! What can I say? It was awesome! We took the Metro to the Trocadero and approached the tower from there, which allowed us to appreciate it from many angles. Once we were there we also ate our first crepes and did our first French carrousel ride.

Designer’s notes: Everything always feel different at night.

Designer’s note: Touches of whimsy in unexpected places are always enchanting.

The treasure hunt was especially useful for our days in the museums. Here we all are framed in a mirror at Musee des Arts Decoratifs. Aadi has his treasure map in hand and is confidently leading the way.

This reminds me, as well, that everyone was so kind to us in Paris. Aadi received lots of attention at the museums. The hotel left him a little Bear on his bed the first day that he is still sleeping with every night! Lucky guy, they also gave him free macarons to eat at Laduree!

The main floor of the Orangerie with Monet’s canvases was so peaceful that Aadi eventually fell asleep there after this photo was taken.

Designer’s note: Notice that children are always responsive to beautiful environments and good design. I see that even when children come to visit us in Furbish, how they notice that the space feels special.

Paris really is full of so many unexpected childlike delights, like when we went to place des Vosges and found a lovely sand box to play in.


On our last day in Paris we went to Jardin du Luxembourg. It has the greatest playground  ever. So many things for the kids to play on, and it has a very international feel. Parisian kids mingle with children from all over the world who come to visit.

To watch them all in a playground worthy of every child’s fantasy is sheer joy.

Designer’s note: the most beautiful moments in life are about experiences, not possessions.

lessons from Paris: Notre Dame

This was my first journey to the City of Light, so I chose to see all the iconic sites, starting with Notre Dame. Tears welled as I gazed up and up at the interior arches. I was finally here…and how.

Those who create houses of worship are in the know. Beauty is transcendence and connects us to the divine.

designer’s notes on the exterior: Circular motifs are always en vogue. If you love lots of embellishments and details try repetition and keeping it neutral and monochromatic for a more calming look.

designer’s notes on the interior:  Floor to ceiling lines will create a feeling of upward movement in space. Use concentrated spots of bright colors and light to add life and interest to an overall grey palette.