Ah, France. Land of cheese and baguettes. A country of delicate, fluffy pastries and croissants, of pies and crepes, and so much more. I lived in France before I was diagnosed as a celiac, and my copious consumption of bread products and pastries certainly led to my finding out I was unable to eat gluten. It’s also responsible for how sick I got before doctors figured out my beloved baguettes were part of the problem. The good news is that traveling in France is very possible while strictly gluten free. The bad news is that croissants smell really, really good.
Being a celiac in France means availing yourself of all the wonderful, quality base ingredients that are found throughout the country. This may mean avoiding bakeries (unless recommended below) but it does not mean going hungry. From fabulous cheeses to buckwheat crepes, to stews and salads and so much more, there is plenty to eat that won’t get you sick – and that will still make you smile.
This guide will help you navigate the dishes you will find, as well as offer alternatives when you are eating out.
NOTE! If you are looking for a French translation card but aren’t traveling to France, you can skip to my General French card here. This card is translated for travel to West Africa, Guadeloupe, and elsewhere, without “France” on the card
LAST UPDATED: JANUARY 4, 2023 Unfortunately, during the pandemic a few beloved French celiac spots have closed. Thankfully, while Helmut Newcake was closed during the early days, it has reopened as of August 2022.
Happy and safe travels!
A detailed gluten free card for France
This detailed gluten free restaurant card will help communicate your eating restrictions, and allow you to understand what is safe and unsafe from the menu.
Note: The card is available for purchase via Gumroad, a trustworthy 3rd party site that uses Stripe, so you know your information is safe.
Why is this gluten free card different?
I used several different translation cards on my travels, and I still got sick. I may be more sensitive than some celiacs, but even a small amount of contaminated oil for frying, or wheat-thickened sauce in the food, is enough to make me ill for days. Let alone the joint pain later that week, and the fatigue. And regardless of whether we feel it or not, ingesting any amount of gluten is a problem if we are celiac.
This card is different because:
✅ Immediate download, sized specifically for mobile. You can save it to your phone and have it with you as you travel, or you can print it out and laminate it to take along.
✅ It uses local ingredients and lists of what you can/cannot eat help you eat safely, not just “I can’t eat gluten”.
✅ Unlike less-detailed cards, this card explains that contaminated surfaces or oils are also unsafe.
✅ It is researched by a celiac and goes through two sets of translations to ensure accuracy.
An English translation of the card’s contents will be emailed to you after your purchase.
While the card above contains the safest way to communicate celiac disease in France, here are three quick phrases that you can also use:
(I chose these three as a French speaker – and I was living in France when I was diagnosed. See below for additional names of different dishes/foods)
- Je suis céliaque – I am a celiac
- Est-ce que ceci contient du gluten? Does this contain gluten?
- Est-ce que cette sauce / jus de viande était épaissie avec de la farine de blé? Was this gravy thickened with wheat flour? (This is important as French gravies are often formed via roux, with flour)
Eating gluten free in France: dishes, desserts, and snacks
The following dishes are commonly wheat-free in France.
As with any destination, at home or abroad, it’s important to confirm on a case-by-case basis that no flour was used in the sauces, or to thicken.
Gluten free dishes in France
- Riz (rice) or farine de riz (rice flour) are both good terms to know, especially when looking for gluten free products in grocery stores.
- A Breton crêpe or galette is a must-have for celiacs in France. These delicious pancakes are similar to their famous cousin the crêpe, but galettes are made with buckwheat flour, called farine de sarrasin or blé noir, and are usually savoury rather than sweet. There are many variations on this dish, one of the most popular being the galette complète, with grated cheese, ham and egg cooked on the galette. While in most restaurants the galette will be made with 100% buckwheat flour, it’s always important to ask, as some places may cut the buckwheat with regular wheat flour as well.
- Chestnuts are a popular ingredient in French cuisine and can be called châtaigne or marron, while chestnut flour is usually just farine de châtaigne.
