Oh yes, a new adventure is coming to the Leger house!  Emma, my 10-year-old celiac daughter, will be traveling with the People to People program as an ambassador to England and France in the summer of 2010.  You know what that means??? Learning how to order and find gluten-free foods in Europe — with no mom or dad around! Yikes!

Celiac-Friendly Travel

So I’ve heard Europe is easier to eat gluten-free than in the United States.  That’s what I learned from Ida, our exchange student who traveled from Norway to live with us last year.  Plus Europe has the Codex guidelines on gluten-free products.

The other good news is, when I received the call that Emma was “in”…the Delegate who’s leading the trip said she would soon set up a call to get the ball rolling on gluten-free diet (nice and early).

So I shouldn’t be so nervous…right?

Trouble in “Paris-dise”?

However, I was a little concerned when I saw this blog post:

“For those who need to avoid gluten, France may present more of a challenge than other countries, which was confirmed when I tried to find some tips online for gluten-free dining in France and turned up little information.” — www.davidlebovitz.com

Lebovitz later adds hints and tips to people traveling in Paris and need to eat gluten-free, like having a card written in French explaining your gluten-free request, always packing snacks, and he says “Apologize for being a bother”…

“This is the hardest thing for Americans, who are used to the ‘Customer Is King’ concept. In France, you may find people less-accommodating that you’re used to. There’s not much you can do to change it (and believe me, don’t try to either).  Instead, work with it. Once you throw yourself at the waiter’s mercy, they’re likely to take better care of you.”

All good things to know.

How do you prepare?

Oh mon dieu!  Oh my goodness!  She is only 10 (okay, 11 by the time she travels).  I will say, I totally have faith in the organization who is ready to accommodate her needs.  But I’m just worried about something falling through the cracks, and there my daughter is — in a foreign country and can’t eat anything!

Okay..enough of the drama.  I just hope she has a trip she’ll never forget — and not because she puked her way through the Louvre and Eiffel Tower.  So if anyone can give me hints and tips on eating out in Europe that will certainly help me in the quest for making her trip as safe as possible.   Whatever I receive I’ll certainly pass along. Thanks!

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5 Responses to “How do you say Gluten-Free in French?”

  1. Oh dear-I must say this post brings back many memories..my daughter was also a “delegate” for People to People almost 6 years ago-she was 12 when she went on the trip. Her destination-Australia and New Zealand. However, my experience sending my “baby” to a foreign country was a nightmare. We did all this prep to have her have a safe trip and had lined up all meals to be available for her when she arrived. People to People dropped the ball and she entered a country where NO outside food from other countries was allowed. So she had to dump her suitcase of food and rely and be at the mercy of this strange country who spouts that they have 0 tolerance for ppm of gluten. I must say it didn’t happen. All the prep in the world couldn’t prepare her for what lay ahead. The places she stayed and the establishments they visited had no idea what gluten was nor did they know what a gluten free menu was. There were a few places that did accomodate her but overall it was not a trip I would allow her to do again. My only advice to you plan wayyy ahead of time-as in now. I am thinking that maybe in the world of Celiac Disease and how far we have come in the past several years-you may receive some help. At least the word Gluten Free is not foreign anymore to Americans. I am hoping that her group leaders will work with you regarding her diet and that she will need help when ordering.
    Contact the People to People staff and instill in them how important it is that she remain on the gluten free diet. Explain that they will not want to be with a child who has received accidental gluten as your daughter will be sick. Try to get the itinerary now-contact all the places she will be staying at and call them and alert them of her diet. Explain what she will need and that it would be helpful if you could speak to the chefs at all the locations so that they understand your daughter’s needs. (Yes, we did this as well and Australia at the time was also in the dark regarding the disease-yes they may have a great country for foods-but the knowledge and education of the disease was alot like America-no clue!) We did this for all 16 days she would be there. Did it work? Not always, but at least my daughter was prepared and well versed in her dialogue of what to say and how to say it to let her needs known. I also contacted all CSA Chapters in the countries she was visiting. I emailed them and made sure they were aware that she would be coming and if she ran into trouble she could contact someone who was versed in the disease and diet. I typed all these contacts on an index card for both her leader and my daughter. I also included all the names of the chefs we spoke to so she new who to ask for when she arrived at the new destinations.
    Overall-I would not recommend P to P to anyone. I felt the organization dropped the ball for my daughter and her leaders were horrible. They did not meet the needs of my daughter, nor did they follow through with what they said they would do for her. Would my daughter do it again? In a heartbeat! She loved the experience and said she didn’t mind not really eating for 17 days. Ha! As a parent-no-I would never recommend that organization again to any celiac child. Unless they have raised the bar and are going to be responsible and caring enough to cater to her needs-she will need to be prepared to basically be alone for her trip regarding her diet. And if the advice has already been given to you that she will need to basically be at the mercy of the chef…believe it that that is the way it will happen.

  2. I feel your pain. I’m a college student on a year abroad in England right now. If there are any questions I can answer, please don’t hesitate to contact me. It’s taken some learning about what’s easy to find, and what actually tastes good. England is easy, France is harder, but there’s a few tricks that you should keep in mind, and that her program heads should keep in mind.

    One big suggestion for the UK, go onto the website for the UK Coeliac Society, they’re plenty helpful, and they even publish a food and drink book, that lists every food in the country that is certified gluten-free. It might be helpful for the program heads to snag this book, it’s a wonderful companion in the market.


  3. Sans Gluten!
    Dont’t worry about sending your daughter to Europe!

    gluten free = sans gluten
    Coeliac disease = la Maladie Coeliaque
    Gluten intolerance = l

  4. My son and I will spend three months in Europe next summer. I have been told over and over that gluten free is so much easier to do in Europe than it is here, mostly because there are more diagnosed celiacs there.

    http://www.celiactravel.com/ is a great site! They have tips for individual countries and also have cards in foreign languages that she can give to everyone involved in her food prep.


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