France is another country we were able to explore during our long honeymoon abroad. Specifically, Argeles Sur Mer, Collioure, Cannes, and Monaco (Although, Monaco is its own country). France was more of a challenge when it came to eating gluten free travel, not because there weren’t gluten-free options, but because there were so many delicious looking pastries and breads! It took an act of god to resist these heavenly morsels.
From the top of Argeles Sur Mer, looking down at the beach.
Again each place had its own pros and cons along with individual charms and history. Argeles Sur Mer is a beautiful beach town about 45 minutes from the Spanish border. You won’t see one person without a bathing suit and cover up during the summer months. It’s hot and humid, sitting right on the warm Mediterranean. The type of people vacationing in Argeles are mainly French, British, and German. Argeles is not an upscale city by any means and neither are the folk. In the beach part of town, condo owners rent street spaces below their dwellings to vendors, so markets line the beach for blocks. You can find lots of fast food like kebab and pizza, beachwear, soaps, glacier (ice cream), and other gifts. Beachfront there is a large array of restaurants serving enormous plates of seafood, mussels being the favorite.
Mussels, frites, and huge breaded calamari in Argeles Sur Mer. I did not eat the calamari.
We ended up eating with friends a lot in Argeles, so our dining experience wasn’t as expansive as the other cities we visited. The mussels to the left are a good example of the type of food available in Argeles. They also have super markets by the beach (super marché) which made it easy for us to get gluten free snacks like yogurt, fruit, veggies, and nuts.
Our friends took us to a cove one evening and roasted sausages, lamb, and Camembert cheese over an open fire and smeared it over a roasted potato. It was so magnificent and delectable! I plan on recreating this dish as soon as possible and it’s a gluten free travel option.
Eggs, sausage, fruit, and a rice cake at Les Moettes in Argeles Sur Mer.
My recommendation to eat breakfast at your hotel is the same for France as it was Spain do it. Most hotels will serve you a petit dejeuner (light breakfast) that consists of breads and pastries, but the nicer hotels will serve a wide range of foods, buffet style. Our hotel, Les Moettes, had plenty of gluten-free options including eggs, fruit, cheese, cured meats, sausages, pastries, breads, and a variety of boissons (drinks).
Our next stop in France was the sweet and historic town of Collioure. This town was by far my favorite because of its romantic buildings, cobblestone streets, towers, beach, and above all character.
Collioure is a little more upscale than Argeles; visitors come to lounge on the rocky beach, site-see, and adore the detailed and varied architecture.
We had the pleasure of staying in Collioure for a few days and while our hotel did not have any gluten-free breakfast options we found several early morning diners that served omelets.
Olivier Bajard pastries and cakes.
Collioure is also home to one of two retail locations of Olivier Bajard, a world-famous French pastry chef. I was only able to sample the chocolate and gelato, but my husband and friends devoured his pastries and macarons. I can assure you it was the best I’ve ever had and the best they’ve ever had. He lives up to his awards and recognition. I ended up taking home several hundred euros of chocolate for my family and myself.
Carrefour Gluten-Free Bread
Collioure had a market called Carrefour, which seems to be a chain throughout France. They manufacture their own gluten-free baguettes, cookies, muffins, and sliced sandwich bread. It’s corn-based and not too bad! I managed to smother Camembert cheese all over these after they’ve been toasted – what a treat.
Salad and Galette in Collioure, France
Collioure also has a nice selection of cute little street cafes with a solid selection of salads, crepes, and galettes (savory crepes made with buckwheat flour and unsweetened). At the time I didn’t know galettes were gluten-free or I would have eaten one, that said it’s probably safe to ask in case they decided to use wheat flour.
Olivier Bajard Macarons
On the topic of asking a server if an item is gluten-free, you should say “Je suis allergique au gluten. Avez-vous cela sans gluten?” Roughly translated to, “I am allergic to gluten. Do you have this without gluten?” You can also say “sans gluten” or “sans pain (bread)” and they will understand.
Another delicious French pastry that is gluten free is the macaron (small, various colored cookie sandwiches). They are certainly not sugar-free, but these little pastries are made with almond flour and powder, along with preserves or cream for the filling. I did not eat any while I was in France because I have to choose my sugar carefully or not eat it at all, but they looked so delicious!
Cannes, France – Side Alley
Mike and I decided to rent a car and make the 5 hour trek to Cannes, home of the Cannes Film Festival, while we were in France.
Cannes is a bigger city than I realized and full of well-off tourists and shoppers. We stayed more in the city so we ended up having to walk about 15 minutes down to the water front where all the shops and restaurants are.
Cantaloupe and Prosciutto in Cannes, France.
I found Cannes to be loud, packed with people, and not entirely pleasant at night. By day it wasn’t so bad and we found the food to be rather delicious, reminiscent of Italian food in some places. I managed to find a lot of gluten free travel options with risotto, cantaloupe, prosciutto, salads, and more.
While we were staying in Cannes, we decided to take a break from the craziness and visit Monaco for a day. Monaco is its own country and has a lot of tourists and influence from Italy. It’s also rich, rich, rich and beautiful because of it. Word on the street is law enforcement is paid very well and have a ubiquitous presence, so there is no crime of any sorts. Which is great because people tend to come here to spend money, visit the Casino, or hide money in off-shore accounts.
We found many places with salad options and many with pizza and pasta. It was hard to resist the pizza, but the salads were hearty, full of tuna, olives, anchovies, and veggies – they were delicious.
We were sad we didn’t have enough time to swim because Monaco’s waters were turquoise!
Overall France was a beautiful and inspiring place. Don’t go if you can’t tolerate dairy for a week or two you will not survive without it. I stocked up on yogurt, fruits, veggies, nuts, and gluten-free breads to tide me over between meals or if I happened to miss a meal, which happens when you travel. It is however, possible to travel gluten free.
France is a much more polished country in that they take time to fix rundown historic buildings, clean the streets daily, and generally the people just take pride in keeping their home beautiful.
If you are gluten free and looking to travel internationally, Gluten Free Hotels for Celiacs has a robust list of hotels all around the world who can accommodate you.
Prawn Risotto in Cannes, France.
Beautiful tile in Cannes, France.
My best bud and I in Argeles Sur Mer.
Collioure, France – Side Alley.