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Fast food in France: Bordeaux and McDonald's top list

The city of Bordeaux (Gironde, Nouvelle-Aquitaine) has the most fast food restaurants in France per inhabitant, with McDonald’s still the most common brand in the 30 largest towns, a new report has found.

The study counted the number of fast food restaurants in 30 of the largest French towns, including the brands McDonald’s, Burger King, Quick, and KFC. It also looked at pizza brands such as Domino’s and Pizza Hut, sandwich shops such as Subway, and bakeries such as Paul, La Croissanterie, and La Brioche Dorée.

The fifth annual study, from online health magazine question2santé.com, found that Bordeaux had the most fast food and chain sites of the towns studied, with 21 per 100,000 inhabitants. Limoges (Haute-Vienne, Nouvelle-Aquitaine) came next, with 19 per 100,000; then Metz (Moselle, Grand Est) with 18; Paris (Île-de-France) with 17, and Brest (‎Finistère, Brittany) with 16.

Le Havre (Seine-Maritime, Normandy) was the city on mainland France with the fewest sites, at just four per 100,000 inhabitants.

McDonald’s was still the most common outlet overall, the study showed, with the burger giant continuing to grow more still, having opened 22 restaurants in France from 2019 to 2020. In contrast, the second-most common site, sandwich brand Subway, closed 10 sites in France last year; while third most-common, bakery Paul, closed around 20.

The online magazine admitted that the study did not show the whole picture, as it “only” looked at large towns, and did not consider the number of fast food restaurants found in town outskirts, or at motorway service stations.

Similarly, it only considers chain restaurants and outlets, and does not take into account the number of independent sandwich shops or fast food sites. This means that it excludes sites such as kebab kiosks or taco trucks, which can skew results.

For example, magazine staff said that the study gave the impression that there were fewer fast food outlets in Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) compared to the rest of the country, but that this actually showed merely that there are fewer “chain” outlets there, and not fewer fast food sites as a whole.

In 2019, staff stated: “The thing about food served in fast food restaurants is that they are poor sources of nutrition such as vegetable fibre and vitamins, but rich in fat, salt, sugar, and chemicals products. The vast majority of places where we eat ‘fast’ are still places where we eat a less-than-balanced diet.”

Yet, the study suggested that some new “healthy” fast food restaurants were beginning to pop up in France, including Dubble, Pokéria, and Picky Spring, which, it said, “could soon compete with the big brands”.

It said: “Surfing in on the ‘self-care’ trend championed by new generations, who care more and more about what they are eating and the products they [healthy] brands are throwing their hat into the ring.”

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