Vegan food at Disneyland Paris

France has never been the easiest country to visit for vegetarians let alone vegans. When I was vegetarian I would struggle a bit in France as they didn’t ever quite seem to understand that I didn’t want meat, so I approached our trip with a little trepidation. I looked online in advance (for blogs and so on) but again couldn’t find very much. I would say it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be! Disney’s website seemed to indicate that every restaurant/café will have a vegan option, but I ended up going in circles a bit, usually being referred to the “allergy menu”. This lists some restaurants and then has a long list of food apparently available at each place, but it includes things such as gluten free items (which were not all vegan as some contained egg). I felt more confused after looking at that than I did before! You can look at the menus individually (download them as PDF’s) but that takes ages as there wasn’t an easy way to search. Some of the menus seem much older- for example the Chez Remy menu listed a vegetable tofu which seemed like it would be vegan, but marked with a green v, which meant “vegetarian suggestions”- some of which contained laughing cow cheese (remember that? Bleurgh), so I would not be confident that the tofu dish was totally plant-based.

We stayed in an off site hotel, planning to have breakfast in the room before heading to the parks each day, and as I wasn’t sure what the supermarket would stock I took along some vegan pain au chocolate with me. It turned out to be a good decision, because even though I’d read that the big Auchan had a vegan section, I couldn’t find it (of course the fruits and veggies are a big vegan section).  We bought some fruit and bread in there to take with us to the parks, and had also taken along a few snacks from home, so we only needed to buy one meal each day in the parks.

The only breakfast option that I could find in the parks was fruit (and some places did fruit cups that were not labelled as vegan, even though other things were- not sure if they just leave it because they think it’s obvious that it’s vegan, or if they contain some preservative that isn’t vegan friendly)- fine, but not really comparable to the croissants, pancakes and waffles available for others. WDW has loads of options including vegan waffles and vegan French toast- Paris really needs to catch up.

Vegan chilli, menu and of course there’s always Starbucks

I was pleasantly surprised when walking around the parks that some places had clearly labelled vegan items on their menus. We found a stand in the studios that sold vegan chilli (when we were there in December 2019 we found it but it was never open when we went to get some- I still have no idea how you find out when it’s actually open…), and Last Chance Café in the main park. It was really good, and would be perfect in the colder months too.

A couple of places sold vegan Magnums but these seemed very limited and most places had just the regular ones. If you want one, buy it when you see one!

Falafels and the menu with the vegan magnum on there too

In the main park, the Fuente del Oro Bar in  Frontierland had a good option of falafels with a vegan sauce. I ordered in English here because they also sold chicken nuggets, and my French accent is terrible and I didn’t want my terrible pronunciation of “bouchees aux pois chiches” to be mistaken for chicken nuggets. Anyway, they were tasty. We’d walked past the menu for the Hakuna Matata restaurant, and they had a really nice sounding salad (sweet potato, beans, lettuce, pineapple, tomato, grilled peanuts) but the queue was huge and so I didn’t try it on that visit. There’s always next time. The falafels would have been nice with a salad to go with them.

Earl of Sandwich mushroom sandwich and good old Starbucks

Between the two parks you have Disney Village with plenty of dining options, although again looking at the menus the best option seemed to be tomato pasta- not the most exciting food for when you are on holiday. There’s a Starbucks there, although it didn’t have any vegan food options the couple of times we popped in (it did have a big range of plant milks though).

The Earl of Sandwich didn’t have a vegan item on the printed menus, but I’d seen online that they were doing a vegan one. We went to the screens, and could order “The Portobello” ( 100% VEGAN -Portobello mushrooms, fried onions, green peppers and agave mustard dressing). I’m not a big mushroom fan, but it was OK. I saw it on their social media in Feb 2020, and I can’t find it online now, so who knows if it’s there now. It’s worth looking at the screens though. I was hoping that they still did the tomato, balsamic and mozzarella one that they do in Florida, as you can swap out items, so I could swap the cheese for avocado and have a delicious sandwich, but it wasn’t to be.