- Fromage – cheese, glorious cheese! As one of French cuisine’s claims to fame, there are so many to try, but a few to stay away from! More on that later, but for now…a few of the safe ones: Brie is a rich, creamy white cow’s milk cheese with an edible rind and a flavour that strengthens with age. Camembert is a soft, creamy cow’s milk cheese from Northern France in the Normandy region. Roquefort is a tangy, crumbly, cave-aged blue cheese made from sheep’s milk. *Note: previously, blue cheeses were classified as unsafe for celiacs but new research has shown otherwise. See here. Fromage frais is creamy, fresh, unripened cheese. Fromage blanc is similar, but the fermentation process has been stopped. Faisselle, much like fromage frais or fromage blanc, is often served as a dessert, both savoury or sweet.
- Omelette au fromage – Omelette with cheese. Generously buttery French omelettes come in many forms, and are usually served for lunch or dinner, rather than for breakfast.
- Charcuterie plates should usually provide some safe and tasty options for celiac travellers, but remember to double check that all the meats are safe and that bread (pain) is served separately. Some charcuterie options may include:
- Pâté – ground meat and fat mixed with herbs, spices, and veggies and cooked into a spreadable paste. Often made with liver and other offal. Note: in recent years, pâté is thickened with wheat in many French shops and restaurants. It is very important to ask whether the pâté you’re ordering has been thickened with bread crumbs, flour or wheat. Also: avoid pâté en croute, which is encrusted in pastry like a pie.
- Terrine is similar to pâté, but features more coarsely chopped meats cooked in a mold and most often served cold.
- Rilletes are again made with chopped meat, heavily salted and slowly cooked. Much of the fat content is maintained, which lends itself to the paste-like consistency perfect for spreading. Traditionally made with pork, but there’s no limit to other types of meats than can be used.
- Boudin blanc de Rethel is a specific type of pork sausage whose name is protected by the EU protected geographical indication (PGI). This means if it’s listed as boudin blanc de Rethel, it can only contain pork, milk, and eggs, and zero added starches. But be sure to ask, as not all boudin blanc are guaranteed to be safe. The same goes for boudin noir, a traditional blood sausage.
- Saucisson is a dry cured pork or mosty pork sausage similar to salami. Variations include different herbs and spices, and in the case of Saucisson aux noisettes, hazelnuts.
- Foie Gras is a controversial but luxurious French delicacy of fattened duck or goose liver. It’s rich and buttery, and may be served as a mousse or pâté, or on it’s own as a main dish. Despite the contentious production methods, foie gras is a deeply engrained part of French gastronomic culture.
- The French love oysters (huîtres), and for good reason—they have some of the most famous oyster growing regions in the world! Best eaten au naturel or with a splash of lemon juice.
- Moules marinières a classic dish of mussels in a sauce of white wine and cream. Ask about any potential flour used for thickening the sauce, but it should be both safe and delicious!
- Tartiflette is a dish from the Savoy region of the French Alps made with potato, reblochon cheese, pork fat and onions. Potatoes are a staple food of the Savoy region, and thus are featured in many of the traditional regional dishes.
- Traditional Salade Niçoise is a salad of tomato, olives, hard-boiled eggs and anchovies dressed in olive oil. Although it originates from the city of Nice, variations have spread all over both France and the world. Other ingredients may include: tuna, potatoes, green beans, red peppers, artichokes, spring onions and so much more. The argument over what constitutes a salade nicoise is fierce and continuous, but in most cases, it should be safe for celiacs.
- Ratatouille– a Niçoise veggie dish of eggplant, zucchini, onion, garlic, tomato and bell pepper stewed with fresh herbs until soft and creamy.
- Socca, a speciality from the South of France, is a perfect example of simple ingredients cooked to perfection. Made with chickpea flour, olive oil, and very little else, it’s naturally gluten free and traditionally cooked in huge cast iron pans over a fire. Recipe here, if you want to try at home! For those heading to Nice, see my socca recommendations below.
- Escargots à la Bourguignonne – snails cooked in garlic and herb butter.
