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MCDONALD'S

Le Whopper and Burger King ‘to return’ to Paris

Lovers of 'Le Whopper' in Paris will be licking their lips. After 15 years away, US fast food giant Burger King will soon be making a return to the French capital, according to a report in French daily Le Figaro on Friday.

Le Whopper and Burger King 'to return' to Paris
Photo: luckypines/flickr

'Le Whopper' looks set to reignite its meaty battle with Le Big Mac in the heart of the French capital after years of peace, French newspaper Le Figaro claimed on Friday.

According the Le Figaro’s sources, a new Burger King will open in the retail centre at the recently refurbished St Lazare station in the heart of the capital, next to its fellow US chain giant Starbucks.

The opening of a Paris branch will have burger lovers in the capital licking their lips at the thought of a flame-grilled whopper for the first time since 1997 when the chain was force to close its branches because of poor sales figures.

After 15 years away, Burger King made a comeback in France in December 2012 when it opened an outlet in Marseille and then shortly after at a motorway service station near Reims.

Burger King fans in Paris, however, will have to control their cravings a little longer though, as the St Lazare branch is not expected to open for a few months.

France might be renowned for its gastronomy but not many Michelin-star restaurants could count on the same cult-like following that Burger King has in France.

The fast food giant's return to France was only made possible through a Franchise agreement with Italian restaurant chain Autogrill, to open up outlets in train stations, motorway service stations or airports.

Le Figaro notes that Burger King has chosen the perfect spot to maximize its chances of success with around one million commuters passing through St Lazare station each day.

And judging by the success of the Marseille outlet, the French are rekindling their love affair with 'Le Whopper'.

“There are so many customers who come to the airport on evenings and weekends just to eat lunch or dinner at Burger King," one airport worker told Le Figaro.

Burger King’s return to Paris could not have been better timing after a recent study revealed that sales of fast food had overtaken those of traditional sit-down restaurant dishes for the first time.

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MCDONALD'S

40 years of Le Big Mac: Here’s how big France’s appetite for McDonald’s has grown

It's 40 years since the US burger giant McDonald's sold its first French fries in France. Here's a look at how the French fell in love with the Big Mac although the relationship has had its ups and downs over the years.

40 years of Le Big Mac: Here's how big France's appetite for McDonald's has grown
A McManure please. Farmers protest at a McDonald's in France in 199. Photo: AFP

The French may have invented nouvelle cuisine, but it seems the dish they love more than any other is served in a square cardboard box on a plastic tray.

The first French McDonald's restaurant – or McDo as they like to call it – opened 40 years ago on September 17th 1979 in Strasbourg and 40 years on the French cannot get enough of their French fries (though, in France, they are just called fries).

To see how much the French love McDonald's you just have to look at some of the stats:

  • 1.8 million – this is the amount of McDonald meals served up in France every day. That's almost two million meals every single day. 
  • 13 percent – this is the share of the restaurant market in France – the home of fine dining – that McDonald's has.
  • 1,464 – this is the number of McDonald restaurants currently in France, that's more than any other chain. The company aims to expand this by 300 – 400 in the next ten years. 
  • 74,000 – this is the number of people employed either full-time or part-time by the company in France. 62 percent of the team are less than 25 years old. 
  • 2nd – France is the second biggest market for McDonald's per head of population after the United States. 
  • 1st – the biggest McDonald's restaurant in the world is located in Disneyland Paris. 
  • €9 – is the average price of a meal in French McDonald's, making it the most expensive in the world. 

The French clearly have something of a love affair with McDonald's and it is reciprocated. When the company opened in France it was on the grounds that only French ingredients would be used, which is not the same in every country where McDonald's operates.

READ ALSO: Why do the French love McDonald's so much?

The menu has also been Frenchified.

Here they have at times sold the McBaguette with cheese and it isn't one of those plastic cheese slices, not on your life. In France, they use Camembert. You can also buy beer in French McDonald's, just in case you need a little kick with your breakfast McMuffin. 

In France there have been times when residents have protested against McDonald's closing or even demanded a new one open in their town.

Employees fighting to keep their McDonald's open in a suburb of Marseille said their restaurant had become the heart of the community, offering internships and jobs to people while providing a safe space for birthdays or meeting friend.

In a community in northern France a Facebook campaign garnered support among thousands and led to a street protest demanding a McDonald's open up in the area.

Facebook

However, for as much as the French love McDonald's, they also love to hate McDonald's. The relationship has had its bumpy moments.

For decades, McDonald's was the brand French people loved to hate.

From the 1970s it was accused of being the exporter of “mal bouffe” (“bad food”) to the land of fine dining, blamed for introducing millions of French people to high-calorie American fast-food.

It was also resisted as a symbol of US economic and cultural imperialism, particularly by leftwingers, in a country that remains suspicious of globalisation — and more eager than most to defend its own language and culture.

French farmer and one-time presidential candidate Jose Bove built a political career through his opposition to McDonald's which saw him trash a restaurant in the south of France in 1999.

French farmers raided the building site of the McDonald's in Aveyron and demolished it. They had announced their intentions in advance and invited spectators along, offering a Roquefort-tasting at the same time. It was in protest at the Americafication of France

“Roquefort d'abord McDo go home” (Roquefort first, McDo go home) read a slogan daubed on the trashed McDonald's. 

Support for the farmers grew and led to more protests at McDonald's across the country, including some where manure was deposited on the restaurants tills and floor.

The protest outside a McDonald's in Toulouse in 199 saw people turn up with traditional French dishes in protest at the American fastfood giant.

And resistance to the golden arches continues: a mayor on the island of Oleron in western France has famously battled to keep the company out, and the brand is still a favourite target of anti-capitalist protesters during street demonstrations.

And there have also been clashes between McDonald's and the French state at a high level.

In 2016, the French taxman sent a bill for €300 million in unpaid taxes to McDonald's France. The profits were said to have been siphoned through Switzerland and Luxembourg. 

The fast-food restaurant also caused veritable outrage with some French food purists when it had the temerity to add potatoes to its Salade Nicoise in its Italian restaurants. Was nothing sacred any more? 

But despite the run-ins the French still queue up in droves for their burgers and even with the arrival of new rivals in the battle of the burgers like Burger King and Five Guys, McDo still reigns supreme.

 

 

 

 

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