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A gluten free, dairy free trip to Avignon, France

By Jessica Lawrence

Avignon, France. Courtesy of MichelleWalz

I have just returned from a trip to Avignon and surrounds and am still suffering the consequences, as I am wheat intolerant, lactose intolerant and generally follow a kosher diet, so initially found it very difficult to find places catering to these particular dietary needs.

However after near-enough a week in Avignon I discovered a restaurant; a specialized small health food shop; an indoor market and a supermarket where celiacs and the dairy intolerant can find a selection of tasty things to eat.

Whilst walking around near "Place de Pie" in a state of famished confusion, I stumbled upon a small health food shop where the owner bakes her own gluten free bread and specializes in gluten free food! What a serendipitous find!

The lady who runs the shop caters to Celiacs and is extremely helpful, friendly and informative. Her English is limited so if you can converse in French,all the better. I loaded myself up with several loaves of home baked gluten free bread and a few days' worth of lactose free snacks. The shop is called "Votre Magasin Biologigue" and it is located on "Rue de la Petit Meuse" which is opposite "Les Halles" the indoor gourmet food market extending off "Place de Pie."

The indoor market has stalls of beautifully displayed vegetables, meats, cheeses and olives. I saw locals eating their freshly purchased goods while sitting at tables inside the market and having a coffee and surfing the net on their laptops - a relaxing way to spend an hour in the morning.

While you are in this centre square you can also buy a range of gluten and lactose free food at the small supermarket "Carrefour," 19 rue Florence et 5 rue Jacob. This sits facing "Place de Pie" on the other side of the square off "Place de Jerusalem."

"Carrefour" sells the usual supermarket fare but has rice crackers, ryvita,smoked salmon, smoked fish, yogurts, tubs of pureed fruit, some gluten free prepared salads(I had a tub of beetroot salad) and fruit and veg. Meat eaters will also find sliced chicken and ready to eat cooked meats but you must check labels carefully.

We found one restaurant where I could eat dairy and gluten free food in Avignon for a reasonable price and where the staff were really helpful. It is called "Le Grande Brasserie Le Cintra"- which is located on 44,cours Jean Jaurès - 84000 AVIGNON, Tél.: 04 90 82 29 80 - Fax : 04 90 27 93 49. This is on a main street and easy to find opposite the Tourist Office on 41 cours Jean Jaures.

A lovely plate of grilled fish, rice and vegetables was about fourteen euros, which is very reasonable for a main course and the portions were filling. The great thing about this place is that the staff will try and accommodate your needs, which is not the reaction we experienced in many other restaurants where a request to vary the menu, even slightly, was met with strong resistance.

If you can eat lactose and like ice-cream the deserts at "Le Grande Brasserie Le Cintra" are to- die-for, my companion had an ice-cream Sunday loaded with fruit and topped with fresh cream for about five euros.

However make sure you discuss the ingredients with the staff as the chocolate sauce etc may have some gluten in it but they were willing to make changes to the menu fare, which was very refreshing and made the meal a much more pleasurable experience.

I hope this information eases the frustration of finding gluten free food in Avignon and lends more time for sight- seeing and exploring the city's amazing architecture.

About the author: Jessica Lawrence lives in North West London, is a poet primarily but also qualified as a nurse and worked in pubic health and health education. She developed severe absorption problems of the bowel in 2005 after bowel surgery but manages her condition fairly well following a strict gluten and lactose free diet.

And of course, remember your free French Gluten Free Travel Card


Wherever you're going, remember to take a free gluten free restaurant card with you.

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