Gluten free desserts in France
- Macarons are popular meringue and almond cookies sandwiching buttercream or jam filling. These colourful confections are pretty trendy on a global scale right now and flavors can vary from the traditional to the experimental. Many, many French patisseries have a selection of macarons to choose from, but it’s always best to check that no wheat flour has been added!
- Made from simple whipped egg whites and sugar, the stiff peaks and crispy exterior of meringues can form cloud like structures that are both visually impressive and Meringues may be flavored with almond, vanilla or coconut and served on their own or as part of another dish.
- Calissons or Calissons d’Aix are delightful almond-shaped treats made from a paste of ground almonds and candied fruit, often melon or citrus, topped with a bit of icing. Almost always safe, but again, it’s best to ask. This was the first thing I ate for dessert once diagnosed, and they still hold a happy place in my heart for their delicious hit of marzipan sweetness.
- Pâtés de fruits are a simple treat made from fruit cooked with sugar and pectin and then cast into a mold. Served cold.
- Caramel or chocolate bon bons, called bouchées, should be safe.
- Mousse au chocolat – rich, creamy chocolate mousse made from chocolate, eggs and cream or butter.
- Crème brûlée is vanilla custard with a hard burnt layer of caramel on top. Yum!
- Floating island or île flottante is rich dessert made of meringue “floating” in light vanilla custard.
- Tergoule– a rice pudding made with milk, cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg and slowly baked in a terrine for hours in order to create a caramelized crust. A speciality of Normandy.
Celiac-safe shopping and gluten free restaurants in France
As with each of my celiac travel guides, this section is divided into shops, restaurants, bakeries, and more.
Gluten Free grocery and specialty stores in France
- Carrefour is a supermarket chain with shops across France. They carry a range of gluten free products, including their own brand.
- Most major supermarkets, such as Intermarché, carry a range of gluten free products, often in a separate aisle with other “free from” foods.
- Un Monde Vegan is a vegan supermarket in Paris with extensive gluten free section.
- Causses is a high end, slow food inspired grocer in Paris with dedicated gluten free section and tons of local products. There are three locations to shop in Paris, in the 1st, 3rd and 9th arrondissements. The locations in the 3rd and 9th arrondissements include restaurants as well.
- Naturalia and Biocoop are organic health food chains with gluten free options available.
- Niepi is a French magazine all about gluten free life, recipes included, for those who live in France longer-term.
- France has an active celiac association called AFDIAG, and their logo below is indicative that a product has less than 20ppm of gluten, and is thus safe for celiacs.
Gluten free restaurants in Paris
- Thrillingly, Chambelland is a gluten free bakery in Paris serving beautiful sourdough loaves as well as fresh cakes, pastries and sandwiches. Not only are all their naturally wares gluten free and organically grown, they even mill the flours in their own Chambelland mill, which serves some of the gluten free bakeries in town.
- Helmut Newcake was the first gluten free patisserie in Paris, and it boasts a wide selection of exquisite treats to try. Part coffee shop, part “store éphémère” with gluten free groceries, it’s a spot you need to keep on your list for a Paris visit. While they were closed in the early days of the pandemic, as of August 2022 they have reopened. Everything is delicious, but don’t miss their lemon meringue tart—you won’t regret it.
- Maison Kayser– Well-known French boulanger Eric Kayser’s chain of bakeries that spreads across multiple French cities. Not every shop carries the range of gluten free loaves, but the ones that do (try the location nearest the Louvre in Paris) are worth a try! To protect from cross-contamination, gluten free products are made off-site, and double packaged before entering the shop.
- Tasca Bio is a gluten free Italian restaurant serving pizza, gnocchi, pastas, desserts (including tiramisù!) located near the Eiffel Tower, which makes it a perfect spot to dine if you’re checking out one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Founded by Italian brothers who moved to Paris decades ago, their dedicated gluten free Italian spot is a great treat and they have a fixed-price lunch available if you have a bigger appetite than normal.
- With two locations in Paris, La Guinguette D’Angèle offers fresh, healthy gluten free meals in take-away form at 34 Rue Coquillière. Sadly their dine-in Tea Room on 2 Avenue du Général Renault is now closed. Their menu of the day is reasonably priced and very healthy – and of course, delicious!
