Ask anyone their favorite foods from France and it’s likely to be all the buttery pastries, cream infused cheese, and dairy-laden dishes.
We’ll be honest, it’s a major reason why we’re not too keen on traveling around France. For one, France is one of the top tourist destinations worldwide, and we want to avoid these sort of places. For two, eating out is a big part of what we love to do.
Read more: Top 10 Vegan-Friendly Cities in Europe
Luckily, we just happen to have a local vegan friend to show us around the best places to eat as a vegan in Nantes.
With our own personal tour guide, we covered most of vegan Nantes. And not just any tour guide, but a restaurateur herself, who opened Totum Bistro, the sister (or daughter?) restaurant to her father’s Totum Cantine Bio.
Nowadays she’s Totum’s Community Manager, handling all the press and promotion, along with quality control, recipe development, and much more.
All of this is to say that she’s well versed in the vegan Nantes scene. Charlotte knows the best vegan food available and the places that aren’t worth your attention. In this article, we will focus on exactly that.
Sorry juice bars – we just don’t care about you.
Vegan restaurants in Nantes, France
There are a few vegan restaurants in Nantes, France, but only two are can’t miss spots. Call us biased vegan snobs, but the difference between the best and the rest is a wide margin.
Totum Cantine Bio – 100% organic + gluten free
Founded by Pascal Roy of Master Chef France fame, Totum serves up seasonal, organic, gluten-free and local fare.
Their most popular dish is the burger, and it’s one of the best we’ve ever had. And we’ve tried more than our share of vegan burgers.
They also make the best quiche ever!
Totum Cantine Bio has a lovely outdoor terrace that is perfect for a warm summer day or even brisk autumn afternoon.
For more details, stay tuned for my extended review of the restaurant.
Totum Bistro – organic + gluten-free
Sister (or daughter restaurant) to Cantine opened by Charlotte Roy. This one is tucked away in the Madeleine neighborhood and has much more seating inside along with a full bar.
Both Totum restaurants offer mostly the same menu, with some variation, such as fries instead of roasted potatoes thanks to a deep fryer.
If you want the can’t miss items, try the appetizer with dips and crudites, the Totum burger, and the dessert called the Brookie ( brownie + cookie crust bottom + caramelized popcorn topping = Sam eating more than her fair share).
Fresh veggies are the stars of the show here, so the salads and the Totum bowl with seasonal items will absolutely please.
Mint is one of the other vegan restaurants in Nantes, recently opened in February of 2019. They offer colorful dishes like burgers, tartines, and desserts. Unfortunately, they have extremely limited hours (12-3 pm) so we did not make it here.
Vegetarian restaurants in Nantes, France
There are a few vegetarian restaurants in Nantes, but it’s also really hard to get excited about them. This is a country known for its eggs and dairy, so it’s hard to pick a vegetarian spot over a vegan one.
A mostly vegetarian restaurant (serves some fish) with an extensive menu, but unfortunately not many vegan items.
Chacha has a cozy interior with a few tables out on the terrace.
We tried a few of the vegan items, and to be honest, they were just okay. The Chalafel was much too oily and the cheese spread didn’t have much flavor nor texture. The hummus was good, but even considering European portions, we were all still surprised at how small the “large” portions were. The small jar was enough for two dips if I had it all to myself.
Word on the street is that this place is super hit or miss. We never made it there due to their hours – they’re only open for lunch (except Friday). They offer a changing daily menu.
This is a brand new (April 2019) coworking space and vegan restaurant in Nantes! We definitely would have checked it out to do some work if we hadn’t been so jet-lagged. Next time!
Vegan Nantes: Restaurants with vegan options
There are quite a few places offering vegan options in Nantes. Apart from Totum, these places had some of the best food vegan Nantes has to offer.
Having a local really does give you an insider perspective. We would have easily walked past this crowded bar on our own.
With a great patio space and plenty of seating inside, this works great for a casual hang or low key date. They offer a couple of vegan platters. Check their Facebook for postings about the daily specials on offer.
A popular item is the fresh cut fries. While they are tasty, they are a bit too soft and oily. To properly crisp up fries requires overnight soaking in water.
Many places just blanch the fries first, or just fry from beginning to end in the fryer, which makes the fries act as an oil sponge. You won’t feel stuck with these though you may miss the crisp.
Rejoice! This sushi spot has more than your usual cucumber and avocado maki rolls. They also label dishes with a V that are vegan, though there are even more that are vegan and aren’t labeled. If you need quality vegan sushi in Nantes, this spot is your jam.
We are big sushi fans, and will eat every kind we can get our hands on, from traditional style vegan sushi in Jacksonville, Florida, to vegan sushi fusion in NYC.
