My mother came to visit recently (yes, we had a fabulous time, thank you), and as she is one of those numerous gluten-intolerant people who seem to be taking over the world of late* (in a household of six, I was the only one to escape), the prospect of this visit posed an interesting challenge.
After all, what is France famed for, if not golden baguettes and crisp, melt-in the-mouth croissants? Many, many other gluten-containing goodies, that’s what. And since I inherited my foodie gene from my mum, it was essential that she did not miss out on the glorious gastronomical experience that a weekend in Paris ought to be. I was determined.
So, I did what I do best in these sorts of circumstances: I opened an Excel spreadsheet and took to Google.
After a couple of hours (not all at once) of creative searching, blog-reading, review-checking, and cross-referencing, I eventually ended up with a shortlist of 14 establishments in Paris, from which I was confident one could procure top-quality gluten-free goodies. The list included vendors of sandwiches, cakes, baguettes, galettes, waffles, and, of course, croissants – amongst various other patisserie offerings. We only managed to visit a small selection of them whilst my mum was staying, so I’ll only recommend the ones we had personal experience of – but recommend them I certainly do!
- 15 Rue Marie Stuart, 75002 Paris (2nd Arrondissement – just off Rue Montorgueil)
- Gluten-free patisserie
- Sweet treats & brunch
I actually went here before my mum arrived, (en route to the airport) so she could get started on sampling GF French delicacies as soon as possible. I take my host duties very seriously. I chose a little tartelette au citron and it was divine (I tried a tiny bit – AFTER I’d given it to Mum, obviously). The lemon-y bit was deliciously creamy, striking a perfect balance between sweet and tangy, and the pastry case was crisp – though not at all dry – and completely delicious. Speaking as a gluten-eater, I can reliably say that it really couldn’t be distinguished from its gluten-containing equivalents; it was as good as any Parisian patisserie could be. And that’s pretty damn good.
- 69 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris (7th Arrondissement, somewhere between the Tour Eiffel and the Jardin du Luxembourg)
- Gluten-free boulangerie/restaurant
- Breads, pastries and various lunch offerings
I didn’t actually sample any of Noglu’s products, as I directed Mum to take herself here whilst I was at work. However, she gave rave reviews of her breakfast, which consisted of a brioche au chocolat and a clafoutis (a sort of cherry cake) – both were declared “beautiful, moist and tasty”. She also picked up a baguette to accompany dinner; despite the ridiculously hot weather, I couldn’t let my mother – from whom I inherited not only my foodie genes, but more specifically, all of my cheese-fiend ones too – spend a long weekend in Paris without partaking in a proper Savoyarde fondue. Whatever the weather, I was adamant that we WERE going to consume vast amounts of bubbling hot cheese, and we WERE going to enjoy it. And we did too.
- 14 Rue Ternaux, 75011 Paris (11th Arrondissement)
- Gluten-free boulangerie
- Breads, pastries & sandwiches
We picked up some (very large) sandwiches from here, for a picnic lunch alongside the Seine. The sandwiches were made on foccacia, with several types available (herby, seeded, etc.) and there were three options for fillings: charcuterie, seafood, or vegetarian. Our party of three all chose the charcuterie option, which was stuffed full of both meat and salad, making for very satisfying mouthfuls – packed with flavour and texture. Apart from a very slight pastiness left in your mouth, which I find comes with all gluten-free bread, you would have been hard–pushed to tell there was anything different about it. Mum also had a pear tartelette and my goodness, it was fabulous. As with the lemon tartelette, you truly could not have known that this was gluten-free if you didn’t, y’know, actually know.
We also picked up a baguette from Chambelland, this time to accompany some cheese and charcuterie at my favourite ‘cave’ (pronounced like “have”, as opposed to “save”) in the evening. Verdict: “soft and very fresh”. What more could you ask for in a baguette?
- 12 Rue Soufflot, 75005 Paris (5th Arrondissement – by the Pantheon)
- Clue’s in the name
- Classic Breton galettes and cider
Unlike Chambelland, La Creperie is not a specially-targeted gluten-free establishment. However, their extensive list of galettes (undoubtedly the main attraction of the place) are all naturally gluten-free, as any proper, traditional galette ought to be, since they’re made using buckwheat, which does not contain gluten. I’ve tried two of their galettes now and both have been phenomenally tasty. The café – and it is a café, rather than a restaurant – is bright and tastefully-decorated; the staff are very friendly; and as soon as they get wind of your non-French accent, they will present you with an English menu (much to my disappointment, but very handy if you’re not a French-speaker). Apart from galettes, you can also order their typical accompaniment – Breton cider – which can be bought by the carafe or wine-sized bottle, and sipped from small bowls, in the traditional fashion. Unfortunately, the sweet crêpes are not gluten-free, but to be honest, you’ll be so stuffed from the generously-stuffed galettes that dessert is highly unlikely to seem an appealing prospect anyway.**
One final point in La Crêperie’s favour – it’s one of the cheapest meals I’ve had in Paris. Combine that with the delightful customer service, very pleasant interior, and DELICIOUS food… Well, it’s a winner for me, anyway. In case that wasn’t glaringly obvious.
One more piece of potentially-useful advice: as I mentioned above, we took our own GF baguette to two restaurants over the weekend – I would recommend emailing ahead to check it’s okay (out of politeness), but I highly doubt it will ever be an issue. After all, bread is pretty much a human right in France… and it’s always free when you eat out, anyway!
All in all, it was a fabulous weekend, and a fabulous food weekend. I’m confident that my mum didn’t miss out on a thing on account of her gluten intolerance, although there were plenty of things we/she didn’t get to try, purely because there are SO many fantastic French delicacies to sample in Paris – with or without gluten. It’s amazing what a little research can uncover! I’ll let you know when I’ve gotten through a few more places on my list….
* Love you, Mum.
**If I’ve underestimated your appetite, there is a total of THREE ice-cream shops on the same small street as La Crêperie – and one of them, Grom, even does gluten-free cones. It was actually on my list of gluten-free establishments, but we were far too full to go, so I can’t review it – yet! I hear great things, though.