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?

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.

The Pastures parkrun- three quarters of a Cowell!

If you are not familiar with the parkrun tourist term, a Cowell is 100 different events. The Pastures was my 75th, so I am 3/4 of the way there now. This seems crazy to me. Yes, I do love parkrun, and I do love going to a new one if we are away for the weekend, but still, 75 different ones- it seems like a lot. I have not even got my 250 shirt yet, and I have been to my local ones (St Albans, Panshanger, Ellenbrook Fields, and more recently Jersey Farm) regularly. But then, when I start to think about it, I’ve been doing lots of little challenges – completing all of the parkruns in Herts, doing things like the Compass Club (parkrun names containing North, South, East and West), the alphabet challenge, the name challenge (all the letters in my name), Pirates (7 C’s and one R). All of that adds up!

So this was on our way back home from Scotland- we drove from Edinburgh on the Friday, stopping at a few Northumberland beaches on the way, and having a nice wander around the town in the evening.

Our hotel was less than a mile from the start (the start is just outside the castle) so it was a leisurely start for me.  It isn’t a big parkrun (100 people did it on that morning) and it had such a lovely feel with people catching up with each other. The field did have a “beware of the bull” sign on the gate, but I didn’t see it- hopefully the sign is there all the time but the bull isn’t. There were lots of cows in the  adjacent field, and plenty of cow pats to dodge during the run! Just before the run brief, someone dressed in a kilt stood near the sign and began playing bagpipes. He played Chariots of Fire and the theme tune of Star Wars, which answered a question that Andy and I had had in Edinburgh- are there other tunes that you can play on the bagpipes?

When he finished playing, everyone clapped, and then the RD did the briefing (no explanation of the bagpiper though). This course was the kind that I love- totally simple (2 and a bit laps of the field) with easy instructions- run to the tree, then turn right and run to the river, then back up to the start.

The marshal by the tree was trying to keep count, saying to everyone “One lap to go/ I think it’s your last lap now?”. The people manning the finish funnel were so enthusiastic, cheering us on each lap, commenting on the dog that was running, or the big smiles of the runners, or encouraging you to do a final sprint at the end.

It really felt as if this parkrun had minimum impact on the surroundings – not many cones or flags or signs to put out, the use of one field, a few cars parked in the street next to it but most people seemed to walk over from the town. In a good way, you could have walked to the field just after 10 and seen no evidence of parkrun being there- they went to a café in town to process the results.

My legs were feeling quite heavy, and the uneven ground (mole hills, tussocks of grass) meant I took my time. This was not a course for a pb, but it was my 75th different parkrun course so I was going to enjoy it. I took a few photos as I ran around, and just enjoyed looking at the castle, the river and the cows in the field next door.

I finished in 31:07, and took a few photos at the finish but then the drizzle got harder so I didn’t hang about. I did briefly chat to someone heading back to her car, but it was time for a quick shower and breakfast before the long drive home. So there we go, 3/4 of the way to a Cowell!

(One thing that did throw me a bit was as I was coming in to the finish I could hear some people charging up behind me. I was speeding up at this point, and never mind a sort of race to the finish, but these 2 guys ran past me literally at the finish line- they were going so fast they carried on straight through the funnel without getting a token. When the person handing out the tokens looked confused at them, pointing at me with the tokens and looking at them (maybe they thought we knew each other?). I pointed to the 2 guys and asked if they needed one, and the volunteers were trying to sort it out, counting out the tokens for the missing people, but then the guys came back again and grabbed some tokens. I do not at all mind which token I get, but this sort of thing makes it harder for the volunteers. I am not quite sure why they had to sprint by right at the end and confuse everyone. When I looked at the results, there are two unknown runners, one just before me and one after me, so maybe they were new to parkrun?)

How many parkrun courses have you visited? Are you working through any challenges at the moment? 

Scotland (holiday Summer 2021)

And yes, it is a holiday and NOT a staycation- I was not staying at home, I was travelling around, on holiday, paying for accommodation etc etc. It was a holiday.

Our holiday was split into roughly 3 sections, plus travel there and back. On the way up we stopped in York for the night (see my Heslington parkrun post) and on the way back we stopped in Edinburgh for one night, and then stayed in Alnwick (for The Pastures parkrun).

Part 1: Edinburgh

Part 2: Loch Ness

Part 3: Glencoe

I’ll try to keep each part brief!

Part 1:

We had booked a few days in Edinburgh, originally because Travis were going to be doing an outdoor concert there, but that was then cancelled. But of course we are happy to go to Edinburgh any time. We got there in the afternoon, after driving up from York, and spent a lovely few hours wandering. Being in a city meant taking full advantage of delivery options for food (as we don’t really have anything that we like near us)- delicious vegan burger/ Wagamama and vegan pizzas were consumed over the few days.  I recently got the Happy Cow app, which is a bit like Trip Advisor for veggie and vegan places, so we found some excellent food (it lists chains or places with vegan options too, but we mainly used it for finding independent places)- mentions go to Orinoco Vegan, a fab place in York, Holy Cow in Edinburgh did some amazing cakes, as did the Black Rabbit.  The following day we had a lovely walk around Leith river- it was forecast to rain but we had beautiful blue skies. The day after we went to the Botanical Gardens and it poured once we were there- we got soaked! But this was probably the worst weather of the holiday. I ran towards Arthur’s Seat one of the mornings, and popped into a Pret on my way back to pick us up some breakfast- it’s almost like a traditional weekend away once again.

I loved the Rapunzel style waterfall of flowers on the side of this tower- I think it was actually a bar but to me it seemed very Disney.

