You may notice that this isn’t a “Peanut-Free Guide to Paris” and that is because I had virtually no luck finding peanut-free spots in Paris back in 2018! In this post I will share with you my experience, and I want to start off by making it extra clear that I would 100% go back there one day even without eating out, but this is a city that I would spend a little more to secure a hotel with a kitchenette in it! You are in luck though, because the food allergy app Spokin (which I highly suggest getting if you don’t already use it) has since put out an Allergy-Friendly Paris Guide!
If you’re planning a trip, here is my list of spots I contacted that were either not safe or that I didn’t hear back from, I did a lot of research upfront online about where people with food allergies often ate in Paris, so that steered my list in many ways. I hope this may help those interested get a head start checking elsewhere:
- Restaurant Benoit
- Vapiano (France)
- Fatima Merani
- Mariage Freres (Bulk Tea Shop)
- Le George
- Arena Cafe
- Poilâne Bakery
- Cafe Pinson
- Le Comptoir Belge
There were at least a dozen more that I contacted and didn’t hear back from, but these were the ones I saved in my running document because I was hoping to eat at them based off their menu items if any got back to me. Luckily, there are grocery stores in Paris! In fact, one extremely amazing UK grocery store I’ll link here is Marks & Spencer. They had a lot of items labeled for ‘may contain’ and explained what allergens were in the facility, which is one amazing thing about dining and shopping for food in the EU, they require stricter labeling laws and labeling of more allergens than here in the U.S.
Since I didn’t have much luck finding a dedicated allergen-free place to eat the months and weeks leading up to our trip, we didn’t let that rain on our day in Paris! We packed a lunch and safe snacks and brought it with us. I had read online from multiple sources that nearly every café and bar has peanuts out for snacking Paris, it appears to be common, so I skipped going into a café or bar. Paul went to Marks & Spencer (M&S) while I was enjoying art at The Louvre, and he surprised me a really yummy spiced fruit bun for breakfast (looks like they may no longer make it but I will keep the link there in case they bring it back!)
I also was lucky to have a wonderful co-worker and friend who has dual citizenship in France, and she helped me navigate the many ways “peanut” and “nut” can be translated in French. I’ll share what she gave me here, because I used this to help write all my emails to restaurants, food allergy cards I passed out, and I printed it to keep on hand while in France. Note: there is a difference between Canadian French and the French they speak in France, I know I risk sounding ignorant when saying this, but I didn’t realize it until we took our trip and I was explained this by my friend! Some online translator tools will take the difference in dialect into consideration, so that’s something to consider, these translations are for using in France and would differ somewhat if used in Canada:
Je suis très allergique aux arachides/cacahuètes – I am very allergic to peanuts
J’ai une allergie analphylactique aux arachides/cacahuètes – I have an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts
Je suis gravement allergique aux cacahuètes et à l’huile d’arachide – I am seriously allergic to peanuts and peanut oil
*Do not just ask if the food contains “noix”. This word for nut is used to refer specifically to walnuts, and misleadingly doesn’t encompass all nuts.
Cacahuètes – peanuts (most commonly used in France)
Arachides – peanuts (most commonly used in Quebec, but also used in France)
Huile d’arachides – peanut oil
Beurre de cacahuètes/arachides – peanut butter
Fruit à coque – translated as “fruits in shells”, this term is used as a catch-all for nuts, and is used on lots of labels
She showed us all around Paris, and it was a really nice time, despite not being able to find a safe spot to eat. All in all, I was happy I didn’t risk eating out, because we only had one day there and I didn’t want to jeopardize my limited time. Funnily enough, after finishing up our day out and about, we did sit down for a beer at a restaurant near the base of the Eiffel Tower and my friend went in before us and confirmed with them in French that they did not have peanuts on the menu! I was very surprised! However, since they are so commonly used in France, I didn’t risk eating off the menu. I did use their glassware and have a beer, and it was a lovely end to our day in BEAUTIFUL Paris!! I am almost certain the name of the place we got drinks was Le Champ de Mars, but their website shows nuts out for snacking, so that is throwing me off.
Overall, even with the difficulty of eating out and peanuts being out & about, I absolutely want to go back to Paris! I explored The Louvre while Paul (my husband with no food allergies) enjoyed some French treats at a nearby cafe, then we went to The L’Orangerie Museum, walked the Le Marais neighborhood, went under the Eiffel Tower, went to a local art gallery, explored along the Siene, got a feel for living in Paris by walking the small side-streets, walked past Sainte Chapelle and the Notre-Dame, and so much more! It was 70 degrees and sunny, so we lucked out with the weather.
My main struggle, besides not being able to find a place that didn’t use peanuts before traveling there, was the train ride to and from Paris. The train served food with peanut items, and everyone around us was eating and snacking. Since it’s such a busy destination, the train was completely full, so we did not have the luxury to choose an open seat further away from people, and it was stressful and reminded me of my experience during air travel where it’s close proximity and recycled air. Nothing bad happened, I wore my face mask the entire train ride, wiped down my clothes and purse and phone afterwards really well, just tried to avoid touching my face as much as possible!
Enjoy some photos from Paris!