Vegetarian in France? No worries...
France isn't known for being a haven for vegetarians - if you're vegan, even less so. But if you put in the effort, you can eat quite well in the land of the saucisson, fillet mignon and bouillabaisse. It just takes a bit of creativity, and knowing a few good addresses.
France is full of good products: find baguettes in bakeries (boulangeries); cheese in cheese shops (fromageries) or supermarkets.
Then there are outdoor markets selling vegetables, fruits and cheese. Smaller cities and villages will have market or two in the middle of town. You can find markets in larger cities on their city hall (mairie) websites: Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Bordeaux.
What about protein? If you want tofu, head to the Asian markets. In Paris, you can find them in the 13th and the 20th arrondisements. A well-known spot is Tang Freres (168, Avenue de Choisy, 75013). Also, South-Asian markets have beans and lentils as well as all the spices to cook them with.
In Paris, head to the Passage Brady in the 10th arrondisement or the area around the La Chapelle metro stop. France also has chains of natural food markets, including Naturalia and Biocoop which should be good resources.
Of course, you won't want to DIY all the time. Most restaurants and cafes have omelettes and salads on the menu. Some restaurants (but not that many) have vegetarian menus. Check out the Brasserie Lutetia (45 bl Raspail, 75006) or Maceo (15, rue des Petits Champs, 75001) in Paris.
Other restaurants without vegetarian options on the menu might be willing to put something together if given enough warning. Try calling them up or stop by the day before and let them know you what you can and cannot eat. You would be surprised at how many chefs will be willing to prepare something. You might get some raised eyebrows, but some are happy to have the chance to be creative. Just warn them ahead of time.
Another route is to focus on regional foods with vegetarian options. Two favourites are crêpes, and fondue. Crêpes are thin pancakes from Brittany filled with anything from eggs and cheese, to ham and sausage. A crêpe restaurant will have plenty of vegetarian options. Fondue is from Savoie, in the Alps: bread dipped into melted cheese. There is also a meat version, but if you ask for the cheese version, you should be fine.
You also have a whole array of vegetarian restaurants, particularly in Paris. Other cities have fewer choices, and many small towns will not have any. Websites like Happy Cow and others will have guides with user reviews to help point you in the right direction.
Finally, try your hand at non-French cuisine. In Paris and the larger cities you should be able to find Indian, Ethiopian and Chinese restaurants with vegetarian options. Couscous restaurants may also be able to prepare a vegetarian tagine, just make sure to clarify that they are not using meat broth.
And of course, there are always sweets! Vegans may have trouble finding things without butter or cream. But if you do eat dairy, you will have a great time sampling all the variations on the French croissant, macaroon and millefeuille. Want to hear about some French pastries? Click here.