Thank You, My Deer is a trendy Parisian café and restaurant boasting an entirely gluten free menu, a funky atmosphere, and an online shop.CLOSED
- Noglu, a well-established 100% gluten free institution in Paris (hence, that Independent article above!) Noglu is renowned for its fresh ingredients, fabulous breads, and ability to maneuver the menu to suit vegetarian and lactose-free diners as well as celiacs. Multiple locations in Paris. Plus, Saturday brunch!
- Italian restaurant Baffo has an entirely gluten free menu, including organic pastas, risottos, and a list of tasty appetizers.
- Another Italian fave for celiacs: Little Nonna’s, located in the 17th arrondissement. Marco, their chef, makes it clear that their establishment is 100% gluten free, with zero wheat or gluten on premises. Their pizzas are made from a base of rice, corn, and buckwheat. And desserts are safe for the eating too. But the best bonus: gluten free focaccia. A dream.
- Also a fully gluten free patisserie in Paris: Onyriza, in the 10th arrondissement. Many of their offerings are dairy-free also. My fave: the amandine. Onyriza was created out of love by Karen Le Guillerm, whose daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. You can trust that her establishment in Paris is safe for celiacs.
- Craving Thai food in Paris? Reader Hugo wrote in about a chain of Thai restaurants called Kapunka, where several of the locations are gluten free, and the other two are mostly gluten free with staff that was very knowledgeable about celiac. 6 locations to choose from!
- Waffles abound at Yummy and Guilt Free (though you may feel guilty about how many you end up consuming). Freshly made waffles that are 100% gluten free, both savoury and sweet. They also have what they call ‘travel cakes’, small mini-cakes and loaves to take with you—all also gluten free!— and GF waffle cones and gelato.
- Another 2019 addition for patisseries: Maison Plume. Almost achingly beautiful pastries, cakes, and coffees, this 100% gluten free bakery is well worth a trip. They’re open from Tuesday-Saturday, 10am – 730pm, and on Sundays from 10am-6pm.
- Readers report back that LouLou’s Friendly Diner in the Latin Quarter will offer any burger or sandwich on gluten free bread, prepared in a separate region of the kitchen. Their fries are also fried in separate, uncontaminated fryers. So while not a 100% gluten free establishment, they remain the kind that I love to visit with friends: accommodations that suit my stomach, but everyone else doesn’t need to change their meal for me!
- For gluten free gelato, two great options in Paris: Grom (100% gluten free gelato AND cones – they make their cones themselves and they are also without vegetable oils), and Gelati d’Alberto (almost all of their gelato is gluten free gelato, but the cones are not safe).
- Fougère Café, coffee shop with many vegan and gluten free options on the menu, including pastries from gluten free bakery Chambelland, and other organic, healthy options.
- Rice trotters is one of the common “traiteurs” that offer take-out food often catering to the bustling lunch crowds in Paris. This one happens to be gluten free, which makes it a great option if you want to pick up food and head for a picnic somewhere. They sell hot and cold rice bowls, and the place was started by two traveling foodies, Anthony and Laurianne, who both marveled at the versatility of rice on their travels. Their signature dish is a Thai-style coconut curry, but I wouldn’t miss the rice pudding for dessert either!
- Breizh Café, specialising in naturally gluten free 100% buckwheat galettes (crepes) has locations in Paris, as well as in Lyon and Brittany.
- For a Japanese option, Cococo is 100% gluten and lactose free, and offers vegan options for those who want them. Beautifully-crafted bento boxes and delicious food.
- Also gluten free and lactose free, Café Maréva is a decadent option for an early meal. With two locations serving smoothie bowls, sweet and savoury waffles (their savoury waffles are made from sweet potatoes), and house made gluten free bread—you won’t leave here feeling hungry! As Time Out Paris said about Maréva: “why wait for the weekend to go for brunch?”
For more gluten free restaurant Paris options, see Matt at Wheatless Wanderlust’s guide here.
