Burger King returns to France

Burger King opened its first branch n France after withdrawing from the country 15 years ago. (LM Otero / Associated Press)

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Burger King Worldwide is making its second foray into France, attempting to endear its Whopper sandwich to a country known for its foie gras, fine wines and general culinary excellence.

The chain opened a branch Saturday at the Marseille airport -- its first Gallic pit stop since pulling nearly 40 mostly unprofitable locations from the nation in 1997 (hat tip to the Associated Press).

This time, Burger King paired up with Autogrill Group, which runs about 900 eateries in highways, airports, railway stations and shopping centers in more than a dozen countries. The partnership will bring Burger King deeper into France, as well as Switzerland, Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany and Holland.

Autogrill already operates more than 100 Burger Kings in North America and dozens in Europe.

Next up in France? A Burger king in Reims, a city in the Champagne region often touted as a key epicurean center, according to Autogrill.

Miami-based Burger King has some catching up to do. Rival McDonald’s has been active in France since 1979 and has more than 1,200 restaurants and 63,000 employees in the country.

Last year, the Golden Arches began testing sleek new restaurant prototypes in France, created by Parisan designer Patrick Norguet. 

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