Kentucky Fried Chicken in France

It’s Sunday and we have no food in the apartment because it’s Sunday and no stores are open. Ok, some stores are open in the morning on Sundays, but they are so crowded that I hyperventilate just thinking about it.

A KFC opened in Chambéry a few months ago and I was actually curious to see what it would be like (though I haven’t eaten at KFC in the US since I was in high school…) and David wanted to try it too since he’s never had it. KFC hopes to open 200 restaurants in France by 2012 and according to their awful flash-heavy website that takes 2 minutes to load, there are currently 93 restaurants open.

So I got some Crispy Tenders (the menu is mostly in English, of course). My first impression of a Frenchified KFC is: where are the mashed potatoes & gravy?!

Yes, they sell pieces of chicken in a bucket with Col. Sanders’ face on it but that’s about where the similarities end. The sides available with the meals are a salad, fries or a little corn on the cob that no one knows how to “make” and so they won’t even give it to you, but instead substitute fries without your knowledge.  The sauces available for the chicken are barbecue, sweet & sour or curry. The desserts are the standard ones you find at French McDonald’s and Quick: fondant au chocolat, tiramisu, tartes, etc.

No mashed potatoes, no gravy, no biscuits, no mac & cheese, no beans, no rice, no apple pie or parfaits.  I figured these things wouldn’t be served in France, but I still had a tiny bit of hope. And now I’m actually craving the mashed potato bowl – mashed potatoes with corn, chicken, gravy and cheddar cheese on top. It’s seriously no surprise to me that French people would not want to eat that, but now I do! And I can’t have it. ::sigh::

I suppose what bothered me most was the fries. I am so sick of French people complaining that Americans are so fat and Americans eat french fries at every meal, blah blah blah. I very rarely ate fries in the US and I have never had so many fries forced on me as I do in France. I can’t even eat fries anymore because of it. I used to just to be nice, but now I don’t care. You can do more to potatoes than just frying them, ya know, like boiling and mashing them!

One good thing is that it seems to be much cheaper than other fast food places in France. Compared to US prices, it’s still ridiculously expensive for not-so-great food.

And their Hot Wings? Not so hot.  France and spices don’t get along.

At least in December, some stores are allowed to be open on Sundays for Christmas shopping so we won’t have to resort to fast food. The law passed earlier this year allowing stores to open on Sundays for the entire year is only for Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille and Lille. Those of us in the boondocks get nothing because the law is supposed to be intended for tourists in tourist-heavy areas only because French people couldn’t possibly want to shop on Sundays!

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  • http://pandainparis.wordpress.com/ Amanda

    Someone told me the other day that France is the biggest market for Macdo outside the US. Every time they tell me about how Americans just eat fast food all the time I tell them McDonald’s wouldn’t be here if there were no market. And you’re right about the fries thing! I get fries with everything here, and they’re not any healthier with a nice organic steak than with a cheeseburger.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..obligatory post-vacation post =-.

  • http://pandainparis.wordpress.com Amanda

    Someone told me the other day that France is the biggest market for Macdo outside the US. Every time they tell me about how Americans just eat fast food all the time I tell them McDonald’s wouldn’t be here if there were no market. And you’re right about the fries thing! I get fries with everything here, and they’re not any healthier with a nice organic steak than with a cheeseburger.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..obligatory post-vacation post =-.

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com/ David

    Yeah, KFC is pretty much gross and lame in France. (I admit that I really liked it in the US, although it was all gross and greasy and all).

    McDonald’s second market is indeed France but keep in mind three things:
    -it’s mostly teenagers that go there.
    -it’s not as bad as in the US (some stuff are actually decent and not as unhealthy)
    -the market for McDonald’s is huge in France because there’s little to no competition.

    (and I’m not getting into the part of it’s supposedly the costumers who make it big… If costumers had freewill and were not brainwashed by advertising and such, half of the shit that is being sold to us and that we buy wouldn’t exist)
    .-= David´s last blog ..Download a Car? =-.

