Paris Sans Gluten

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

I’ve been in Paris, but you knew that because the title says so.  This was perhaps our strangest visit but no less enjoyable for that.  We’ve visited Paris four times, on the first visit I was a happy gluten eating honeymooner chomping my way through pastries, baguettes and anything else I could lay my hands on.  Since then I’ve had to be gluten free in Paris.  It’s not easy but it’s doable and my husband was always very kind about not eating piles of croissant in front of me.  On this visit however I wasn’t the only one with a diet restriction.  Thanks to a recent illness my husband couldn’t have caffeine, alcohol, butter, chocolate, tomatoes or citrus.  So there we were, two people in the city of pastries, butter, red wine and chocolate unable to eat any of it!  So what did we eat?  There was a lot of salad...

This is a sort of round up of research I’ve done about managing a gluten free diet in Paris (complete with random pretty Paris pictures).  Rule number one, rent an apartment.  It’s just as cheap as a hotel and you get to play at being a Parisian.  This takes the pressure off having to eat out all the time as you can cook your own food.  Paris has some wonderful food markets abundant in fresh produce.  If you are anything like me, then wandering through a market will make you happy.  Even the small supermarkets have a pretty good stock of fresh produce.  Not the kind of limp lettuce and bruised fruit you find in your average UK corner shop. 

I found this chain of organic shops called Naturalia very useful.  They stock a good range of gluten free products including pastas and flours.  Supermarkets also carry a range of gluten free foods but these tend to be more processed and less healthy.
Take your own gluten free snacks.  You can deal with croissant cravings a lot better if you have food to cram in to your mouth to distract yourself.
If you are a braver soul than me and more confident in your French speaking abilities then eating out is much more possible.  I always find myself rather intimidated by the speed of French waiters.  It’s always a good idea to phone ahead to your chosen restaurant and explain your condition.  These restaurant cards come in handy as they explain the coeliac diet clearly.
There is a gluten free cafe called Helmut Newcake.  I was desperate to try this place but sadly it was shut on the one day we were planning to go.  I hadn’t realised how many shops and museums close in Paris on a Monday!  Don’t get caught out like me when you are planning your trip.
David Lebovitz has a great post all about dining and eating gluten free in Paris.  This is a great place to start.
If you are unfortunate enough to be unable to enjoy caffeine and alcohol then sipping tea at one of Paris’ tea salons is always an option.  MariageFrères do a good range of tea, with many caffeine free options.  We sipped a cup of their Casablanca blend at Chez Félicie.
Finally, a couple of Paris blogs I like to give you a few ideas of things to see and explore, sometimes off the well beaten tourist track.  The HiP Paris Blog and Lost in Cheeseland
Bon appétit!


  1. I thought being vegetarian in Paris was hard enough when we were there! But it sounds like you guys have a pretty good handle on the traveling-with-diet-restrictions thing. That card looks really useful. And yes, renting an apartment! That's the #1 piece of advice right there.

    1. Thanks Eileen. Yes it's been a bit of a learning curve but having your own space to cook definitely takes the stress out of it.