In summary, there are vegan options there, but if you are going for more than a long weekend, or eating more than one meal a day in the parks, it’s going to get samey quite quickly. On our next visit I think I’d do pretty much what I did this time- bring along breakfast and snacks, and get one meal in the parks/village each day.  The DLP Instagram account released a video a while back of the vegan options that were coming, including a vegan burger, but I didn’t see that anywhere, and it wasn’t clear in the video either.  It’s great that they are clearly labelling more items, and having a few options in each park, but I am sure they can do better. They need to sort out the labels on the menus to make it clearer too. So, you’ll find vegan options but it might not be the treat that you are after on a holiday.

Rushmere parkrun for the gong of glory!

So this weekend was time for more parkrun tourism, as both Jersey Farm and St Albans were off due to events taking place. As it was Dad’s 200th parkrun, it was his choice, and he chose Rushmere.

Partly because it’s a beautiful woodland trail run, and partly because they have a gong! My brother was also coming too- he sometimes plays football on Saturdays so doesn’t go to parkrun as often, so it was perfect timing that he could make it too.

We arrived at around 8:45, and Dad revealed his “special t-shirt”. He’d made a 2 with “200th today” written on it, and safety pinned it over the 1.

The run brief was observed in silence, and then we walked around to the start. I’d remembered it as one and a bit laps, but it’s really just shy of 2 laps. It’s through woodland, past bike trails and bridleways (no dogs allowed because of this)- we did see a horse on our second lap.

The route is just beautiful and so peaceful. The pine trees are so tall, and it’s shaded and cool, filled with birds singing and then the gentle sound of runners feet on the soft earth. The three of us ran together and just enjoyed chatting, thanking the marshals, waving at the photographers and saying good  morning to the other park users. Andy always asks me why we do this when we could just run a 5k around near home, but I just feel we are so lucky to have places like this nearby and we can experience such a range of parks and places while enjoying running.

On the second lap one of the marshals called out to Dad, and it turned out to be the headteacher from my first school (Dad was also a headteacher in the same town, so they knew each other a bit, and his wife who was also a head). As Disney say, it’s a small world! When we finished we saw his wife and chatted to her too.

Then of course we had to visit the gong of glory. There was hand sanitiser to use first (of course) and then as he hit the gong, lots of people clapped. It was a really nice way to mark the occasion. (Yes we know 200 isn’t an official milestone, but it’s a long way between 100 and 250 even without the long pause, so we are going to celebrate these things).

Then it was time to head home for breakfast cooked by Mum. Our next milestone will probably be my 250th (I’m on 241 now)- Uncle Brian is on 97 but he is injured at the moment so I’m not sure when his 100th will be. I’m not sure what I am going to do about it though, as Ellenbrook Fields is still closed. I did my 50th at Panshanger, which I loved, but that was before EF started, and I don’t feel such a part of that community any more. EF was where I celebrated my 100th and it feels like my parkrun home, so I can’t decide if I’ll go to another local event (I could go back to St Albans where it started for me?) or do a bit of tourism?

What milestone are you working towards?

Finishing the summer holidays (and a bit more)

After getting back from Alwnick on Saturday night, I headed out on a long run on the Sunday, going over to Panshanger.

The cows were back in the big field but I managed to get through without panicking- phew. I am trying to go through the field instead of avoiding it as I know that the cows should be fine- they are a gentle species and used to the public walking through. I am still not keen when they are close to the path!

On the Monday we were having our pod point fitted (to charge our car at home- we could charge it with a wire dangled out of the window, but that was very slow, so we tended to take it to a local charging point). Anyway, I could get on with work until they had to turn the electricity off. It took a lot longer than we had thought, due to our electrics being set up in a weird way, but by 6.30pm it was done.

Wood running, autumn flowers in the garden including the Japanese anemones and an actual fig on our fig tree!

The rest of the week I tended to go on a run in the morning, head into work to set up my classroom, and then come home in the afternoon. Our garden is starting to be filled with autumn colour- it starts me looking forward to cosy evenings in, chai lattes, scented candles, fairy lights…

Our weekend in DLP started on the Thursday evening as that’s when we drove down to Kent, and then we were back on Sunday night.

