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Vegan in France?

I'm hoping to join a RS tour of France in summer of 2016, but I'm vegan (nothing from an animal) and worried about getting enough calories each day of the tour. I'm happy with the occasional head of lettuce, but I do not want to live on salads alone for 2 weeks; especially given the price of the tours. Any vegans out there have experience on the RS tours of France? Thanks much!

Posted by
11450 posts

Tours do not provide most of your meals.. you do really.. breakfasts.. well you should do fine with themy , the vary from country to country.. but usually include breads/buns/pastries, and often some fruits .. so may get boring. but doubt you would starve.
Lunches are on your own. and you can likely find food just as easily as at home..

Dinners.. now some are provided on tour.. about half.. and on our tour we had two with Celiac.. and one girl with live threatening allergies.. so meals were provided for them. so suppose you ask tour company if they can accomadate you .

Posted by
9712 posts

Yes, I'm vegan and have done Paris and the Heart of France this last Fall and the Best of Paris in 2014. My guide Rebecca was wonderful on the Paris and HOF tour and worked to get me a vegan meal for every group meal. They mostly worked out fine altho there were some times I could taste some butter on things. I did not live on salad, in fact sometimes had TOO much to eat.

I talk with the guide after the meet up and usually say that I'm vegan and would appreciate a heads up if there are group meal restaurants that would not be able to accommodate a vegan diet so I can forage on my own. The guides have always been responsive altho sometimes the restaurants interpret vegan to mean some kinds of animal products were allowed. I usually carry a jar of peanut butter with me and have rolls, crackers or bread with me in case a meal doesnt work for me.

I've done 7 RS tours and have had excellent luck with guides helping to facilitate group meals. Meals on my own are rarely a problem. Once this last fall in a small town in Normandy many restaurants were closed and I wound up with salad and frites for lunch otherwise meals on my own worked great.

Posted by
774 posts

I am a celiac and have done 5 tours; the guide was very accommodating to me and any others with dietary requirements. I cannot recall if there were vegans on the tour but vegetarians were accommodated as well. I ate well. When on free time, I did a lot of research from home on restaurants and shops or markets. I stocked up on GF crackers etc and brought them with me so when on my own it was easy to have a picnic lunch. It was fun to go to the market or groceries; the French markets are absolutely marvellous. The guide can help you find good markets if you have free time; the guides are absolutely fabulous.

In Nice, I found a vegan restaurant that was GF; I cannot remember the name but it was an easy walk near a large Galleries Lafayette store and a fair sized mall near the old town. Let google be your friend in your pre-planning stage. I also found a good Bio shop (the word Bio is used for natural type of food stores) in Nice that had a good variety of GF products; they may also have vegan snacks that you might get to have on hand.

When flying to Europe, I always bring some GF snacks like crackers and protein or granola type bars. This fall, my return flight home did not have my GF diet; I was accommodated by the flight attendants. I had a tray of things from their meals. I had brought crackers, cheese and apples, so I did have some of my own food.

Paris is my favourite place in the world and love travelling France! I have done 2 RS France tours and love them. Now I travel on my own in France, as I learned so much from the guides that I felt comfortable to travel on my own.

Have a great trip. Enjoy France!

Posted by
1804 posts

I don't do guided tours and am not vegan, but for those meals where you are on your own, you can search on HappyCow.net for restaurant, food stores and fast-food options around France. The website notes which locations are vegan, which vegetarian and which are "vegetarian-friendly". If you don't speak French, make sure that you at least have someone write down on a piece of paper that you are vegan, not vegetarian, and therefore you can't consume any dairy or animal products. I'm sure it's no surprise to you that a lot of waiters (including here in the U.S.) don't seem to understand that things like gelatin, most bouillon or butter used to prepare foods or sauces are off-limits for vegans.

Posted by
11288 posts

To expand on June's comments, "organic" in French is biologique (bio for short) and an organic food store is a biomarché. Searching for biomarché should turn up some in the places you're going, and they will understand what you're looking for. Of course, regular supermarkets will also work for naturally vegan items (fruits, nuts, vegetables), but will be more problematic for other items (baked goods or prepared foods).

Posted by
9712 posts

I was on my iPad last night and couldn't add links, so I will say that I also travel with a card I printed out from the Toronto Vegetarian Association. Here is a link. I can usually make myself understood and in Paris most servers speak enough English so don't have to pull it out frequently, but I feel it is good to have.

http://veg.ca/2013/01/17/vegetarian-travel-translation-cards/

It is also good to make sure you can identify ingredients when you are off on your own, so the glossary is good as well as knowing a key phrase or 2 such as sans fromage? (without cheese).

I was also having hummus withdrawal at one point and opted to skip dinner and see what I could find in a grocery store. Hummus was readily available as were rolls that appeared to be vegan (all vegan ingredients on the labels) and crackers that were vegan. My fall back snack on bus days when we stopped at highway rest stops were plain Lays potato chips. Easy to grab when you are in a hurry. The flavored ones, like here, all have some kind of milk product added.

On tours I have found that on occasion I have eaten things that were marginal (butter added) because a restaurant went out of their way to prepare it for me. I have not had to eat meat or dairy other than butter but sometimes people were trying to hard to please me so I felt slightly obligated and didn't want to make a fuss.

All in all I find traveling on an RS tour as a vegan is pretty easy.

PS - I count all wine as vegan without examining too closely, lol.

Posted by
796 posts

We've lived in France and have traveled quite a bit in France. My husband and one of my kids are vegan. You won't go hungry or just eat salads in France. Visit http://www.happycow.net/europe/ to find over 300 places to eat in when visiting France. There are vegan restaurants, vegetarian restaurants (with plenty for vegans), vegan-friendly places, stores with vegan food, etc. Just click on France to locate page after page after page of good places for vegans to find good food. France is pretty good for vegans and the UK and Germany are even better. I am administrator on 2 large vegetarian and vegan pages on Facebook and always recommend Happy Cow as well as use it for our own travels. It covers the world and you can find vegan/vegetarian options anywhere.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all so much for all the great information! I feel very confident that I will be fine eating in France now! Thank you all again!

Posted by
16883 posts

French delis and supermarkets have for a long time had a selection of traditional salads heartier than lettuce - such as carrot, or beet, or lentil, or celery root. (That's not so surprising now with so much prepared food available, but was to me 20 years ago). Most are with a vinaigrette dressing, but celery root is likely to have mayonnaise. Vegetable soup is also a French grandma's idea of a healthy start to a meal, and you'll find soup on many menus (but of course would have to confirm vegan status).