See also the amazing 5.5-hour, close to 20km walking tour of Paris if you are looking for detailed history and visits to Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the market on Rue Mouffetard, the Jardins du Luxembourg, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and lots more. Turn on the CC to read as you watch, giving you all the history you may not get if you visit at a time when tours are not yet back in full swing.
You can also follow Soraya from Gluten Free in Paris (founder of the ‘week without gluten’ even there!) on Instagram, here.
Gluten free restaurants in Brittany
- Breizh Cafe serves traditional buckwheat galettes from Brittany, made with local ingredients and best paired with a traditional cider. Breizh has locations in Paris as well as in the Breton town of Saint-Malo, and its nearby neighbour Cancale, a commune dubbed the “oyster capital” of Brittany.
Gluten free restaurants in Antibes
- At Choopy’s, you’ll find an entirely gluten free menu. It’s a tiny coffee shop in the Côte d’Azur resort town of Antibes.
- Miski is a 100% gluten free establishment serving patisseries as well as baked goods, using organic ingredients. They also do catering for special occasions.
Gluten free restaurants in Narbonne
- Pizza, crepes, and other items that are certified as gluten free by the celiac association at La Flambée des Milles Poetes, a restaurant in Narbonne.
Gluten free restaurants in the Cote d’Azur (Nice, Cannes, and more)
- Gigi Tavola Autentica is the first gluten free restaurant in Nice, as certified by the French celiac association. Grilled meat, pizzas, and a whole lot more.
- While not 100% gluten free, Pop O Thym in Nice serves gluten free crepes made of sarrasin (buckwheat), as well as a nice selections of healthy, naturally gluten free salads.
- If you love macaroons (description above) as much as I do, don’t look further than ANGEA in Nice. Since they’re a one-stop-macaroon-shop, their menu is safe for celiacs (or was at the time of writing – please do double check if you’re there). The have gorgeous flavour combinations and frankly you can’t go to France without indulging in a macaroon – or 10.
- A naturally gluten free dish in Southern France is socca, made from chickpeas (as noted above). In Nice, two great spots to try it are at Chez Pipo and Theresa’s. Chez Pipo is definitely my first recommendation of the two. Note that this dish is usually cooked over a fire, in a huge, shallow cast iron. So while it’s important to ask about cross-contamination in terms of preparation, the cooking itself is usually not an issue if cooked – as these two restaurants do – in the traditional manner. See this post for photos.
- For a break from French food, Nice has a Mexican street food spot called 100% Tacos, where you can get corn tortillas and tasty, rich fillings of your choice. Casual, but delicious – and they have knowledge of celiac disease.
- Ice cream lovers, rejoice: there is a Grom in Nice, with their 100% gluten free options and cones.
- For vegan, organic AND gluten free dining options: both Vegan Gorilla and Koko Green will have you covered, with each restaurant using local ingredients that are in season and making all of their dishes in-house. Both are 100% gluten free establishments.
- In Cannes, Maison Charlotte Busset bakery has a large gluten free and vegan selection. Note however that while they are aware of celiac disease and cross-contamination care, they are not 100% gluten free.
- Au Ptits Anges in Cannes is also not fully gluten free but has many items on the menu that are safe, as well as gluten free desserts, and also a knowledge of cross-contamination.
- Want a 100% gluten free meal but also one that is lactose and egg free (with many vegan options)? Vegaspix in La Ciotat (on the Cote d’Azur) is your spot.
- In Puget-sur-Argens, 100% gluten free Quintera Bar à Gaufres has waffles, cookies, and many other treats that are fully gluten free.
- In Saint-Raphaël, Free d’Home is a 100% gluten free bakery that serves sweets but also savoury treats, and vegan wine. It’s also egg and lactose free.
Gluten free restaurants in Toulouse
- Invita Fresh Food serves organic, vegetarian, and gluten free food in Toulouse. The restaurant opened in 2015, and its entire menu is safe for celiacs, including their quiches, made in house.
Gluten free restaurants in Montpellier
- In Montpellier, Les Demoiselles is an ‘allergy free’ tea house that also offers catered / takeout meals and in-house dining. They specialize in gluten free, nut free, and other ‘free from’ dishes.
