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Gluten free on the Frances.

Time of past OR future Camino
Hoping to do my first Camino Frances in April 2023
Hi, I’m planning to do the CF in April/ May next year, if I can get my knee sorted.
I can’t eat gluten but I eat fish not meat. So a GF Pescetarian. Has anyone done the CF who’s intolerant/ Celiac etc?
Thanks in advance.
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Don't have coeliac, nor any allergy as such except a partial one to wheat, but for complex reasons I generally need to avoid foods rich in lectins, of which gluten is one.

Pity about the meat, as it is basically lectin-free. Eggs ?

I have the opposite problem of needing to avoid most fish, but of course that's a lot easier.

The brewing process destroys most lectins, so beer rather than wine, cheese, fruit-like veg, cooked tomato dishes especially with skins removed, traditionally made pickles, you really sure about the meat, it makes everything much harder, unless you can eat the fat ?

Meatless plus gluten-free is a tough one. Unless you eat poultry and not just fish ?
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
@Ditts,
In many larger towns you can buy gluten-free pastas at the grocery store and in smaller towns you can buy lentils. You may want to carry some along and try to cook for yourself. Otherwise it may be a lot of ensalada mixta for you. Fish is not commonly available as part of the pilgrim's menu, but you can buy fish (frozen or fresh at the city open air markets). Good quality canned tuna is also widely available as are other canned fishes. In Galicia, fish is more commonly served. As a hospitalera I had a pilgrim with Celiac who was also vegetarian and we managed to make a great supper of gluten free Mac N Cheese, salad, and fruit. Use corn starch to thicken the cheese sauce rather than flour.

Bread is a staple at almost every meal in Spain. You will have to be careful of fish that is "breaded" so maybe learn to ask how it is prepared. Carry a small card with you that explains your food preferences and make sure they know that you will be quite ill if you eat something with wheat flour/gluten. Breakfast is often toast, so maybe wait until you can find an open bar with coffee and Spanish tortilla (eggs and potatoes). Some people also carry dried fruit and/or nuts which are available in most stores.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Hoping to do my first Camino Frances in April 2023
Don't have coeliac, nor any allergy as such except a partial one to wheat, but for complex reasons I generally need to avoid foods rich in lectins, of which gluten is one.

Pity about the meat, as it is basically lectin-free. Eggs ?

I have the opposite problem of needing to avoid most fish, but of course that's a lot easier.

The brewing process destroys most lectins, so beer rather than wine, cheese, fruit-like veg, cooked tomato dishes especially with skins removed, traditionally made pickles, you really sure about the meat, it makes everything much harder, unless you can eat the fat ?

Meatless plus gluten-free is a tough one. Unless you eat poultry and not just fish ?
I really don’t eat meat and haven’t for most of my life, I’m 61 now. Can’t imagine doing so. I do eat eggs and all dairy etc do tortilla will be fine. After watching so many videos, bread does seem to play a huge part. Thanks for your answer anyway cheers
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Hoping to do my first Camino Frances in April 2023
Most menús del día and menús peregrino have a fish option for the second course. Plus there are often several vegetarian or seafood first course options. And don't forget paella, tortilla de patatas, patatas bravas, pulpo, pimientos de Padrón...
Sounds ok to me. Thanks
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Hoping to do my first Camino Frances in April 2023
@Ditts,
In many larger towns you can buy gluten-free pastas at the grocery store and in smaller towns you can buy lentils. You may want to carry some along and try to cook for yourself. Otherwise it may be a lot of ensalada mixta for you. Fish is not commonly available as part of the pilgrim's menu, but you can buy fish (frozen or fresh at the city open air markets). Good quality canned tuna is also widely available as are other canned fishes. In Galicia, fish is more commonly served. As a hospitalera I had a pilgrim with Celiac who was also vegetarian and we managed to make a great supper of gluten free Mac N Cheese, salad, and fruit. Use corn starch to thicken the cheese sauce rather than flour.

Bread is a staple at almost every meal in Spain. You will have to be careful of fish that is "breaded" so maybe learn to ask how it is prepared. Carry a small card with you that explains your food preferences and make sure they know that you will be quite ill if you eat something with wheat flour/gluten. Breakfast is often toast, so maybe wait until you can find an open bar with coffee and Spanish tortilla (eggs and potatoes). Some people also carry dried fruit and/or nuts which are available in most stores.
Thank you. Useful suggestions. I suppose in the uk if I go anywhere I’m used to taking a certain amount of supplies with me as I don’t know what I’ll be able to get, so to a certain extent I’m used to it. It’s nice to be fed for a change though.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Hi, I’m planning to do the CF in April/ May next year, if I can get my knee sorted.
I can’t eat gluten but I eat fish not meat. So a GF Pescetarian. Has anyone done the CF who’s intolerant/ Celiac etc?
Thanks in advance.
Are you Celiac or just gluten intolerant? My husband is not Celiac (there is a simple test for that) but he is gluten intolerant and absolutely cannot eat bread or wheat flour products here in Australia. We had heard from other gluten intolerant friends the same story - that they cannot eat bread or wheat products in Australia but can in Europe. So he gave it a try last time we were there and to his delight had no problem - enjoying quantities of bread, pasta, and pastry delights!

