I just wanted to write a post about my experience while traveling with a 12 year old who’s allergic to tree nuts. Note that my daughter can eat peanuts (legumes) so this is only about my experience with tree nuts. I learned 10 years ago that my daughter was allergic to tree nuts by giving her one single cashew that she did not like the taste of and spit out. She immediately started having anaphylaxis symptoms I was fortunate to be very close to the emergency room.
A couple days before heading out to Paris, I started googling about Paris and tree nuts. While I order travel cards from select wisely they did not arrive in time so I had to go with plan B which was to write the following phrase on a sheet a paper. Someone fluent in French and English wrote it for me: “Elle est allergique aux les noix.” Which translated to she is allergic to nuts. I would definitely get someone to add something to the effect is this safe to eat to the statement.
Armed with my phrase and Epi Pens we headed out to explore Paris. Each place that I went to I asked if they spoke English and almost everywhere had someone who did. I told them in English that my daughter was allergic to tree nuts and then showed them the French phrase. In all cases showing them the phrase in French really helped them to understand what I was saying so my first take away is that do not just approach people in English. Follow it up in French. Angelina and Laduree have allergen books written in English to help their guest. Every single macaron had almond as an allergen. Angelina’s hot chocolate was safe to drink. Monoprix have the allergen information listed on their baked goods in the store but each basket of pastries does not have its own tongs so be careful. My daughter was able to eat a pain chocolat from there every morning with no problem. The bakery chain Paul has allergen information listed on their website but we did not eat anything from there.
Here’s where things got concerning, and it is probably worth reading this thread because the concerns raised are 100% accurate.
I quickly started to realize that a lot of places were telling me what did not have nuts in it which is not the same as being free from traces of tree nuts etc. I went to Breizh creperie based on that post, they spoke very good English read the note and said no problem. They do a real quick wipe down between every crepe but they flipped her crepe with the same spatula they just flipped the Nutella crepe with. Same story with gelato everyone said the flavors that did not have nuts in them but again they scooped pistachio did a quick dip in the water and then scooped my daughters.
What I learned from all of this is that my daughter can now clearly have traces of tree nuts but as every child is different this whole experience is definitely something for parents to think about. In hind sight if I could do it all over again, I would have made an appointment with her allergist and had her exposed to traces of tree nuts in a safe environment to see what her reaction would be as this is not that type of thing you want to figure out in another country.
Lastly a couple more places my daughter ate at Les Fondus de la Raclette did not have any tree nuts on their desert menu. So this may be a tree nut free establishment. There are three locations around Paris she had a lot of fun eating there. Le Comptoir Belge on Rue De Martyrs is a nice stop on a market street on the way to Sacre Coeur makes waffles and stuffs them with chocolate bars. They do not sell anything with tree nuts. She also had a waffle at the Tuileries Garden near the ferris wheel without any issue but they do have some options here with Nutella so be careful.
What I found to be more effective was to start asking is this safe for her to eat and to repeat it back to them. People seemed to do a bit more research when I used the word safe. Despite the challenges she had the most amazing time in Paris and cannot wait to go back.