I should have known this wasn’t going to end well.
There were no allergy incidents to speak of, but that has more to do with the fact that I didn’t eat out at a restaurant once in the week I was there.
Breakfasts were fairly straight forward. I ate at the hotel’s buffet. Believe it or not, in a place that is so renowned for its pastries, getting gluten free cereal and bread was actually quite easy. I ended up grabbing a bowl of gluten free museli topped with fresh fruit salad for breakfast every morning. I found the museli to be tooth achingly sugary, but it was edible. And given the lack of alternative options, I ate it. There was no fridge in my room to keep anything that I could have bought from the grocery store cool overnight. My hotel room was tiny, and effectively consisted of nothing more than a bed and bathroom.
Speaking of grocery stores, they ended up saving me. Although morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea were provided at the conference that I was attending, it didn’t take more than 10 seconds on the first day for me to realise that I literally couldn’t eat any of it.
Morning tea? Pastries.
Lunch? Bread rolls loaded with butter, cheese, and meat.
Afternoon tea? Pastries.
By lunchtime on the first day of the conference, I’d realised I would have to provide my own food. I did inform the conference organisers of my dietary requirements on the appropriate place on the registration form – apparently not worth the paper it’s written on. I’m not surprised – this is by no means the first time it’s happened to me. Thankfully there was a supermarket across the road from the conference centre in town. I bought lunch there every day, and just had to bypass the morning and afternoon tea pastries. The only thing I got from conference catering was coffee.
With lunch sorted, it was then time for dinner. After multiple attempts to find anywhere that could do vegan food, I was just about ready to give up and simply ask for something that was dairy free, and eat the meat – I figured my body could tolerate it for a week even if my doctor would want to shoot me when I got home. And? No. We literally couldn’t find anywhere that could do me a dairy free meal. Butter was used in everything they cooked. That first night, I went without dinner, because all the shops had closed by that point, and I had no way to buy my own food until the following day.
So after the conference finished each evening, I stopped by the local supermarket again, and bought myself some dinner. Given that my hotel room had no microwave or anything to warm anything up, I ended up eating nothing but cold food for a week. Thankfully the fresh food section at the grocery store had a few pre-packaged options in terms of salads etc. There was also fresh fruit available. And I bought a bag of dried fruit as well – some dessert so to speak…
In the land of quiche Lorraine, I had naturally assumed dairy and egg would play a big part in the diet in Nancy. However, despite my fairly extensive Google research before leaving home to see where I could go out to eat, I had little success. The places that people talk about online as being veg*n friendly do vegetarian food. That was available everywhere. But vegan? Not so much.
As a business traveller, this disappoints me. I was unable to go out in the evenings and network with my colleagues from the conference over dinner because I couldn’t eat the food. Unimpressed, but at the end of the day, there’s little that I can do about it. When you have to travel for work, you don’t get a whole lot of say in where you go. You simply have to deal with the hand you’re dealt in some capacity. I found a way around the lack of vegan options in restaurants and cafes by buying my own food at the grocery store, but make no mistake, I was certainly glad to be out of there once the conference was done.
In a foodie destination, and I had to resort to pre-packaged supermarket food. Classy.