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