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com David

    Yeah, KFC is pretty much gross and lame in France. (I admit that I really liked it in the US, although it was all gross and greasy and all).

    McDonald’s second market is indeed France but keep in mind three things:
    -it’s mostly teenagers that go there.
    -it’s not as bad as in the US (some stuff are actually decent and not as unhealthy)
    -the market for McDonald’s is huge in France because there’s little to no competition.

    (and I’m not getting into the part of it’s supposedly the costumers who make it big… If costumers had freewill and were not brainwashed by advertising and such, half of the shit that is being sold to us and that we buy wouldn’t exist)
    .-= David´s last blog ..Download a Car? =-.

  • http://www.ukuleleinrouen.blogspot.com/ Kinzie

    Mmmmm… Mashed potatoes.
    .-= Kinzie´s last blog ..Goodbye Germany, Hello Real World* =-.

  • http://www.ukuleleinrouen.blogspot.com Kinzie

    Mmmmm… Mashed potatoes.
    .-= Kinzie´s last blog ..Goodbye Germany, Hello Real World* =-.

  • http://travellingamber.blogspot.com/ Amber

    I’m also disappointed about the lack of mash at KFC, but I’ve got to admit, I prefer a boxmaster sandwich from KFC over anything at McDo or Quick. Plus, i’m a hardcore vegetarian and they’ll make it without chicken for me.

    I’d agree with you about the fries, but fries are what my region is famous for! There’s nothing like a fry shack in the north of France.. yum. Just gotta make sure I keep up with the sports after! The french think i’m making it up when I tell them I haven’t eaten a hamburger in 15 yrs and somebody went as far as to ask me if I was really American if I don’t eat hamburgers.
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..Speaking of American food =-.

  • http://travellingamber.blogspot.com Amber

    I’m also disappointed about the lack of mash at KFC, but I’ve got to admit, I prefer a boxmaster sandwich from KFC over anything at McDo or Quick. Plus, i’m a hardcore vegetarian and they’ll make it without chicken for me.

    I’d agree with you about the fries, but fries are what my region is famous for! There’s nothing like a fry shack in the north of France.. yum. Just gotta make sure I keep up with the sports after! The french think i’m making it up when I tell them I haven’t eaten a hamburger in 15 yrs and somebody went as far as to ask me if I was really American if I don’t eat hamburgers.
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..Speaking of American food =-.

  • http://shakesrear.livejournal.com/ shakesrear

    The French around me complain about how greasy KFC is. My favorite thing at KFC was the chicken pot pie – yum. That I will never find here. And yeah, the French have this thing against corn, but I try to educate my dinner guests on it. It starts with the cornholders!

    I’m with you on the fries thing. I always have to insist that they don’t serve me so many if I order any at all. Maybe that’s why they are called French fries and not Belgium fries.

    As for your last comment, I don’t think it’s so much that people don’t want to shop on Sunday; it’s that people don’t want to WORK on Sunday!
    .-= shakesrear´s last blog .. =-.

  • http://shakesrear.livejournal.com shakesrear

    The French around me complain about how greasy KFC is. My favorite thing at KFC was the chicken pot pie – yum. That I will never find here. And yeah, the French have this thing against corn, but I try to educate my dinner guests on it. It starts with the cornholders!

    I’m with you on the fries thing. I always have to insist that they don’t serve me so many if I order any at all. Maybe that’s why they are called French fries and not Belgium fries.

    As for your last comment, I don’t think it’s so much that people don’t want to shop on Sunday; it’s that people don’t want to WORK on Sunday!
    .-= shakesrear´s last blog .. =-.

