Eating gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan in Paris
Traditional French pastries without gluten can be found at Paris' first gluten-free patisserie, Helmut Newcake. (Kim Laidlaw Adrey)
Located in a country with Unesco world heritage status for its gastronomy, Paris offers myriad opportunities for dining on such traditional delights as freshly-baked baguettes, steak tartare and gratin dauphinoise. But what to do if you’re gluten or dairy intolerant, or even vegan? Well, thanks to a slew of new restaurant openings that cater to such dietary requirements, the French capital is no longer a culinary minefield for those with special demands.
For those who need to eat gluten free – which means avoiding wheat, and therefore bread and pastry -- there are two new options. Noglu is a certified gluten-free restaurant in the beautiful covered passage of Passage des Panoramas in the 2nd arrondissement. The sleek black-walled restaurant has tables upstairs and counter seating downstairs, which is great for solo diners. The menu changes daily according to what’s in season, such as roast cod with braised carrots or vegetarian lasagna, and lactose-free dishes are flagged on the menu, too. The food is of such a high standard that the restaurant is usually full to capacity -- so make sure you book in advance.
For a more casual solution to wheat-free dining, head to Paris’ first gluten-free patisserie, Helmut Newcake near the trendy Canal St Martin in the 10th arrondissement. Here you’ll find daily lunch specials (often including a quiche and a hot dish such chicken with polenta), as well as a vast selection of French patisseries like eclairs and lemon meringue tarts -- all of which use the chef’s secret non-gluten flour blend. The patisserie is sensitive to lactose-free requirements too, and has meals and cakes without dairy – the pistachio and redcurrant cake is particularly good. There is also a selection of groceries, such as gluten-free bread and dairy-free chocolate, for sale.
For vegans in Paris, it is possible to enjoy the gastronomic prowess of France while avoiding all traces of cheese, cream and foie gras. Vegan restaurant Gentle Gourmet Cafe near the Bastille neighbourhood offers high-quality, seasonal French fare that, although entirely vegan (and therefore also suitable for those who don’t eat dairy), attracts even staunch carnivores with its fine cuisine. Try such delights as the croque monsieur with a vegan-cheese béchamel sauce and vegan ham on sliced bread, or their version of the Breton galette pancake, with vegan ham and cheese, artichokes, onions and mushrooms in a creamy, non-dairy sauce. Bon appétit!
Kim Laidlaw Adrey is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.