- Vegan and gluten free salads, smoothies and freshly pressed juices are available at Joy Yoga Healthy Food, with staff knowledgeable about allergens and able to modify options to eat if needed.
- Le Sheri’s offers traditional hearty, delicious fare, meat-heavy so if you’re vegan you may want to check the menu before you go. Burgers, filet mignon, desserts, and appetizers, all available without gluten. Staff is knowledgeable about celiac disease, and the restaurant menu makes clear they will make your dinner safe for you.
- 100% gluten free (and dairy free!) Takkito Montpellier’s menu has many vegan options for those who want it. The owner is lovely, and understands the pain of food restrictions well. Their menu of bowls and rolls is a fusion of flavours: chili, jerk chicken, guac, and more, all safe for celiacs.
- Il Fornetto offers gluten free pizzas and is knowledgeable about celiac disease; confirm prior to ordering that care is taken for cross contamination in and out of the oven.
Gluten free restaurants in Tours*
*I recently changed the name of these sub-heads to say Gluten Free Restaurants in [x] because of one too many emails asking about gluten free tours and whether I forgot to add the tours, not gluten free IN Tours. Ha!
- JuJu Sans Glut is a 100% gluten free spot in the city of Tours, with pizzas of the day, desserts, and much more.
Gluten free restaurants in Grenoble
- Au Clair De Lune in Grenoble is not a dedicated facility, but they are very knowledgeable about celiac disease, and can easily adapt their menu to suit gluten free needs, including of course being aware of and protecting against cross contamination. At the time of writing, their desserts were also 100% gluten free, but please confirm as they noted that they had a rotating, seasonal dessert menu.
- Another knowledgeable restaurant where celiacs can dine is Grenoble’s Auberge Napoléon. Their menu is online (gluten free dishes noted as well here), and the staff are trained to cater to celiac restrictions, including prep to avoid any cross contamination.
Gluten free restaurants in Lyon
- For those who are gluten free AND dairy free, My Petite Factory has two restaurants in Lyon that are completely free of both. The spot has coffees and teas, as well as main courses, soups, colourful Buddha bowls, and desserts. Dine in, or take out for a picnic in a park nearby.
- As the name suggests, Sans Gluten Pizza is a spot serving uniquely gluten free pizza pies, and drinks, and is an excellent option for 100% gluten free pizza where you won’t need to worry about cross contact — there’s nothing to contact with. It’s a limited menu of 10 pizzas, but do you need more when they’re all delicious? Recommend the ricotta pizza, with mozzarella, zucchini, ricotta, arugula and no tomato sauce. Sublime.
- L’avocat cafe is a small brunch and lunch spot offering vegan and gluten free menus made by a nutritionist with anti-inflammatory properties in mind. (The name is about avocados, not lawyers, for those of you who speak French!)
- Chez Gregoire Patisserie has gluten free treats, breads, cakes and ice cream on offer, all delicious.
- Les Gasteliers is another 100% gluten free establishment in Lyon. They sell pies, breads, pastries, cookies, and catering items all made with Chambelland’s gluten free flour (which is also available for purchase). Closed Mondays.
- If you’re craving burgers, Le Zinc a Burger in Lyon has a separate gluten free menu and whole grain gluten free buns, as well as an understanding of cross-contamination. Confirm fries – at the time of writing, fries were in a separate, safe, fryer but it’s always good to make sure before you order!
- Five, another health-focused 100% gluten free restaurant in Lyon, sell soups, sandwiches, salads and more, all with other main allergens clearly marked on the menu.
Gluten free restaurants in Obernai
- L’Eden is a completely gluten free bakery and tea room in Obernai with a beautiful menu and zero traces of cross contamination.
Gluten free restaurants in Bordeaux
- IS&I Kitchen in Bordeaux is entirely gluten free and even offers up gluten free cooking classes.
- Also in Bordeaux, Smart Green Corner is an entirely gluten free and vegan restaurant with an ever-rotating menu of healthy offerings to build your own plate.
