France is McDonald’s 2nd largest market after the United States. Essentially, McDonalds and the Americanization of fast food has hit France hard.
While my philosophy with traveling means that I don’t want to eat food I can easily find in the United States, I was curious to see how McDonalds in France differed to McDonalds in the United States.
Overall, I believe that the French McDonalds trumps it’s U.S counterpart.
Everything from the customized French look to the “Quality” ingredients. McDo, as it’s often called, launches commercials which boast that their potatoes are chosen from Belgium and France. They offer garden fresh salads and a myriad of delicious wraps (I tried one!). The French “Happy Meal” actually comes in the cool red boxes that us Americans always see, but never get. My little cousin selected the happy meal and it even included a drinkable yogurt! If you go to the official McDonalds France website (and can read French), then you’ll see how McDonalds evolved its restaurants to handle the typical French criticisms of sanitation, quality, or regulations:
“Our ground beef is 100% beef, 52% from French cattle. At all steps of creating the hamburgers, strict hygienic regulations were followed. All of our slaughter houses conform to regulation, a veterinarian also supervises and controls the sanitary state of our chickens.”
I also noticed that McDonalds uses national pride as a selling point, “hmmm all these ingredients are from France, I should buy it to support us!” or, “France makes quality ingredients, so the food must be good!”
The locations I’ve visited all had kiosks where you could order your meal yourself without having to go to the counter. I’m pretty sure they implemented them because you have the ability to select your language, this allows incapable or scared tourists of still getting McDo without the hassle of speaking French!
Of course, I manned up and ordered the old fashioned way, en français. It was extremely funny because the cashier was my neighbor’s daughter, so she actually gave me some extra food. “Great, more calories,” I thought.
The only downfall to French McDonalds was the price. Everything in France seemed more expensive and you’d get less food for the price. My French cousin raved about how Americans were able to fill up their drinks as many times as they wanted, you don’t have the same luxury in France. That’s not even taking into account that the prices were in EUROS, which tend to be valued higher than the dollar. It was a good experience for me, and my cousin’s friends were all very delighted to pay (I forgot my wallet)…
Yet, the whole time I was bothered because the idea of McDonalds fights against the French ideals of small portions, slow eating, and wonderful French cuisine. While France does add it’s own French twist to McDonalds, this Americanization is slowly destroying the French culture that we know and love.
Have you ever tried McDonalds abroad? Do you think fast food in France is impacting more than just the obesity rate? I’d love to hear your comments below (no special subscription required to comment).
I wish American McDonalds would appreciate that fine food and ingredients can be served in McDonald’s outlets. And what a boon it would be to small farming in the United States if each outlet could buy farm to table locally with fresh and organic ingredients. Wouldn’t that be something? Obesity rates start plummeting down. McDonald’s sees a huge increase in patronage and profits. The food served is outstanding. Why not? Maybe we would eat less volume but it would be real food without the pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and additives now served. With nutritious food, you need less to be satisfied and it provides a healthy base. Why would that not work?
O.K. here is the final show stopper. All auto service windows are closed at such outlets, and you have to get out of your car and sit down at a table. Now you can enjoy the great food without eating on the run and McDonald’s would actually be doing something to get away from a car culture and related obesity. Hmmmmm? If this happens, I’m buying McDonld’s stock.
Only few fast-food offer unlinited drink (Only Quick aka the french McDO and KFC ) And even now it’s gonna be forbidden soon.
I really like your site…you have a wonderful spirit in analyzing French mores, cuisine, etc…! Good luck with everything!
Maybe we can have franchise-free zones
En Amérique, ils peuvent obtenir plus de boissons!
I have eaten at McDonald’s in France and several other countries because McDonald’s is one of my favorite restaurants. I eat at fast food restaurants a lot when traveling because I’m a picky eater. I didn’t notice much difference between the taste of the fries in French McDonald’s and the taste of the fries in American ones, but my brother does notice a difference between the tastes. Obviously a higher price in Europe because of the exchange rate (at least).
What I really liked about this other fast food restaurant in France (whose name I forget) was the different choices of drinks compared to McDonald’s.
Thanks for the comments! You’re most likely referring to the popular French fast food place called “Quick”. I actually just went to McDonalds in France about a week ago and got the “McBaguette” because my cousin was raving about it… it was okay. You are right, the fries didn’t really seem any different to me this last time.
I loved the whole wheat bun option, also the fact that you could get beer as a drink (why do they not show that on the website’s menu!?! and what is that… a kiwi on a stick? I missed out). I visited in 2009. Of the 5 countries I visited in Europe, I liked the McDonalds in France the best.
Maybe it was Germany the beer was in but I still loved the variety.
The only difference to me from macdonalds in Europea was the higher price and the smaller servings.
And by the way, the French have killed their own cusine. After living in a small town in northern France I have yet to come across any brasserie which I would return to. The French, like most peoples in Northern Europe, seem to prefer foriegn restaurants for eating out. So between the fast food ethos of most of the brasseries etc. and the French love of cuscous, pasta, and pasticheo outside of the home, French cooking outside of the home is dead to all but the wealthy and tourists.
Ironic for a Country which has spent long trying to influence the cultures of so many other nations, but hates it if it happens to them.
if you’re talking about America, that’s true