Eating With Food Allergies In Paris

The first night we arrived in Paris we were starving!  I was on a trip with my family during the summer a few years ago.  We had just arrived in Paris after traveling around Italy for a few weeks.  Everyone in Italy had been fabulous about my allergies, so the first night in Paris was eye-opening.


We were staying at a lovely hotel right on the Seine.  Down the street was a large piazza (or place as the French might say) with restaurants.  We chose one and sat down to look at the menu.  The waiter came over.  I had my chef card in French out and ready. The menu was in French and English, which was helpful because I had a better idea of what I was ordering.  Unfortunately, our waiter had quite the attitude!  I tried to order what I thought was a very simple chicken dish, then gave the waiter my card.  He shook his head, saying he could not help me, and that he didn’t know what was in it.  I asked if he could bring it to the chef, which he refused to do.  I then asked if I could just get some plain pasta, which still was apparently a big deal to him.  He wouldn’t help me so I wouldn’t order from him. The rest of my family had already ordered. It was pretty late so I didn’t want to pressure them find another restaurant, although they certainly would have obliged. I sat patiently while they ate their dinner.
After our first dining experience in France, I felt some trepidation knowing I still had a week of fabulous French dining out fiascos ahead of me. We strolled the Parisian streets after dinner, hoping to locate a store where I could buy something safe to eat.  We came across a Ben & Jerry’s. Now, I will admit that I am often extremely disappointed at the noticeable presence of globalization in so many countries, BUT in this case I was not.  I know that ice cream should not be a replacement for a meal, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.  They had pints of it with English ingredients, so I split a pint with my sister and called it dinner.
The rest of our time in Paris was a mix of difficult eating experiences.  It was certainly not my most food-fulfilling week.  I could eat a plain baguette at the patisserie, although there were many more eye-catching sweets I would have preferred. I watched as my mom would try delicate desserts. I wanted her to try them, but I did feel a pang of sadness.  I do know that most importantly, as long as I am keeping myself safe and finding something to fill my stomach, I am okay. Eating with food allergies in Paris was not ideal, but I made it work because traveling is always worth it.
A Few Quick Suggestions:
  • Pack safe snacks
  • Plan to stay somewhere with kitchen access (or at least a refrigerator) that is located near a grocery store
  • Look for other recommendations here

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