There are different theories as to why people in the US and Australia cannot eat wheat products at home, but don't have problems in Europe. The theory that makes most sense to me is that Europe uses varieties of "soft" wheat, with lower gliadin levels than the "hard" wheat varieties used in the US and Australia.

Whatever the reason, if you are not Celiac but are intolerant to wheat, it is worth giving Spanish wheat products a try (and I'd start with bread). You might be pleasantly surprised.
 
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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Hi, I’m planning to do the CF in April/ May next year, if I can get my knee sorted.
I can’t eat gluten but I eat fish not meat. So a GF Pescetarian. Has anyone done the CF who’s intolerant/ Celiac etc?
Thanks in advance.
I walked in 2019 with my coeliac husband. It wasn't easy, we had to carry more food than most people as you never really know what will be available, or how its prepared until you get there.
We often rented an apartment, priced reasonably for 3 of us, and had cooking facilities.
He is severely coeliac, and cant tolerate shared cooking appliances and facilities, eg sharing the same toaster as normal bread for instance.
Fortunately he does eat meat. He had a lot of fruit, eggs, cheese, meat, and yoghurt type desserts and foods. Sometimes a can of fish on a cracker.
We took gluten free crackers and bread with us. Supermarkets in larger places have a gluten free section, and if you check the can labels on other stuff you can often find appropriate stuff. Even when a brand was familiar, the ingredients still need to be checked, as the recipes aren't always the same.
I spent a lot of time reading and checking food labels.
He ate well, but it was was more time consuming.
The Spanish diet is quite carnivorous, and bread is always served.
 
Last edited:

ktchnofdngr

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
September '13, June '16, July '21, And July '22
I am a meat eater, so I can’t speak to the vegetarian part of it, but I was able to walk the Camino Frances gluten free in 2016. The Spanish phrase you need to remember is “sin pan” (pronounced seen pan) it means without bread. Here are my go-to naturally gluten free options to eat: paella, caldo gallego (this is mostly meat free, but there are bits of ham in the soup, and the stock used is based on ham drippings, so might not work for you), tortilla, yogurt, cheeses, lentajes (lentil soup—you can actually buy this in most supermarkets, but many restaurants will have it as well), and GF cookies that I found in supermarkets. Ensalada mixta usually has tuna on it, and I don’t particularly like fish, so I tended to avoid that, but it is also an option, as is pulpo (octopus near the end of the Camino).

I carried very little food, and only had one place that ruined my meal by giving me bread when I asked for none. Albergues with kitchens are also a thing, but I’m not sure if they are back open after the pandemic again.

You won’t starve, and you should be able to find something each day to eat.

Ruth
 

forrestroze

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2017 Camino Frances (SJPdP > Santiago)
I’m a gf vegetarian and had no problem staying full on the CF. Spanish tortilla, cafe con leche, and oj were a typical breakfast. Gazpacho or salad - you must state ‘no atun’ - for lunch. And every place we ate for dinner had a veggie, gf option. All the albergues were super gracious in making us veggie meals and often the meat eaters were a bit envious. Obviously, we don’t have as many options to choose from but I was happy with all my meals. And luckily, there are a lot of rice dishes. I’m looking forward to walking the CF again this June! Buen Camino!
 
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benny aumala

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
may-june 2016
may-june (2019)
Learn to say "Sin Glutein", this is normally enough. The question is well known
and all restaurants I know have alternative to this.
To be sure, have a small pad at hand where are these words and explication in spanish.
 

Bogong

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
First, March 2014
Hi, I’m planning to do the CF in April/ May next year, if I can get my knee sorted.
I can’t eat gluten but I eat fish not meat. So a GF Pescetarian. Has anyone done the CF who’s intolerant/ Celiac etc?
Thanks in advance.

A possible opportunity here! I’m pretty sure that Tarta de Santiago is gluten free. Basically a mix of almond meal, eggs and sugar. I pigged out on this in Galicia. Shouldn’t be too difficult to supplement this with more healthy fare.

