The arrival of the fast casual burger chain is just one more American import that's changing the way we look at Paris.
It's been a wild few years for food in Paris, with the relentlessly tradition-minded city blowing the doors off its food scene and trying on pretty much every food trend to emanate from North America in the last ten years or so.
Lobster rolls, taco trucks, pop-up restaurants, aged cocktails—it's all here now, or has been seen around town in recent years. Lately, things are getting even more insane, with the arrivals of familiar chains like Five Guys. No, really—there is now a Five Guys on the Champs-Elysees.
Just two blocks from the rarified air of the Avenue Montaigne and its high-end boutiques, and so close to the Four Seasons George V Hotel you could easily sneak a giant bag of fries back to your room for a late night snack (they're open until 1 o'clock in the morning), the familiarly-spartan restaurant with its white tiles and fluorescent lighting and copy shop-fabulous signage looks a lot like any other big city Five Guys, except this one has an upstairs, plus outdoor seating facing towards the goings-on along one of the world's most iconic avenues.
The menu holds few surprises for American fans of the now-ubiquitous, Northern Virginia-based burger chain; here you'll find the same create-your-own burger (Pro tip: Always add the jalapeños) that has fans lining up everywhere from Vancouver to Dubai in over 1,000 locations.
One thing that's harder to find at the American locations, is standard here: milkshakes. The beef is different here, as well, all sourced from family farms in Ireland—the same suppliers that ship to Five Guys' massive number of stores in the United Kingdom.
How about the prices? For the basic hamburger and small fries, you're currently paying around $11—that's just a little more than two dollars more than you'd pay in, say, Midtown Manhattan, and a great deal for one of the city's most expensive addresses. (The shakes go for nearly $8, however; sodas aren't refillable, either.)
If you're tempted, but find the idea of eating at a Five Guys in Paris a little bit, well, gauche, don't worry about it. By now, it's sort of a poorly kept secret that the French love fast food—not for nothing, but McDonald's are everywhere here and have been, seemingly forever. Increasingly, Five Guys-esque, slightly elevated fast-casual dining, is making kind of a big splash here as well.
Starbucks, which everyone said wouldn't last in the beginning, is still here; Chipotle—yes, Chipotle—has made inroads as well, with six locations, including one right along the Left Bank's Boulevard Saint-Germain, directly next to the Cluny-La Sorbonne Metro. Hungry after your tour of Notre Dame? Burrito bowls are now just a 7-minute walk away.
And what's next, you ask? Oh, well, too late, because it's already happened—this summer, Paris got its first Costco, in suburban Villebon-Sur-Yvette. There will be more locations opening soon, and yes, they have the cheap pizza and hot dogs. (Just ask for directions to the "Resto-Club," because France.)