The French do like their baguettes and croissants but if you are on a strict gluten free diet you don’t have too worry too much that you will miss any fun when in Paris. I have checked many places in the French capital which either offer totally gluten free menus or have options acceptable for you. You don’t have to limit yourself to sans gluten restaurants only, many other places will be safe for you as well and you can enjoy what best and coolest in Paris now.
For lunch in Marais try Le Loir dans la Théière (3 Rue des Rosiers, 75004 Paris) – a cute little bistro where hip Parisians and tourists who know what’s going on meet for lunch or a cake. The menu is quite limited but there are few salads, omelettes and a great lentil dish (all changes slightly every day depending on what’s available in the season), which are fine for no gluten diets. The place gets quite busy, especially in the mornings and during lunch times, so be prepared for queuing or arrive early. I am sure you will like their laidback approach, unpretentious atmosphere and simple but delicious food.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to try any of their incredible desserts (they are, cruelly, displayed in the eating area) but don’t worry too much because we have found a gluten free heaven for you. Close to the St Martin canal, in a nicely renovated loft, Marie (gluten intolerant for over 20 years) and her husband Francois Tagliaferro run the first patisserie in Paris, Helmut Newcake (36 Rue Bichat, 75010 Paris), where everything is 100% gluten free. I am sure you will feel like all your dreams came true as you will be able to eat, without any worry, anything – lemon tarts, éclairs, cheesecakes, pistache rouge, chocolate fondants … Some desserts are even milk or sugar free.
During lunch hours on weekdays Helmut Newcake offer few plats du jour (all reasonably priced below 10€) and a nice big brunch on Sundays (booking necessary).
There is another completely gluten free restaurant in Paris, called Noglu (16 passage des Panoramas- 75002 Paris), but I have to admit it didn’t win my heart. The food, created by three chefs, each one coming from a different continent, is great, their chocolate cake was one of the best I have had for ages but the place is overpriced, pretentious and not very welcoming. So despite being so gluten intolerance friendly I don’t think we will be coming again… Check yourself though, it may work for you. Make sure you make reservation, even during weekdays as Noglu is located close to a busy business area and gets full really quickly during lunch hours.
If you thought that because your allergies you will never be able to have a tasting menu at a fine dinning restaurant any more you should try my favourite place in Paris – Ze Kitchen (4 Rue des Grands Augustins, 75006 Paris). It’s very high end, a bit pricey (but absolutely worth it!) and serves the best combination of Asian flavours and French finesse. Their wasabi ice-cream is to die for, as are most of their dishes to be honest and the staff is not only polite but also very attentive and careful with all requests. Most food they serve is naturally gluten free and with the rest they will be happy to find a replacement. Even their teriyaki jus, one of the highlights of their early spring menu, was completely safe for people with gluten intolerance. Highly recommended, just make sure to explain what you can and can’t eat before you make your order.
L’Atelier Maître Albert (1 Rue Maître Albert 75005 Paris) is another fine dinning restaurant which we found to be gluten free friendly. Their roasted meats and chickens are served with simple sauces and a wonderfully creamy mash potatoes (my suspicion is that this mash is a very guilty pleasure though as there may be quite a lot of butter in it), all sans gluten. For dessert you can try their cheese but don’t forget to ask to have it served without any bread.
For something simple and cheap I recommend Le Garde Robe (41 Rue de l’Arbre Sec, 75001 Paris), an incredibly friendly and slightly quirky bistro in the 1st arrondissement. The menu is very limited and sometimes, unfortunately their plats du jour may include gluten contaning options but their cheese plate is one of the best I have ever had and perfect for a nice nibble.
All food is made internally so don’t be worried to check with the staff if you can have it. And if you won’t find anything for you, don’t, at least don’t miss the chance to try Le Garde Robe’s wine – after all they came second on the list of my favourite wine bars in Europe.
Unfortunately, not many supermarkets in Paris or France have special ‘free from’ sections, gluten free bread is often stored in the general bakery section (it’s always properly protected though), cakes are among regular wheat stuff… If you can’t live without a piece of bread I would recommend to bring some with you, it’s also useful to take your own GF pasta or stock if you are planning to cook for yourself.
Hédonie (6 Rue de Mézières, 75006 Paris), an organic grocery shop in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, offers some sans gluten products, I especially liked their selection of savoury and sweet biscuits.
For more information check:
– HiP blog and their reviews of Noglu and Helmut Newcake
– David Labovitz’s guide on how to survive on GF diet in Paris
– Gluten free à Paris (French only) to learn about the latest GF discoveries from a local
You can also check our Gluten Free tag for recommendations in other European cities.
All cakes on the photos from this post are GF and can be bought at Helmut Newcake.