The BFH Healthy Travel Guide to Paris, France
Paris is, well, Paris. How does one even go about introducing one of the most iconic, beautiful cities of this world? The French are known (among other things) for their wine, bread, and cheese- and yet, when you look around- they are almost exclusively in good shape. The culture around food in France is much different than in North America, in a few ways. First of all, portion sizes are not super sized. High quality, artisanal breads and cheeses are enjoyed in moderation- unlike the costco-super-sized overconsumption of food-like-products culture in North America. But more importantly, their meals are an opportunity for communion with others at the table. My mum is from France, and growing up we always ate technology-free meals together; we lit candles at dinner time- the meals were long, and they were always homemade. Families are losing this habit more and more; food is being eaten in a rush, on the go, and more often than not in front of a TV. I write this intro where I am currently staying in Symi, Greece- and the culture here is the same as in France. Eating segregated is unheard of- as meal times are truly an opportunity for families and friends to unite, connect, and rejoice in nourishment. I truly believe in the alchemy of that exchange; our bodies are being nourished not only physically but spiritually- and it transforms the way our bodies receive and store the food. Moreover, Paris is an extremely active city, in that the French walk a lot. Don’t get me wrong, the city is also full of cars- but the gorgeous parks, stairs, and bike paths are abundant, and the people there are definitely not afraid to use them.
In researching healthy food spots to check out myself, I typed “healthy cafés in Paris” into Google- and was absolutely horrified by what answers shot back at me: essentially nothing but vegan restaurants. Now I’m not trying to take a heavy political stance in this post (I’ll save my opinions about veganism for another time), but “vegan” does not = health. Yes to filling your plate with mostly vegetables, but no to dogmatic, fundamentalist, irrational extremes. I did include some of these vegan cafés in the guide because some of the ones I checked out did use great organic produce, and offered easy healthy snacks on-the-go (like cold-pressed juices, raw chocolate, etc) but I feel the need to highlight that I do believe that high quality, ethically raised, animal products and sea food (and they come in abundance in Paris!) are an integral part of a healthy, thriving, diet.
The BFH Healthy Travel Guide to Paris, France
Cafés + Restaurants
More Casual café/ lunch vibes
Nanashi: is an organic canteen-style café, with two locations. Super casual vibes and a slight Japanese flair (they serve bento boxes and sashimi bowls), salads, fresh juices, and desserts. The food is simple but absolutely delicious. Service is fast, the staff is lovely, and the place in general has a great energy. I went to the “Paradis” location- which is on a super hip little street, and has the amazing health food store Bio Coop next door. You can sit in or get food to-go at the take out window. This place is not to miss if your in Paris, and into high quality organic food. 57, rue Charlot
Wild & The Moon: is a cute little vegan organic juice bar/ cafe chain found throughout the city. I went to the “Charlot” location; it was full of plants, eat-in or to-go options, and has wifi and multiple work tables. They have juices, smoothies, premade salads, hot and cold drinks, and snacks (balls, cakes, etc). Unfortunately their organic cold-pressed juices are in plastic bottles... but other than that, everything rocks.
La Recyclerie Gare Ornano: is seriously dope. It’s an organic café, a bar, a restaurant, an event space, an urban farm, and so much more. They have bees, chickens, ducks, an veggie garden, aquaponics, recycling (and more) set up out back, and a massive café/ beautiful patio- that all opens at noon. Before noon you can sit inside and get something from the mini café. Check out their website for information on their programs and events (like talks on recycling, DIY’s, gardening, yoga, beekeeping, etc). They have wifi and about a billion neat areas to do work, read, or hang with some friends. A must-see. 83 Boulevard Ornano
Amorino Gelato Al Naturale: organic gelato with multiple franchised locations across Paris. You’ll find one in Montmatre, and it’s a perfect treat to enjoy while you get lost in the back streets and old buildings (I recommend getting a trio of the chocolate, cassis, and lemon basil... the mango is also insane).
L'Arbre à Café: is literally a coffee house, with a deep passion regarding the organic/ biodynamic movement.
