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Food Allergies

We will be in Paris for a week in 2019, traveling with someone with severe food allergies. The two I am most concerned about are citrus and tomatoes. Rumor has it French restaurants are sort of 'take it or leave it' - - that you can't order the pasta, skip the tomatoes.

Is that the case? How do we handle this? Recommendations?

Posted by
13330 posts

Sally, you might get some responses to your post but you may get more if you report it on the France Destination Q and A forum. The one you've posted to is for reviews of accommodations, restaurants, attractions, etc. travelers have already experienced in France.

This is the one you want:

Posted by
2118 posts
Posted by
444 posts

I have a gluten allergy. I have used a printed card that described the problem, it listed what i could not and eat and what I could in French. I would sit and hand the card to the waiter and he carried it to the chef who would look over it and came back with recommendations. On the most part, restaurants were cooperative. I would think since they make it from scratch they should be able to easily accomodate you. Good luck!

My husband is allergic to a wide variety of things (corn, soy, sesame, peanuts, cantaloupe, cod and clams). I lived in France for a year in college and took French in high school/college, so it helped that I had some residual communication skills (we've brought cards with pictures of his allergies to other countries in the past when English was less widely spoken or our local language skills were lacking). Part of traveling fun is being able to stop at any place that strikes your fancy, but with allergies we found it helpful to do some advance research of restaurants that have posted menus, and to make reservations (sometimes you can even make notes about the allergies in your reservation). Even if the restaurant's menu changes seasonally, you can at least get an idea of their type of cuisine. I'm not sure what your budget or other preferences might be, but Food and Wine has some fun food guides that list a few key dishes for each recommendation.

We went to Normandy and Paris in April 2018. In Paris, we found that Pomze, Chez l'Ami Jean and Breizh Café were good fits (understanding about allergies, some options with simple ingredient lists that make it easy to decipher, etc). A steak frites restaurant (like Relais de l'Entrecote) would also probably be a good choice. I'm sure you'll find that kindness and patience go a long way in getting people to help you, and that enthusiasm for their food overall lets them know that you're concerned about safety, not just being picky. Bon voyage!

Posted by
16883 posts

It has to partly depend on the type of preparation. Soups, stews, braises, and some pasta sauces that take longer to cook would of course be prepared ahead to a single recipe. But I don't think the French will be insensitive to the issue or unable to find out what ingredients are used.

Posted by
9510 posts

I don't have food allergies like your travel companion but I'm vegan so I'm careful about what is contained in food.

For instance, I have always been able to get cheese left off pizza and even had a quick lesson from a server on the proper way to ask for that. I have never found the "take it or leave it" attitude, in fact most have been very helpful and accommodating. Occasionally you'll get a head shake that something can't be done and that's fine...they will just help you figure something out on the menu.

DO do research ahead of time and do print out cards with the allergies listed. Most waiters in Paris speak enough English to work with you but it's better to have something they can read or occasionally take back to the kitchen to discuss with the chef.

Oops..sorry I didn't see this was a necropost bringing up an old thread!

Posted by
703 posts

we are travelling in europe at the moment, ( germany now) from experience ( mainly we are looking for gluten free) last year we spent many weeks again in france and it is not 'great' when it comes to food allergies, that said the restaurants do generally have a list of them, sometimes posted up on the wall or if you ask.
if the issue is of major concern, have you considered booking an apartment and cooking yourselves? most of the major supermarkets have a health food/gluten free section ( sometimes BIO section) so usually buying the 'correct' ingredients is not a problem. ( we occasionally do this, if we have an apartment)

we find YOU have to ask. for example lots of restaurants when asked do have gluten free options, but don't necessarily have then listed as such on their menu or board. tip: ask but don't 'demand' if you know what I mean. if they can't accomodate you, look elsewhere. we have found 100% gluten free restaurants that are great and very understanding.

also try looking for a phone app, that may list restaurants, I use a gluten-free phone app, that shows them in the area that we visiting , it works 'OK' not great, but better than nothing, 'maybe' the same restaurants also cater for other food allergies?? worth a try.
one chain of restaurants worth investigating ?? is VAPIANO, we have had a few gluten free meals there ( in vienna) and they make the meals almost to order in front of you, so you can ask for ingredients to be added or not.
hope this helps