It happens to the best of us… the dreaded “glutening,” when you accidentally ingest gluten and then suffer tremendously. I am sharing this story for a lot of reasons. First of all, I want to be honest with my readers and let you know that a seasoned celiac such as myself gets sick sometimes. Also, I wanted to address “victim shaming.” Some details might be a little gross. You’ve been warned.
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!
Paris is the land of baguettes, pan au chocolat, croissants, and more gluten-filled bread products than the eye can see. Never in all of my travels and 34 years of living with celiac disease did I wish I could eat gluten as much as I did in Paris. But I NEVER cheat on my gluten-free diet so I did research on gluten-free instead. It isn’t worth the pain, agony, and days of recovery, not to mention all of the damage I would cause my body if I took even a bite of a regular baguette. But damn, that French bread looked good. Every corner has a boulangerie, patisserie, and épicerie, all places to buy delicious Parisian breads that are NOT gluten-free. Alas, this made the trip slightly frustrating.
But on the flip side, there are a few gluten-free bakeries in Paris where a celiac traveler can enjoy some delicious bread products. The French take their bread very seriously and this goes for their gluten-free bread too. There are also wonderful farmers markets and speciality shops that make gluten-free life in Paris a little easier.
As with every trip, I did a ton of research before I left. I am glad I put together a list of gluten-free bakeries, restaurants, and markets before I left for Paris. With my printed list and a really great map that I purchased at the top of the Arc de Triomphe, I was able to navigate and eat gluten-free across the city.
Helmut Newcake was a lunch destination on one of the very first days of our trip to Paris. It was Saturday so we each chose a plate from the small lunch menu (about 5 choices) and also dessert. I was thrilled to see baguettes so I ordered on of those too. The waiter gave me a slightly strange look and said “To eat alone?” and I said yes. I did share with my boyfriend Victor but I ate about 80% of it on my own. No shame! On Sundays, you can make reservations for brunch at this location of Helmut Newcake. It is a small restaurant, so definitely call ahead for a reservation! There is also a second location, although I never made it there.
Patisserie Helmut Newcake
Everything is gluten free paradise!
Look at all of the choices!
Gluten-Free Baguettes make this Gluten-Free Globetrotter very happy
I went to Chambelland Boulangerie three times during my trip to Paris. Needless to say, this was my favorite gluten-free bakery in Paris! Chambelland has a beautiful display case full of pastries, cookies, and breads. The breads were so amazing, it is hard to believe they are gluten-free. Large beautiful loaves of bread lined the glass cases each day at Chambelland Boulangerie. Chambelland seems to bake just enough for the day and many days they sell out by late afternoon. My top suggestion is to go early and get your gluten-free bread for the day. Also, make sure you get one (or many) of their amazing desserts. My absolute favorite was the raspberry tartlette with some of the freshest raspberries I have ever eaten in my life. While eating lunch at Chambelland, I heard at least three people walk in and exclaim “I can eat everything here?!” If you have celiac, you would probably say the same thing! The prices here were very reasonable as compared to gluten-free baked goods at home. One of the flat loaves of bread was about 5 Euro which is cheaper than most loaves in the US.
Tuna salad sandwich
Poppy seeds for days
Check out those loaves of bread
More bread, all gluten-free
Patchwork of beautiful gluten-free breads
Time for dessert
Which one should I choose?
Chocolat bread, yes please!
16 Passage des Panoramas, 75002 Paris, France
NoGlu was the place that was hyped up the most for me before my trip. Almost every celiac I know who went to Paris all said NoGlu was a must. Victor and I managed to get there the very last day of our trip. I guess we were too hungry to notice the bakery in the beautiful Passage des Panoramas when we arrived. (Seriously, this Passage was gorgeous and one of the things I loved about our trek to NoGlu.) We only saw the bakery/takeaway when we left and had just finished lunch at the restaurant. I didn’t buy anything at the bakery which was probably a mistake but the lunch at NoGlu was quite expensive and we skipped dessert. I actually wish we had eaten at the takeaway spot instead because we would have saved a LOT of money and also had room for dessert. NoGlu just opened a location in New York City, so I will have to go and try the pastries there. Of course it is not the same as eating them in Paris! But if the treats I tried last week at a NYC NoGlu baking event are any indication, the rest of the baked goods from NoGlu will be delicious.
This small shop was right near my Airbnb so I knew I had to go. It is open Wednesday-Sunday in a great part of the city. I was so happy to find them still open late on a Sunday afternoon. This place is like a gluten-free heaven in the middle of Paris. Everything in the store is 100% gluten-free and much of it (if not all) is imported from Italy. This place is a must, especially if you are feeling frustrated with not finding much gluten-free food in the markets of Paris. There is a small Italian restaurant just across the way from this shop and they will prepare you a gluten-free meal too. I think they have the same owners. I bought many food souvenirs from this shop which also helped me get through some hungry mornings in Paris. Definitely add Eat Gluten Free to your itinerary!
