What does a coeliac do in the land of baguettes, croissants and pain au chocolat? Turns out, plenty. Here are a few places and tips I’d like to pass on to fellow gluten free travellers to the beautiful Paris.
First, I’d like to preface this by saying that this is heavily biased towards cake and sweet things. That’s just me.
¦¦ This is absolute paradise for the patisserie loving coeliac, and there are now two branches where you can feast upon as much traditional French baking as you can manage. That’s right, it’s all completely gluten free. My particular favourite is the Madame
, which is basically a big and a small profiterole stacked on top of each other, both filled with creme patissiere, and then covered in chocolate with a little collar of meringue. It’s maybe the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I’d also recommend the eclairs, chocolate is best in my opinion (as ever). Also highly commended are the fruit tarts, the chocolate fondant, and the cheesecake. They do also serve tea in cute vintage cups, but you didn’t come all this way for tea, did you?
I’ll just leave that there, shall I? Res ipsa loquitur.
I’d also like to point out the empty plate in the top left hand corner. You might have assumed that was my companion’s empty plate – no – it was mine. This plate of eclair and cheesecake was actually my second round. I like cake, ok?!
They sell a few pantry items like pasta, flour and plain rolls to take away if you want, and they also serve a lunch which is generally a choice of two or three options, one of which will always be vegetarian. On Sunday they serve brunch which you will need to book for. Be careful of opening hours: in Canal St Martin they’re open Wednesday to Saturday and Sunday for brunch only, and at rue Vignon they’re open Tuesday to Saturday. Also, be aware that lunch does generally sell out daily. They make the cakes fresh throughout the day so they occasionally run out of things; but if you wait they are generally in the process of making more.
¦¦ This small restaurant is tucked away in the prettiest
arcade, Passage des Panoramas. You should probably go for that alone. It’s got some original shopfronts still remaining, and plenty of curios to peruse. Anyway, once you get inside the restaurant it’s plain sailing – just pick one of the three dishes they have per course and you’re all set. Again, there’s no asking about suitability or alterations; it just works. The interior is trendy and the atmosphere relaxed. The food was good, and even though the prices were a little high, I figure what price can you put on a stress-free dining experience? They also have some bread and biscuity type things for sale downstairs but nothing that tempted me (especially not after visiting Helmut Newcake!).
¦¦ Another gem based on location alone, this cafe adjoins a fancy shop and is found on the Rue Vieille du Temple. I could easily spend an afternoon wandering this beautiful road, which is lined with delightful boutiques and pretty streetscapes. You can call into the Breizh Cafe for a gluten free galette de sarrasin with a whole range of toppings to choose from, but be sure to book ahead as it gets extremely busy.
And finally…. all the macarons. We got ours from Un Dimanche à Paris but you can pick them up from lots of places. They should all be gluten free.
Gluten Free restaurant cards
¦¦ This website provides a printable card which describes your gluten free needs in French, for you to take to restaurants and show to the waiter/waitress and preferably also the chef. This is great because you don’t have to worry about anything getting lost in translation, just hand over the card. Make sure you take a few copies just in case some get lost or kept by particularly diligent staff. A word of warning – sometimes the French can be a little dismissive of dietary requirements. I don’t want to generalise but there it is. There’s been a lot of improvement recently but if you feel the restaurant isn’t taking you seriously, don’t be afraid to go somewhere that does.
Places I haven’t been but would like to try ¦¦ Biosphere Cafe, Tugalik, Thank You My Deer (with a name like that, how could I not!), La Maison du Sans Gluten.
Excuse me while I head over to the Eurostar special offer section now…