When you think of Paris and food, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Baguette. Croissant. Pastries. Eclairs. Basically bloody delicious baked goods, which is hell on earth for an coeliac or someone with a gluten intolerance. But believe it or not, now 2017 has come around, Paris is in a pretty damn good place for gluten free.
The last time I visited this beautiful city was years ago, before I was diagnosed, and when a problem with gluten was just a twinkle in the eye. I adored every part of it. The food, the history, the shops, the art, the architecture, but I admit I’ve put off a visit for years due to a fear of not being able to eat good food.
Thanks to Instagram, blogs and the internet in general, I was reassured that this was no long the case, and a plethora of incredibly good, natural gluten free food, and gluten free bakeries existed across the Channel.
WHERE TO STAY
Both feeling a little grown up, we decided this time we’d stay somewhere a little nicer. Last time Lauren and I were in Paris, it was a small but adequate hostel, but since we were no longer students, we opted for the stunning Hoxton.
For anyone who has been in London you’ll know this place is interior heaven, with gorgeous brunch and beautifully designed bedrooms. I had my concerns when googling that this might be out of our price range, but their smaller ‘shoebox’ room, came in at just under £200 each for 3 nights (4 days), which wasn’t even too much more than private room hostels.
Instead what this gave us was a safe spot to rest our heads, with a stunning bar (which we made the most of one night and literally had to be carted away), a great hotel restaurant at our finger tips, along with an ample sized room, with modern bathroom attached.
What’s great about this place is the finishing touches. Not only is everything super polished, but it feels like modern luxury without the super expensive price tag. I loved their breakfast bags, which you hang outside your room each night with a tick box for your time and what you’d like in each delivery. Usually it was yoghurt and granola (remove granola for gluten free), with fresh orange and a banana. When there’s incredible food to try in the city, this was the perfect little start each day before heading off to explore.
On our final, slower and most hungover morning, we opted for brunch in the hotel. After getting to sleep at 5am – don’t ask – we rolled down to squeeze in some eggs and juice before packing up. Unfortunately these guys don’t have gluten free bread, but were fully understanding, and could provide my favourite – eggs hollandaise – without the bread, but a side of avo, which did the job of pulling me out of my disgusting hangover, perfectly.
WHERE TO EAT
The highlight of my dining experience in Paris had to be the incredible Noglu. You will have no doubt heard of it if you’re from the gluten free community, and from what I had read and previously eaten with my eyes, it did not disappoint.
These guys started as a gluten free bakery and now have multiple restaurants across Paris and beyond. This was where, on the very start of our trip, I had my first Croque Monsieur in FOUR YEARS. It was just as divine as it looked. I even got a complementary pot of fresh homemade bread on the side.
Lauren opted for avocado and salmon on homemade GF bread, but there’s heaps to choose from, and if you’ve still got room afterwards, pop across the road and grab a cake or two. I pre-planned and bought some gluten free brioche rolls to enjoy with my breakfast bag.
What’s even better, is this little pretty is just a five minute walk from The Hoxton… Coincidence, I think not.
Hiding from the rain for an afternoon brunch, we opted for warm bowls of veggie pho and beetroot hummus on toast at La Guinguette D’Angele, a small and quiet healthy cafe just East of where we were staying. Everything here is gluten free and veggie, and they happened to be playing the La La Land soundtrack, which was equally dreamy.
This is a place where I spent nearly 30 Euros on baked goods… There was SO much to try, and I knew I wasn’t going to be eating any of it any time soon, so I just went for it.
I had croissants, I had pain au chocolat, I had eclairs, I had baguettes. It was glorious. We stopped off at the cafe for coffee & cafe, which happened to be around a 20 minute stroll to the Champs-Elysees through the gardens, and then just another 15 to the Eiffel Tower.
Having stuffed my face with pastries, we felt this walk was a good idea, and finally parked up at the Eiffel Tower, just as I started to feel peckish again. (If you’re friends with me you’ll know my stomach is a bottomless pit). It seemed appropriate to sit, take in the view, a coffee in hand, and of course, a trusty fresh gf baguette
We managed to eat a lot of mussels whilst in Paris. You kind of have to really. And the great thing is, they’re – most of the time – naturally gluten free.
After reading and reading, we heard lots of good things about Léon de Bruxelles, a chain in Paris known for their millions of different mussel flavours and sauces, so we popped by after window shopping in the Champs-Elysees. The portion size was incredible, and they the wine to accompany was also a great price.
WHAT ELSE TO DO
I wouldn’t be able to go back to Paris with Lauren without going to Disney. I must admit, part of me would have rather had an extra day exploring Paris, but I’m SO glad we went.
Being bunny mad, I nearly wet myself when you could have photos with Thumper and Miss Bunny. But even better was Space Mountain, which has now transformed to Hyper Space mountain and is completely Star Wars themed. We may have been two cocktails in, but my God, I’ve never been so excited when a ride started! We both instantly grabbed each other’s arms as the Star Wars theme began. When an I go back please?!
The finale firework show is 100% worth waiting for, in the form of a light display across the castle. It gives you all the feels. I think there was something in my eye.
Food wise, after running around a bit (fast food and gluten free don’t go very well!), we found the Restaurant Hakuna Matata in Adventureland had a portion of beed meatballs and rice, which was labelled gluten free, so I was relieved. There’s often that moment of panic when you’re starving hungry and can’t find anything that’s OK to eat. Also, luckily most of the restaurants are quick serve, so you can get back to the rides.
For dinner, once the main park had closed, we headed just outside the arena, to a row of restaurants, and took a seat at Planet Hollywood. Now this was never going to be the best meal of your life, but I was pretty chuffed to see a separate gluten free menu, with heaps to choose from.
We started by sharing a huge portion of nachos with all the trimmings, and then for main it was ribs for me with BBQ sauce, fries and coleslaw.
A visit to Paris isn’t a visit to Paris without art. Last time we had cheap red wine and then wandered round the Louvre, but this time we opted for modern art.
I remember the Pompidou back from A Level Graphic Design, and writing an essay all about its architect, Richard Rogers. Packed with heaps of colour, I found myself inspired at every turn, getting lots of ideas for future ad campaigns. I was trying to switch off, but you just can’t help it sometimes.
You’ll also be pleased to know, their cafe serves a gluten free chocolate torte style cake. I won’t show you a photo, as it resembles something that probably came from Pumba’s bum, BUT it tasted great. You’ll just have to trust me on that one.
Wandering up from Montmartre, Sacre Coeur is one of my favourite places. It’s incredible city views, and peaceful ambiance made it perfect for our final day, as we drank coffee after coffee before getting the Eurostar home.
Au Revoir for now, Paris.