How do you survive as gluten free in France?

I recently became gluten free but I am really starting to panic about my upcoming year abroad in Paris. All I think of when I hear French food is bread and pastries and I'm worried that I won't be able to find any of the gluten free foods I eat at home (such as special g.f. pasta, flour, etc). Has anyone experienced this problem and how did you resolve it?

This question was asked on 11th August 2014 and has been read 1288 times.

  • Philip Harding-Esch · 4 years ago

    Hello, Anonymous!

    There's no need to panic about this. French supermarkets also sell gluten-free produce. Here are some links to online stores and websites of a couple of major supermarkets to show you the kinds of products:

    http://www.bonsansgluten.com/sites-de-vente-en-ligne/

    http://courses.monoprix.fr/RIDC/Produits-sans-gluten-10893803;...

    http://www.carrefour.fr/nos-marques-carrefour/carrefour-sans-gluten

    As you will probably already have noticed, you'll need to look for things "sans gluten". 

    So you'll definitely be able to find gluten-free food in shops.

    Where you might come across issues is people not understanding what contains gluten or not, if you are eating out or at a friend's house. Lots of French people are not used to thinking that way about food (it can be the same with meat - you'd be surprised how often you'll meet a French person who thinks ham isn't meat, it's for flavour!)

    However this will be a fantastic way for you to exercise your French and explain things to people! Always a good idea to forewarn people, and explain specific foodstuffs that are not compatible, and always a good idea to say you cannot eat gluten (eg "it makes you ill") rather than don't want to eat it.

    In many ways this is going to really help you with your French and you should look forward to it and discovering all the delicious French food that doesn't contain gluten.

    Good luck!

  • Anonymous Answer · 2 years ago

    This question was asked a couple of years ago but I thought I should add my experience of eating gluten free in France.

    Simply put, I found it really quite difficult.  Unlike the person who published the question I wasn't in Paris where I assume it'll be a bit easier, but I was in a very large, major city with several large supermarkets.  It's true that there are supermarket ranges but many of the products aren't great, except maybe the pasta and a couple types of bread.  I only found one supermarket that even sold GF flour which then it was out of stock for weeks at a time, which common for a lot of the better products.

    Even though it's still difficult being on a GF diet in the UK, awareness and availability of products here are light years ahead of what I experienced in France, which is saying something.  Generally speaking there didn't seem to be any awareness of GF diets or related illnesses where I was living, even of people diagnosed with them.  Even though I was in a large city there were very few options in terms of restaurants and eating out.  This was especially a problem if I needed to buy food and the shops were shut or it was a holiday since there was literally nothing for me to eat anywhere else, so make sure you plan ahead and always have something there in case.

    I'm not saying that you shouldn't go to France if you can't eat gluten!  But I would definitely recommend living in a large city so that you have as many options as possible.

If you would like to contribute to this question, please login or register.