The fountain offers paying customers Eau de McDo (McDonald’s water) still, sparkling or flavored.
In March 2021, the company announced it would stop selling drinks in plastic bottles in France – but the price of a glass of tap water shocked customers and officials alike.
In a tweet, Paris water deputy and president of Eau de Paris, Dan Lert calculated that Paris water from the Eau de Paris treatment service, which provides tap water in homes and many public fountains, costs € 0.003 per liter.
that’s how @McDonaldsFrance justifies selling tap water 2000 times more expensive than its cost.
– Dan Lert (@danlert) September 27, 2021
In contrast, McDonald’s charges € 7 per liter of water in its restaurants, he said, an increase of 2,000%.
In response, the restaurant chain clarified that the fee covered “the investment” in its restaurants to install the water fountain system, which provides “micro-filtered” water “purified at 99.99%”.
Critics have pointed out that McDonald’s purifies French tap water that has already been treated, so it is safe to drink and is recognized as good quality throughout France.
Can a restaurant in France legally charge its customers for tap water?
Others questioned the legality of charging for tap water, which is often provided free of charge by restaurants, cafes and bars.
But restaurants are only required to provide free water under certain circumstances.
A law from 1967 states that “plain water” must be included in the final cost of a free meal, along with bread and cutlery.
And a 2020 law states that restaurants should “display prominently on the menu or a sign that customers can request free drinking water.”
However, the rules are different for cafes and bars that don’t serve food.
Here, a customer ordering a coffee can legally be charged for a glass of water, provided the price is clearly stated on signs and menus.
Likewise, cafes and restaurants that serve food have the right to charge customers for water if they don’t eat but order coffee instead, for example.
This means that McDonald’s should always provide customers who eat in its restaurants with “plain water” free of charge, as defined by the 1967 law.
The fast food chain is likely to be able to charge for its McDonald’s Water on the grounds that it has been processed and flavored by the company.
How many people drink tap water compared to bottled water in France?
Tap water is safe to drink in the vast majority of France, but figures show that 75% of the population drink both tap and bottled water.
This makes France one of the biggest consumers of bottled water in Europe, with more than seven billion bottles sold each year.
A study cited by FranceInfo found that eight in ten people think bottled water is better for your health than tap water.
Journalist Justine Weyl said: “With 122 liters consumed per capita, France is the fourth European consumer of bottled water, behind Italy, Germany and Belgium.
“The bottled water industry [in France] is worth 2.8 billion euros and provides 10,000 direct jobs and 30,000 indirect jobs.
The main brands of still water in France are Cristaline, Vittel, Volvic, Evian and Hépar, La Croix reported.
Carbonated water (soda or sparkling water) is also popular, and in many restaurants, if you don’t specify “still water” you risk getting served a sparkling bottle from one of the major French brands, such as Perrier, Badoit, Saint-Yorre and La Salvetat.
Different brands make different claims about the mineral content of their water, with the Taillefine brand claiming to help you lose weight; and some specifically say they are ideal for use in baby bottles.
If you are ordering water in France and want to specify the type of tap, ask for a “water carafe” rather than a “bottle”. Usually it will be free, if ordered with food.
How is the price of water in Europe?
The French costs of tap water compare relatively well with the rest of Europe, because it is neither the most expensive nor the cheapest.
The Holidu Water Price Index, using data from the International Benchmarking Network for Water and Sanitation Services (IBNET), compared the price of tap water in 114 cities across the country. world.
In a study from early 2021, Oslo in Norway came out on top, with a price of € 5.51 for 1,000 liters of drinking water (1m3).
Germany was also at the top of the list, with the cities of Stuttgart (€ 4.67), Hamburg (€ 3.49) and Munich (€ 3.45) all in the top 10.
Denmark was also high, in Copenhagen (4.37 €); while the cities of the Netherlands and Sweden were also high (Rotterdam, € 3.99; Amsterdam, € 3.65; and Stockholm, € 3.60).
In France, the city of Lyon is the most expensive, at € 3.57 per 1,000 liters, which places it seventh among the most expensive on the list. Paris is lower, at 2.14 (number 21 in the standings, out of 36 listed).
Some of the cheapest tap water can be found in Italy, Hungary and Greece, at € 1.29, € 1.05 and € 0.40 per 1000 liters in Naples, Rome and Milan respectively; € 1.23 in Budapest and € 1.16 in Athens.
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