Vegan croissants wanted: The first time I heard of VG Pâtisserie was when friends visiting Berlin told me they were taking a train to Paris just to experience petit dejeuner at Pâtisserie Vegetale: “Their croissants look like they’re to die for, we have to go!” One of those moments when you realize that you might be missing out on some of the best things in life even though they’re right around the corner (um, so to speak). Trip to Paris, anyone?
Words & Photos_ Eric Mirbach
Located just a few steps from Voltaire Metro Station in the 11th Arrondissement, this cozy vegan confectioner offers fine French baked goods, from classic croissants to fancy miniature cream cakes.
“I feel like I’m making a difference in the neighborhood.”
We meet founder Bérénice in the shop. She’s very busy but kind enough to take a couple minutes to sit down with me over over a cup of the Pâtisserie’s excellent coffee while I’m in awe over the sheer fluffiness of her croissants. “Before I opened Pâtisserie Vegetal, I had worked as a food engineer for Nestlé” (of all places) and “felt an identity crisis coming”. Bérénice decided that it was time to do something else for a living and now looks back on her first year at her own bakery.
“I honestly didn’t expect the amount of work this would be,” she admits, “but I love my new job. Especially since I feel like I’m making a difference in the neighborhood.” Her baked goods attract not only vegans, but people from all walks of life. Some might be lactose intolerant, some might not even know the croissants they buy here are vegan. Others are curious when reading the signs outside, pop in and ask what the “Végétale” in the name means. It lures people in without confronting them with veganism right away.
“In France, people think vegans are a cult.”
Not a coincidence but a tactic, as I learn next. “I didn’t want to put the word ‘vegan’ on the sign”, Bérénice tells me. “In France, most people still don’t really know what that word means and think vegans are a weird cult or something. I thought it would be too much of a risk.” Now when people come in to ask what a “Pâtisserie Vegetale” is supposed to be, she can explain and give it the right ring — and they take something home to try it. And, not too much of a surprise here, people tend to come back because of the quality of what Bérénice offers.
And rightfully so. Everything in the bright display of the shop looks amazing and every treat I try is gorgeous. Although using only the best ingredients, Bérénice and her staff aim for their goods to live up or even outplay non-vegan offerings, meaning they’re sinfully sweet, fluffy and buttery, deliciously creamy and come with rich textures and the right crunch. Let’s be honest, you might not want to indulge in French pâtisserie goods when you’re in a phase of counting calories…and these vegan treats right here are no exception, sorry folks. They do have a couple gluten-free options though, if that does something for you?
Well, either way a stop here when in Paris is definitely worth it. Even worth a train ride to Paris, if just for petit déjeuner at VG.