I recently returned from a week and a half long trip to Paris. For the months leading up to my trip, I joined every food allergy group and relentlessly searched all conversations for any mention of Paris. The results weren't great. Based on research, it seemed that many Parisians were unfamiliar with food allergy protocol and largely unable to accommodate. Take an already anxious girl and add the stress of the unknown. As you can imagine, the results weren't pretty.
Some people with food allergies are offended when served plain food. I am the complete opposite. The panic and anxiety go into overdrive, so nothing thrills me more than seeing completely plain chicken on my plate. Luckily, that is mostly what I ate while in Paris!
As I was traveling with my family, my mom and I emailed every restaurant that seemed food allergy friendly. The French are actually required by law to take a vacation, and most choose August, which was when we were traveling. Out of the 20 - 30 restaurants emailed, we heard back from three. Pushing through, I was not going to let my food allergies stop my trip. I packed my suitcase with a number of American products, including crackers, rice cakes, and enough Enjoy Life protein bites for a small army, and the trip began.
I was a bit surprised by how difficult it was to manage food allergies in Paris. I had traveled to many places throughout Italy and was able to eat at almost every restaurant we walked into. In Paris, they were either nervous about my allergies, which we all know is never helpful, or they didn't want to serve me. I have included below the restaurants I was able to safely eat at while traveling abroad. For reference, my allergy card stated I was allergic to peanuts, tree nuts (which you have to list individually as there is no single word for "tree nut"), lupin, all legumes, shellfish, soy, and gluten.
- Bistrot de la Tour - This restaurant is close to the base of the Eiffel Tower. We had a very knowledgable waiter who confidently informed us they only cooked with sunflower oil.
- Bistro 25 - This is a fun outdoor restaurant in the middle of Champs-Elysees, so it is a nice place to take a break from shopping and enjoy some good food and wine! This restaurant used olive oil to prepare their food.
- Cafe Marly - My favorite meal on vacation! They were able to make me plain chicken and rice. Knowing the food is definitely safe makes it that much more delicious! Cafe Marly is located at the Louvre. You can access it from inside the museum or from the outside.
- Carette Paris - This meal didn't go completely as planned, as all their meats were pre-seasoned. Still, I was able to safely eat a salad as they prepare their food with olive oil. This restaurant is located near the Bastille and Place des Vosges, the oldest square in France.
- Gran Caffe con Vivium - This was so good (and safe) that we ate here twice! This Italian restaurant was excellent with food allergies and only used olive oil. This restaurant is located near Champs-Elysees.
- Cafe di Roma - They had absolutely no nuts on its menu and was able to accommodate without an issue. This is also located in the middle of all the shopping near Champs-Elysees.
Keep in mind that these were my recent experiences, but you should always double check with a restaurant before eating.
My family also traveled to Disneyland Paris. As numerous reviews suggest, do NOT expect American Disney Dining while here. While in Disneyland, I consumed more hot dogs than I previously had in my life! Those familiar with Magic Kingdom may recognize "Casey's Corner" in Disneyland Paris. They were able to safely provide hot dogs to accommodate my allergies. Other than that, most Disneyland restaurants refused menu service, offering a frozen, pre-packaged top 14 allergy safe meal. After trouble dining in Paris, I was more than happy to eat these frozen meals, but they are not the level of dining one expects at Disney. The food arrives in a TV dinner type package that you open yourself. Again, terrified of the language barrier and cross contamination, these meals did not bother me in the least. The pre-packaged snacks in Disney are labeled well, and many of the ice cream stands have allergy books.
Overall, I am thrilled I was able to see Paris and incredibly thankful I did not have an allergic reaction while abroad. If I were to return to France, I would definitely look into hotels with kitchen options and bring some safe things to cook from home. However, the markets in France are incredible and the variety of fresh products available, from fruits to cheese, made up for the lack of restaurant options.
Rather than focusing on food, I try to approach my trips with a focus on the sights and experiences I will have. In that regard, Paris did not disappoint. The beautiful history, numerous gardens, and thrill of Disneyland were all incredible and an experience I wouldn't trade for anything!
As always, feel free to send me a message if you are traveling to Paris and have any questions!