Being the home of haute cuisine, it’s a valid theory that there might not be any McDonald’s restaurants in France. So is there McDonald’s in France? Yes! In actuality, there are over 1,400 McDonald’s restaurants all across France and they are surprisingly popular.
McDonald’s are often called McDo’s (pronounced Mc-dough’s) in France, so listen out for that if you’re trying to find one of the many golden arches. This is less to do with a pronunciation thing and more an attempt to separate themselves from the Americanisation of their cuisine.
Where Can I Find McDonald’s in France?
With 1,400 sites, you can find McDonald’s in most towns and cities across France. If you’re in the capital, Paris, there are 73 just across that city alone.
Even in Lyon, which is the vanguard of French cuisine and the place where chefs from all over the world go to learn the strict rules of classic cookery, you’ll find 11 McDonald’s restaurants.
This is massively surprising because until recently, they’ve been very restrictive of what eateries and chains can open up here to maintain the culinary heritage of the city.
Of course, like anywhere in the world, the smaller the town or village, the less likely you are to find a McDonald’s restaurant.
Interestingly, the prevalence of McDonald’s in France is growing 5-10% faster than the French economy which is an incredible statistic. At this rate, there’ll be even more McDonald’s to enjoy all across the country that touts itself as the home of classic cookery.
Alternatives to McDonald’s in France
Just because there are McDonald’s in France, doesn’t mean you have to go there. On the other hand, there’ll be times when you just want a quick bite to eat, so what fast food brands and chains does France have as an alternative to McDonald’s?
Unsurprisingly, a lot of the French fast food joints are sandwich shops and bakeries, or boulangeries. Paul is a massive bakery chain with an assortment of delicious pastries, baguettes, and sandwiches that are made fresh in the back of the store.
They also have a whole host of coffee on offer including specialist Viennois, which is essentially espresso con panna, or espresso with cream. Unusually for a bakery, Paul also sells wine and beer, so it’s a perfect stop before a relaxing picnic or a quick grab-and-go lunch shop.
You’ll find Paul shops all over France and even in the airports – there’s a hugely popular one in Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport.
Now, I don’t know about you but when I think of French fast food, I don’t automatically think of tacos. Mind you, the ‘tacos’ that come out of O’Tacos are the kind that’ll make any Abuela cry.
Popular all over France and across Western mainland Europe, O’Tacos specializes in something called French Tacos. No clue what that is? Well, it’s a flour tortilla filled with french fries, meat, and cheese. Yep, you read that right.
It’s also closed up in what looks like a George Foreman, so if you think about the Taco Bell crunch wrap, I don’t think you’d be far off the mark. It’s still expanding across Europe, so it must be cheap and tasty, right?
It might not be haute cuisine, but it’s beloved by many and makes for great post-night out food. They also serve a variety of loaded fries which look pretty good. Hey, at least these French fries are actually French!
If you’re looking for something a little bit more substantial from your French fast food experience, you might want to check out Flunch.
With 160 locations all over France, and now expanding into Italy, they operate on a sort of cafeteria, self-service model where every meal is laid up on hot plates and you simply pick up which tray you want and pay for it at the till. Honestly, it doesn’t get quicker than that.
Of course, being fast food, it’s nothing too fancy, but Flunch does offer what looks like well-balanced whole meals, rather than your standard burger and fries kind of deal.
Speed Rabbit Pizza
Okay, nothing says delicious fast food like pizza, and with France being so close to Italy, it’s only natural that there are bargain pizza chains across the country.
Speed Rabbit pizza has over 120 outlets across the whole of France, but over half of them are in the wider Paris area, known as Ile De France. They offer tons of different toppings and options as you might expect, but for a reasonable price.
They’re less a restaurant and more a takeout and collection-style place – think Papa Johns or Dominos and you’ve got the right idea.
La Brioche Dorée
Right, so we’re going back to pastry to finish off. Translated as the Golden Brioche, La Brioche Dorée is a staple in many French people’s lives with over 500 outlets across the world, most of which are in France.
It’s been in existence since 1976 and is now in over 55 countries, predominantly in airports, offering fresh sandwiches, pastries, soups, and salads to busy travelers on their way to new places.
The great thing about La Brioche Dorée is that it has a lot of traditional French patisserie in it for an affordable price. Honestly, if you didn’t know it was a chain and went in as a tourist, you’d think it was a cute boutique bakery.
Don’t Worry, France Has McDonald’s and Plenty of Other Options!
So, not only does France have McDonald’s, they have plenty and they’re only getting more and more. Although the name might be different and the menu might have flans, Premio au Parmesan, and even beer, it’s widely the same.
It’s worth mentioning that the French McDonald’s is one of the most expensive golden arches in the world with an average meal costing 9 euros.
For that price, you could get a lot more bang for your buck, even in expensive foodie cities like Paris and Lyon. With plenty of local fast food options, it might be most cost-effective to check them out instead.