- Contrast Brunch has a seasonal, rotating menu and can accommodate gluten free diners as well as vegans and vegetarians. The owners are knowledgeable about celiac disease and will be mindful of cross-contamination when told a client is a celiac.
- BAG (Bakery Art Gallery) is a bakery-patisserie-restaurant that is 100% gluten free and uses organic ingredients — and also houses an art gallery in the center of Bordeaux.
Gluten free restaurants in Talence
- For the celiac sweet tooth, Les Douceurs d’Eulalie is an entirely gluten free pastry shop in Talence with vegan options too.
Gluten free restaurants in Strasbourg
- Le Resto du Coin is located in Strasbourg and offers specialized gluten free menus that have been approved by the French celiac association, including a reasonably-priced menu of the day.
- La Pause Quinoa, a cafe with gluten free foods to eat on premises, as well as some products for purchase. Soups, sweets, and drinks.
Gluten free restaurants in Marseilles
- There is also a Grom in Marseilles! Gluten free gelato and cones, straight to your belly.
- Also in Marseilles, La Pepite, a self-described “laboratory of pastries,” offers only gluten free and dairy free pastries, using local organic ingredients. They’re also able to make vegan cakes or low glycemic index cakes on demand (with pre-order), and some of their cakes are already vegan for those who are celiac but also avoiding animal products.
- Marie Rebuffat is a 100% gluten free bakery in Marseille, where the founder is herself gluten and lactose free. Bread, pastries, and other sweet treats all available for “click and collect” or at the “bread depot”.
- Les Pâtisseries de Lily is a 100% gluten free bakery in Marseille with only a Facebook page right now, but they do also offer low sugar and lactose free treats for those seeking them out.
- Restaurant le Balagan is a small restaurant with organic, gluten free, and vegan options to enjoy, including gluten free falafel (safe fryer) and soups, salads, and desserts.
What foods AREN’T gluten free in France?
- When eating gluten free in France, two important words to watch for and avoid are pannée (breaded) and croûte (crust), as well as the obvious pain (bread).
- The pain category includes baguettes, perhaps the most iconic of French breads with its distinctive length and crispy crust. It also includes Brioche, a light and tender bread made with extra eggs and butter, as well as pain boule, a round loaf known to stay fresh longer than thinner loaves.
Other off limits pastries include:
- Beignet, a French donut that differs from the American style ones with holes cut from the middle. Beignets are deep fried pastry dusted in powdered sugar.
- Those buttery, flaky, crescent shaped puff pastries known as croissants (sob).
- Pain au chocolat is made with the same layered puff pastry dough as croissants, but instead is formed into a rectangular shape with a few pieces of dark chocolate folded into the middle.
- Madeleines are small traditional sponge cakes from the Lorraine region of France, now also served at Starbucks around the world. Some variations include ground almonds or lemon zest.
- Éclairs are oblong pastries filled with variously flavored custards or creams and topped with icing.
- Financiers are small almond cakes flavoured with a warm brown butter sauce called beurre noisette. Often contain wheat flour, though may be able to find variations sans gluten in certain places.
- Petit fours – bite sized pastries, both sweet or savory. They come in several main categories: glacé (glazed), tiny cakes covered in icing, such as small éclairs or tiny tarts. Salé (salted), appetizers that are savoury, often called “hors d’oeuvres” in North America, and sec (dry), small cookies, baked mini pies, macarons, and puffed pastries.
- Croquembouche are towers of pastry balls laced together with caramel or spun sugar and decorated with chocolate, edible flowers or fruit. Most often served at special events like weddings or baptisms, and not celiac friendly.
- The list of glutinous pastries continues, but don’t fret over that… think of how many macarons you get to eat!
Other dishes likely to be unsafe for celiacs in France:
- Soufflé is a baked egg dish characterized by its puffiness, a result of beaten egg whites. Soufflé can be served as a savory or a sweet dish, depending on what the egg mixture is mixed with. It’s possible you can find a gluten free version, but most soufflé dishes include wheat flour.
- Quiche, a pastry crust filled with eggs, cheese, vegetables and/or meat.