I’ve been living in my Stitch hoodie!

We spent the Monday pottering around, having a nice walk , unpacking and getting sorted for the week ahead.

After seeing that Cruella was on regular Disney+, we decided to watch that. I quite enjoyed it, although I couldn’t remember a lot of 101 Dalmatians and so a few things I couldn’t quite match up.

On Tuesday I did a longer run – past the cows again. I was a bit annoyed as I didn’t check Strava until September, but I did 99 miles in August! I would definitely have added an extra mile to round it up!

How perfect is this t-shirt? Magic Moon Club did a Christmas in July secret Santa thing where you signed up to buy something for someone else, and then filled in a little tick list of your likes (colours/ characters/ parks). A perfect top to wear between now and the next visit! I opened my Christmas Lebkuchen hearts as I had saved them for Christmas in July.

Keeping the Disney theme going with a “monorail peach” candle from Dole Wicks Candle Co, my new Disney bowl and a classic Olaf mug.

Then it was back to work, and back to the early morning runs. It’s already so dark in the mornings which has surprised me. I need to find my torch and charge it. It’s fine after a few minutes as the sun comes up, but I need it for the beginning and it’s only going to get darker!

As a first week back treat I booked in for a massage- the lovely lady I see has recently gone independent and created an amazing treatment room next to her house (she used to rent out a room in a beauty place in town). It was perfect and such a nice end to the week.

Saturday was filled with family time- after our Luton parkrun trip, my mum made us vegan pancakes for breakfast (I really love how much my parents are embracing this for me) and then we visited my sister who was back from the hospital after having her second baby. It was so lovely to see her and my niece (who started school this week too- what a busy week for her) and spend some time catching up.

Once home, I watched the original 101 Dalmatians, and then in the evening we bought the Jungle Cruise as I was very keen to watch it – I love all the puns on the ride, and the film was fairly light hearted and good fun (could have done with more puns though).

I’ve been happy doing solo runs for a long time, but in the club group they posted about running to Ellenbrook Fields on Sunday (either meeting there for a lap, or meeting at the station and running there first), so I decided to run to the the station, (which is around 2.5 miles away), run with them to EF (another couple of miles), run around EF (a couple more) and then run home through the fields (4-5 miles ish). I loved it! The club runs just fly by, and it breaks up the long run into chunks which make it seem easier too. It was a bit sad running around EF and knowing that the parkrun is not there, because it is so perfect. But at least we can visit it any time.

It started off cool but got very warm once the sun came out- I should have worn my sunglasses. Of course my maths did not add up, and so by the time I got home I’d run a half marathon as opposed to the 11 ish miles I thought it would be. All good training although I felt quite shattered in the afternoon.

I’d bought tickets for the London Podcast festival- Two Mr P’s did a show on Friday night and you could watch it later, so I sat in the shade in the garden (in my new garden chair) and watched it. A very good way to spend an afternoon.

In this past week it’s been warm (for September) and so I was very glad of my morning runs while it was still feeling fresh. I was even treated to some beautiful sunrises early on, although one morning was super misty.

In the evenings we were still catching up on the Paralympics (being away for a few days meant we got behind) and then as we’ve finished the final series of Bosch (based on the books- a police drama)  we started on The White Lotus, a dark drama set in a hotel in Hawaii (lockdown meant no tourists so I think the filming basically took over the hotel). Weirdly the hotel that we stayed in for one night on Maui was right next door, and we walked along the coastline to it in the evening. It’s compelling and I want to find out what happens, but it’s also very tense and stressful to watch so I could not take more than one episode at a time!

Podcast festival, misty morning run, homemade sourdough bread, and watching The White Lotus and missing Hawaii. 

We had another podcast booked for Thursday evening- this one we watched live- The Judge John Hodgman podcast (it’s a comedy podcast where people bring their cases and discuss them before he gives his verdict).

And then it was Friday!

What have you been watching recently? I am excited about the new series of Bake Off and Taskmaster coming, and I think The Morning Show is coming back soon too.