De colores

Bogong
 

Nicki2009

New Member
I have Celiac Disease and am careful. I bought my backpack a little larger than necessary so I’d room to carry a free things. Some health food shops or grocery stores have a Dietetic section. Shop carefully to make sure your getting gluten free (and not sugar free by accident). Schar is a very good brand. Learn enough Spanish to task for what you want. Know the Spanish words for gluten, wheat, rye, barley and oats so you can read labels. When you order tortilla, always add “Sin pan, por favor” because otherwise it is very common for them to put a slice of baguette on the same plate. Torta de Santiago is delicious almond cake but check ingredients because a lower quality place/label might have wheat flour. Buy some crispbreads (aka cracklebread)… is more like cracker than bread but great for breakfast or a make-do sandwich. Cheese is awesome protein. Avoid the hot chocolate in packets. Wine and cider often available. Be careful with artisan chocolate (might use flour as emulsifier). Just be aware, not fearful.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I have Celiac Disease and am careful. I bought my backpack a little larger than necessary so I’d room to carry a free things. Some health food shops or grocery stores have a Dietetic section. Shop carefully to make sure your getting gluten free (and not sugar free by accident). Schar is a very good brand. Learn enough Spanish to task for what you want. Know the Spanish words for gluten, wheat, rye, barley and oats so you can read labels. When you order tortilla, always add “Sin pan, por favor” because otherwise it is very common for them to put a slice of baguette on the same plate. Torta de Santiago is delicious almond cake but check ingredients because a lower quality place/label might have wheat flour. Buy some crispbreads (aka cracklebread)… is more like cracker than bread but great for breakfast or a make-do sandwich. Cheese is awesome protein. Avoid the hot chocolate in packets. Wine and cider often available. Be careful with artisan chocolate (might use flour as emulsifier). Just be aware, not fearful.
Yes its important to list/check all the ingredients. People associate wheat with gluten, but often not the other grains. My husband has been served porridge instead of toast by people who know he cant eat gluten.
They honestly didnt realise oats were also a culprit, they thought it was only in wheat.
He has also been handed 'health bars' containing oats for the same reason.
 

Optimistic Traveler

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2018
A possible opportunity here! I’m pretty sure that Tarta de Santiago is gluten free. Basically a mix of almond meal, eggs and sugar. I pigged out on this in Galicia. Shouldn’t be too difficult to supplement this with more healthy fare.

De colores

Bogong
Yes, the Tarta de Santiago is gluten-free! I made one for my dessert this Thanksgiving - very good.
 

Optimistic Traveler

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2018
You can download and print a handy card in Spanish detailing "Gluten-free" requirements. Too see what it says, look at the English version).

https://www.celiactravel.com/cards/spanish/

I used these for a recent trip to Switzerland (in German and French, though). In a couple of restaurants, the waiter took the card back to the chef for review to be extra certain. Too often, the chicken or fish you might be served as part of a Menu del Pilgrim will be breaded.

And nobody has mentioned the wonderful Spanish almonds! You can get small packs to carry with you as a snack. Most breakfasts will have yogurt available, too.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Hoping to do my first Camino Frances in April 2023
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Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Time of past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
Yes its important to list/check all the ingredients. People associate wheat with gluten, but often not the other grains. My husband has been served porridge instead of toast by people who know he cant eat gluten.
They honestly didnt realise oats were also a culprit, they thought it was only in wheat.
He has also been handed 'health bars' containing oats for the same reason.
Oats are gluten free.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Oats are gluten free.
Apparently oats are often contaminated with gluten.
These quotes are from celiac.org

Oats – cross-contact can occur in the field when oats are grown side-by-side with wheat, select only oats specifically labeled gluten-free

Energy bars/granola bars – some bars may contain wheat as an ingredient, and most use oats that are not gluten-free

granola often made with regular oats, not gluten-free oats
 

Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Time of past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
Apparently oats are often contaminated with gluten.
These quotes are from celiac.org

Oats – cross-contact can occur in the field when oats are grown side-by-side with wheat, select only oats specifically labeled gluten-free

Energy bars/granola bars – some bars may contain wheat as an ingredient, and most use oats that are not gluten-free

granola often made with regular oats, not gluten-free oats
Fair enough.

