Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gluten Free in France

A large chunk of my recent Europe trip was spent in France- Paris, Carcassone, Arles, Orange, Nice and Monaco.  French cuisine is notoriously gluten filled, and there aren't many eateries touting gluten free items.  This doesn't mean that eating gluten free in France is impossible.  Like anywhere else, it requires a bit of research, patience and questioning.  The word for gluten is the same in French as in English, so asking for items "sans gluten" is always recommended.  Wheat is "blé" (pronounces blay). 

Like Spain, fresh food is abundant, and simple meals can be ordered in even the fanciest of restaurants.  If you want to have some food of your own on hand just in case, here are some options.

La Vie Claire is an organic grocery chain with locations all over France.  I stumbled upon it just steps from our hotel in Paris, and was amazed to find gluten free items advertised in store.  Despite selling organic food, the prices were quite reasonable and the selection was pretty good.  Along with packaged goods they also sold fresh food items and had a cooler with yogurt, cheese, etc.

There are several supermarket chains in France.  One of the biggest is the chain Carrefour.  If you can read French, the website lists their line of gluten free specialty foods available in their stores, including baguettes.  Definitely worth a look.

One of the places I stumbled upon gluten free food was the pharmacy.  Yup.  I was buying some throat lozenges, and turned around to see a gluten free product staring me in the face.  Since eating gluten free is the result of a medical condition for many, prepackaged gluten free items can be found in pharmacies across the country.  I snapped a pic of the item I came across.  Not only does it have gluten free plastered in bold cap letters across the front, it also has the no wheat symbol on the front.  Asking the pharmacist will help point you in the right direction. 

There are also many, many food markets across France, where vendors can help you choose items that are safe to consume for those avoiding gluten.  Some markets are open daily, while others operate only on certain days of the week.  Most travel guides can provide information about which markets are open when.  In Nice, there is a lovely market that's open daily, with a large selection of artisanal goods. 

Finally, if you're in Paris, there's a new bakery that's completely gluten free.  Unfortunately I didn't have the chance to visit since I was on a strict schedule, but if you have the time, Helmut Newcake has been receiving rave reviews.   I can't find their website, but their facebook page is HERE.  Send me a line and let me know if the pastries are as good as they look in the pictures.

France is one of my favourite countries, and there's no reason why being gluten free should be a deterrent to visiting.  Pack a dictionary and your sense of adventure and enjoy all the country has to offer!

1 comment :

  1. Nice post!!
    Gluten free diet preferred by those who have celiac diseases..