Only 34 percent of Parisian eateries have a "good" level of hygiene, according to inspections carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture between July and December last year.
The government body checked out 1,500 eateries in Paris, and plans to publish the full results later this year.
But it did note that of the 990 restaurants monitored, 58 percent snagged an "acceptable" level of hygiene while 8 percent were deemed to be "poor", and in need of corrective measures to improve conditions.
The low-rated spots were not just fast food joints, but also "top of the line" establishments, pointed out François Carlier of the CLVC, a French association dealing with food consumption, housing, and quality of life.
A lack of transparency
The agriculture minister is taking steps to improve transparency in the restaurant industry when it comes to sanitary standards.
A new French law says that results of these official inspections must be made public in hopes of motivating restaurant owners to improve conditions.
The minister also asked the restaurants surveyed to display their results in the front window of the establishment, with a smartphone-readable code for patrons.
“It's important that customers know what kind of place they're setting foot in,” said the CLVC.
However, only 4 percent of restaurants surveyed in Paris have actually put up the code.
The CLVC eventually wants these codes to be visible in all restaurants as well as bakeries, butcher shops, and greengrocers.
The ministry does around 80,000 sanitary inspections each year in the food sector in restaurants, bakeries, butchers, and supermarkets.
Restaurants in Avignon. Photo: Flickr/Jean-Louis Zimmermann
Are Paris restaurants dirtier than elsewhere in France?
In addition to the Paris survey, checks were carried out in 200 restaurants in the southeastern city of Avignon, which proved to be almost twice as likely to pass the hygiene test as those in the capital.
In fact, 64 percent of them secured a good level of hygiene.
They were also more willing to display the smartphone code in their windows, with 29 percent of restaurants choosing to make their results public.