Parisians struck with sudden cravings for red meat can now buy steaks or sausages at any time of the day or night from the capital's first automatic raw meat vending machine.

It was installed this week outside a shop in the fashionable 11th arrondissement.

Florence Pouzol, owner of the Basque butchers, L'Ami Txulette, explained: "We wanted to give our customers an additional service when the shop is closed.

"A 9oz (250g) faux-fillet of beef costs €8.50 ($14.30), while two pork chops cost €5. The machine, which accepts cash or cards, also stocks beef carpaccio, Bayonne ham, chicken and eggs.


Its introduction is in line with a trend to make fresh produce available 24 hours a day, despite strict Sunday opening laws and the reluctance of many shops to open seven days a week.

The refrigerated meat machine is the fifth to open in France, but the first in the capital. Laetitia Lafaye, the first French butcher to install a meat vending machine, in the southwestern town of Sainte-Catherine, said the idea came from Germany, where there are hundreds of such machines.

Last year a cheesemonger in the eastern town of Pontarlier installed an automatic cheese distributor.

Paris got its first 24-hour baguette vending machine in 2011. Since then, hundreds more have been installed across the country.

But the spread of the machines is proving controversial. Traditionalists say they will lead to the demise of craft butchers, bakers and cheese shops.

Emmanuel Gripon, from the French Bakers' Federation, said: "It's contributing to the desertification of the countryside and it harms the social life of communities."

However, many people welcome the convenience they offer. Francois Joly, who lives near L'Ami Txulette, said: "At first you think it's strange, but then you realise it might be a good way to buy meat if you work late and feel like a steak when you get home."