Eat Gluten Free
Doesn’t get much easier than this in France!
Huge selection of gluten-free food
Tons of gluten-free pasta
gluten-free baked goods
Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, between rue Oberkampf and Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
Open Tuesday and Friday, 7:00 am to 2:30 pm
I love farmers markets; so when Victor and I stumbled across this one on the way to Chambelland, I was thrilled. The produce looked like some of the freshest I have ever seen. There were beautiful fruit, vegetables, eggs, cheeses, meats, and fish as far as the eye could see. There were also vendors selling housewares, clothing, shoes, and more. It was so fun to walk around and feel like a Parisian doing some daily shopping.
This place is GORGEOUS! Victor and I were strolling up Boulevard Beaumarchais. He was admiring the motorcycle shops and I was just window shopping. When I saw this place, I knew I had to go in. There is a little bit of everything in this store and restaurant combination and it is wonderful. If I could move into the basement of Maison Plisson, I would. Wine, chocolate, mustards, oils, spices, jams, even more wine, even more chocolate. It was like a epicurean heaven. While I didn’t see that many gluten-free options, there were a few on the shelves. Upstairs, there is a charcuterie counter, cheese counter, produce, and even a restaurant. For those of you who have been to Eataly in NYC, this is like a smaller more carefully curated destination market. I loved this beautiful market and would highly recommend a stop here for any foodie.
I didn’t shop here, but the sign in the window caught my eye. “No Gluten? YES!” Besides at the gluten-free bakeries and restaurants that I researched ahead of time, I didn’t see many references to gluten in Paris. This particular store (I forget what street we were on) had a small selection of gluten-free food. From the Naturalia website, it looks like they are quite aware of gluten-free at their stores and online shop.
I went in to probably every supermarket I saw in Paris. I wanted to scope out the gluten-free scene. There were limited choices, but at least something in every store. I found familiar brands like Schar and new-to-me brands like Gerblé (Make sure you find the Sans Gluten!)*** Not all products were located in the same area of the store, so you might have to look around a bit to find gluten-free food.
Here are my suggestions for everyday groceries in Paris. Check each website for locations.
Marks and Spencer (They have their own Free From line which includes pre-made sandwiches)
I hope you find this bakery and grocery guide helpful. Stay tuned for the next part of my Paris adventures and where I ate during my time in France!
*** NOTE: I have been told that Gerblé Sans Gluten might not be safe for consumption. I have written to the company to inquire about production and ingredients and will report back their response as soon as possible. As with any recommendation I make on this website, it is ultimately up to you to research each product you eat and eery restaurant you are eating in.
Did you ever dream of eating decadent gluten-free pastries in France? How about picturing yourself skiing and swishing your way through the French Alps? Would you go on a vacation where you can do both? It’s not a dream, it’s a reality this coming January and April.
While in France last month, I met Lisa Rumsey, a doctor turned cooking teacher living just outside of Paris. After 5 years in Singapore, Lisa has returned France and blogging (in English) at BienCuitGF and teaching gluten-free baking and cooking classes out of her home.
In January and April 2016, Lisa is hosting an amazing baking experience in the French Alps. Half the day will be spent baking while the other half of the day will be spent exploring the area. Depending on the season there might be snow-shoe or hiking, cycling, market visit, wine and cheese tasting or foraging. While in the kitchen, guests will make some Alpine specialities for dinner along with homemade bread and French desserts. Lunch and afternoon tea will also be part of the baking sessions. All classes will be in English!
These “residential classes” are being held at Chalet Savoie Faire, a “hidden treasure in the heart of the French Alps.” This barn turned luxury bed and breakfast will be your home for the week of gluten-free baking and cooking. You are in great hands with Lisa in the kitchen and hostess/chef Nikki by her side. This getaway sounds truly amazing and I am trying figure out if I can afford another trip to France!
My birthday is in April so if anyone wants to send me as a present, I will not say NO. 🙂
January 8-13, 2016 or April 24-29, 2016 Gluten-Free Cookery Class and Stay in the French Alps Chalet Savoie Faire
Itinerary includes: French-themed gluten free baking for 4 half days along with a market visit, Alpine foraging, snow shoeing or skiing if there’s snow, or hiking or biking (or reading and snoozing!) and wine and cheese tasting.
All the food provided is gluten free – some of it made by us during class! There will be three delicious meals a day, including a 3 course dinner with wine, plus a gluten free afternoon teatime, so pack those walking boots!
The fee for the course is 1450 euros (approximately $1600 USD) per person and does not include airfare. The course requires a minimum of 4 people to run and numbers are limited to maximum of 8. The dates are somewhat flexible, so if you have other dates that are of interest, please let Lisa know, especially if you have a group of friends you would like to bring along!