Gluten Free and Food Allergies in Europe
Based on years of extensive research and personal experiences traveling and living throughout Europe, here are some gluten free, allergy free and vegan friendly tips, eating establishments and bakeries to help you safely eat during your European travels:
Gluten Free Translation Cards – A Travel Essential
Traveling to a foreign country as a coeliac can be a bit daunting, but gluten free translation cards make explaining your requirements a little bit easier. A gluten free translation card is a brief explanation of what the gluten free diet entails in the language of the country you are visiting. You know how easily the message can get ‘lost in translation’ in your mother tongue, so these cards are an essential part of traveling as the waiter can take it to the chef to discuss which meals may be suitable.
Gluten Free Passport provides individual country downloadable translations for USD $2.99 each that you print yourself (you can save some money by buying a Europe Travel pack).
Gluten Free Europe On the Go
Whether you follow a gluten-free diet or have friends who do, you may find yourself in need of a gluten-free restaurant abroad in Europe. From The Grapevine consulted gluten-free travel experts to help us ditch the gluten on the go. We’ll also highlight some helpful iPhone apps to download before you hit the road.
Gluten Free and Dairy Free in Paris France
Paris and gluten-free are two words that one wouldn’t expect to be in the same sentence. We spoke with Kim Koeller, the founder of Gluten Free Passport and author of numerous books on gluten-free travel. Koeller’s favorites in Paris include Helmut Newcake, a gluten-free traditional French patisserie. According to co-founder Francois Tagliaferro, their most popular items include the lemon and meringue tart, the chocolate éclair and a specialty item called the Paris Brest, made from gluten-free dough and light praline cream. Note: gluten free and dairy free options are also available.
At Biosphere Café, Koeller, who is also dairy-free, discovered a gluten-free and dairy-free fresh baguette. Biosphere also boasts gluten-free crepes – the first gluten-free crepes in Paris to Koeller’s knowledge.
Koeller created an app called iEatOut, which has a database of traditional menu items for seven ethnic cuisines including traditional French dishes. First, you select your food allergies, and the app indicates which menu items contain those allergens. Koeller and her team did extensive research on which ingredients are used to prepare each dish.
“[The app] focuses on the preparation of food and how to avoid where gluten and some of the allergens could be hidden,” Koeller said. The app enables you to safely dine at restaurants that aren’t specifically gluten-free. Koeller also wisely thought to make the app available 100% offline so you don’t have to incur those pesky international roaming charges.
Gluten Free in Florence Italy
Pizza and pasta without gluten? Yes, it’s a real thing. For gluten-free pizza, Koeller recommends Ciro & Sons in Florence. “I love the ambiance, I love the way their food tastes ...” Koeller said. “Even people that aren’t gluten-free should go there.”
How to Travel in Europe Gluten Free and with Allergies
It’s important to be able to communicate your allergy to restaurant staff. Many websites such as Allergy Free Passport offer translation cards that list (in the country’s local language) what you’re allergic to and how severe it is, some even indicate what sort of medical treatment is needed if you have a reaction.
Print these at home and carry them with you at all times. It’s your responsibility to make sure restaurant staff understand your allergy. “Talk to the server first,” says Koeller. “If you don’t feel comfortable, talk to the manager or chef. If you still feel uncertain, consider going somewhere else to eat.”
Cheers are Pouring in for Gluten-Free Beer in the UK, Europe and World
Kim Koeller, president of the educational firm GlutenFree Passport, served as the North American representative & bartender at the first-ever gluten-free beer festival in the UK. "Just to be able to pour gluten-free draft beer and seeing the looks on everyone’s faces—it truly was fabulous."
Also, here are other resources that will be helpful when traveling gluten free and allergy free throughout Europe:
Access the iEatOut Apple app detailing 7 ethnic cuisines.
Visit our global travel blog.
Find listings for restaurants, fast food, bakeries and hotels.