As anyone who has celiac or coeliac disease knows, a gluten-free diet is absolutely essential for their well-being. Equally, gluten sensitivity requires vigilance to avoid the onset of all the symptoms that eating gluten can produce. So eating out can be a big challenge, potentially a health risk and therefore quite stressful.
All that makes a self-catering holiday the obvious answer for a more relaxed break. But what’s it like in France to be gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive? Can you easily buy gluten-free ingredients and products?
The answer is yes!
All major supermarkets (e.g. Auchan, Carrefour, Eleclerc, SuperU) keep a wide range of products as do most ‘Bio’ shops – our closest is Biocoop in Sens, just 15 minutes’ drive from our depot. The national supermarket Carrefour (also in Sens), for example, stocks pasta, bread (including croissants!), cakes, flours, cookies, pre-cooked meals including quinoa salads, lentil bakes, and gluten-free pizza and noodles.
You may also find local bakeries (boulangerie) and delis (traiteur) will make and bake gluten-free food for you with some notice (though their preparation probably won’t be in an entirely gluten-free environment). Read ‘Motorhomes to the dietary rescue!’ for more advice and information about travelling on a special diet.
And for gluten-free clients who do want to eat out, but are a bit nervous about getting the message across in French to the waiting staff, CeliacTravel.com has a free restaurant card in French (and 53 other languages), which you can print out and carry with you. The card explains (briefly) what Celiac/Coeliac Disease is and what you can and cannot eat.