Gluten-Free Eating and Dining in Paris
I’ve happily updated this post and list regularly over the years, as Paris has became a much more gluten-free friendly destination. For those who need to avoid gluten, France may present a bit of a challenge than other countries. But gluten-free eating has gained more visibility and in Paris, it’s not the obstacle that it once was. That’s not to say you can easily eat anywhere, but even supermarkets are carrying gluten-free products, and natural food shops offer fresh gluten-free pastries and breads and have aisles of gluten-free products.
Here are a few helpful hints that will help you navigate French restaurants and dining in Paris, how to deal with waiters, and where you can find gluten-free products and foods in Paris, including gluten-free restaurants and wonderful French pastry shops and bakeries that are 100% gluten-free.
-Familiarize yourself with the natural foods shops in Paris.
Well-known ones include Naturalia, La Vie Claire and Biocoop. Many carry gluten-free products and grains. Natural food stores here are some of my favorite places to shop anyways since they carry many regional, organic, and unusual products which are hard-to-find elsewhere in France. Biocoop is perhaps the most varied, although Naturalia has more shops. Most of the supermarkets are also now carrying gluten-free products, too.
-Check out some of the gluten-free restaurants in Paris.
Café Pinson in has several cafés in that usually offers gluten-free options.
Tugalik offers gluten-free choices, which are specifically noted on the menu.
Thank You, My Deer (112, rue Saint Maur) is a very friendly gluten-free cafe.
Fée Nature (69, rue d’Argout, 2nd) is a vegetarian restaurant that reports to be gluten-free.
My Free Kitchen is a gluten-free restaurant, which is also lactose-free, too, and sells gluten-free products.
Also check out 7 Places to Eat Gluten-Free in Paris (in French, Vanity Fair)
Les Lieux 100% sans gluten à Paris (100% Gluten-Free places in Paris, in French, at Gluten Free in Paris)
Bears & Raccoons (21, rue Richard Lenoir)
42 Degrees features raw, vegan, gluten-free dishes.
[Note: A number of the bakeries listed further below have cafés where you can dine gluten-free as well.]
-Check gluten-free “friendly” restaurants.
Soya (20, rue Pierre Levée, Tél: 01 48 06 33 02) is a hip vegetarian restaurant which has clearly marked gluten-free dishes on the menu. The restaurant isn’t strictly gluten-free.
A reader alerted me to Le Potager du Marais, and organic vegetarian restaurant which she noted had clearly marked gluten-free dishes and desserts on offer as well.
Gentle Gourmet is a vegan restaurant, located just next to the canal in the Bastille.
Breizh Café offers buckwheat galettes, made in the traditional way with only buckwheat flour.
Cojean is a chain of small “snack-style” restaurants that has gluten-free options.
-Learn the terms for various grains and other French products.
Check an online French food dictionary here, and I recommend a good French Menu Translator. Although there are plenty of people in Paris who speak English, many of the grains and other terms may be unfamiliar to them.
-Check out a gluten-free French bakery.
Helmut Newcake (36, rue Bichat, 10th, Tél: 09 82 59 00 39, and 28 rue Vignon) is a gluten-free bakery (photo, above), everything sans gluten! There is also a take-out as well. The rue Bichat location features brunch and lunch dining.
Chambelland Boulangerie (14, rue Terneux, 11th) Excellent gluten-free bread bakery and café.
Noglu Épicerie (16, Passage des Panoramas, 2nd) French pastries and take-away food.
Some bakeries that aren’t gluten-free, but carry gluten-free bread (made in a shop with regular bread is made) are Panifica, L’Autre Boulange, and Eric Kayser. (Certain branches may or may not carry them.)
Yummy & Guiltfree is a waffle-bar, promising gluten-free gaufres (Belgian-waffles)
ME (Mon éclair) makes gluten-free éclairs, to order!
LBH is a bakery and pastry shop that offers some gluten-free items.
La Guinguette d’Anglèle describes itself as a gluten-free “mini boutique” with take-away treats.
Gâté is a gluten-free bakery, restaurant and tea salon.
-Bring some supplies and snacks from home.
Take with you some gluten-free energy bars and what-not to carry around and hold you over in case you get hungry and all that’s open are bakeries. They may seem icky to you, but when you’re starving in an airport or train station, where the pickings may be slim, you’ll be thankful.
