My friends that are fans of Paris do not know my deep dark secret. When I travel to Paris, I sometimes eat at McDonald’s.
I know, I am ashamed.
The McDonalds I particularly like is near my favorite museum, and the Jarin des Plantes. I love spending time in that area, the museums, the zoo (go for the architecture, not the animals), and the flowers make it a place I visit often. I am just too busy, and I don’t have time to spend an hour or more eating lunch. Especially as I am usually alone on these visits, a drawn out lunch with terrific conversation is one thing. Sitting there when I am itching to do things in my favorite city to explore is too much for this American girl.
My favorite McDonald’s has a bike rental area, It’s just across the street from all my favorite museums.
And who can forget “Pulp Fiction”?
I try to always remember to order something that isn’t offered in the US. I even buy the Happy Meal as it comes with some cool toy not offered in the US.
Now, I do penance for eating at McDonald’s. I go to the second floor and sit by the toilets. That’s because tourists will come up, look at the toilets and see they need a code to get in. They sigh, and start to head back to the counter to ask how to use the bathroom. I will look up and say “The code is on your receipt” (It is almost always Americans). The next thing is that they don’t have their receipt. I kindly look at mine and say “It’s 6, 4, 1” (or whatever the code for the day is). I get a big smile and a “THANK YOU” especially from intrepid parents that have been escorting their children around Paris.
Another reason I like McDonald’s in Paris is that, well Parisians like McDonald’s. Many working Parisians on a budget are able to grab a cheap lunch there and get free wifi. They can check their emails or do a facbook time. It is sad they are not all wearing berets and suffering angst as they struggle over their latest poem on the futility of life while sipping a cup of coffee they bought with change their prostitute lover gave them in a small cafe. It’s more romantic to starve, but it’s a lot more fun to chat on fb for a few moments with your other office workers.
There are sometimes racial tensions in Paris. Indeed, most of Paris is no longer “French” I have been told. I would say, immigrants make up a lively and colorful part of Paris now. A lot of these immigrants face difficulties. They are not often hired at the fancy restaurants that tourists frequent. They are however hired at McDonald’s. During rioting, it was noticed that McDonald’s restaurants often remain untouched. The reason given by rioters is often “Well, my sister works there.” McDonald’s will hire you, they do not care about color or where you were born.
The food is usually much fresher than the US. It could be that the restaurants are usually quite busy. I tend to order chicken, I’m not much of a meat eater, but it’s always warm and my fries are always freshly made. Nothing is worse than old McDonald’s fries. But the taste of newly made ones is quite nice. I indulge in a small serving when in Paris.
Yes I eat at other restaurants. I usually wait for the evening when my husband and I are both done with our work and join up for dinner. We are travelling on OPM (Other People’s Money, in other words work is paying for our trip), so we sometimes go to a grocery store and buy what we need for a picnic. Sometimes we just go to the local restaurant owned by a Moroccan who has become almost a friend. He makes this incredible brick oven pizza with eggs on it. It’s like a breakfast pizza. We love it. The owner also forced us to drink his very strong tea served in small cups. We are abuzz well past our bedtimes when we do so, but it would be rude to refuse.
We also love to go to any of the Leon’s. We fell in love with this chain while living in Brussels. Our daughter’s biggest treat was being taken to Leon’s. We include at least one visit to Leon’s.
I would suggest eating at McDonald’s in Paris if you are in a hurry. Why not, it’s how the Parisians eat!
If you are diving through Holland, a stop at McDonald’s is also a must. When our family lived in Belgium, my husband often had to drive to Hamburg on business. To get to Hamburg, the easiest route was through Holland. We would often go as a family. The girls of course wanted LUNCH, and they wanted to stop at McDonald’s. It was the easiest spot for us, as it was right on the highway.
It was the McDonald’s of their dreams. It was entirely decorated in an Egyptian theme. Howard Carter would have walked into this McDonalds and said “I have seen wonderful things!”. We are talking pillars of gold, mummies and child sized idols. Anubis guarded the hallway to the toilets.
Not only was this McDonald’s a delight to the eye, it was also a delight to the taste buds. You placed your order and the staff brought it to your table, freshly made. King Tut’s burial sarcophagus would watch us eat our juicy nuggets and crisp freshly made fries. I have been told the Dutch love their McDonalds and I have to agree that I love their McDonalds also. At least Egyptian McDonalds.
So, my secret is out. I eat at McDonads in Paris. You might want to also, but just keep your receipt handy!
- International McDonald’s Items We Wish Were in the USA (seriouseats.com)
- Why The Hell Doesn’t McDonald’s Serve Breakfast All Day? (gizmodo.com)
- TBWA Paris takes branding out of McDonald’s campaign (creativereview.co.uk)
- The French Myth-Debunked (medindia.net)