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I spent six weeks of the summer of 2018 living in London. During our visit, we took two side trips – one to Paris and one to Amsterdam.
In this article, I share with you where I ate in Paris.
While Paris sound dreamy, I must admit, it is not my favorite city. While we saw the beautiful sites, and loved the Eiffel Tower, I struggled with food. On top of that, Parisians are not as friendly as I had hoped. I have a lot of stories that I won’t bore you with, including the time we were questioned and harassed by the “Metro police,” but I do want to say, if you travel in Paris, be prepared, especially when it comes to food.
I had researched a few gluten-free restaurants in Paris ahead of time so that I could at least get off the ground running there. I kept a running list of places I found online (store the list in the Notes app on your phone so you have it with you at all times).
I also used the Find Me Gluten Free app to help me identify restaurants that served gluten-free food. It is a very useful tool so make sure you have it on your phone. You can search for restaurants closet to your current location, or by food category, most celiac friendly, highest rated, etc.
A few things to note before I share my list of gluten-free restaurants in Paris.
First, French food is heavy on the bread. You’ll need to be careful. There are tons of pastries, sandwiches, crepes, breads, etc. Cross contamination is everywhere.
Second, most dishes are vegetarian and/or include very little protein. I don’t know how the French get by eating pastries for every meal, but they do. I was hungry (and craving protein!).
Third, if you do order meat, or fish, remember it’s going to be cooked rare or tartare. I ordered a salmon meal and it was just slightly seared around the fish perimeter. For all intents and purposes, it was raw. The French get insulted when you send a meal back, so I just picked at the dish – but couldn’t bring myself to eat it.
Learn to say, “Sans gluten,” and most restaurants will understand. They recognize the word “coeliac” or “celiac” as well.
I learned to say, “Je suis désole de vous déranger mais j’ai besoin de votre aide. J’ai la maladie coeliaque. Avez-vous sans gluten?”
It means, “I’m sorry to be a bother, but I need your help. I have celiac disease. Do you have gluten-free?”
On top of that, most French food packaging is all in French (no English), so you need to look out for keywords, which are generally in boldface on the ingredient label. A lot of times you’ll see the word gluten, but sometimes you’ll just see the word, “blé,” which is wheat (however, “blé noir” is buckwheat, which is gluten-free). “Seigle” is rye and “orge” is barley.
Gluten-Free Restaurants in Paris
Here are the gluten-free restaurants in Paris that we tried and I believe to be safe for people with celiac disease.
Please note that if the restaurant was 100 percent dedicated gluten free, I did not test the restaurant with my Nima Sensor. A Nima Sensor is a device that detects hidden gluten in food. Learn more about the Nima Sensor here. It is a lifesaver to have when traveling.
Manicaretti: This is a charming 100 percent gluten-free cafe in Paris that is about a 15 minute walk to the Louvre. The cafe serves up a limited menu, but it worked for us.
My husband and I shared two dishes: 1. gluten-free lasagna and 2. gluten-free polenta (pictured) along with a variety of grilled vegetables. The meal was delicious.
I did not test Manicaretti for gluten using my Nima Sensor because it was a dedicated gluten-free restaurant in Paris.
Little Nonna: I LOVED Little Nonna and the pizza is OUTSTANDING. Little Nonna is a 100 percent gluten-free restaurant in Paris and I promise, you will get some of the best gluten-free pizza you’ll ever have.
The crust is outstanding. I think the pizza is cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven (but don’t quote me on that). I wish I could bottle it up and take it home with me. You can also order gluten-free pasta, salads, a delicious mint and cucumber gazpacho and salmon (which, like I mentioned, is served tartare).
Order the “Nonmargherita” (margherita) pizza – it’s phenomenal. We went to Little Nonna twice during our three day Paris stay – that’s how much we liked it and how much we trusted it for a safe and delicious meal. We also over-ordered so we could take home half the pizza one night – this way we could enjoy it for breakfast the next morning (we had a small fridge in our hotel).