Just to say that labelling in Spanish supermarkets is fairly good. Eg all the nuts I've bought recently are labelled quite prominently "Sin Gluten", so it shouldn't be difficult when shopping. Many supermarkets also have special shelves with gluten free produce.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
There are a few variant recipes, so I think it can't be guaranteed to be gluten free IMO

Yes, it should contain only ground almonds, sugar, and eggs, (and maybe a touch of cinnamon or lemon zest). To make it cheaper it might have wheat flour added to bulk out the expensive ground almonds. Or maybe cornflour. But that is pretty rare in my experience, and I certainly could taste the difference.
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Time of past OR future Camino
yes...
I have coeliac disease too and have managed well in Spain. I live in France and its not so easy there 😕

I once asked in a hotel in Spain why it is so well understood and she told me that there are a lot of coeliacs in Spain.

I carry a few snacks and GF bread or crackers but usually I find something tasty on the menu.

As others have mentioned GF Tarte de Santiago is never guaranteed! The Parador in Santiago adds wheat 😳

In the EU it is law that allergens like milk or gluten must be shown in bold in ingredients on packaging... so this helps too.

When I was only GF I found it relatively easy to eat well... sadly my autoimmune now refuses to accept a casein protein and so I'm dairy free too and I find that much harder... but not impossible...but I yearn for those GF days. I'm confident you'll manage well... and I hope you have a great walk.

Soy celiaca is my most common phrase when on camino 😁
 
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barbag

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances2011 Portugese2012
Hi, I’m planning to do the CF in April/ May next year, if I can get my knee sorted.
I can’t eat gluten but I eat fish not meat. So a GF Pescetarian. Has anyone done the CF who’s intolerant/ Celiac etc?
Thanks in advance.
Hi. I'm Ceoliac and I've completed many Caminos, including the Frances three times. I have very rarely had an issue with ordering gluten free foods in resteraunts. All the supermarkets have gluten free bread and crackers. Everything is well labelled. The resteraunts next to the Roncesvalles albergue is great, lovely hot gluten free bread with breakfast. You can always print off an information card in Spanish if you're not so confident with the language. Have a buen gluten free Camino
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Hoping to do my first Camino Frances in April 2023
Hi. I'm Ceoliac and I've completed many Caminos, including the Frances three times. I have very rarely had an issue with ordering gluten free foods in resteraunts. All the supermarkets have gluten free bread and crackers. Everything is well labelled. The resteraunts next to the Roncesvalles albergue is great, lovely hot gluten free bread with breakfast. You can always print off an information card in Spanish if you're not so confident with the language. Have a buen gluten free Camino
Lovely. Thank you. Just working on my Spanish. 😀
 

darmckee

New Member
I really don’t eat meat and haven’t for most of my life, I’m 61 now. Can’t imagine doing so. I do eat eggs and all dairy etc do tortilla will be fine. After watching so many videos, bread does seem to play a huge part. Thanks for your answer anyway cheers
I carried oats and stirred into a taza de leche caliente ( cup of hot milk) was fine for breakfast. Oats are available at supermercados and most tiendas.
Cheese on rice cakes plus fruit and raw green beans was a super lunch.
 

darmckee

New Member
Yes, it should contain only ground almonds, sugar, and eggs, (and maybe a touch of cinnamon or lemon zest). To make it cheaper it might have wheat flour added to bulk out the expensive ground almonds. Or maybe cornflour. But that is pretty rare in my experience, and I certainly could taste the difference.
Ask to see the package it came in.
 
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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I carried oats and stirred into a taza de leche caliente ( cup of hot milk) was fine for breakfast. Oats are available at supermercados and most tiendas.
Cheese on rice cakes plus fruit and raw green beans was a super lunch.
Oats are seldom an option for coeliacs, unless they are certified gluten free. For gluten intolerant maybe.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Oats are seldom an option for coeliacs, unless they are certified gluten free. For gluten intolerant maybe.
I am not gluten intolerant, but rather the sorts of foods that I must avoid for two overlapping reasons, in veg, are coincidentally (AFAIK) very high in lectin concentration, and gluten is a lectin.

So there can be multiple reasons why someone might need to avoid such foods, and whilst I personally could eat oats from time to time and by exception, the diet that I need to aim for on the Camino is based on steak and eggs.

Beer is OK, though I don't know if the fact that the brewing process eliminates virtually all the lectins, including the vast majority of the gluten, is relevant - - because at the same time there are some lectin-rich veg that seem to do me little harm even when eaten raw.

It's complex stuff, as it would seem that a majority of autoimmune conditions are uncatalogued, which can lead some non-coeliacs to adopt similar dietary strategies in a sledgehammer approach. In some extreme cases, that can lead people to avoid ALL veg always, and require them to use vitamins and other supplements to compensate, though in my case that's some occasional veg, plus some daily vitamin K because I have to avoid greens especially. Quite rarely I need some greens regardless, even though eating them leads to 24 hours increased inflammation and pain.

