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FOOD & DRINK

The phenomenal figures that reveal the French appetite for fast food

France's secret love for fast food is starting to show itself on the public's waistlines, with the country set to become home to 30 million obese and overweight people by 2030, according to a new report.

The phenomenal figures that reveal the French appetite for fast food
Photo: AFP
The French are known for their love of food, famous for having sit down lunches that last several courses and their sense of pride in the country's culinary traditions. 
 
But fast food is increasingly taking over France's tables, something which is believed to be down to the lack of time for a proper lunch and the arrival — and popularity — of online food delivery companies such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats. 
 
 
These are the figures that reveal France's love of fast food: 
 
€54 billion
 
Fast food is on the rise in France, with the industry now accounting for a turnover of €54 billion, according to a study by Paris-based restaurant consultants Gira Conseil covered by Europe1 radio.
 
That's more than half of the total turnover of the €88 billion food service industry, meaning fast food accounts for more consumer spending than traditional restaurants. 
 
Scroll down to learn vocabulary related to this story
 
Flunch fast food restaurant in Lille. Photo: AFP
 
€4.8 billion
 
That's the staggering figure for the turnover for McDonald's in France in 2017. At €4.85 billion McDonald's has the biggest turnover in the whole of the restaurant industry.
 
To put that in context the turnover of the next biggest restaurant group in the industry – the Bertrand Group which owns Burger King, Au Bureau, Quick and Hippopotamus – was a measly €1.7 billion in 2017. 
 
And McDonald's turnover rose 4.1 percent on the previous year showing the French love for McDo is only deepening.
 
Indeed there are other figures to confirm this.
 
France is home to 1,440 McDo restaurants. That's compared to 1,249 in the UK.
 
It serves around 2 million meals each day to French people and around 450 million each year. That's a lot of Big Macs.
 
 
(AFP)
 
31 
 
That's the number of minutes workers in France get for lunch, according to French corporate services company Edenred.
 
Now that the much spoken of two hour lunch is a thing of the past for the majority of French employees, most people are looking for something that can be prepared and eaten as quickly as possible. 
 
32,000
 
That's the number of fast food restaurants in France, with the number increasing rapidly due to a growing demand. 
 
The majority of these are burger joints and 2,100 belong to a chain, according to a study, which also detailed that the industry employs 180,000 staff in France. 
 
9
 
On average consumers spend €9 on a fast food meal, showing that the French are not entirely sacrificing quality in the name of convenience.
 
As a result, prices are not as low as we might normally associate with the fast food industry.
 
For example, while the French might spend an average of €9, a meal at Exki, one of the healthy fast food restaurants in France, is more likely to cost between €9 and €12, while a meal at organic burger restaurant Bioburger will set you back by around €12 to €17 and at another healthy fast food restaurant Cojean, you could even spend up to €20 euros.
 
Five French words to learn
 
la restauration rapide – fast food industry
 
la malbouffe – junk food/unhealthy eating
 
les additifs – food additives
 
transformé – processed
 
les plats preparés – ready meals
 

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FOOD & DRINK

Regional cuisine: What to eat and drink in central France

When travelling through France ordering local dishes and drinks is always a good bet, so we're taking a virtual roadtrip through France, highlighting some of the must-try regional specialities.

Regional cuisine: What to eat and drink in central France

This section of our roadtrip takes in the central part of France, from the tourist hotspots of the Alps and west coast seaside resorts through the less well know (but wonderful) central regions. 

The following is just our personal recommendation for some of the areas we’re passing through – please leave your suggestions and foodie tips in the comments box below.

Savoie/Haut-Savoie – Extremely popular for winter sports, the French Alps are stunning all year round and a summer trip for hiking, cycling or water sports is also highly recommended. The long, cold winters and the popularity of sporty holidays means that many Savoie specialities tend towards the hearty, filling, cheese-based and calorific – fondue, raclette and tartiflette.

What to order: It has to be fondue – but this is really a winter dish. Although some tourist spots sell it in summer it’s best enjoyed after a hard day hiking or skiing while watching the snow swirl around outside your window. The basics of a fondue are always the same – a big pot of melted cheese and some bread to dip in – but there are many varieties based on cheese type. We prefer a mixed-cheese option to get the full flavour spectrum, in the spirit of going local let’s order the Fondue Savoyard.

