The first three days of our upcoming trip to France will be spent in the capital, Paris. I have picked out a variety of restaurants for our meals on those days, a combination of: (a) those that specialize in dairy free (and vegan) cuisine, (b) those that are just coincidentally dairy free, and (c) those where I am going to rely on Therese’s command of the French language to pick out those dishes that can be successfully rendered without dairy. In looking for restaurants, I have been leaning heavily on Patricia Wells‘s excellent book, The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris, which I have on my Kindle/phone.
Here are some of the details of what I have planned out for us.
Friday, April 25
Le Loustic. We arrive in Paris on late Friday morning. After taking a taxi to our hotel, the Ecole Centrale Hotel, and dropping off our bags, we will waste no time in beginning our sightseeing. However, if Therese wants a good cup of coffee to get her day started well, Le Loustic, I understand, serves some of the city’s best coffee. And it is a couple short blocks from our hotel. I honestly don’t know what might be there for me, but I will be saving my appetite for our next stop.
Gentle Gourmet Cafe. Four Metro stops from our hotel is the Bastille stop, the sight of the former famous prison, but most importantly, just two blocks away is Gentle Gourmet, a vegan restaurant about which I have heard a great deal. I am a little doubtful about the cafe, because their website has been down, and my efforts to contact them to confirm that they are still open have been unsuccessful. But a reader on Facebook has been in contact with them, and assures me that they are open. In any case, going there doesn’t take us too far out of our way. And if they ARE open, all indications are that this will be a glorious vegan lunch, full of French standards like the Croque Monsieur, all prepared vegan! Just the way to start off our vacation.
Au Sanglier. And now for something completely different (as they say)! Our walking tour of the Marais neighborhood will take us down Rue Saint Antoine and right past Au Sanglier, which I understand sells some excellent charcuterie. If they do take out, I will be happy to pack away some salami and sliced ham (and maybe some baguettes or crackers) for noshing on one of our upcoming long train rides.
L’As du Fallafel. Another of the streets down which we will be wandering, Rue des Rosiers, is the heart of the old Jewish quarter in the Marais. This street is known for having Paris’s best falafel. L’As du Fallafel got pretty high marks in Wells’s Food Lover’s Guide. This might be where we get our dinner from, although I think they do mostly take out. Hmmm, a little au courant dinner in Place des Vosges? Maybe.
Saturday, April 26
On Saturday, we will be taking an early train to Chartres, and probably eating breakfast on the train – maybe a baguette and some of whatever we pick up at Au Sagnier on Friday.
L’Escalier. After exploring the iconic Chartres Notre Dame Cathedral and taking a guided tour of the same, we will have some lunch at L’Escalier, a cafe at the head of Rue des Ecuyers, a picturesque street in the middle of the historic section of Chartres.
Chez Jenny. We will return to Paris by train in the late afternoon, then probably take the Metro to our hotel and chill for a bit. Then, we have reservations for dinner at Chez Jenny, a brasserie just a few blocks from our hotel. Brasseries typically offer Alsatian specialties like Choucroute, a dish made of pork products stewed in sauerkraut with boiled potatoes, and platters of steamed seafood on ice, both dishes that are dependably dairy free, and incredibly yummy. Chez Jenny offers a sauerkraut special that sounds amazing, but there is also the strong possibility that Therese and I will split a Royal Seafood Platter, filled with several different oysters and clams and shrimp and other seafood curiosities like cockles and welks.
Sunday, April 27
Ecole Centrale Breakfast Buffet. We have planned a rather ambitious itinerary for Sunday, which will start with breakfast in our hotel. Not sure what there will be for me to eat, but if they will make me a couple of eggs cooked in oil instead of butter and have a decent selection of fruit, I’m sure I will be satisfied. And if the worst they have to offer is peanut butter, jam and banana on some nice bread, and some hot tea to wash it down, that won’t be so bad either.
Paris Opera Cafe. Our first attraction of the day is the Palais Garnier, the original Paris Opera House, beloved to fans of Phantom of the Opera as well as fans of the work of Marc Chagall – Therese assures me that Chagall’s ceiling of the main auditorium of the opera house are to die for. After exploring there, we will have lunch in their cafe.
The rest of Sunday afternoon includes a Metro ride out to St. Denis to see the legendary Basilica, and back again, a visit to the Musee Gustave Moreau, reputed to be one of Paris’s best small museums, and finally one last Paris Metro ride to the Gare de l’Est, where we will pick up our train to Reims, the next city we will visit during our vacation in France.
I’m not sure yet where we will be eating dinner on that Sunday night. A lot of restaurants in Reims are closed on Sunday evenings, but our hotel in Reims, the Hotel Porte Mars, emailed us a couple of suggestions. I will talk about where we expect to eat in Reims and during the rest of our trip in a future post – stay tuned!