Café Mareva: Sweet potato waffles, topped with bacon, eggs, and guac… yeah, I KNOW! This café is also very good in terms of food allergies (no dairy, gluten, etc). 38 Rue du Faubourg-du-Temple
Biosphère Café: gluten + dairy free café with a French twist (lots of gf/ df pizza and pasta options). 47, Rue de Laborde
Seasons: Juice bar/ bistro that specialized in using organic, seasonal produce. Their main café is at 1 rue Dupuis but they also have other take-away and smaller locations.
Le Pain Quotidien: is an organic bakery/ café with locations all over Paris. All organic muffins, granolas, waffles, classic brunch food as well as Nordic brunch (with salmon, pâtés), a British brunch, soups, avo toasts, salads, and even organic wine and beer. Their location at 54 Rue des Martyrs is particularly charming.
Rose Bakery: is an infamous organic bakery on Rue des Martyres, 46 Rue des Martyrs
Maison Ladurée: nothing about this is spot is even remotely healthy, but they have reputation for Paris’ best macaron... so if you're going to indulge in straight sugar- might as well get the best!
Le Bio d’Adam et Eve: is an organic café/ juice bar with salads, baked goods, and the sorts. 41 Rue Saint Honoré
Sol Semilla: is a café dedicated to super foods from around the world. They make gorgeous veggie filled plates. 23 Rue des Vinaigriers
Health Inside: is a vegetarian café/ casual resto & juice bar with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Light meals, and the menu is surprisingly original (like radish carpaccio). A good place to hit for lunch if you plan on eating at Flesh for dinner (see below...). 30 Rue Charlot
Marlette: organic café with an emphasis on local, and gluten-free options, and authentic, high quality ingredients. Sit outside on their lovely street terrace and people watch on Rue des Martyrs (although they have multiple locations), and enjoy hot drinks, fresh juices, sweet, salty, brunch, salads, and sandwiches. They are also a brand with many goodies available to-go. 51 Rue des Martyrs
Claus: They call themselves "house of breakfast" and indeed their breakfast is the real deal- and relatively fancy. From muesli, to granola, yogurt, breakfast goals, jams, breads, eggs, smoked salmon, homemade pastries, teas, and organic coffees- this spot will satisfy anyone looking for breaky. They also have charcuterie (meat) and cheese boards, caviar, sandwiches, soups, and salads. 14 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Café Pinson: is an organic vegan cafe (with two locations) that came highly recommended by many “healthy Paris restaurants” blog. TBH I went in, sat down, but didn’t end up eating there. It is a really cute interior, free wi-fi; but I was feeling a heartier (meat-y) meal, and so I skipped the feed here. They have matcha, turmeric mylks, bliss balls, and plenty of typical vegan-café dishes. 6 rue du Forez
Le Bischat: all organic fish, meat, or veggie bowls, soups, and desserts. Their goal is to make organic food affordable. 11, rue Bichat
Crock & Bio: quick made organic sandwiches and bowls. 98 Avenue Niel
Lula: Organic café with emphasis on gluten-free. 216, rue Saint-Maur
Guenmaï: macrobiotic food (vegetarian + fish) 6, rue Cardinale
Bloom: small café that takes farm-to-table seriously, and sources all their organic produce directly from local farms. They have a few locations.
Nicer Restaurants/ dinner vibes
Le Baratin: for Biodynamic wine + high quality meat pairings; two michelin star restaurant that looks super casual but is a favourite among Paris chefs. Authentic food. Get the beef cheeks. 3 rue Jouye Rouve +33 1 43 49 39 70
Au Pied De Cochon: for authentic French food near the Louvre. 6 Rue Coquillière +33 1 40 13 77 00
Jules Verne: Located inside/ a top the Eiffel Tower. Classic French cuisine… with THE ultimate view. Needless to say, the food here is epic (I actually went when I was 13 years old/ way too young to really appreciate the situation…). Great place for a date if you’re trying to be romanticAF and don’t mind literally breaking the bank.
