Ah, the classic mouth-watering hamburger, calling to mind outdoor barbecues in summertime, fast-food joints, and the obligatory side of fries.
One image this entree does not typically bring to mind? France. But that’s starting to change. Move over Uncle Sam: le burger is now the top selling item in French restaurants.
Beginning first with the arrival of McDonald’s and Burger King chains, this staple of the American diet has made its way onto the menus of even the fanciest dining establishments in France.
Right now, 3 out of 4 French restaurants have burgers on their menu, even outselling their beloved classic sandwich, the jambon-beurre (a baguette with ham and butter).
How France Does Burgers Differently
Make no mistake, not all French burgers are gourmet: the country has become the 2nd largest market for McDonald’s outside of the US.
You’ll notice significant differences in the French version of McDonald’s, though. While McD’s competitor, Burger King, tried to bring the American fast food model to France (and failed miserably), McDonald’s is playing “ketchup” to meet the unique demands of French culture.
At French McDonald’s restaurants, for example, you’ll find a relaxed atmosphere that contradicts the usual bustling, assembly-line vibe of the American version The decor feels more upscale. People take their time with their food. Patrons order their meals on a touch screen, then go to counter to pick up their order. Meanwhile, you’ll see plenty of people making use the free WiFi work on their laptops, coffee-shop style.
The menu is different, too. And we’re not just talking about the spins on classics, such as the McBaguette. The ingredients are of higher quality at French McDonald’s, and they offer a full disclosure of where these ingredients come from. Meats are locally-sourced, and chemicals, such as the growth hormones and chlorine used in other countries (cough, cough, America), are illegal in France.
Pommes frites, aka french fries, are double-fried and are thicker (and arguably tastier) than the thin, limp American version, too.
With the twist of French culture and cuisine, you could argue that this doesn’t feel like a fast-food restaurant at all. Which is probably why the French adore it so much. We (almost) hate to admit it, but for a quick and tasty meal, it’s tough to beat McDonald’s in France. And we never eat McD’s in the US or the UK!
The Expansion of Le Burger
In 2010, a Parisian 5-star hotel was awarded “best burger in the world,” fanning the flame of burger mania in France.
At first, French burgers were made with few ingredients, and focused on quality meat. Self-proclaimed “burger purists” were shocked that Americans would create such atrocities as a burger with a full breakfast between the patties. Or–the horror!–one where donuts replaced the buns.
Over the next 6 years, eateries adapted their menus and new places featuring various burgers opened their doors. Even Five Guys, a chain famous for their customizable burgers and fries, is rumored to be setting their sights on Paris.
Where to Get a Great Burger in Montmartre
In Montmartre, close to our Paris-Nice vacation rental, there are several appetizing burger bistros.
Mamie Burger is known for its eclectic burgers and cocktails (about 25 minutes away on public transportation).
At Koff Deli, sit outside and enjoy both the burger and the ambience of old Montmartre. Or get it to-go and save some cash: takeaway orders are 10% off.
A bit further away, you’ll find King Marcel, home of delicious burgers and frites at reasonable prices.
But what’s the best burger in all of France, you ask? Consensus says that the winner is served at Paris New York, where the menu includes burgers, fries and milkshakes. It may sound like an American menu, but we suspect it’s on a whole new taste level.