  • http://kiwigirl-infrance.blogspot.com/ Kim

    I’ve never tried KFC in France as I wasn’t a huge fan back in NZ. But KFC is different in different countries. When I left NZ we didn’t have corn, biscuits (for us biscuits are sweet), baked beans, mac and cheese, or cheddar cheese topping. However, we have potato and gravy in the same pot and I love dipping my fries into it and then putting them in my bread roll!! In the UK they don’t have mashed potato – they have gravy, corn and baked beans, and probably more but I can’t remember – I was disappointed that they didn’t have potato and gravy.
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..I like the prime minister of NZ =-.

  • http://kiwigirl-infrance.blogspot.com/ Kim

    I’ve never tried KFC in France as I wasn’t a huge fan back in NZ. But KFC is different in different countries. When I left NZ we didn’t have corn, biscuits (for us biscuits are sweet), baked beans, mac and cheese, or cheddar cheese topping. However, we have potato and gravy in the same pot and I love dipping my fries into it and then putting them in my bread roll!! In the UK they don’t have mashed potato – they have gravy, corn and baked beans, and probably more but I can’t remember – I was disappointed that they didn’t have potato and gravy.
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..I like the prime minister of NZ =-.

  • http://unepetitefillenoire.blogspot.com/ Kayle

    I’ve tasted something from a French KFC once,and that’s enough for me. Spices are not hot in the streets here, I suppose. And ditto to everyone and their mom. The French enjoy their fastfood as much as Americans do,if not more. My students here were shocked when I told them I don’t eat at McDo regularly…So it goes :)
    .-= Kayle´s last blog ..Today was a good day… =-.

  • http://unepetitefillenoire.blogspot.com/ Kayle

    I’ve tasted something from a French KFC once,and that’s enough for me. Spices are not hot in the streets here, I suppose. And ditto to everyone and their mom. The French enjoy their fastfood as much as Americans do,if not more. My students here were shocked when I told them I don’t eat at McDo regularly…So it goes :)
    .-= Kayle´s last blog ..Today was a good day… =-.

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com/ Zhu

    I don’t even know how to say “gravy” in French! Québécers translate it as “sauce brune” (which kinda sounds gross). I tried to explain it to my mum once but apparently it doesn’t exist there.

    I hate KFC though. Just the smell of it makes me sick… I like chicken, I don’t mind fried chicken, just KFC. Must be my inner José Bové.
    .-= Zhu´s last blog ..1, Sussex Drive =-.

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com Zhu

    I don’t even know how to say “gravy” in French! Québécers translate it as “sauce brune” (which kinda sounds gross). I tried to explain it to my mum once but apparently it doesn’t exist there.

    I hate KFC though. Just the smell of it makes me sick… I like chicken, I don’t mind fried chicken, just KFC. Must be my inner José Bové.
    .-= Zhu´s last blog ..1, Sussex Drive =-.

  • http://boeingbleudemer.blogspot.com/ Cynthia

    I’m always amazed to see how much the French love fast food and processed food in general. Even my other half thinks that hot dog sausages with potatoes make a good supper!

    As for the spice, I bought a gigantic box of crushed chili so that finaly I can get a little spice in my meals ;)
    .-= Cynthia´s last blog ..10 commandements de bienséance dans les airs =-.

  • http://boeingbleudemer.blogspot.com/ Cynthia

    I’m always amazed to see how much the French love fast food and processed food in general. Even my other half thinks that hot dog sausages with potatoes make a good supper!

    As for the spice, I bought a gigantic box of crushed chili so that finaly I can get a little spice in my meals ;)
    .-= Cynthia´s last blog ..10 commandements de bienséance dans les airs =-.

  • http://france-bienvenue.fr/ Anne

    Yes, it’s true that a lot of French people don’t really want to go to the supermarket on Sundays and are used to doing something else. Same thing in Germany or other European countries.And we don’t find it so hard !

  • http://france-bienvenue.fr Anne

    Yes, it’s true that a lot of French people don’t really want to go to the supermarket on Sundays and are used to doing something else. Same thing in Germany or other European countries.And we don’t find it so hard !

