One of the colourful salad bowls at smÄak Natural Food in Tours |Courtesy of smÄak Natural Food
France has a reputation for being somewhat meat-obsessed. Yet the Loire Valley produces some of the country’s tastiest vegetarian specialties; from world-famous goats cheese to the region’s much-loved Tarte Tatin. Here are ten Loire Valley eateries which vegetarians can feast like a king in—from creative canteens and cute tea rooms to Michelin-starred restaurants.
Le 30 Février
Pizzeria, Restaurant, Italian, Vegetarian
This busy pizzeria and vegetarian restaurant is located in the heart of Saumur, close to the town hall. It offers homemade food and an affordable selection of local wines. The menu mainly consists of salads, pasta, and pizzas. Prompt and friendly service makes it a reliable choice for occasions when time is of the essence. There is always a nice buzz and the pleasant terrace provides a nice spot to listen to the live music in the bustling streets during summer. It also offers a takeaway pizza service.
As the name suggests, Bistrot de l’île is located close to the action in Nantes’ infamous island. You can’t miss the bright orange restaurant, known for its warm welcome and healthy vegetarian, organic, and gluten-free food. There are a range of set menus varying from €13 –€18 (portions aren’t huge so go for the larger menu if you are particularly hungry). They use great quality seasonal fruit and vegetables from trusted local producers to create French classics with an international twist. They have thoughtfully created a little area for smaller visitors, with a coloring kit and a few toys. On Friday evenings they offer a dinner service—make sure you book in advance!
smÄak Natural Food is one of Tours’ latest restaurant openings. Offering a range of healthy Scandinavian-inspired dishes, they create fresh and interesting salads served in wooden bowls. The food is curious, with lots of unusual flavor combinations, and comes served in wooden bowls—they look like works of art, with bright purple cabbage and black rice mingling with sliced fig, mango, courgette ribbons, crunchy seeds, nuts, and the Scandi favorite: dill! The place itself has a raw, somewhat industrial feel with exposed low-hanging lights and shabby-chic walls. Service is friendly and super quick.
It may seem strange to feature a restaurant which is popular with the burger brigade, but Oh Terroir offers fantastic vegetarian options. It is the transparency of sourcing which makes this place so good—on their website they even tell you which families and farmers produced various ingredients. The restaurant abides by the slow food movement, opting for local, organic produce wherever possible. They offer some great homemade pasta dishes which can be made with organic cream or coconut milk and are just €8.90 with a drink. Expect plenty of flora and fauna fringing the otherwise stark tables.
This strangely named haunt is at once a vegan tea room, a cocktail bar, and a piano lounge. The homely spot excels in the little touches: a huge bookcase filled with communal novels, pretty linen napkins, and passionate staff. The shabby chic décor invites you to take your time over your cashew nut hot chocolate…or mojito, depending on your mood. The menu changes regularly and features the likes of bean burgers, vegetable and lentil risotto, and a focaccia of the day—plus a great range of homemade cakes. They also offer gluten-free options.
Same Same is not your normal tea room, in fact, it is more of a concept store. A little “bubble of wellness,” it is home to a restaurant offering vegan dishes, a tea room offering everything from gluten-free pastries to lactose-free coffees, a boutique showcasing local artists, and it even has a wellness area with reiki, meditation, and yoga.
This organic canteen specializes in creative dishes made from local, seasonal ingredients. The great value eatery boasts plenty of exciting dishes, from vegan quiches and flans to aubergine caviar and beatroot and hazelnut soup. A three-course meal is just €12.
Okay folks, this is the posh one. Hidden away in the picturesque village of Petit-Pressigny, La Promenade is a wonderful mix of old-school elegance in a modern, artistic setting. The family-run restaurant is also the proud holder of a Michelin star. Granted, Chef Jacky Dallais is incredibly talented at producing precise, beautifully presented meat dishes, but do not let that put you off—or you will miss out on one of the best restaurants the region has to offer. Instead, call ahead and let them know your dining needs and he will create something just for you—after all, with 25 years at the helm, this acclaimed chef is capable of producing Michelin-quality food for any palate!
Located on Île de Nantes, Les Melting Potes is a great choice for a vegetarian burger with a difference. Stuff Quorn, here you can choose from delicious combinations like puy lentils with turmeric and egg or goat’s cheese with avocado and a punch wasabi sauce. On Tuesday night you can get a burger, fries, and a drink for only 10.50€. Visit on a Friday evening and you can even catch their comedy night.
In the heart of Angers, this chic restaurant offers inventive, modern cooking with plenty of vegetarian dishes to choose from. An ever-changing chalkboard displays the day’s creations, which are largely determined by the local farmers’ available produce. We love the fact that you are left to detect hidden flavors; your carrot soup may be hiding warming ginger, or the cream on your cake could be laced with subtle hints of lemon. We recommend booking their monthly brunch, which takes place on the first Sunday of each month. The restaurant itself is small and best suited to couples or small groups of friends.