Lucy's Friendly Foods

Paris and Disneyland with allergies

Well we’re back from a lovely but very busy weekend in Paris. It was a bit of a mission for just 4 days – basically 2 days travelling (driving and ferry), 1 day in Disneyland Paris and 1 day in Paris. We had a lovely time, with no allergy-related incidents, but it did highlight some of the difficulties of travelling with food allergies.

On the ferry there was no option for food for the girls other than crisps or apples. The info on board kindly mentioned that they were happy to give the ingredients for all dishes sold on board, but they couldn’t guarantee than any dish didn’t include other ingredients than those listed. Covering their backs basically. Since a cross-channel ferry isn’t really the best place to take risks – this means all food is out of bounds, even usually safe basics like baked beans and toast.

I had obviously packed plenty of food for the trip and the rest of the weekend, including a cinnamon swirl cake, homemade cookies, dairy-free spread, soya-cheese, dairy-free chocolate spread… If you are catering for allergies and travelling you just have to be prepared. For the rest of the journey, again any stops in service stations etc can only really provide crisps (all packs need to be thoroughly checked as lots contain milk) and sweets. Healthy huh!!

We didn’t get time to visit a large supermarket this time, but they do, on the whole, have a great range of soya products – milks, a fantastic range of yogurts and even soya-steaks. However, you must be cautious of some other products – pasta and hummus often contain egg, there is no chance of dairy/egg free biscuits and even tomato ketchup brands often contain milk. However, fresh baguettes are fine – no egg, milk, nuts or sesame – yippee! There are certainly worse things to live off for a few days, than fine French baguettes πŸ™‚

We were self-catering (almost a necessity for us) and managed to get by with taking lots of food, unexciting meals and small grocery stores and bakeries. I’m not sure how we’d manage in a hotel with no cooking facilities!

We again ate a picnic at Disneyland Paris, but having done prior research I was mightily impressed by the allergen-free food available. As I say, we didn’t eat any so I can’t comment on price or quality – but the information suggests there are 3 starters, 4 main courses and 3 puddings which are guaranteed free of the top 25 allergens. Most impressive – well done Disney!

On our day in Paris we ate yet another picnic which was certainly the sensible and cheaper option. We could have eaten out, but for the (non-veggie) girls this would have been ham/steak served with chips and no veg (you never seem to get vegetables served in France, despite seeing the most beautiful ones in markets). Food was fine for big S as she loves chips, but little S won’t eat them and also isn’t very keen on big quantities of meat – so she would have basically only eaten some of the baguette which is served with any meal. Not exactly value for money!

There are wonderful and extremely tempting snacks for sale in France (crepes, patisserie, viennoiserie, gorgeous ice cream, waffles, pizzas, sandwiches), but none are dairy and egg-free. Again our only options are crisps, chips, sweets if we are on the go – absolutely nothing healthy or even vaguely nutritious.

So what am I saying? Well, certainly not ‘don’t go’ – travel is such an enriching thing and especially so for those who may feel fearful of new things. Besides, Paris is so stunning and cool – how could you not want to go? I guess my biggest bit of advice is to be prepared, research in advance, make sure you can get your point across (we’re lucky because D is half French and most French people would be surprised that English is his most natural language, so no situation is a problem) and take lots of suitable and nutritious snacks to keep you going. Most of all, enjoy!


16 Responses

  1. I can’t imagine having to cope with allergies (she says sneezing away with a different allergy – but non-food related). I cooked some stuffed courgettes today and merrily tossed in some ground almonds. I do think a small amount of nuts add so much to meals and would hate not to be able to use them.

    Surely there were salads on the ferry? I’ve managed to eat vegan meals on the ferries. As for France itself, I haven’t exactly found it veg friendly – unless you eat salads. The classic one was ‘if you don’t like the ham in the peas, you can pick it out.’ Missed the point somewhat.

    1. Well yes there are salads, but when they can’t guarantee them safe if potential allergens, the middle of the channel isn’t the time to take risks!

      France certainly isn’t veggie friendly but I’ve always got by on salads and pizzas!

  2. So True. We Travel quite a Bit ( Family in Europe and The US) so I am always taking Tons of Food. You have to be prepared! Usually taking The plane, we, for a change, Took A Ferry to Cross The Channel over the Easter holidays. There was Not a Single item in the restaurant allergybabe could have had. He usually loves his Chips and Beans. Worst Bit: when he Sees other children eating what he Cannot have. He also lived on quite a Bit of Crisps during The Car Ride… . πŸ˜ƒLike your Post, very helpful to learn about your experience. Thanks for Sharing!

  3. I’ve heard that Disney is really good about being careful with allergies, but I had no idea they were *that* good! That’s so refreshing to hear.
    I remember that during any family trip that we took when I was younger, it seemed like there was more allergy-friendly foods than any other kind of luggage. πŸ˜‰
    I never thought about the fact that there aren’t many vegetables served in France, but you’re right! I wonder why that is?
    When I went there (and to Italy), I was sure to look up how to spell and pronounce my allergens, like “egg”, “peanut”, “treenut”, etc. That was very helpful, I found, but luckily, I didn’t come across too many issues either. I’m so glad you had a good time! πŸ™‚

    1. It’s so unusual for allergies to be catered for isn’t it! Your family trips sound like ours – suitcases packed full of food! πŸ™‚

  4. We always dream about traveling to Europe with our food allergic children (dairy, egg, peanut, tree nut, and soy). I can’t wait to show my husband this post. The long flights are the scariest part, but with the right precautions, I know it can be done. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    1. Yep I think long flights would be tough (especially if they hand out peanuts!!), we haven’t been brave enough yet. It’s definitely do-able…. Although you need to pack lots, self-cater and resign yourselves to lots of chips!! πŸ™‚

  5. Thanks for your post. We’re looking into Disney as a potential holiday for next year, but the food issue is high on the agenda (my daughter’s intolerant to dairy, soya, egg, tomato plus a few others that aren’t quite so bad). Really good to know Disney are on the case which takes some pressure off. As for the chip option…she will be over-the-moon!

  6. I went on a Disney Cruise and to Disneyland and California Adventure last September and it went great! Disneyland has a lot of options for allergen-free and gluten-free foods. And the chefs will come out and talk with you individually and make up something special if they don’t have what you want. And the cruise was just magical — the first time I’d ever felt truly safe while traveling since all of my food foes. πŸ™‚


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