As to the topic though, once you have understood that the Spanish are generally happy to provide substitutes in composed dishes, including in daily menus (couple of weeks ago in Frómista I got a scrambled eggs and mushrooms starter instead of the seafood one I couldn't eat), you can usually get by, though I do recognise that it's a bit easier for me from not being a coeliac as such, because I can "cheat" occasionally. And sometimes even need to.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I am not gluten intolerant, but rather the sorts of foods that I must avoid for two overlapping reasons, in veg, are coincidentally (AFAIK) very high in lectin concentration, and gluten is a lectin.

So there can be multiple reasons why someone might need to avoid such foods, and whilst I personally could eat oats from time to time and by exception, the diet that I need to aim for on the Camino is based on steak and eggs.

Beer is OK, though I don't know if the fact that the brewing process eliminates virtually all the lectins, including the vast majority of the gluten, is relevant - - because at the same time there are some lectin-rich veg that seem to do me little harm even when eaten raw.

It's complex stuff, as it would seem that a majority of autoimmune conditions are uncatalogued, which can lead some non-coeliacs to adopt similar dietary strategies in a sledgehammer approach. In some extreme cases, that can lead people to avoid ALL veg always, and require them to use vitamins and other supplements to compensate, though in my case that's some occasional veg, plus some daily vitamin K because I have to avoid greens especially. Quite rarely I need some greens regardless, even though eating them leads to 24 hours increased inflammation and pain.

As to the topic though, once you have understood that the Spanish are generally happy to provide substitutes in composed dishes, including in daily menus (couple of weeks ago in Frómista I got a scrambled eggs and mushrooms starter instead of the seafood one I couldn't eat), you can usually get by, though I do recognise that it's a bit easier for me from not being a coeliac as such, because I can "cheat" occasionally. And sometimes even need to.
Do you find your condition continues to worsen as you get older? As I have friends with various autoimmune issues, and we're all aging together, its noticeable that the number of problem foods seem to be increasing for most of us.

Another odd thing is that having lived in a gluten free environment because of my coeliac husband for 15 years my only chance to indulge is away from home. I now seem to have developed a level of intolerance to gluten myself. That odd sneaked donut, no longer has the appeal it did, when it leaves me bent over with pain. Has my body forgotten how to deal with it, or would this issue have developed anyway? ( I have other autoimmune issues, as well as no thyroid)
My doctor has no idea either, people do develop issues all through their lives apparently.
 
Last edited:

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Time of past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I don't think this one has got worse for me, as some longstanding problems just went when I switched to mostly carnivore, but I do think my gut flora has become more intolerant.

If it's happy with a cheat day, all good, but if it isn't, it will selectively keep the stuff it likes, and throw up only the stuff that it doesn't.

I think it's more that my awareness of the problem is improved, so changing my perception of it. YMMV
 

Optimistic Traveler

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2018
Do you find your condition continues to worsen as you get older? As I have friends with various autoimmune issues, and we're all aging together, its noticeable that the number of problem foods seem to be increasing for most of us.

Another odd thing is that having lived in a gluten free environment because of my coeliac husband for 15 years my only chance to indulge is away from home. I now seem to have developed a level of intolerance to gluten myself. That odd sneaked donut, no longer has the appeal it did, when it leaves me bent over with pain. Has my body forgotten how to deal with it, or would this issue have developed anyway? ( I have other autoimmune issues, as well as no thyroid)
My doctor has no idea either, people do develop issues all through their lives apparently.
I became gluten-intolerant at an older age (70's). Onset was gradual - such that it took me a long time to figure out the problem. I had tried lots of different elimination diets (dairy, eggs, tomatoes, nuts, etc) with no difference until I tried gluten-free. What a difference going gluten-free has made in my life! Back to normal except for the once-in-a-while contamination of a bit of breadcrumb or such.
 
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HarleyQ

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Hi, I’m planning to do the CF in April/ May next year, if I can get my knee sorted.
I can’t eat gluten but I eat fish not meat. So a GF Pescetarian. Has anyone done the CF who’s intolerant/ Celiac etc?
Thanks in advance.
I’m allergic to wheat and we didn’t have any trouble finding GF options.
In SJPP look for “Fabriqu de Macrons,” they offer gf macrons. I believe a few doors from the pilgrims office.
In Burguete there is a small grocery store that has a lot of gf options. We had a zero day in Roncesvalles, so we walked to the store to get a fruit and snacks.
Casa Sabina restaurant offers GF.
Throughout our 10 day trip we had found a lot of GF options in both France and Spain.
 

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