France, even more so than many places, isn’t blessed with the best veg-friendly reputation. Fortunately, I am pleased to report that on my recent trip I found it far from impossible to eat well. Being vegetarian in France did of course require a little pre-planning but many French people currently have a strong taste for “bio” (organic) restaurants, most of which feature plentiful vegetarian and often vegan options.
I travelled to Montpellier in October and can safely say the food was up there as one of the trip’s highlights. It does seem that the diet in the south of France is more accommodating than further north so I am going to focus specifically on sharing some fantastic places to dine in this city and its surrounding areas. However, if you are visiting elsewhere in France, then hopefully it can still provide a good starting point for your research on vegetarian travel.
Je Suis Vegetarienne – Tips for Being Veggie in France
- More so than in many countries, the word ‘vegetarienne’ does seem to be understood by quite a few people – or at least is worth using as a starting point. An understanding of the term doesn’t always mean that you will be offered a vegetarian option, of course
- It is always worth asking if a vegetarian option is available. Many places are willing to accommodate even if it is not listed on the menu and other establishments seem to be willing but require advance notice
- As mentioned earlier, “bio” restaurants are both popular and serve vegetarian and vegan food. This website seems to be a directory of bio restaurants in France; though only in French, there is a clickable map broken up into provinces so you can search for where you are visiting
- If you have trouble finding vegan options in the area you are staying, opt to for accommodation with a kitchen as you won’t be disappointed by the fresh, high quality produce available.
Le Bourgeon, 6 rue Jules Latreilhe, Montpellier
Located on a quiet street in the historical centre of the city, Le Bourgeon serves up organic burgers with many variations on offer. You can also choose between three different sizes and sides of salad and/or chips. The outdoor seating is constructed from wooden pallets with a strawberry plant on each table. The food was fresh with nice touches such as the herb salad that is served on top of the burgers and the side salad being presented in a jar. Great for a filling lunch.
Playfood, 16 bvd Louis Blanc, Montpellier
A creative experience, Playfood offers its dishes in shotglass-sized portions. This imaginative approach allows you to sample all kinds of treats during your visit; the set menu includes twelve mini main courses and six desserts between two people. Six of the twelve main courses are vegetarian (some are vegan but I’m not sure exactly how many) so between two people you could have six veggie ones each or, as Pete and I did, have veggie for one person and a mix of veg and meat choices for the other. Highlights included the key lime pie, salted caramel tiramisu and friendly, helpful staff. Great for a unique evening meal.
L’Alchimiste, Rue du Roucher, Montpellier
L’Alchimiste offers a lavish three course evening meal which, unlike many of its neighbours, includes a vegetarian option for each of these. Rich delicious flavours and an unusual amuse bouche that incorporates popcorn (it just about works) make it ideal for splashing out. The cheesecake is best avoided though. Great for an indulgent evening meal.
La Part des Agnes, 1 quai Leopold Suquet, Sete
In the town of Sete, located on the Mediterranean coast just twenty minutes by train away from Montpellier, La part des Agnes specialises in organic food and drinks. Their menu of the day always offers a vegetarian option; on the day I visited it was a tart, available plain or with a choice of three different local cheeses. The outdoor seating extends to the opposite side of the road where the tables line the edge of the canal. Perfect for a laid back lunch.
You can find more tips on vegetarian travel here. Have you visited France as a veggie? How was your experience?