Last year we went to France when my boys were aged 8 months and 3 1/2. It is a bit of a challenge keeping to their dairy free diet when travelling to a foreign country as you can’t be sure what products are available locally, essentials like milk, yoghurts etc. can be hard to come by. I was delighted to find soya milks, yoghurts and dessert pots in all the supermarkets. Intermarché and Carrefour both stocked them, and we were lucky to have a Lidl nearby which had similar products as the Lidl stores at home, including the essential sorbet to keep the kids happy for dessert after a barbeque at the campsite. I speak a little French, I found this very helpful when asking for things in bakeries or restaurants. I could ask if they had a dessert ‘sans produits laitiers’ (without dairy) before we had a melt down due to lack of dessert for my 3 1/2 year old.
Milk/Le Lait – I searched for soya milk first, as this is what I use most often for the boys. ‘Soja’ was easily found in the refrigerator section in the big supermarkets. My baby was still on formula which I brought with me as the brands are different in France.
Yoghurt/L’yaourt – Soja yoghurts and soja desserts widely available also.
Bread/ Le Pain – According to Wikipedia, the “baguette de tradition Française” is made from wheat flour, water, yeast, and common salt. It does not contain additives, but it may contain broad bean flour (max 2%), soya flour (max 0.5%), wheat malt flour (max 0.3%).
Ice-cream/ La glace – I went with what I knew and got the Noblissimo sorbets from Lidl. I found some dairy free cone wafers also to make ice-cream cones for my older boy. Online I have found Carte D’or Soja ice-cream, in chocolate and strawberry and vanilla flavours. It is available in Carrefour supermarkets. I will be looking out for it on my upcoming trip to France.
Butter/Le beurre I bought jam for the bread for the morning rather than looking for margarine or butter substitute.
Babyfood/Nourriture pour bébés – These were easy to find but a bit difficult to always know for sure if it was dairy free. In English, there are several ways to indicate something contains dairy (see reading ingredients labels), and my limited French vocabulary didn’t extend to all the equivalents in French.
French delicacies that are not dairy free – croissants, crepes, le fromage, les croques monsieurs
All in all I found France very easy for travelling with dairy free kids, easy to stock up on essentials in the supermarket, and sorbets in the restaurants as a dessert option was a lifesaver as my son thought he was having ice-cream and was deliriously happy about it! In the boulangerie they sometimes had plain meringues which my son was happy to have if we were having croissants but as they are mostly sugar we didn’t do this too often.
I will be travelling to France again soon and will take photos and document and other tips so check back for an update soon.
Some essential vocabulary:
Produits laitiers – dairy products
Lait – Milk
Beurre – Butter
Creme – Cream
Glace – ice-cream
Est-ce que vous avez quelquechose sans produits laitiers? – Do you have something without dairy?