-Rent an apartment so you can prepare meals yourself.
Sure it’s nice to go out to eat. But it’s equally fun to shop in a Parisian supermarket or outdoor market. It’s also a great way to sample lots of the cheeses, make big salads, sample the fruits, and enjoy other specialties that you can’t always get in restaurants. Check my post: Renting an Apartment in Paris.
Look for signs for traiteurs, gloriously-stocked take-out shops. And keep an eye for things that are de maison, or a similar term containing the word ‘maison‘, that means they’re made on-premises and should know exactly what’s in them and how they’re prepared. And don’t be afraid to ask questions—French people love to talk about food!
-Print out a small card that’s easy-to-read, in French, which very briefly explains your condition.
Servers in France are much busier than their American counterparts since they don’t have busboys, runners, etc…and dining rooms are short-staffed. So make their job easier since they may not have time to play charades with you, and blow you off. Don’t take it personally; just realize they’re busy. Keep it brief so they’re more likely to read it. You can find cards to print out in French here.
-Be a regular at the same restaurants.
Although it’s tempting to try lots of places, most Parisians themselves go to the same restaurants over and over. (They call their favorite their cantine.) Make a nearby restaurant your cantine where the staff knows you. Even if you’re in town for just a week, by your second visit, you’ll be recognized and they’ll look more kindly on you and be much more accommodating.
Also if you dine during slower times, outside of prime dining times (lunch 12:30 to 2pm and dinner 8pm to 11pm) the waiters and cooks will be under less stress and able to look after you better. If dining in a more upscale restaurant, tell them your needs when you make the reservation so they have time to prepare and it’s not such a big surprise.
-Find gluten-free bread in Paris.
Although there are no dedicated gluten-free bakeries that I know of in Paris, Biocoop sells fresh gluten-free bread (although it’s stored on the same shelves, next to the regular bread) as do Naturalia store. Biocoop also has some freshly made gluten-free cakes as well. As mentioned above, both shops have gluten-free sections in their stores that sell a variety of snacks and other foods.
-Apologize for being a bother.
This is the hardest thing for Americans who are used to the ‘Customer Is King’ concept. In France, you may find people less-accommodating than you’re used to as food allergies don’t have the same prominence in France as they have elsewhere. Demanding something or causing a scene won’t work to your advantage in France. Don’t demand a restaurant serve you gluten-free food, but instead, apologize for being a bother – then make your request nicely. They’re likely to take better care of you if they are on your side. French people can be very helpful: You just need to make them want to be. As in many places in America, people don’t understand how careful you must be.
If for some reason they’re not taking you seriously, or you’re concerned that you may be getting something with gluten in it, it’s okay to leave something on your plate, or leave before ordering. Apologize for leaving, thank them, and leave. If you make a scene, you’ll regret it. Don’t let it ruin your vacation. Just move on.
If you’ve already ordered or been served, nicely ask the waiter if you have any concerns without being accusatory. If you’re unsure, just drink the wine and ask for a plate of cheese or a salad with oil and vinegar à parte, on the side, since bottled dressings (which are used frequently) often have wheat starch added.
In France, it’s very rare to return food or to change food once it’s brought to the table (or even after it’s been ordered) so you’re likely to be charged for the meal even if you don’t eat it or it’s not to your liking.
Once again, don’t let something minor ruin your vacation. Imagine if a non-English speaking person came to America with a strict dietary need that was not well-known and the waiter didn’t speak their language or understand.
And if you’re frustrated, take another sip of wine and let out an exasperated *sigh*…you’ll fit right in amongst the Parisians!
Ten Insanely-Good Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris: Plenty of great suggestions that are gluten-free.
Top 14 Gluten-free Restaurants in France (Marie France, in French)
l’Association Francaise Des Intolérants Au Gluten: French Association of Gluten Intolerants (In French)
Gluten-Free Passport Travel Guide for France & Italy
Schär Gluten-Free Products: Available in Europe—site has search engine for stores which stock their products in France.
The American Hospital of Paris has English-speaking doctors in case you need medical care. You will likely have to pay out-of-pocket then apply for reimbursement when you get home, if you’re American.
French Gluten-Free Food Blogs