Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Vegan French Surprises #3

The guidebooks and various blogs and websites had warned of the difficulty of being veggie or vegan in Brittany.  The advice was easy to believe. Indeed the choices offered by Brittany Ferries on the way over are bad enough.  It continued to be easy to believe during some of our first few trips to the supermarket; no suitable margarines, meat substitutes, not many plant milks, etc.  We also thought that a health food store would be a rare thing to find.  That pretty much changed in one day about half way through our trip.

We were heading back to the coast after a spot of Le Tour de France when, on the outskirts of Baud on the road to Auray (D768), we happened upon a 'Magasin Bio' (organic shop) called Sante Nature.  It was 6pm and it was still open.  We obviously had to go and take a look.  The shop itself was quite large but the range of vegan food small and basic.  What it did however offer were boxes of organic red wine, clearly marked as vegan.  Read the previous post for more information on our search for wines.

We moved on buoyed by our great wine find but left wanting for more vegan food discoveries in Brittany.  In the course of the rest of the journey that evening we saw two more organic shops; one on the D45 near Fouesnant and one just outside of Pont l'Abbe on the D768.  Both looked sizeable, in industrial units set back off the road but sadly both were closed so we had to move on without further investigation.  We did however feel a renewed level of hope that things were not quite as sparse and gloomy for vegans in Brittany after all. 

Two days later we hit the vegan jackpot whilst further north on the Crozon peninsula.  The combination of random French road signs and a spot of bad navigation on my behalf had led us on an indirect route through the town of Crozon.  Whilst negotiating the umpteenth roundabout of the day I spotted a sign for another organic shop called Bio Presqu'ile (which translates as organic peninsula).  Our  route once more was diverted; this time to investigate the shop, which was happily open, and what an 'Aladdin's Cave' it turned out to be.  It was quite large and stacked with all manner of veggie, vegan, ecological, environmental products; even down to paints, children's toys, kitchen wares, books, vegetable seeds, toiletries, cleaning products and lots and lots of food and drink.  Clearly this was going to take some time!  

At least an hour later we emerged; two bags the heavier and a few euros lighter but with our preconception of the lack of vegan food discoveries in Brittany blown to shreds.  Highlights included lacto fermented tamari tofu (the best tofu we have ever tasted), tagliatelle with spirulina, Karma Kombucha (we'd drunk it by the time I took the photo!) and the lovely chocolate.

So if you are in Brittany as a vegan, don't despair.  For a start there's lots of lovely fruit and vegetables in the supermarkets and there are health food stores that do stock some lovely vegan goodies.  If you are in Crozon we heartily recommend a visit to Bio Presqu'ile at Roule Ta Pierre, 29160 Crozon (follow the ring road westwards and when you come to the roundabout by Lidl turn left and then right at the next roundabout).  They are open Monday to Saturday 9am - 7pm.

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