You can also enjoy gluten-free Profiteroles at Little Nonna. These are the ice cream filled pastries pictured above.
I did not test Little Nonna for gluten using my Nima Sensor because it was a dedicated gluten-free restaurant in Paris.
Ladurée: For a wonderful and totally gluten-free treat, scope out a Ladurée macaron shop. Macarons are a Parisian dessert made from almond flour, egg whites and sugar and filled with a variety of jams or ganaches. (I am going to teach myself how to make these when I get back to the US.)
Ladurée is famous for making the most tasty and beautiful macaroons (they even have shops in the UK), and I highly recommend trying them during your visit. They are quite expensive, but oh-so-exquisite!
You can find Ladurée at various locations – at the Champs-Elysées and even inside the Palace of Versailles, which is where I had my first Ladurée macaron.
I even tested the macarons with my Nima Sensor – they’re Nima approved – no gluten!
No Glu: We had a safe and delicious lunch at No Glu in Paris, a small sandwich and pastry cafe with several locations around town. I ordered a grilled cheese with vegetables and it was good, although it was almost too much bread!
My body was craving protein, but alas they didn’t have any protein-rich options. On the bright side, the service was outstanding, and I felt totally safe eating there, so it was worth a visit.
I did not test No Glu for gluten using my Nima Sensor because it was a dedicated GF restaurant.
Breizh Cafe: A highlight was enjoying brunch at Breizh Cafe in Odeon. We got a table outside and enjoyed watching people and traffic go by while we sipped on lattes and enjoyed totally gluten-free galettes.
The waiter told me that galettes are made with buckwheat and usually served savory, but they also can be served with sweet fillings. (Crepes typically contain gluten, galettes are made with buckwheat and are gluten-free).
Breizh Cafe has separate crepe makers – one for crepes and one that is only used for the gluten-free buckwheat galettes, so I felt safe eating there (and I used my Nima Sensor to test the galette and Nima approved the first bite!). My galette was topped with Nutella and was delicious. I sipped on my latte and enjoyed some fine Parisian people watching! It was such a memorable morning!
Please note that my latte was served with a cookie on the side – ug! I simply removed the cookie, used a wet wipe to wash the saucer and my hands, and moved on. It wasn’t ideal, but again, if you send food back in Paris, you’ll get the evil eye!
A word about Biosphere Cafe… I had heard fantastic things about Biosphere Cafe and found out they serve gluten-free crepes and pastries. We decided to go there for Sunday brunch for Father’s Day. To ensure they were open, I checked the website the night before. The website said it was open on Sunday brunch – awesome, right?!?
We took the Metro to the restaurant on Sunday morning and we were so disappointed when we got there because, alas, it was closed! The hours posted on the window showed that it should be open too, but indeed it was not. Another couple came at the same time expecting it to be open, and they seemed disappointed as well.
So, if you want to go to Biosphere, call the morning before you go (or have someone at your hotel call to check for you if you don’t speak French). Also note that Biosphere is in a sleepy area. There wasn’t much going on when we got there, and there was not any outdoor seating.
In the end, I’m happy it was closed because it forced us to seek out Breizh Cafe. We got to sit outside, enjoy gluten-free crepes, and be a part of a much more alive and active area. Alls well that ends well, right?
But this reminds me – ALWAYS check hours of operation before you go. Some cafes only open after 7pm for dinner! And like we learned at Biosphere, Parisians can decide to close their shop on a whim. In Paris, the customer is wrong and the restaurant is always right! For us Americans used to high quality customer service, you’re in for a real culture shock (I know I was!).
This concludes my three-day eating adventure in Paris. I can’t say it was easy. Finding food that I felt safe, gluten-free eating was quite a chore. That’s why I highly recommend stuffing your purse with snacks to help tie you over until you can find safe food to eat. Oh, and bring some protein along with you… good luck!!