The Grass is Always Greener
This photo (taken at the Arche de la Défense) really sums up what the current food trends in Paris are. It says: "Formule New York, Hot dog + Coca-Cola 5Euros, le vrai hot dog new-yorkais, Manhattan's hot dog 3,50Euros", which translates to "New-York lunch combo special, Hot dog + Coke ~$7, the real New-Yorker hot dog, Manhattan's hot dog ~$5".
I hadn't been to France in two and a half years, but when I went back in December, I noticed a big change in French eating habits. It seems that the French are more fascinated by American culture than ever. I've noticed that the new "it" dishes are hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries. They have replaced the good old jambon-beurre, croque-monsieurs and croque-madames on many café menus.
The French youth in particular have not inherited their parents' eating habits, among other things. The boulangeries and pâtisseries get a steady stream of customers, but if you walk into a McDonalds, the place is packed with teenagers and 20-somethings. It's impossible to find a table.
Also, supermarkets carry a lot more pre-packaged meals than before. Lifestyle changes have elevated promptness and simplicity in preparing meals over quality. Don't get me wrong; I love a good burger or hot dog, but if you go to France, I would not recommend wasting a meal on American-style fast food.
While we were waiting in line at a boulangerie (bakery), I observed what people were ordering and many chose a hot dog, "American" cookie and a Coke. I did the same and I still regret it. It was very filling but not good. The cookies in particular may look the part, but these doppelgangers are no match for the truly delicious French pastries you can find in many pâtisseries.