Flesh Restaurant: High quality meat heavy menu (grill/ bbq style), and natural organic wine located in Pigalle. You're in for a serious feed here. They also have a location on Canal Saint Martin. 25 Rue de Douai +33 1 42 81 21 93
Le 1 Place Vendôme: Located inside the Hôtel de Vendôme- for seasonal, local French cuisine. You might want to wear your tux for this lunch... 1 Place Vendôme +33 1 55 04 55 00
Le Welpler: for high quality seafood (get the oysters or the seafood platter). 14 Place de Clichy +33 1 45 22 53 24
Le Dome: similar to Welplier- for seafood. Great seafood platter/ oysters. 108 Boulevard du Montparnasse +33 1 43 35 25 81
Il Quadrifoglio: Organic Italian 19 Boulevard Bourdon +33 1 40 09 91 05
Organic stores in Paris are incredibly common. Many of these shops are chains that you will find all over the city. Note that many organic products actually don’t advertise that they are organic in their names, but flipping the product around will show “bio” (which is the French equivalent of “organic”) and will show the European symbol for organic, which is a leaf outline made of stars. Note: Like anywhere in the world, not everything in these stores in healthy. Make sure you read the ingredient lists. Many of the bulk sections are full of organic crap (loaded with sugar, soy, etc).
BioCoop: the Rolls Royce of Paris’ health food stores (with multiple locations). These shops are gorgeous and have some amazing products I haven’t seen at other health stores (like real coconut yogurt). Their selection of organic fruit, vegetables, and fresh baked bread is also better, larger, as is their selection of products in general. They have a cafe with pre-made meals, juices, pastries, cakes, etc.
La Recolte Batignolles: is an organic farm-to-store shop with really high quality produce, meats, and cheeses, etc- located near Place Clichy. They have one another location as well. 18 Boulevard des Batignolles
Herboristerie de la Place Clichy: The biggest and possibly the best herbalist in France; you can come here to pick specific herbs, or speak to an expert and get a blend made up for you. 87 Rue d'Amsterdam
Nature à Paris: is an organic and natural food grocery store/ café. 45 Boulevard Saint-Germain
Naturalia: multiple locations across Paris for organic fresh fruit and veg, as well as fresh bread (but get there early-ish- they sell out), bulk nuts, and plenty of natural supplements, products, etc.
Bio C’ Bon: Another big chain of health food stores you wont be able to miss. Their produce section is pretty good, they have cheese, meats, bulk nuts, and a tonne of packaged goods. Slightly more expensive than Naturalia, for the same products.
Véronique Mauclerc’s: bakery with organic bread baked in a century-old, woodfire-burning oven. 83 rue de Crimée
Holy Planet: Little organic store serving fresh juices and delicious homemade food. 34 Rue Serpente
Diététic Shop: one of the oldest organic restaurants/groceries in Paris. 11 Rue Delambre
La Vie Claire: is another chain of bio shops, all over Paris.
Bio Marché: Organic health store. 73 Boulevard Raspail
Note that things are changing in Europe, not so different than in North America. You cannot simply buy meat and assume it is raised on a green pasture out in Burgundy, nor that your freshly baked baguette is made of heirloom grains. There was recently a shocking documentary on TVR (a French channel) highlighting how Monsanto had essentially created a monopoly on the entire grain supply in France, and modifying wheat to contain more gluten so that bread could rise (and be produced) faster. Even more insidious is that the Flour Lobby was in charge of giving out loans to bakers to open their bakeries; giving them low rates in exchange for an agreement to buy their (GMO, hybrid) flour for the decade it took the baker to repay the loan. Dark, I know. So although Europe isn’t as corrupt in terms of fraken-foods being churned out by fast-food joints- their food supply is being impacted by the greed and power of bug multinational corporations. Even organic products can succumb to the infiltration of these powerful lobby groups.
That being said, go for the best viable option (organic, or “bio”) is common place in Paris, and then after that let go of the fear/ worry… because the added mental stress of worrying what’s in your food is inevitably worsening the situation.
Brancusi Organic Open-Air Food Market: (Le Marché Biologique Brancusi) is open Saturday from about 8:30 am to 2 pm. It’s located in the 14th arrondissement at place Constantin Brancusi. Closest Métro is Gaîté.
Marché Biologique Raspail: (Le Marché Biologique Raspail) is open Sunday from about 8:30 am to 3 pm. It’s located in the 6th arrondissement on boulevard Raspail, between rue du Cherche-Midi to rue de Rennes. Closest Métro stop is Rennes.
Batignolles Organic Market: (Le Marché Biologique des Batignolles) is open Saturday from about 8:30 am to 2 pm. It’s located at the border of the 8th and 17th arrondissements on boulevard des Batignolles between rue de Turin and rue de Moscou. Closest Métro stops are Rome and Place de Clichy.
