One of the reasons why I set up The Green Shopper is that I’m a compulsive researcher. I love to travel by train, and found advice from The Man in Seat 61 very helpful when planning a recent rail trip to Paris and Venice. Before departure I also like to make a list of interesting looking vegetarian restaurants and health-food shops at my destination: the Happy Cow website is a really useful resource for travelling vegetarians and vegans, with thousands of listings and reviews of veggie friendly eateries and stores around the world.
I was determined to keep my New Years resolution to not buy water in plastic bottles, even when travelling abroad.
Our holiday began by train from Bath to Paris, but despite Eurostar’s recent pledge to reduce single use plastics, I couldn’t find a water refill point in their departure lounge. Luckily some friendly Pret staff filled my bottles so we didn’t go thirsty.
I just about managed to stick to my resolution thanks to a combination of the amazing network of taps across Paris and Venice, and a brazen-yet-friendly attitude to asking for tap-water refills in cafes. “Pourriez-vous s’il vous plaît remplir ma bouteille d’eau?“ or “Per favore potresti riempire la mia bottiglia d’acqua?” (thanks, Google Translate). My only slip-up was ordering a fizzy water for my three year old during a cafe lunch in Venice, while we were busy drinking spritzes… oops!
On arrival in Paris I spotted the pioneering zero-waste Lamazuna shop en route to our apartment: their store is on rue Louis Blanc, very close to the Gare du Nord. I was glad to see their replaceable-head toothbrush system (made with 70% plant based plastics) which I have added to my eco-friendly toothbrush inventory. In the UK you can order a range of their goodies online from A Fine Choice.
During our three days in Paris we stayed in a beautiful apartment overlooking a leafy square in the 11th arrondissement, and were pleased to find four amazing organic food shops within a few minutes walk. On Parmentier, Bio-C-Bon have a big rack of packaging-free dry goodies, including loose biscuits and cakes alongside the usual fare of grains, pulses and dried fruit. The branch of BioCoop at Republique has a super friendly atmosphere, and does a delicious organic salted caramel cheesecake in a glass pot. Grocers Zingam (on Chemin Vert) and La Petite Cagette (Popincourt) both sell super-fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, as well as cheeses, meats, eggs, etc.
Venturing further down Chemin Vert, we visited the vegan ‘concept store’ Aujourd’hui Demain and had great fun in their free black & white photo booth whilst waiting for our soya lattes. In addition to their cafe, they stock a selection of vegan footwear, clothes, cosmetics and foods. If you’re hunting for tofu, you’re in luck. While we’re on the subject of specialist diets, if you’re looking for a wheat-free treat in Paris, I’ve heard the gluten-free bakery Chambelland on Rue Ternaux is amazing. Even the small local branch of supermarket Monoprix has a huge own-brand organic range: Organic vin blanc from Côtes de Duras for 5 Euros, hello!
Staying pretty centrally meant it was really easy to get around on public transport and on foot. We walked a lot and enjoyed strolling by the Seine, through the Marais and around Bastille. One day I’d love to try out the Velib bike rental scheme but have reservations about cycling without a helmet, especially whilst negotiating the Parisian traffic and remembering to stay on the right side of the road!
We ran out of time to visit the nearby organic restarant Welwitsch or vegetarian Cafe Ginger in Bastille, but it’s great to have something to look forward to. A self-catering trip to Paris by train seems like a pretty perfect option for a low-carbon holiday packed with art and culture! We crossed Paris in a blizzard to catch the Thello sleeper train to Venice: you can read all about the Italian part of our adventure in my next post…