One would think that Paris, home of pastries and baguettes, would not be the best place for a coeliac. And up until a few years ago that assumption would have been correct. The French are still not known for their general knowledge of gluten free requirements or the problems of cross contamination, but luckily a number of fully gluten free places have opened up in Paris and it is possible to eat very well while you are there.
I just returned from four days in Paris and managed to try eight different bakeries and restaurants. It required a lot of walking and a very patient boyfriend but was definitely worth it. This post will focus on pastries, then one on sandwich shops, then cafes and restaurants to finish!
The first bakery I tried, and the one that needs to be at the top of the list for any coeliac or gluten free eater, was Helmut Newcake. It looks like a regular French patisserie, except EVERYTHING is gluten free! All the shining pastries in their little rows. It was a very happy moment. There are two Helmut Newcake locations and I visited both on my trip. We also had brunch at the cafe on the Canal St Martin but I will describe that in the other post. This one will focus on the 7 pastries I had… In addition to a baguette and a small brioche!
On the first visit I picked up a rhubarb meringue tart, a raspberry tart, and a Madame de Fontenay (two choux buns with chocolate cream filling). The bakers on Great British Bake Off made religiuese last series, which were very similar to the Madame, so it was great to be able to try one. Apologies for the photos of the pastries I purchased. They were carried around for some time in the hot sun before I ate them and they didn’t look their best. But they were extremely tasty. I even shared.
I also bought a baguette for dinner, with saussicon and cheese in the Jardin des Tuileries, and a mini brioche for breakfast the next morning. We were staying in an AirBnB so ate breakfast in our flat every morning. I believe the baguette was made with gram flour because it had the slight bean aftertaste which I’m not a huge fan of. But it was still a good gluten free loaf.
On my second visit, right before getting on the Eurostar home, I bought another Madame de Fontenay, a caramel éclair, a Symphonie (layered cake with raspberry, cream and other tasty things), and a meringue Chantilly, which looked like a meringue éclair with whipped cream. Again they didn’t quite make it as far as the photos, having had to survive a trip through the security x-ray to board the train. But the éclair made Monday morning back in the office much better.
Helmut Newcake accounted for almost all of the sweet pastries I ate during my trip, except for a quick waffle from Yummy & Guiltfree. This cute little stand is in a courtyard in the BHV Homme Marais department store, and the courtyard is a lovely place to sit away from the hustle for a few minutes. The waffles are all gluten free and come on sticks with tiny bows. I had the ‘Roland Garros’ in honour of the French Open (lemon curd and cream) and my boyfriend had the caramel. Slightly messy to eat but a good sugar hit mid-afternoon.
I also purchased a mini croissant from Biosphere Cafe, a full review of which will appear in a later post. I ate the croissant with the brioche from Helmut Newcake for breakfast and both were extremely tasty.
Mini croissants made a further appearance for breakfast when I purchased some from Bio C’ Bon, a French Whole Foods-type chain. I slightly burnt the croissant so there is no ‘after’ photo. The croissant was good for a bake-at-home one, but lacked the typical pastry layers of a croissant. Would probably buy them again if I was on a villa holiday in France or similar. I was also a big fan of the fact that the croissants came individually wrapped, which meant the others lasted longer!
Overall it was a very good thing that I walked 70km over the four days, as lots of pastries provided lots of sugar-fueled energy! I would recommend coeliacs went to Paris just for the pastries from Helmut Newcake, but the abundance of other options made the trip even better.