The Red and Luna is more like traditional style. The combo roll is called the Axcel Mangue and is stuffed with a few ingredients, with even more layered on top. The sushi rice is perfectly seasoned, al dente – not mushy, and wrapped snugly in nori. Their veggies are fresh and crispy and they offer a variety of single vegetable rolls. They even offer sushi pieces with avocado. They also serve sauteed udon with veggies, edamame, and vegetable gyoza.
Bonus if you visit during some nice weather in Nantes – they have recently opened a backyard terrace.
Vegan Bakery in Nantes
La Cafetière Fêlée – 100% Gluten Free Bakery
This charming bakery has quite the selection of gluten-free goodies, including many that were vegan. They list all allergens with colored dots, so you’ll know if something contains egg, soy, lactose, sesame, etc.
When we went, they had an assortment of chocolate tarts, raspberry pastries, and other vegan treats. They also serve savory dishes as well.
We devoured a big ol’ block of brownie and a special conglomerate pastry dubbed The Vegan: a coconut based biscuit topped with bavarian tofu creme, topped with chocolate ganache. The latter needs to be chilled so take this one to stay. Both delicious!
They also serve some baked gluten-free breads and are experimenting with a gluten-free burger bun. We tried the bun – we liked it, but it was more like a burger bun/biscuit fusion.
A cozy little coffee shop in the heart of Nantes. They rotate their baked goods regularly and many will be vegan.
The French are not satisfied with just sweet cakes. They need to pack umami powerhouses like sundried tomatoes into a cake – and we’re not complaining.
Curieux has savory cakes along with sweet cakes. We strongly suggest you try them all. All were moist and crumbly and each was distinct. The sun dried tomato cake was especially rich, whereas the zucchini one was much denser, more moist and fluffier. Then the lemon with chunks of candied lemon was perfectly zesty and sweet.
They have really fantastic biscotti that is super crunchy and hard, just like a biscotti should be. Finally, they also have their own cashew milk blend for coffee!
If we lived in Nantes we would be regulars.
Honorable Mentions for Vegan Nantes
We were planning to get pizza from a real deal Italian spot down the street from where we were staying, but the owner likes to close without notice, so Dominoes it was!
They’ve rolled out their vegan options from the UK to France. And as much as you’ll hear me talking about quality vegan food on this blog, I’m not beyond trying fast food the minute they have a real vegan option.
Dominoes in France has a few options, namely preset pizza topping combinations. But there’s always the option to substitute vegan cheese, as that’s the linchpin vegan topping, in my not-so-humble vegan opinion.
The pizza was… surprisingly good.
Fast food pizza is pretty awful stuff in the States. But that wasn’t the case here. The “thin crust” option was chewy and actually tasted like baked wheat as opposed to a flavorless yoga mat texture so ever-present in the States.
This “thin crust” is still quite thick, so it makes me wonder how much thicker this “classic crust” option they offer is. It was topped with a mellow tomato sauce and vegan cheese, much like the many grated ones proliferating store shelves. It melts well provided you don’t overdo it, which really was quite satisfying.
In a pinch, it gets the job done. Does it beat an authentic marinara pie without cheese? Definitely – when the latter is unavailable.
There are two 100% vegan groceries in Nantes, along with many bio stores that offer vegan options. This is great if you want to plan a picnic or cook at home and try some specialty vegan products.
Make sure to double-check ingredients – potential allergens are bolded. Many traditionally vegan foods, like some brands of hummus, will have added milk or butter. You’re in France – don’t act surprised.
Tree House – 100% vegan!
A vegan grocery that comes strongly recommended by our friend Charlotte. They carry lots of specialty vegan items and some even made in house!
If there’s a cheese you must try, it’s anything by Tomm’ Pousse. Their cashew-based “CamemVert” won’t have you missing the moo goo. But this is styled after camembert, so expect a rind, creamy middle, and that funky penicillium camemberti aka mushroomy taste. Often there are new arrivals for products posted in detail on Facebook.
Le Nid Végétal (in Rezé)
A recently opened vegan store on the outskirts of Nantes. They sell the delicious camembert cheese by Tomm’Pousse as well, but less centrally located and with fewer items stocked on the shelves.
Owned by Monoprix, one of the major grocery chains in France. Expect to find lots of the widely available vegan and organic products, like sliced and shredded vegan cheese, seitan and cold cuts, along with dairy free chocolates, plant milks, and yogurts.
A coop that sells exclusively organic products and partners with producers. Expect your usual staples but all organic, local, and seasonal. If it’s out of season – you’re out of luck.
They also have specialty items like coconut yogurt, kombucha, and fermented tofu, and an extensive bulk section.
Other Vegan Nantes Resources
Normally, the app/website HappyCow is our go to for finding vegan options and restaurants while traveling. As we learned from Charlotte, Happy Cow isn’t used frequently by locals in France. Most of the places with vegan options that we mentioned here were not listed on Happy Cow (don’t worry, we added them).
And that’s a vegan tofu wrap for vegan Nantes, France! There are a solid number of options, just pay attention to opening hours and always double-check about butter – enjoy!