glutenfree travel

Gluten-free eating in France


Gluten-free food in France: A gluten-free voyage of discovery or not?

France, the land of croissants and wines, beautiful purple landscapes filled with lavender and a rich culture and history. For many Dutch people a dream destination. We also see this reflected in the number of visitors, tips and questions we receive regarding France. Especially when it comes to gluten-free camping, France is very popular with Dutch tourists. It is relatively close by and if you drive a little further south you have plenty of sun, sea and beach to catch!

However, France is not ideal as a gluten-free vacation destination. How France deals with gluten-free food is generally not very positive. Just don’t let this put you off, because in addition to the gluten-free challenges that France brings, it also brings plenty of opportunities. Things from eating out to discovering gluten-free treats in local stores and/or bakeries are also possible in France. It’s just not obvious like you’re used to from Italy or Spain. So this also means going on vacation well prepared and also stocking up a bit more in advance. Useful for both a city trip or camping vacation. In both cases, you don’t know what you will find.

Gluten-free eating in France

Will this be a challenge or not? During your gluten-free vacation, you don’t want to worry about this all the time.

France is known as a country where food is central to social occasions. Although French cuisine offers many culinary delights, it can be a challenge for those with a gluten-free diet to find suitable options. Gluten-free awareness has increased in recent years, especially in cities and tourist areas. This has made it easier to find gluten-free dishes in restaurants and cafes. Many eateries today even have a special menu for people with food allergies, including gluten-free options.

This is just not a given. We regularly receive bad experiences. So spontaneous eating out can be tricky. In a country like France, I always recommend finding out in advance which supermarkets or gluten-free restaurants can be found in the location where you are going to spend most of your time. Also very handy for a city trip. This way you avoid hassles, nasty surprises, but also disappointment. after all, gluten-free vacations should be carefree enjoyment!

Still, finding gluten-free products in smaller towns and villages can be a challenge. Although there are stores in large cities that offer a gluten-free assortment, the selection is limited in rural areas. So be prepared.

Sometimes while passing through France you also happen to come across something nice that happens to be gluten-free!

At campsite Les Ripettes you will find “Quinoa Lentilles”. Mobile catering where only local products are used. They have a big focus on healthy food and environmentally friendly business.

And so also gluten free! But also plenty of options for lactose-free meals and vegetarian. Think pancakes, savory & sweet snacks, burgers or stews. So plenty of choice! 😁

So if you’re still looking for a campsite in France….

Why gluten-free eating in France remains tricky

According to French law, restaurants are obliged to abide by a special legislation. In this, a restaurant is checked extra strictly and often. So if they want to offer a gluten-free menu in France, they must strictly adhere to the legislation. Where in the Netherlands just cleaning is sufficient, this will not be accepted in France.

This means that they must always have 2 ovens, 2 microwaves and the like. Partly because of this combined with the strict controls many restaurants in France simply don’t feel like it. Too bad for us, but reality and an explanation of why it remains so difficult there. Just goes to show that a few hundred kilometers on the map can make a big difference in whether you can eat well or not well somewhere

Gluten-free supermarkets in France

There are several supermarket chains in France that offer a wide range of gluten-free products. Some of the most popular stores to visit are:

  • Carrefour
  • Most hypermarkets
  • Intermarche
  • Auchan
  • U-system
  • Lidl
  • Aldi
  • Leclerc
  • Naturalia
  • Bio c’ Bon

At the large supermarket chains, you will find a special section with gluten-free products, including gluten-free bread, pasta, snacks and more, in almost all stores. Even in smaller supermarkets, you are often easily helped with a few basic products. In addition to large supermarket chains or smaller supermarkets, you can always score gluten-free food in health food stores or organic stores like the Naturalia or Bio c’bon. The disadvantage compared to the (big) supermarkets remains that they do not have that many branches throughout France. So look out for (unknown) local drugstores or organic stores as well.

Celiac Association in France

For more information and support on gluten-free eating in France, contact the “Association Française Des Intolérants Au Gluten” (AFDIAG). This celiac association offers valuable information, dietary advice and helps you find gluten-free eateries and stores during your stay in France.

Finding restaurants that can serve gluten-free

Finding restaurants offering gluten-free options in France has become increasingly easy. Many restaurants, especially those in popular tourist destinations, are aware of the increasing demand for gluten-free dishes. Often these restaurants have special menus for people with food allergies, including gluten-free dishes.

A good approach is to search online in advance for restaurants that offer gluten-free options in the city or area you are traveling to. Websites such as TripAdvisor and perhaps some local French blogs can be helpful sites to read reviews and find suitable eateries where you can eat gluten-free.

Once you arrive at a French restaurant, it can be helpful to have some words ready! So herewith a crash course in gluten-free French!

Gluten-freeSans gluten
I am a celiac patient. This means that I get sick if I eat anything containing wheat, oat, barley or rye flour.Je suis un patient coeliaque. Cela signifie que si je mange quelque chose qui contient de la farine de blé, d’avoine, d’orge ou de seigle, je tomberai malade.
Does this product contain wheat, oats, barley or rye?Ce produit contient-il du blé, de l’avoine, de l’orge ou du blé ?
Can you tell me if this dish contains wheat flour?Pouvez-vous me dire si ce plat contient de la farine de blé ?
Do you bind the sauce with wheat flour or cornmeal?Épaississez-vous la sauce avec de la farine de blé ou de la farine de maïs ?
Happy without sauce if bound with wheat.De préférence sans sauce s’il est lié au blé.
I need to eat gluten bread. Will you toast this bread for me? Please in a separate grill or oven. Should you not have this can the oven be thoroughly cleaned beforehand?Je dois manger du pain sans gluten. Souhaitez-vous griller ce pain pour moi? Veuillez utiliser une grille ou un four séparé. Si vous ne l’avez pas, le four peut-il être soigneusement nettoyé à l’avance ?
Do you use clean knives, boards and other utensils when preparing my meal? This is because of cross contaminationUtilisez-vous des couteaux, des planches et d’autres ustensiles de cuisine propres pour préparer mon repas ? Cela est dû à la contamination croisée
Do you take cross-contamination into account?Tenez-vous compte de la contamination croisée ?
Do you sell gluten-free food?Vendez-vous des aliments sans gluten ?
I would like to buy gluten-free food.Je voudrais acheter des aliments sans gluten.
France as a gluten-free vacation destination? Yes or no?

Obviously a yes! It can be challenging at times, but that should not be a reason to avoid France. We as celiacs are already used to living with a challenge, so then France should not be a problem.

In addition, we should not forget that things do get better in France. There are also more and more options to eat gluten-free. While it can be more challenging to find gluten-free products in some parts of the country, it is generally possible to have a great gluten-free vacation experience in France. Especially if you visit the larger cities or the more touristy regions.

You will be able to eat fine gluten-free in some restaurants. Other than that, it just remains very important to plan your trip well in the case of France. Contact hotels, campsites or restaurants in advance. And don’t forget to bring your favorite gluten-free snacks in advance. Bon appétit!

Do you have tips or comments regarding France or do you just want to share your experiences? You can, you can contact me to publish your experience or leave a comment in the comments! 👇

Haven’t found the ideal gluten-free vacation yet? Then feel free to look further!

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Stephanie Sadikoviq

About Stephanie sadikoviq

My name is Stéphanie Sadikoviq and I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2015. With my website, I help everyone find a gluten-free vacation! I do my best to show as many options as possible by sharing my experiences. Tips are always welcome. Please feel free to contact me!

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