  • http://www.edgeoftheforest.wordpress.com/ Andrea

    Regarding McDonalds, it’s not actually true, as David commented, that its “Mostly teenagers that goes there.” According to the stats in the book “Au Revoir to All That,” by Michael Steinberger, retirees are actually the most active McDo customers…

    I’m actually also sick of hearing that Americans “Only eat meat and don’t eat vegetables.” While it’s true that Europeans eat, on the whole, more fresh produce that Americans eat, it’s not like every American can’t recognize broccoli or spinach, but that’s the misconception I get here in France all the time. It’s ridiculous. I’ve met far more American vegetarians than French vegetarians :)

  • http://www.edgeoftheforest.wordpress.com Andrea

    Regarding McDonalds, it’s not actually true, as David commented, that its “Mostly teenagers that goes there.” According to the stats in the book “Au Revoir to All That,” by Michael Steinberger, retirees are actually the most active McDo customers…

    I’m actually also sick of hearing that Americans “Only eat meat and don’t eat vegetables.” While it’s true that Europeans eat, on the whole, more fresh produce that Americans eat, it’s not like every American can’t recognize broccoli or spinach, but that’s the misconception I get here in France all the time. It’s ridiculous. I’ve met far more American vegetarians than French vegetarians :)

  • http://theduchessofearl.blogspot.com/ Rachelle

    KFC without the mash, gravy and biscuits would for me be like McDo’s without the fries. Thanks, you’ve just saved me from ever going there! Man I loved those biscuits growing up….
    .-= Rachelle´s last blog ..The F-word… =-.

  • http://theduchessofearl.blogspot.com/ Rachelle

    KFC without the mash, gravy and biscuits would for me be like McDo’s without the fries. Thanks, you’ve just saved me from ever going there! Man I loved those biscuits growing up….
    .-= Rachelle´s last blog ..The F-word… =-.

  • Matt

    KFC is pretty gross over here and despite the normal step up in quality when American Fast-Foods go to France, I have a great question for you…

    Do you think Chic-Fil-A would work over there? It’s quality and though very fattening, very very good.

  • Matt

    KFC is pretty gross over here and despite the normal step up in quality when American Fast-Foods go to France, I have a great question for you…

    Do you think Chic-Fil-A would work over there? It’s quality and though very fattening, very very good.

  • http://www.american-in-france.com/ cynthia in chambery

    Hi, Jennie, I tried KFC in Chambery and I doubt I’ll return. Im waiting for them to get a Starbuks and a Subway here. Boy, is this city behind on everything in France.
    So let’s do an American Thanksgiving with the few American women living in Chambery in early December one night. Im finally back from my US trip so let’s connect. A bientot! Cynthia
    .-= cynthia in chambery´s last blog ..Le Retour des Alpages Festival in Annecy: Festivals of France =-.

  • http://www.american-in-france.com cynthia in chambery

    Hi, Jennie, I tried KFC in Chambery and I doubt I’ll return. Im waiting for them to get a Starbuks and a Subway here. Boy, is this city behind on everything in France.
    So let’s do an American Thanksgiving with the few American women living in Chambery in early December one night. Im finally back from my US trip so let’s connect. A bientot! Cynthia
    .-= cynthia in chambery´s last blog ..Le Retour des Alpages Festival in Annecy: Festivals of France =-.

  • Shoe Fiend

    hi Jennie,

    Thanks for letting us know there is a KFC in Chambery. We live in Geneva which is abt an hour drive. Unfortunately there is no KFC whatsoever in Switzerland.

    Although what I really miss is Popeyes Chicken :-(

  • Shoe Fiend

    hi Jennie,

    Thanks for letting us know there is a KFC in Chambery. We live in Geneva which is abt an hour drive. Unfortunately there is no KFC whatsoever in Switzerland.

    Although what I really miss is Popeyes Chicken :-(

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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