Unpacking the ears I took with me. I was very restrained and didn’t buy another pair in the park, although I had said that if I saw the deep green ones then I would have bought those.

Luton Wardown parkrun

It was my turn to choose this week, and as Jersey Farm was not on due to another event taking place, I decided we should do some tourism and visit a different event. It wasn’t my NENDY (nearest event not done yet) as that is in London, but it is the easiest one to get to.

I picked up Dad and drove us there. We left plenty of time as I had read the car park was quite small, and we arrived just after 8.30 to a pretty empty car park. There was another car park through the other side of the park but that seemed to have access from a different road.

There were lots of decorated elephants around, so we had a nice wander around the park. We passed a sign for “corner corner” which on second reading was “conker corner”, and lots of volunteers setting up arrows. It seemed like a fairly small park, and it was hard to believe that it would fit in a parkrun in only 3 and a half laps, although it was filled with interesting parts- a lake, a play park, tennis courts and those outdoor exercise machines.

At around ten to 9 there were still only a few people stood around, but after the new runners briefing finished, we turned around to see a packed park. The run briefing was really clear due to the RD having a megaphone/ speaker system, and then we walked to the start. They had asked people to seed themselves, but the people with the signs were stood only a couple of metres apart- we were going to line up with the 30 minutes but we were not even half way back in the field so in the end we moved back. You’re only stood there for a few moments (and it really was- the RD said she had a whistle for the start and just as we had decided where to start, she blew it and everyone was off) but it feels better to have some space, not only now but anyway due to tripping etc.

In the run brief they emphasised “the hill” as you had to run up it 4 times- to help keep count (once in each lap and then once in the final “bit”). The hill was even marked out, but it wasn’t really a hill- more of a short slope. But it did make the lap counting easier.

We did excellent negative splits of 10:06, 9:28, 9:28 and 9:15. The marshals were amazing- cheering everyone on in each lap. It really felt like a wonderful community and so encouraging.

The weather was good- it was chilly when we first got there but as soon as we started running I took my long sleeved top off. The sun even came out as we were driving home.

So that was my 240th parkrun- the next milestone is ever closer. But next week it’s Dad’s 200th, so it’s his choice of where we go (Jersey Farm and St Albans are both cancelled).



At last a trip to DLP!!!

I was not even looking forward to this until we were actually there for fear of being disappointed again. We have had to cancel quite a few trips in the last year and a bit, and with travel traffic lights changing, test requirements and so on, it all felt uncertain.

But all went well and on Friday lunchtime we drove through the gates into Disneyland Paris!

As we walked down Main Street I did feel a bit teary- I think I was so stressed about all the testing and paperwork needed, and so getting there was a huge relief. I could start to enjoy myself!

The castle is undergoing maintenance but the covering was very clever. We could see parts of the towers poking out of the top. There were no parades or fireworks, but it still felt very magical. They had sort of mini parades, so you would hear the Frozen music and suddenly an amazing float would appear with the characters on them (and Olaf spinning around)-it was like a flash mob where suddenly lots of people would appear and follow the float. We saw a Stitch one, Cruella Deville, some Jungle Book characters and Alice in Wonderland.

We ended up being in the park until nearly closing time on the Friday, and then got up early on the Saturday and Sunday to make the most of it (and to charge the car, as there were only 4 charging points in the entire car park). The queues were not too bad- there were no paper maps so you just looked on the app to see wait times- I think the longest we did was 30 minutes. I’d imagine a normal August weekend would be busier.

They have just changed over from the fastpass system, so now if you want to skip the queue you have to pay, which I think is a bit cheeky (12 Euros for Peter Pan- I mean what???). I am not sure if this kept the queues shorter because they were not letting fastpass people on, but we saw lots of people paying so those fast track people were still holding up the normal queues.

This is me getting excited with the Frozen parade going past, and then Stitch going past in his car, plus some fun photo points in the studios.