Of course we had to get breakfast from the Hula Juice Bar one day as they do amazing acai bowls- check out all the toppings!

Part 2:

We then had a few days staying by Loch Ness.  We took our time driving there, stopping in a few places to stretch our legs as it was a fairly long drive. We had a little apartment on the shores of the loch, and it was also close by to a canal (with one of those stair cases of gates) so we would often walk along there, and I had an easy running route for several mornings.

Loch Ness scenes

Having an apartment meant that we could self cater, but we did actually brave lunch out in Fort William. We saw a café and while perusing the menu  realised it was 100% vegan- how exciting! Originally we were going to get food to take away, but looking inside we could see there were only a few tables,  they were well spaced apart, and everyone had masks on unless they were eating (sensible Scotland has kept the mask rules when they have been abandoned in England…), so we had a lovely lunch inside- a big deal for us as the only place we’ve been out to eat has been the afternoon tea we went to on my birthday, which was outside. Andy had a pasty and I had toast with “avoca-no”- a green hummus made with peas and beans (really tasty)- we shared them both, alongside a chai latte (me) and matcha latte  (Andy).

Lunch out and lattes

We were well-placed to visit lots of woods, waterfalls and of course the lake for walks and views. We had mostly overcast weather with some sunshine, but perfect weather for walking as you didn’t get too hot, and no worries about sunburn (and yes I know you can get burnt when it’s cloudy, and yes I had sun-cream on my face, but nothing compared to a hot sunny day).

Alongside Loch Ness and a vegan cinnamon roll for breakfast one day

One day we drove up to Inverness, stopping at various places on the way, and having a lovely walk through the centre of Inverness (there are some lovely bridges over the river near the centre), and then stopped in a few places on the way back. Andy actually saw a red squirrel on that day, as it ran out in front of the car in front of us, but I didn’t see it.

One day we visited the ruins of a castle on the edge of the loch, and when we arrived it pelted down with rain! We sheltered in one of the buildings and thankfully it cleared up fairly soon.

I was really hoping to do a parkrun in Scotland, as the middle Saturday was the date of it returning. We were moving from Loch Ness to Glencoe on that day, so the plan was to check out, drive to a parkrun, I’d run it and then we’d head to our new place. Sadly, the two that were realistically in driving distance (eg under an hour) didn’t start on that day. I looked into Aviemore as I would love to do that one, but it was nearly 2 hours from where we were (small twisty roads, no direct routes) so in the end I had to accept defeat, and do a (not)parkrun along the canal before we checked out.

It was still exciting to think that all over the land people were returning though- welcome back Scotland!

Part 3:

Vegan cake and the imitation Canada

On the way to our new place we stopped at the café in Fort William to get some cake for later- we were staying in another self-catering place, so of course we can make a pot of tea in the evening to go alongside the cake. Their lemon cake was amazing. We also stopped for a walk through some woods (I got a bit obsessed with trying to see a red squirrel, and we thought it looked like a good place to see one). It reminded me so much of Canada, with the tall pine trees and views of the mountains reflecting in the lake. When we got to our cottage, we looked in the guidebook and it turned out that the land had been created by a man for his wife, who was from Canada and was homesick. I must say that they replicated it perfectly.

Our cottage was close to a little village, so one day we drove down to the centre and then followed a walk to a waterfall, up along the edge of the hills and then back down following part of the West Highland Way (a path which links Glasgow to Fort William). There was a deer just walking through the village- again, a bit like the elk that just wander about in Canada. We also saw a couple of deer in the grass in front of the cottage on a couple of occasions.

Seaweed sculpture, curved train tracks on Glenfinnan Viaduct, coast.

One day we drove out to the coast, looking across the waters to Skye, and reminisced about our holiday last summer. I saw that piece of seaweed and from a distance thought it was a red squirrel! I really wanted to see one! On the way back we stopped at the viaduct, and happened to be there as the steam train went over. We walked along the path under it and then up into the hills surrounding it to get a better view, as you could see the curve much better from that angle.

Another day we drove to Oban and had a walk along the sea- the tide was coming in so fast in the afternoon and there were so many jellyfish. At times it looked as if the beach was covered in bubble wrap as it was covered in hundreds of tiny clear jellyfish, but among them were larger colourful ones.

And one day we headed to Fort William to walk to the fort- it was a gorgeous walk alongside the waters, through some woods and through fields.

My final request was to go back to the “Canadian woods” for a final walk around, and we also went to get a takeaway from the vegan café because their cakes were delicious. Sadly I didn’t spot a red squirrel, but of course that means that I’ll have to go back.

We had to check out fairly early, and so were in Edinburgh by lunch time. Picking up lunch (from Pret obviously) we walked back to the botanical gardens, as the weather was beautiful compared to our last visit.

Later in the afternoon we walked to the top of the park next to the city where you get amazing views of the city on one side and the coast on the other.

Acai bowl, scenes from my run

I decided to have a run in the morning, so met Andy by the Hula Juice Bar to get an acai bowl for breakfast. We walked the long way back to the hotel, via Black Rabbit, as they did amazing looking vegan bakes goods- we got a biscoff cruffin for later.

We were only driving as far as Alnwick, so we stopped at a couple of beaches on the way down. One thing we both really noticed was the lack of masks and social distancing once across the border. I used some public toilets and not one other person had a mask on in there. It was quite jarring to experience.

Northumberland beaches and delicious cruffin

The cruffin was delicious but oh so messy to eat! All that was left was for me to do the parkrun in Alnwick the next morning, and I’ll save that for another post as this one is long enough.

What type of holiday do you enjoy?