- Croque-Monsieur, the famous gourmet grilled or baked ham and cheese sandwich.
- Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée, a meat stock and onion soup usually thickened with flour.
- Coquilles Saint-Jacques, scallops in cream sauce, sadly made with flour or breadcrumbs.
- Blanquette de Veau, a popular veal ragout, with a sauce traditionally started with a (flour-based) roux, and adding eggs and cream.
- Cassoulet, a classic but contentious stew of meat and beans, served with much argument over which version is the “real” one. In some towns, the stew is made with pork shoulder, sausage and duck confit, in others it includes mutton, and in others still, only duck or goose meat is allowed. This wide variation means that some cassoulet may be safe for celiacs, but others not at all. A Cassoulet de Toulouse, for example, will always have a crust of breadcrumbs on the top, whilst the same dish in Auch will not. No matter where you are though, it’s always good to ask!
- Coq au vin, chicken braised with wine. Chicken may be dusted/dredged in flour before being seared, and a roux (flour-based) likely used to thicken the sauce.
- Bœuf bourguignon or beef burgundy, also likely to have flour added in the cooking process.
- A few cheeses from Northern France bordering Belgium may not be safe for celiacs. Maroilles cheese, with its pungent scent and reddish-orange rind is sometimes washed with beer in the maturation process and therefore should be vetted before consumption. Similarly, Boulette d’Avesnes, a cheese made from immature or “inferior” Maroilles mixed with parsley, tarragon and cloves is often off-limits for us celiacs, as it can also be beer-washed. Occasionally you’ll run across a cheese that’s been breaded, which is a great time to look out for those vocabulary words — pannée (breaded) and croûte (crust).
Best books to read before visiting France
For those of you looking to visit, here are some wonderful books to help learn a little more about France and its food before you get there:
- A fun option for Paris is the Clued In Paris: The Concise and Opinionated Guide to the City guidebook, a Kindle-only $3.99 read that delights and informs.
- For historical reads, head to Seven Ages of Paris by Alastair Horne. “Whereas London…has clear male orientations, and New York has a certain sexual ambivalence, has any sensible person ever doubted that Paris is fundamentally a woman?” Thus begins Horne’s long love letter to Paris, starting with Caesar and Abélard and moving through the ages. Horne tackles the tumultuous history of Paris in a series of ambitious biographical essays, infused with captivating narrative and an attention to detail. The book skilfully blends the passionate politics of the city, with its art and music and scandalous royal class, resulting in a dense but enlightening book spanning Paris’ lifetime.
- Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. This classic cookbook, first published in 1961, is a comprehensive guide to French cuisine, and really needs no introduction. In two volumes, the cookbook explores both the technique and the pleasure of French gastronomy. A must have for anyone hoping to bring a bit of haute cuisine home.
- My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz is a reflection on how modern Parisians eat and includes 100 recipes, both sweet and savoury, meant to convey this gastronomic landscape. The sense of place created by this mix of recipes is only enhanced by the quirky stories and gorgeous photography dotted throughout the book. (A fun book to follow this up is L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home, also by Lebovitz.)
- French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a Village in the Vineyards by Mimi Thorisson will make you want Mimi’s life. This book is one part cookbook, one part château renovation memoir, and one part portrait of French village life. Through photographs, anecdotes and of course, recipes, we meet a cast of characters inhabiting perhaps the most idyllic French village there ever was.
- The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. This classic work, first published in 1825, is a comprehensive exploration of French food culture and culinary traditions. It covers a wide range of topics, including the history of French cuisine, the role of food in French society, and the relationship between food and health.
- A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell: This book offers a concise and engaging overview of the history of food in France, covering everything from ancient Roman cuisine to modern-day molecular gastronomy. Each chapter focuses on a specific recipe and explores its cultural, historical, and culinary significance.
- The Food of France by Waverley Root: This book offers a sweeping survey of French food culture, covering everything from the history of French cuisine to the role of food in French society. Root provides in-depth information on the ingredients, techniques, and traditions of French cooking, and includes a wide range of recipes for classic dishes.