Philharmagic, one of my favourite rides/ shows, had a new section added from Coco, and I really enjoyed that part. The only other new ride was the Cars ride (basically upcycling Catastrophe Canyon) but this wasn’t great- I feel like they could have upped the theming a bit. I think you can tell that Disney has now taken over the running of the park, as a few years ago some of it was looking quite run down and it looks much better now, but compared to the Frozen ride in Epcot (where they basically changed the Norway log flume ride to a Frozen one, and it works really well) it wasn’t anywhere near as good.

I took a photo of the goodbye sign, hoping it would mean good luck and that we can see them again real soon.

I did treat myself to a few items. I’d seen these Stitch tops online, previously in the AP shop (which we didn’t go in in the end) but when we got there they were in all the main shops.

I can’t resist new mugs either, especially if there is a Christmas one! I did however resist new ears. I’d packed 3 pairs, one for each day, and had said that if they had the deep green ones that I’d seen online, then I would get them, but they didn’t have them.  Before our cancelled trip last year I’d persuaded Andy to get matching t-shirts (same design but different colours- the monorail with “please stand clear of the closing doors” plus the Spanish version) and we actually wore them together on the Saturday! The first time I went to Florida was with Andy’s family and we saw so man groups of people with matching tops so it has been a goal of mine for nearly 20 years!

A Starbucks from Disney Village and of course my Minnie cup cosy had to come along- from Enchanted Cosy Co.

We didn’t do any of the characters meets (if we ever get to go with our niece and nephew then I imagine it will be top of the list) but they had quite a lot of that, you just had to stand on a spot so you were not too close to the character.

On the Sunday we had to drive back to the tunnel, so left the parks in the afternoon. We could charge the car at the tunnel before driving onto the train, and that was enough to get us home. A busy but really enjoyable weekend- hopefully it won’t be another 20 months until the next visit.

Testing etc.

We drove down to Kent the night before, then in the morning took our LF tests, emailed the results and then drove onto the tunnel. You can take your return test 72 hours before, and on the Gov website it states that this can be in England, so this was the only way I was going as I did not want to risk testing positive while out there.  This was simple enough, but the small window of waiting to see the line appear on the LF kit was a bit stressful (plus the wait for the email, although that took only a few hours to come through).

The Day 2 test (on return) was ridiculous as we both posted ours at the same time, but mine arrived a day later than Andy’s and took ages to be processed. Thankfully both negative but it was a bit frustrating to have to wait.

I wasn’t sure how Disney would feel with all of the extra precautions in place, but it was fine. You always have to go through security/ bag check to get into the Disney Village and parks, and so here someone stood at the front of the queue and checked your vaccine passport before you could go on. France were very strict on this. We stayed in a hotel close to a shopping centre, and you had to show your vaccine passport to get into the shopping centre, and they were scanning them to check they were valid.  In Disney, if you wanted to buy food from an indoor place (even counter service) someone would check you scanning your phone on the French Anti Covid app. You had to wear masks all the time, inside and outside once in Disney, unless eating. We would try to find a quiet space to stand to the side to have a drink, but we both noticed that we probably didn’t drink enough water as usually if in a queue you might have a quick sip but it didn’t seem right to do that. Lots of the queues had been moved outdoors, and they all had these stickers with “do not stand here” on them. Some people paid attention to this, and others didn’t. We always left space in front of it, and some people behind would leave space too, but as they were mainly outside and everyone had masks (including children over 6) it felt OK. They had put up perspex barriers between the rows so if the rows double back you had a barrier too, and when getting on the rides they would leave spaces/ rows. Some of them had plastic screens between rows too.  If there was a pre-show waiting area (eg Haunted Mansion) you were directed to a taped box on the floor so you were kept away from other groups, and there was no queue inside once you were past that. There was hand sanitiser everywhere- all the way through ride queues, in the shops and all around. If you were buying something you could ask for the same item from the back if you wanted something that other people hadn’t handled. We saw a few people with masks under their chins, but then you always see a few people breaking other rules (eg smoking in the queues) so overall it was good, and as someone who has not really been in many crowded places, I felt comfortable with all of the things in place.

Don’t stand here signs, taped squares to stand in, and the perspex screens.