A dozen years after militant French farmer José Bové was jailed for bulldozing a McDonald’s outlet in southern France, the nation has become the company’s second-most-profitable market (after the U.S.), serving about 1.7 million meals a day in 1,228 outlets. What happened? A drastic makeover. Denis Hennequin, a Frenchman who was president of McDonald’s Europe until 2009, says that the company “adapted to the local ways of living”: It began sourcing three-quarters of its food locally, spent billions renovating its restaurants, and just introduced the McBaguette, with Emmental cheese and French mustard on classic French bread, bien sûr.
This story is from the May 21, 2012 issue of Fortune.