Here’s a picture of McDonald’s on the Champs-Elysées. I’ve heard it’s the busiest McDonald’s in the world, which makes sense because Paris is the most visited city in the world. But is going to McDonald’s okay in a city known for its gastronomy?
When I first got here, my answer would be no. I used to be embarrassed to be an American at McDonald’s in Paris. But after four trips there throughout my semester abroad, I recommend a meal at a foreign McDonald’s to any American.
Before I tell you why, let me give you a bit of background about the fast food empire and myself. McDonald’s has been very good to me over the years. When I was little and at the peak of my picky eating ways, I never wanted anything on the McDonald’s menu. I hated hamburgers, and I refused to try chicken nuggets or any other normal choice. Instead, I wanted a grilled cheese. It didn’t seem like too much to ask. Just a bun with a piece of cheese. But, apparently, McDonald’s didn’t see it that way. The chain thrives on its world-changing assembly line, and for anyone to ask for something different is not supposed to happen.
Still, my caring parents always went to the cashier and ordered my grilled cheese. Most of the time the cashier had to call a manager. The real good ones knew to put it in the computer as a cheeseburger without the burger. It was an annoying request I had no problem making because, as Meg Ryan says in “When Harry Met Sally,” “I just like it the way I like it.”
As I got older, I discovered Chicken Nuggets and salads, and started ordering like a normal McDonald’s customer. So now, as a fan of McDonald’s, I’m fascinated every time I dine at the Paris version.
Things you’ll find in a Parisian McDonald’s that you won’t find in the U.S.
- The Croque Monsieur—-The closest thing to a grilled cheese I’ve ever seen on a McDonald’s menu. A croque monsieur is a traditional French sandwich which is basically a grilled cheese with ham, but its structure is different. It starts with the bread, then the ham, then the cheese is melted on top of that. I haven’t tried the McDonald’s version… yet.
- A slightly less efficient staff—For some reason, the McDonald’s in France are not as quick as in the U.S.
- Potato wedges—They have the usual fries, too, but they also offer potato wedges.
- Messy French people—Americans know that when you’re done with your tray at McDonald’s, you bring it to the trash can. I’ve noticed not everyone knows that here.
- Much better salads—I’m not a huge fan of McDonald’s salad, but they’re better here than in the U.S.