Do French People Eat AT McDonalds? Fast Food In France!

MdConalds In France: do French people eat at Mcdonalds?
MdConalds In France: do French people eat at Mcdonalds?

You might be surprised to learn that France, a country and a people known by most of the world for their fancy gourmet food and superior eating habits, love their fast food and McDonald’s Big Macs (“Le Royal Cheese “in France), but just how much do they love it compared to the rest of the world?

I don’t know who was more shocked!

I could hardly believe it.

Every single one of my circle of mommy friends in France took their kids to eat at McDonald’s. 

The best part was that my French girlfriends were shocked to learn that our then 5-year-old daughter had never eaten at a McDonald’s. She didn’t even know who Ronald McDonald was. 

They just assumed, as most French people do, that all North Americans eat Mcdonald’s and fast food on a regular basis. 

Do the French really love Mickey D’s?

Our daughter’s first foray into fast food was when her preschool schoolmate Enzo invited her to one of those all-inclusive birthday parties at McDonald’s in Le Pradet, France. It’s where you pay a set fee (11 Euros at the time) per child, and the kids each get a happy meal and dessert and then get to play in the outdoor play structure for around an hour or so.

It’s cheap and convenient. 

Out of 13 kids, Catherine was the only one who didn’t know what a happy meal was (pronounced “Appy Mill” in French), but she learned real fast.

Everything was undone with that first bite.

Between the toy and the treats included in the paper happy meal box, she was hooked before she even took her first bite into the fast food industry.

My two sons, who were teenagers at the time, faced similar pressures from their friends who constantly wanted to eat at McDonald’s or Dominos. My eldest son resisted for the first three or so years, but my middle child caved right away.

I knew I couldn’t do much about this peer pressure, and I suppose they would have eventually done the same thing had we lived in the US or Canada. I guess I naively thought that ALL French people were above eating at McDonald’s.

Silly me, I know better now. McDonald’s far-reaching hand knows no borders.

McDonald's and the stereotype that all American-Stereotype eat it

Reality vs Fantasy: What it’s really like living in France

Mcdonald’s in France is much more popular than the world thinks.

Contrary to popular belief, not all French people sit down to a 5-course French meal every day. 

Relax, traditional French eating habits are alive and well in France. I’m in no way saying French people have bad eating habits, but the French as a nation really do enjoy McDonald’s. They also enjoy pizza and fries. 

French Kids Eat Everything:
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How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters

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01/29/2023 01:25 pm GMT

The book “French Kids Eat Everything” by American mom, and author Karen Le Billon is one of many books which puts ALL French eating habits on a pedestal.

In her book, Karen not only puts all French eating habits on a pedestal, she also talks about how she cured her kid’s picky eating by adopting more French eating habits and attitudes. She forgets to mention, though, that French kids love fast food, especially McDonald’s.

It’s no wonder the world thinks French people have superior eating habits all of the time.

How popular is McDonald’s in France compared to the US and the world?

I set out to discover exactly how popular McDonald’s was in France and discovered that the US had the most McDonald’s outlets in the world. No surprise there. Over 14K as of 2013, while France had only 1,300. A pretty big difference however, it’s not a fair comparison.

France is roughly the size of Texas, so comparing 14K US outlets in the US, which has a population of over 315 Million people, vs. 1,300 outlets in France, with a population of almost 65 million, is not meaningful.

I needed to figure out how many McDonald’s outlets there were per capita (per 1,000,0000 people).

My suspicions were confirmed, French people love their McDonald’s.

France has the 5th most McDonald’s per capita in the world. (20 McDonald’s outlets per 1 million people).

Maybe not as much as America, which had 44 McDonald’s outlets per 1 Million people, but considering the US opened its first outlet 30 years before the one in France opened, the French are catching up fast.

The US, Canada and Australia are almost neck and neck with 44, 40 and 39 outlets, respectively, per capita. Then the number drops by almost half to 23 for Japan and finally 20 McDonalds (as the French call them) for France until we reach the 10th country, which is China. China has a mere 1.5 outlets per 1 Million people.

See chart detail below. for data collected.

RANK

COUNTRY

DATE 1st.

OPENED

# of

outlets

POPULATION

McDonald’s / Capita (1M)

1

United States

1940 

San Bernadino

14,267

(2013) 315,583,006

44

2

Canada

1967 Richmond, BC 1,427

2014/ 35,524,732

40

3

Australia

1971, Yagoona, New South Wales 920 2013/ 23,630,169

39

4

Japan

1970 Tokyo

2,975

2015 /126,818,019

23.4

5

France

1972-​Creteil1979-Strasbourg

1,300 +

2015/ 64,982,894

20

6

UK

1974-England1984-Wales1987-Scotland1997-N.Ireland

1240

2015/ 63,843,856

19.4

7

Germany

1971Munich

1,477

2015/ 82,562,004

18

8

Brazil

1979, Rio de Janeiro

812

2013/ 202,033,670

4

9

Soviet Union /Russia

1990, Pushkin Square, Moscow

553

2016/ 143,439,832

3.9

10

China

1990Shenzhen

2,000 +

2014/ 1,393,783,836

1.4

  How popular is McDonald’s compared to the rest of Europe?

Percapita consumption of McDonalds in Europe

If you look at just Europe, the only other European country which loves McDonald’s more than France is Sweden.

Map courtesy of  https://jakubmarian.com/number-of-mcdonalds-outlets-per-capita-in-europe-by-country/

When in Rome!

Today, I still try to avoid Mcdonald’s, but I’m not going to lie; we do go every once in while. Go ahead and judge us if you like. It’s just the way it goes when you have kids, even in France. 

Check out Catherine below looking at the new blue cheese & bacon burger at Mcdonald’s. Blek!

check out the blue cheese burger at McDonalds

If you’re interested in cutting down on fast food or quitting altogether, I highly recommend reading Eric Schlosser’s book Fast Food Nation

From animal cruelty to chemical additives in McDonald’s meat, it’s eye-opening. Never mind all the tax shelters and other unethical things going on in the McDonald’s corporate giant. That book was the tipping point in my decision to leave fast food behind – or so I thought.

Fast food nation book
$13.29

Eye-opening book that uncovers the horrors behind fast food besides the obvious health implications.

Buy Now
01/29/2023 05:00 pm GMT

The kid’s version of the Fast Food Nation book is called Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food. Read it with your kids. 

Chew On This:
$11.99 $10.99

 Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food. The children's version of the book "Fast food nation".

Shop Now
01/29/2023 04:20 pm GMT

You might be interested in reading: France Tipping Culture: Why is it so confusing and arbitrary?

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MdConalds In France: do French people eat at Mcdonalds?

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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