My wife and I are great fans of Flunch. There are 2 in Paris, one near the Place de Clichy below Montmartre, and one near the Pompidou Centre. There was a third in the Rue Pierre Lescot side of the Châtelet-Les Halles shopping complex which was being developed on our visit in March. The name I believe is derived from French lunch (but check it before giving it as your answer for a million pounds on "Who wants to be a Millionaire"). Ask the audience and hope most of them are French. It is a strange mixture of plain cooking in a cafeteria style setting with excellent prices. Meals have set prices and normally include all the vegetables and potatoes you can eat. Many meals include wine in the price. Steaks and grills, including steak hache are cooked to order on the charcoal grill. There is always a variety of hot main meals, deserts, and starters, as well as a salad bar. The only "complaint" is the rather complicated pricing structure and what is is included for what price. This can be difficult for the first time visitor, especially if you don't speak French. Being fans of Flunch for 14 years since we first visited the one near the Pompidou Centre, we feel its well worth the slight inconvenience of having to interpret the menu combinations. This is an excellent place if you want plain food for reasonable prices.
I've rated this "a great experience." But remember it is a budget restaurant type of great experience, so don't take your wife (or husband) here for your 25th wedding anniversary!
Favorite Dish: I liked the charcoal grlled steak hache (an all beef hamburger without the roll). My wife thinks they do the best mshed potatoes anywhere.
I went here on my second trip to Paris. On that occasion I was travelling alone and I don't like going to "proper" restaurants on my own. This place suited me as it is a cafeteria style place, the food is filling but very reasonably priced and didn't keep me back from my sightseeing for too long. My friend and I went back here on the last day of our recent trip and I was happy to find it hadn't changed. There are different "menus" you can have - the menu du jour has a main meal and desert of the day plus a drink for about €7,90 or the express menu was a main meal and drink. You can get most of the main meals on offer for around €6. You pick what you want for a main course, add your own veg, pick a starter, dessert, drink etc and then go and pay at the desk and find a seat.
This isn't the place to go for ambience or typical French food but it seems very popular with the locals & tourists alike and you will get a quikc, cheap and filling meal.
Favorite Dish: Fruit salad. I just love fruit salad though! BUt you do get to pick what you put in it & how much.
On my most recent visit I had a pasta bake with fish which was yummy but they had a fair choice of dishes. They also have an ice cream stand where you can get either a sundae to sit in with or a cornet to take away. We went back for some later in the afternoon and I must say it was delicious! I had the lemon and the passion fruit sorbets.
flunch appears to still be growing (100+ locations), though I did not see any this time 2003/04, but I wasn't really looking either.
Why cop out to McDonald's etc. when you're in a hurry for lunch in France?
Imagine a typical buffet / cafeteria / smorgasboard restaurant, serving (instead of roast beef, meatloaf & green beans):
duck, fried rabbit with herbs, or lots of other French concoctions ready to pick up and put on your tray.
This is Flunch.
They were in many different cities (in 2001 I ate at one during a train stop in Nice close to the station; they are also in Paris, Avignon, etc.) and appeared to be growing.
Don't get me wrong. This is just fast food & is certainly not even close to good cuisine, but if you are in a hurry yet still want some quick & affordable French food, check out flunch.
Beats the merde out of le big mac.
Favorite Dish: I've had duck and rabbit there: both were good (for fast food), with salad, and mousse for dessert.
One of the cool things about flunch is it is buffet style.
Like any cafeteria, there were many selections already prepared for you to look at closely before you pick your choice and put it on your tray.