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Living and traveling gluten free in France

by Katherine McMahon of GlutenFreeTraveller

Oh France...the Eiffel Tower....the wine.... the aged cheese..... and the freshly baked croissants....WAIT the freshly baked croissants that we cannot eat!!! So now you are probably wondering how I can live in the most gluten infested place ever, well it really isn't as hard as you think. After spending a year in Italy immediately after being diagnosed, I learned how to turn that want off in my brain. But don't get me wrong I still sometimes crave a baguette or pain au chocolat, but I just tell myself I am healthier without it!


Loire valley

My first year living in France was spent in a little ski village located in the Alps called Briancon. Thankfully there were quite a few bio (health food) stores there because of the mass amounts of tourists that flocked there in the winter for the ski season. I easily found bread, pasta, cookies, flour, and yes gf croissants! It was also very easy to eat out there as the mountain food is usually made up of potatoes or some other item smothered in cheese. Their specialty is fondue (which I stayed away from), raclette, and tartiflette. All three are deliciously fatty mountain food. I recommend raclette, which is an experience in itself and you can find it at almost all the restaurants in Briancon and Serre Chevalier (the surrounding area). When you order raclette you are brought a half block of cheese mounted onto a heating device, a scrapper to scrape the melting cheese, cold cuts, pickles, and a salad. It is delicious, but something you definitely don't want to eat every day! My biggest recommendation for a restaurant in that area is the Loup Blanc in the town over of Chantemerle. It is some of the best food I have found in France and most of their items are gluten free. Just make sure you either speak French (sans gluten s'ilvous plait) or take a French celiac card with you!


Now I live in the Normandy region in a city called Rouen. Many of you have probably heard of this place which is famous for its cathedral and being the place where Joan of Arc was burned. It is a charming city that I call home. You can find numerous gluten free items here and as of this year the supermarkets in France have started carrying gluten free items!! Hoorah! At any Carrefour (chain of grocery stores here in France) you can usually find gf pasta (the penne is excellent and half the price of the ones found in bio stores), croissants (which are delicious), bread (not so delicious), and cookies. Some of the bigger stores have more items like crackers, gf couscous, etc. There are also many bio stores located in downtown that provide many gf options, I recommend La Vie Claire. As for eating out for lunch, you can find a lot of places that offer salads and even hamburgers without the bun! French people love to eat these bunless burgers sometimes topped with eggs. I find it a bit bizarre, but it benefits us! As for dinner, I recommend a restaurant called bistroquet chez cedric. The food is always fresh, most of it is gf, and the owner is very helpful in informing you of what you can eat.I recommend doing the three course meal there, which is around 21 euros.

When in Normandy you also must visit the coast! It is also very easy to eat in these coastal cities, as seafood is the specialty. My recommendation: mussels and fries. You can find it in anywhere on the coast. Your best bet is to order Mussels Mariniere (white wine sauce), but remember to ask if there is flour in the sauce. As for cities, make sure to hit Honfleur and Etratat.

I hope that this celiac travel story has helped you. You can help other celiacs travel more safely by telling me about getting gluten free food in your area - remember where you live is a destination too! Send me a report and I'll let thousands of celiacs know.

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