To drink: Wine! Old Swiss and French grannies will tell you that drinking water with fondue can be fatal, as it causes the cheese to solidify and stick in your stomach. As far as we know this has never been proven with science, but it’s definitely true that a crisp white wine is perfect to cut through the rich, fatty cheese.

Opt for a local vin jaune for the perfect partner.  

 
 
 
 
 
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Lyon – you might think that the whole of France is a foodie destination, but to French people Lyon is the ‘foodie capital’, and for that reason it’s a highly popular staycation destination with the French. Definitely check out the ‘bouchon’ restaurants which specialise in the best in local cuisine. 

What to order: Brioche de pralines rosé. There are so many delicious Lyon savoury specialities that it’s hard to pick one so we’ve gone for a sweet treat here. Pink pralines (nuts in a sugar coating) are the city’s signature sweet and while they’re great on their own, for an extra indulgent treat you can get brioche (sweet bread) studded with pink pralines. A slice (or two) with a pot of coffee is quite possibly the world’s best breakfast.

And to drink:  Beaujolais. Stick with us here, there’s more to beaujolais than the much-derided beaujolais nouveau (although that is getting better these days). The wine appellation extends almost to Lyon and is home to hundreds of small vineyards all making beautiful wines, many of whom are taking up production of vins bio (organic) or vins naturel.  

 
 
 
 
 
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READ ALSO: Bio, natural or biodynamic: 5 things to know about French organic wines

Auvergne – central France tends to get missed by many tourists, which is a real shame because much of it is stunning, as well as being quieter and cheaper than the coastal areas. The area is dotted with mountains and (extinct) volcanoes which give it a really dramatic character.

What to order: Auvergnat cuisine is quite meat-based, although the region is also known for good cheeses. To combine the two into one meal, we highly recommend aligot – a type of silky, creamy mashed potato with lots of stringy cheese stirred in – topped with a sausage. Have this at a restaurant with a glass or good wine or buy it from a street stall and go watch the town’s famous rugby team. Either way, the experience will be sublime.

And to drink: Volvic. Those volcanoes that we mentioned earlier give the name to one of France’s most famous mineral waters – Volvic. The water is apparently filtered through six layers of rock for five years, so give your liver a rest and sample some.

 
 
 
 
 
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Corrèze – moving west takes us into Corrèze, one of France’s most sparsely populated départements and one that even some French people would struggle to point to on a map. Transport is not all that easy unless you have a car but if it’s well worth the effort to visit this hidden but lovely corner of France.

What to order: Savoury dishes often feature mushrooms (especially ceps) and chestnuts and freshwater fish such as perch are also popular but we’re going to pick a dessert – clafoutis. The baked fruit flan is hugely popular across France but is traditional in Corrèze – in the classic form it’s made with cherries, but lots of different fruit options are available.

And to drink: They grow a lot of nuts in Corrèze and as well as eating them, they’re often made into digéstifs as well. If by this stage of the roadtrip you are feeling a little heavy, try an after-dinner liqueur to help you digest (although, despite the name scientists claim that a digéstif doesn’t actually help digestion).

 
 
 
 
 
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Île d’Oléron – We’ve now reached the west coast, and just off the shore of the Vendée are two beautiful islands. Île de Ré is known as the ‘French Hamptons’ because it’s such a popular holiday destination for rich Parisians, while its smaller brother Île d’Oléron is less high profile but equally lovely.

What to order: This area is the centre of France’s oyster production and if you take a trip around the island (or on the mainland) you will see hundreds of oyster beds. Virtually all local restaurants serve them, but you’ll also see them piled high at markets, where the stallholders will shuck them for you if you’re afraid of losing a finger in the process.

And to drink: The island is known for its white wines which pair perfectly with oysters. Stop off at the market for a quick glass (and an oyster or two) when you’ve finished your shopping or buy a bottle, plus a platter of oysters and have a picnic. 

 
 
 
 
 
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Head to our Food & Drink section to find guides to the regional specialities of southern and northern France.

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