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Burgers and Fries, French-Style

Published on March 28, 2016 by Ralph and Karen
Gourmet burgers in France

Photo credit: insatiablemuch


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.

French burgers at McDonald's

Photo credit: Richard Allaway

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 gormet burger

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.

Cafe Francoeur burger

Café Francoeur is a popular dining option in Montmartre (known for more than just their burgers--try the croque madame), and Chez Ginette offers a foie gras burger for sophisticated palates.

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.


Meet The Author
Hello! We are Ralph and Karen, an Anglo-American couple who fell in love with Paris and France over 20 years ago. Work-related trips brought us here, but we kept coming back for holidays, then extended visits, and then… In 2005, we decided nothing was stopping us from buying a place of our own in Paris. Lots of research, learning, and many kilometers of sneaker-rubber later, we put our house in the United States on the market. It sold in 10 days, and we found our apartment in Montmartre two months later. After a massive, year-long renovation project and its many challenges, we hit our biggest bump yet. As it turned out, we had to stay based in the US after all. Our lovingly remodeled apartment in Paris became a place where we returned only for short visits. In 2008, we started renting to guests—travelers like we once were (we always preferred apartments over expensive, cramped hotels). And the rest, as they say, is history. Le Trésor de Montmartre has proved quite popular, to the extent that we have trouble finding a break in the booking calendar to stay there ourselves! In the midst of this, we found Nice. After several holidays in and around Nice, we thought, why not buy a pied-à-terre in the area? Despite the challenges involved in renovating from afar—which we knew very well at that point—we jumped in again in late 2010. After another renovation, another year, and hundreds more gray hairs between us, we added Le Trésor de Nice to our rental portfolio. A year so so later we picked up 3 other apartment to manage. We hope you find the properties inviting, and hope even more that you will come see them for yourselves! Please get in touch with questions, or to book your stay at one of our apartments. We’d be happy to share our insider knowledge of these places we love so much.
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Le Trésor de Mozart-Nice
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Le Trésor de Nice
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