Paris' hottest new restaurant? Burger King

The opening of Paris's only Burger King outlet has - rather surprisingly - been welcomed by the city's residents.

It's the capital of the nation perhaps more admired for its gastronomy than anywhere else in the world. But the culinary gossip in Paris this past week has had little to do with Michelin stars or tasting menus.

When Burger King opened its doors a day earlier than anticipated last week, the news quickly started to trend on Twitter.

And the queues began to stretch a long, long way back from the entrance of the fast-food outlet - Burger King's only one in Paris - in Saint Lazare train station, a busy commuter hub serving the city's western suburbs.

In the run-up to Christmas, the smart gift shops of the station's mall - still retaining the sheen of a multi-million pound makeover that finished last year - are bustling with shoppers. But nothing even comes close to the Burger King crowds. If opening a restaurant is about generating a buzz, then the franchise had made a dream start - this time around at least.

For this is not Burger King's first foray into the Parisian dining scene. They have been here before, but abandoned France altogether in 1997, unable to make enough profit in the face of competition from McDonald's and Quick, a French fast-food chain.

Last year they returned, firstly with a restaurant in Marseille's airport, followed by another in a motorway just outside of Reims, with Paris merely the latest in the franchise's ambitious expansion plans. When I passed through Saint Lazare station during the opening week, the hunger for a Whopper (or "le Whopper" to give it its local name) was fierce. At around 10.15am on a Friday morning, a line had already snaked far beyond the double doors.

Security guards stood at the entrance like bouncers, red high-visibility bands strapped around their arms. Another patrolled the growing queue.

The question is whether the enthusiasm will endure. A French friend, who passes through Saint Lazare on his daily commute - and not normally the fast food type - surprised me. He told me he wanted take his 11 year-old son, who had never had the chance to taste a Burger King meal in his home city.


"Not for the moment though," he added. "The crowds are too big."

So does this clamour for one of the world's biggest fast food chains pose any threat for visitors wishing to sample the city's finer dining? Considering the proliferation of McDonald's and Quick restaurants in the capital, probably not.

According to Natasha Edwards, Telegraph Travel's Paris expert, the Burger King queue is mostly down to "novelty value", as well as curiosity about the new Saint Lazare station.

She said: "Burgers are really fashionable in Paris at the moment, probably because they are quick and easy to put together, are for casual eating and because Parisians are still wildly carnivorous."

The franchise's popular new opening in Saint Lazare station is, she said, "just one side of the coin in a city where there's still a real fascination for modern seasonal bistro cooking and authentic ingredients."

If visitors are in the area, she suggested they may prefer to eat at Lazare (, a much more gourmet station brasserie which opened earlier this year.

The Telegraph, London