Paris Says ‘Non!’ to McDonalds. But Is it Too Late?

McDonaldsParisian officials have reportedly rejected a bid by McDonalds to open up a shop on the fantastic market street Rue Montorgueil, saying the hamburger shack would drive up rents and squeeze out character along the street that’s already home to dozens of cafes, bistros, boutiques and food shops ranging from butchers to candy stores.

While I’m thrilled at the city’s efforts to prevent its historic core from turning into another Americanized mini-mall, I wonder if the change of heart has come too late.

Already, there is a fast-food hamburger joint on the Rue Montorgueil called Quick, and across the street from it is a huge Starbucks. In fact, there are several Starbucks in Paris, and they’re always jam-packed while next-door cafes sit nearly empty. Worse yet, there’s a Subway sandwich shop seemingly every block or two in the city, and McDonalds is already entrenched in several spots, including a wildly popular two-level franchise just stone’s throw from Paris’s Hotel de Ville (City Hall).

And don’t get me started on the massive Apple store opened in the concourse of the Louvre.

One of the things I love most about Paris is that it doesn’t feel like America. The buildings (for the most part) aren’t cookie-cutter glass-and-steel boxes. There’s not a Costco in every neighborhood, followed down the block by a self-storage facility to hold all those bulk products. There’s no Applebees or Olive Garden or Chilis or any of the other chain restaurants that permeate every U.S. municipality. Even the city’s supermarkets are tony and tiny compared to their American counterparts.

I like Paris this way, and I applaud every effort to keep Paris as Parisian as possible.

I just wonder if all those Parisian teens filling the local Starbucks and the City Hall workers grabbing their Big Macs for lunch would agree with me.