Dairy-free in Paris, France: a progress report

Two years ago, I visited Paris for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could find good food that was dairy-free.  Parisian cuisine is notorious for relying heavily on butter and cream, but with a brasserie-heavy strategy and some help from my wife, I ate quite well.  I don’t know how soon I will have a chance to visit Paris again, but I was curious to find out if Parisian cuisine has become more open to accommodating people with dairy allergies in the last two years.  I found some information to suggest that there has, indeed, been progress.

Karin Bates Snyder’s post “Coping with Food Intolerances in France” provides lots of insight, from someone who has been living in France.  She give lots of good advice on how to eat free from fear of allergies (gluten allergy being the one she mentions most frequently), and includes lots of helpful links, to sites like Allergy Translation, a site that provides vocabulary for conveying your allergy in a great number of languages.

I was surprised to discover that there is a discussion on TripAdvisor from 2009 – I don’t know how I missed this when I was doing research for my 2010 trip.  There is a similar discussion on Rick Steve’s website from 2010, right around the time I visited Paris.  I would be interested in bringing up this topic on TripAdvisor again, once I have an idea of when I will be visiting Paris again.  In the TripAdvisor discussion, one person suggests having laminated cards made that describe your allergy in French, which I think is an excellent idea.  I didn’t do that in 2010, relying instead on my wife’s help, since she speaks French.  But next time, I will definitely make cards.

I was thrilled to find a post on the Prete Moi Paris blog that tells about the Lune de Miel kosher dairy.  The photos of cakes and cookies covered and filled with creamy concoctions had my mouth watering!  Normally, it is impossible to find bakeries in Paris that have anything for me to eat (other than a baguette, maybe), but next time I am there, I will make a special trip to Lune de Miel.

It is always an option for me to simply eat vegan, but I reserve that as a last option, since I know that a lot of vegan food that I might enjoy won’t be very exciting for my wife.  However, it is great to know that there is a guidebook (and a blog) called Vegan Paris to direct me should things start to get desperate when I am in Paris.

On the other hand, there is a website called Special Gourmets that gives listings of restaurants with options for allergen-free diets.  When I begin planning for visiting Paris again, I will definitely go through this list and pick out a few restaurants to try.

Finally, I think the most telling piece of information about how far Parisian diets have come is that Chef Alain Braux’s book “Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food” won the cookbook section of the 2011 Paris Book Festival.  I look forward to reading Chef Braux’s book with great interest, as soon as there is an English translation!

As a post-script, I may not be visiting Paris anytime soon, but I am thrilled at the prospect of bringing a little of Paris into my kitchen soon, by trying out Hannah Kaminsky’s dairy-free (vegan) croissant recipe.  If they come out well, I am sure that my wife and I will be thrilled to be, at least for a little while, transported to the City of Lights.

About Karl Peterson

Karl Peterson is an avid traveler, passionate about food and food-related entertainment, completely allergic to dairy. He is founder, owner and principle contributor to "The Dairy Free Traveler" blog. The Dairy Free Traveler perfectly dovetails two of his greatest areas of interest: traveling near and far, and searching for great cuisine (especially dairy free!) The Dairy Free Traveler publishes original material about the dairy free lifestyle, eating the best food in the most interesting destinations around the world. Karl's tours take him from thriving New York City, to exotic Marrakesh, to elegant Paris bistros -- (yes! even Parisians have gotten on the dairy free bandwagon.) The Dairy Free Traveler himself also engages with independent dairy free food producers, highlighting new dairy free product launches and events that support dairy free entrepreneurs. Peterson is among the top 7 most widely read TripAdvisor reviewers in New York City and is repeatedly cited as a Top Contributor at TripAdvisor.com. His reviews have garnered more than 542,000 readers -- half in the U.S., and half among the many countries he has visited around the world. Beyond writing this blog, Peterson is a published author, with contributions to "Savoring Gotham" edited by Andrew F. Smith (published 2015 by Oxford University) and the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Cheese (a bit ironic, yes, but a professional is often asked to stretch beyond their comfort zone!).
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