McDonald’s. There. I said it. Like-minded fitness readers, hold on a second before you stop reading. What comes to mind when you think of everyone’s favorite fast food place? Calorie-laden meals packed full of preservatives that are only consumed by fat people, right? Maybe. In the U.S., McDonald’s was pretty much last on my list of places to patronize and I don’t think I’ve set foot in one for anything more than the restroom and a cup of coffee in over 10 years. Then I moved to France…
Why are McDonald’s restaurants in France better?
First, McDonald’s in France, affectionately called MacDo, is infinitely cooler than it is in the U.S. for a bunch of reasons. A drive-thru line that extends to outside the parking lot on a weeknight is actually pretty common. Totally crazy, but not shocking for a French person. No, they’re not giving away free Big Macs.
They know what customer service is. Service with a smile must be a prerequisite for all employees of MacDo in France. Not only do they pleasantly take your order but after the fact, they say merci, bonne journee, au revoir, bon dimanche, merci. Ok, so I’m exaggerating a little, but they do say thank you and have a nice day. It seems like they truly value what they’re doing. Oh, and if your order isn’t ready after you pay, you can go sit down and an employee will bring you your meal. Beats standing around waiting at the counter, right?
They’re efficient. On a Friday night, if you go through the McDrive (drive thru), brightly uniformed employees (yes plural) take your order on a little computer thing so you bypass the window for ordering entirely. They take your money and then hand deliver your bag of food. If you order inside, there are these machines called bornes that you can order from if you don’t want to wait in line to order at the counter.
High-fructose corn syrup isn’t commonplace. If you peruse the list of ingredients on the little ketchup packets, you’ll see that high-fructose corn syrup isn’t among what’s listed there. While it’s not completely banned in France, it’s not found in soda, ketchup and other items you’d commonly find it in over in the U.S. Makes you feel healthier already, right? (America, take note on how to make ketchup w/o the dreaded HFCS.)
They’re clean. Never once have I seen a dirty McDonald’s bathroom or restaurant in general. Amen for cleanliness.
They have McCafe’s full of yummy goodies.The McCafe, a separate area in the interior of the McDonald’s specializing in your coffee shop fare, is pretty much the only place in France (aside from Paris) you can get coffee in a cup with a lid to go. Sure, their biggest size is smaller than a Tall at Starbucks, but hey, you have to take what you can get. Tom and I probably go to the McCafe once a week for a cup to go. They also have all kinds of baked goods including cheap macarons, mini cheesecakes and other temptations that will send your diet into a tailspin.
They’re just more chic. A recent seasonal offering was the McBaguette. Only in France would you find something like that. Beer is part of the drink offerings, too. The interiors are all new and have a clean, modern design as well. Did I mention there’s free WiFi?
So is McDonald’s that big fat monster that your health-conscious brain is telling you to avoid? Probably, but what’s wrong with living a little?