Marché des Enfants Rouges: open everyday in the 3rd arrondissements at 39 rue de Bretagne, Haut Marais. Oldest food market in Paris.
Parks/ Walks/ Museums/ Activities
One of my favourite ways to keep healthy while traveling is to walk, walk, walk. Here are many sights and things to-do, that include moving while soaking in the majestic Parisian culture.
Explore Montmartre: walk up the winding back streets towards Basilique Sacrée Coeur and have an organic gelato at Amorino Gelato Al Naturale.
Jardins du Luxembourg: pack a picnic and people watch in the park, hit up the tennis courts, or check out the beehives in the southwest corner of the park (interactive bee hive demos/ classes on Wednesday and Saturday).
Jardins Tuileries and Musée du Louvre (museum is closed on Tuesdays and Sundays): stroll through the gardens and find famous sculptures littered amidst the perfect kept grassy fields, flowers, and trees. Lots of spots to sit and people watch. Museum is closed Tuesdays, and open late Wednesdays.
Bicycle ride: from heart of the city along La Seine to Tour Eiffel. Pop by Musée du Quai Branly on the way back to check out their classics collection.
Musée D’Orsay: museum closed Mondays, and open late Thursdays.
See a special exhibit: there is always some pop-up going on, check out Ateliers Des Lumières, where I saw an interactive light and sound show by Gustav Klimt. It was absolutely mind blowing... and on until October 2018 if you're reading this is real time.
Get lost in Le Marais: this cobblestoned area of Paris is filled to the brim with healthy cafes and juice bars.
Champs Elysee + Arc de Triomphe: super crowded shopping street, not my vibe TBH but worth a stroll if you’re checking out the Tuilleries (it’s in the opposite direction of the L’ouvre).
Cruise through Rue des Martyrs and stop into one of the many organic cafes for lunch.
Island Hop from Île de la Cite (where you can check out Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris) and stroll across to the smaller island I’Île Saint Louis
Centre Pompidou: Check out art exhibits in this old building that surprisingly still looks modernAF. Bikram Paris is across the street if you want to tag team a museum visit with a hot yoga class.
Les Catacombes: Creepy underground labyrinth of skulls and bones from the late 18th century as well as graffiti and cryptic messages dating back from the French revolution.
La Cuisine Paris: is an English-language cooking school that offers classes with 99% organic ingredients, twice a month. 80 Quai de Hôtel d’Ville
Le Klay: and newer edition/ second location Blanche are incredibly fancyAF facilities with all the amenities. Very Equinox vibes. Incredible saunas, pools, boxing studios, etc... but it’s pretty hard (near impossible) to get in without a membership. If you’re there longer term and you did a dope gym, this is the one.
Bikram Paris: Love it or hate it... there's no sweat like a Bikram sweat.
Centre de Yoga du Marais: Yoga studio in Marais area.
Battling Club: MMA/ boxing gym (with weight lifting equipment too) that does have day passes (15€ for the day).
La Salle Des Sports Paris: class only gym (boxing, yoga, spin, Crossfit).
Temple: Class only gym (boxing, BootCamp, CrossFit).
L’Usine: your typical (nice) gym.
BarreShape: Barre/ ballet workout.
Fit’Ballet: Barre/ ballet workout.
Stairs: run up from Boulevard De Clichy up to Montmartre and back down… twice! There are two major staircases that run between Rue Garreau to Rue Berthe, and then up from Rue Gabrielle into the vendor/ café area.
Tennis courts: for rent in Jardins du Luxembourg.
Basketball at Pigalle: the dopest basketball court I’ve ever laid eyes on is wedged between two buildings on Rue Paris Duperré, just south of the Pigalle metro stop. Although opening hours state 10am, the court gate is not always opened on time.
Bicycles: Paris has some great bicycle lanes, one of the nicest ones being the ride from the city along La Seine, all the way to the Eiffel Tower. There is a bicycle-share program in the city called "Velib" but I highly recommend not using it- as it recently was entirely redone, and does not work. The bicycles are either broken, unavailable, or the stations under construction. Save yourself a lot of frustration and rent an actual bicycle from a store front like THIS one.
Paris is such an incredibly huge city, that this guide surely doesn't even scratch the surface of the health & wellness scene... but it will definitely get you started! Feel free to comment below with your favourite spots that I have missed.