I was working on this follow-up post about Paris for a while now. I was quite upset by the Paris terrorist attacks in November, just a few short weeks after my trip, so I put this on pause. To think that locals and tourists in Paris were enjoying a night out in the city only to be disrupted by total carnage was so disturbing. Add on top of that the new friends and my boyfriend’s family living in Paris and I just felt too sad to write a post celebrating a city that was in mourning.
Then I read a great post by trop travel writer Wendy Perrin called “7 Keys to Traveling Without Fear Despite Terrorist Attacks” and I knew I needed to follow-up with my gluten-free travel tips for Paris. Being a New Yorker who saw how the city desperately wanted to bounce back after 9/11, I wanted to contribute to Paris’s healing through tourism. As Wendy’s article emphasizes, the probability of being in a terrorist attack situation is quite low. We cannot let evil take away from our ability to travel the world. I urge you to go to continue to travels. While you might not want to visit Paris right now, please bookmark these tips for your future trip!
Gluten-Free Globetrotter Travel Tips for Paris
Visit the Farmers’ Markets. One of my favorite “finds” of the week in Paris was the Oberkampf-area farmers market. We stumbled upon this market one rainy morning and wandered around looking at all of the fresh produce, amazing cheeses, and even the random rabbit (to eat!) Much of the food was naturally gluten-free, so this is a great place to shop especially if you are planning a Parisian picnic. There are many farmers markets on different days all around Paris, so be sure to find one near you!
Go the supermarket. The most popular supermarkets in Paris seem to be Marks and Spencers, Carrefour, and Monoprix. All three chain supermarkets have gluten-free options if you look carefully. Marks and Spencers have pre-made gluten-free sandwiches (look for Sans Gluten in a green package in the refrigerator case) and they have their own line of Free From foods.
Drink gluten-free beer with caution! Most of the gluten-free beer I found in Paris was “deglutenized” or gluten-removed. In France, this can still be labeled gluten-free which is different here in the states. These beers have barley malt that is deglutenized. I drank one but didn’t drink another because I was too nervous about getting sick.
Bring translation cards. Don’t be shy about using them. Not all of my waiters understood what gluten-free meant, but they shared the card with the chef and it was helpful. Also, learn a few key phrases like “sans gluten” (gluten-free).
Get a great map. I found the streets and “arrondissements” (neighborhoods) of Paris slightly confusing but having a map helps. I looked for maps in NYC before I left, but the best maps are found in Paris. I bought mine at the very top of the Arc de Triomphe.
Download the Paris Metro app from iTunes. This app was fantastic and you don’t need internet connection to use the app. I used this every time we took the metro. The metro is very easy to use and got us around everywhere with no problems. There are multi-day tickets that save you money on the metro as well as top tourist sites that we used.
Go early. Paris is a very crowded city. My boyfriend and I made sure to get up early each day to get a jump on the crowds. Even going to the Louvre early in the morning we waited for more than 30-40 minutes to get inside!
Bring gluten-free food to the cafe or bar, but ask first. I went to a number of bars and cafes that did not serve food but served wine and great coffee. I always asked before taking my own food out of my bag, but the staff usually had no problem with me bringing in bread from Chambelland or Marks and Spencers. They came in handy when we were at a bar that served charcuterie and cheese. Click here for more recommendations on bakeries!
Drink wine! Wine is sometimes cheaper than bottled water and ALWAYS cheaper than soda. And it’s great wine, French don’t settle for crappy wine. Cheers! Salut!