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Feb 16, 2011 10:45 AM

Gluten Free in Paris??!!

Any recommendations for GF foods/pastries/snacks around the 14th in Paris? My husband and I are going in September for a week. As it is a work function, our dinners will be taken care of but we are on our own for breakfasts/lunches/snacks/shopping. I have not been to France since being diagnosed with Celiac and have no clue where to begin. We would be willing to travel outside the 14th, too.

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  1. Well, comrade, you're in trouble. Gluten-free is, alas, an unexplored continent in France. And given the mythical, central status of bread, it is an uphill battle. In fact, I found the gluten-free goods to be better in the US than what you can find in France (so much so that I'm thinking about starting a business here by importing recipes from... Connecticut. How crazy is the world?).

    I have one address: the yellow crepe stand on bd du Montparnasse called Génia, across the bd from rue Vavin, has genuine buckwheat crepe. You can ask them for a sweet or savory crepe, but you need to specify you want buckwheat (sarrasin) if it's a sweet one as they're traditionally made with wheat. Sausage and ham are not gluten-free, but cheese, eggs, meat are, as are of course nutella, jam and sugar (I like their "spéciale": ground beef with spices, tomatoes and mushrooms, cheese and egg).

    In most other crepe stands, all crepes have flour in them, even the buckwheat ones.

    Naturalia (organic groceries) has some gluten-free stuff, none of it too appealing, frankly.

    And of course, the grilled meat and fish and the veggies are always safe orders. But beware of all sauces.

    To my knowledge, there is one gluten-free restaurant in Paris. It is called Des Si et Des Met (, on 63 rue Lepic, in Montmartre. The chef is very good (former vegetable chef de partie at l'Arpège) and the hostess is very pretty. That's all I know about this restaurant, haven't tried it yet.

    Pho 67, on rue Galande, has MSG free pho soups.

    5 Replies
    1. re: souphie

      Soupie, sounds like it is going to be even more difficult than I thought! I wonder how the heck I will get through without getting glutened?? Thankfully I have no GI symptoms and do not get sick but obviously I do not want to harm my insides. I am also very concerned about the dinners - we are going out to superb restaurants each evening (in dinner groups of 8). I mean, being in Paris totally surrounded by gluten? It almost makes me sick thinking about it.

      Thanks for the information - it is very helpful. Will check out Des Si et Des Met.

      1. re: chefathome

        Look, I'm gluten intolerant too and I live here, and I like to think I eat pretty well. But you have to resist the bread, which is the most difficult part, in my opinion.

        It's not hard to eat gluten free in superb French restaurants, but you have to make it clear that you can't tolerate any flour, any bread, any breading, any soy sauce. Scare them by pretending it will kill you.

        Le Cinq for instance can absolutely manage and even has gluten free bread. At Joséphine, most dishes are flour free. A true bearnaise is gluten-free. So is a real mayonnaise. Be mindful of most stews like boeuf bourguignon, for they often are thickened with flour. And of most cured meat, as they usually are seasoned with wheat dextrose (but artisanal charcutier will offer wonderful stuff that is gluten free).

        What I'm saying is, no one knows what gluten is here, so you need to be careful and basically can't expect to trust anyone. Anyway, feel free to contact me directly for advice.

        1. re: souphie

          The breads would definitely be my biggest temptation as well. I am so pleased to hear that Le Cinq manages and is at least knowledgeable about GF. That is one of the places we are going to for dinner.

          I was off gluten for nearly six months (had to wait ages for my biopsies) so I got good at it but it is far easier at home than eating out, obviously. The problem is I would have no clue whether I was glutened or not! Plus this is my first Paris trip since my diagnosis so I will really struggle as a MAJOR food fanatic.

          I will contact you when I have more specific questions. I first wanted to sort of get a feel of how Paris is with this issue (of course some countries are easier than others). Thanks lots!

      2. re: souphie

        Just for anyone who is still following this chain (I read every post in detail) Des Si et Des Met is no longer open.

      3. You might consider something like this: I was recently in Berlin for over a week, and made my own card to carry in my purse. One server was even kind enough to correct my poor grammar! I found that as long as I ate in places that cooked to order, kitchens were accommodating and considerate. Of course, Germany isn't France, but I imagine the French will take you seriously if you make yourself clear. Calling or emailing ahead is always a good idea, too.

        One thing to note, I felt this definitely required budgeting and planning, because I was unable to eat just anywhere. You likely won't be able to grab a quick bite in little cafes, because much of the food is made ahead and wheat based. I did end up with a protein and a salad at a few places until my traveling companions grasped that I required an actual restaurant, and preferably to make reservations specifying my needs in order to get much in the way of carbohydrate. Don't forget about cross contamination, too, because if your crepe is made on a griddle that also makes wheat based crepes, or the same ladle is used, that's damaging, too. I am glad to hear you aren't symptomatic, because, well, at least you won't be sick on a business trip... good luck!

        1 Reply
        1. re: amyzan

          I did use those cards when off gluten whilst awaiting my biopsy (takes months here to get in) and during that time was in Italy, Slovenia and Croatia where they definitely came in handy. It was not a good sign when after reading the cards people looked totally clueless! After the first few places we started to get the hang of it but you're right - you must plan like crazy! Every morsel that goes into your mouth must be well thought out. Once I find out where we all we are going I will definitely email each restaurant to alert them of this. Thanks for the reminder re crepes! So they do GF crepes? That would be a great help!!

          After our week in Paris my husband and I are heading to another country for two more weeks (unsure which yet but somewhere in Europe) so will be getting plenty of experience!! Plus we own a house in Croatia where, thankfully, we are able to do our own food prep (mostly grilling fish and such).

          Amyzan, thanks for your help! At first I was quite frightened of the prospects but I think it is also because I was just diagnosed last week and SHOCKED at the results. It takes awhile for something like CD to sink in. I mean, I LOVE gluten so much!!!

        2. We were in Paris for a week last September, my wife requires GF and and provided you explain things first up you will have no problems. There is usually something on the menu that is OK and the waiters are extremely helpful. My wife often ordered duck, but be careful of any jus and don't be afraid to ask about ingredients. Le Cinq, Josephine Chez Dumonet and Cafe Constant are on our list for this September and it is good to hear that Le Cinq has GF bread. Thankyou souphie.

          1 Reply
          1. re: DownUnder

            Juices and sauces at Joséphine are also beyond suspicion, homemade, and they know what's in it. It is unfortunately not the case with many restaurants, that use industrial fonds or sauces. Even some nice ones.

          2. I bought a new book that will be useful to anyone going to France--The Gluten-Free Guide to France. its got tons of restaurants with prices, websites and location stuff. Can't wait to use it when I go to Nice in 2 weeks! Good luck and have fun on your trip. I know I will on mine!

            1. I hav read that Macarons have no flour in them - anyone else verify?

              3 Replies
              1. re: bucksgirl

                It depends. Many, esp the bigger ones, have a bit of flour in them. But indeed, the true recipe is egg white, almond powder and sugar, so they are gluten-free.

                The ones at Renard, like everything in the shop actually, are entirely GF.

                1. re: souphie

                  It is very good to know that Gregory Renard's macarons are gluten free, although I am about to go off sugar too. In my opinion his are the best in town, especially the pomme cannelle.