A Gluten-Free Guide to Paris

My recent trip to Paris, was full of incredible food – fresh fruits and vegetables, roasted chicken, specialty sausages, and the cheese – don’t even get me started on the cheese.


But as incredible as my food experiences were in Paris, it is not the most “gluten-free friendly” place to visit. The perfume of fresh baked goods was intoxicating. The bakeries lining the streets with fresh croissants and baguettes seemed to be mocking me. Even I had a hard time keeping a positive attitude amidst the constant reminder of all I couldn’t have.

Luckily my friend and hostess Katie did everything in her power to make the weekend a fun gluten-free travel adventure. She read the French Celiac disease site before I arrived. She set up a dinner party at her place and invited Axel and Valerie, another gluten-free couple. She wanted to experiment in the kitchen with me – resulting in a decadent gluten-free French apple pie.

While France is still not as gluten aware as I found Italy to be, you can still have a fun time with a little bit of research and a good attitude. There is so much to see and do – just try to put blinders on as you pass by all of the bakeries. Here are a few tips and resources for a delicious gluten-free trip to Paris.
Le Marais Market Montage
Bring a stack of gluten-free travel cards in French – even if you speak the language it’s a handy way for the server to communicate your needs to the chef.

Stick to simple dishes in restaurants – the wine, cheese and sausage I had in Paris was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. For something lighter, salads, omelets and vegetable dishes can usually be prepared safely if you check with your server

Le Marais Produce

Don’t eat out every meal – Instead, visit the grocery store – for regular food and specialty gluten-free products. Naturalia and La Vie Claire are great sources for gluten-free breads, crackers, flours, cookies, etc. Even bigger, mainstream stores such as Monoprix and Casino sometimes have gluten-free products. Katie and I both loved the Valpiform gluten-free Madeleines.

Gluten Free Madeleine Cookie in Paris

Visit the outdoor markets – I loved exploring the Parisian markets with Katie. We found a great artisanal sausage stand and selected one made with wine and another made with figs. I would have never thought that figs would make a good addition – but the texture and flavor was remarkable!
Le Marais Market Sausage 3
The owner of this stand told us that lesser quality sausage makers with dust the outside with flour to get the texture of the ‘real’ product. Sure enough when I was in the grocery store, half of the packages listed wheat flour as an ingredient – so again, always read and ask before assuming it’s safe!

Find a gluten-free friendly restaurant – If you tire of the plain dishes or just want a break from the grocery store, make a special trip to a restaurant that understand gluten-free. At the time of my visit there weren’t too many options, but Japanese and vegetarian restaurants were frequently recommended. Guenmai in the 6th arrondissement came up in multiple conversations though I didn’t get a chance to visit.

Try not to focus on the food – You are in Paris!! Really now, enjoy yourself! With sights like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Mona Lisa, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, and Versailles, just to start – who needs a croissant?

For more advice on eating gluten-free in the city of lights –
David Lebovitz – Living the Sweet Life in Paris
Way of the Celiac Traveler

And if you have any tips – please share!

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Lea said,

March 15, 2008 @ 1:00 am

I love reading all of your information on Paris. My husband and I are planning our first trip there next August to visit some of his family. I just cannot wait to try the different cheeses.

We are also planning on visiting Italy while we are there. Your posts just makes the anticipation harder at times. We have just a little over 400 days. Not much time at all. Ha ha.

Thank you for all of the wonderful information.

Sheltie Girl said,

March 15, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

Your new site is beautiful. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing these tips on traveling to Paris with us.

Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

Shannon B said,

March 17, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

Fantastic photos! The cheese made me drool 😀

I was also a huge fan of your Italy post but I’m also thrilled with this France post. It’s like you’ve come back the conquering hero.

I also think it’s very encouraging (especially to newly diagnosed Celiacs) to realize they can still travel to exotic places… it just might take a little preparation (and if your lucky, like you were, help from your friends!)

Sarah said,

April 2, 2008 @ 1:19 am

Thanks for the helpful information! I am traveling around France in September so I will keep my eye out for the Naturalia and La Vie Claire for GF bread to keep in the apartment!

» Gluten-Free Blue Cheese and Pear Salad Recipe | A Gluten Free Guide said,

April 13, 2008 @ 2:04 pm

[…] my gluten-free trip to Paris, I put my obsession with cheese and all things French to work in the kitchen with this gluten-free […]

TJ said,

April 15, 2008 @ 9:56 pm

Oh Catherine…you make me long for a return visit to Paris! I went once before I was gluten free and once shortly after my Celiac diagnosis. Everyone said to cancel my trip and I ignored them. I’m so glad I did the research to find out it was possible to eat gluten free deliciously in Paris! It was much easier than here in the US. This year, we’ll be vacationing in NYC, which I think is the next best place (behind most of Europe) if you’re gluten free. Also, I order those Valpiform Madelienes from http://www.icaneatit.com and use two for a strawberry shortcake base…yummy! They also travel well.

Fabia said,

September 5, 2008 @ 6:09 am

wonderful site. thanks heaps for the useful informations…i’ll be going to paris and milano shortly, i also bought the gluten free guide for italy- great book!! keep it up :)

» The Gluten-Free Diet - Sometimes it just Sucks | A Gluten Free Guide said,

December 7, 2008 @ 3:38 am

[…] I ate amazingly well and completely gluten-free in Paris.  Yes I can eat gluten-free pizza at multiple restaurants in Manhattan.  Yes, there are […]

Jessica said,

February 4, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

Beautiful pictures of Paris – reminds me why I like to live here :)

I just went to this great 100% gluten free restaurant in paris and wrote a review on it here: http://thebestofglutenfree.wordpress.com/2009/01/28/8/

It’s called Des Si et Des Mets and its in the 18th arrondissement. Good stuff :)

» Gluten Free Recipes - Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze | A Gluten Free Guide said,

February 16, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

[…] year I escaped the awkward Valentine’s holiday by visiting a friend in Paris. This year I decided to invite a couple friends over to my place for dinner to avoid the romantic […]

Karin said,

May 24, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I am an American who has been living in Paris for about a year A couple of months ago, I was hit hard with health repercussions stemming from food intolerances. I’m currently on a gluten, lactose/dairy, yeast, and sugar-free diet to decide what the root cause is (and based on my research, I think it is a gluten and lactose intolerance, both). Heh! I know just what you mean about being surrounded by delicious foods and feeling deprived. I’ve been watching the diet carefully for about 7-8 weeks now. It’s really not fun some days, but it is do-able here in Paris.

The other recommendation I would have for travelers is to take advantage of the fresh fruit and vegetable markets/stalls here in the city. Lots of good, fresh fruits and veggies make for healthy eating while on the go. Health food stores, such as the chain you mention, Naturalia, are cropping up *everywhere* and are expanding, too.

I’m looking forward to checking out the Des Si et Des Mets restaurant one of these days.

Good luck to all travelers with food intolerances visiting this beautiful city.

Kim McGowan said,

December 22, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

Wow, I wish I had come across this a few days ago. I have just come back from an incredible and extended (thanks to Eurostar) trip to Paris. Being gluten free was much easier than anticipated, and was a healthy girl the whole time! Merci Paris!!!!!

Gluten Free Hotels Guide said,

July 29, 2011 @ 9:29 am

If you are looking for hotels in Paris which are able to serve gluten-free food, please visit http://www.glutenfreehotelsguide.com/city.php?id=4.
The site lists hotels all over the world which are able to serve gluten free food.

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