France - Photo Tour
Photos by Brian Bennett, Karl Buiter, and Ian Parkinson
Welcome to Epcot's France Pavilion! The pictures of this photo tour came from my own most recent visit to Epcot, but I've also tossed in some pictures by fellow MousePlaneteers Karl Buiter and Ian Parkinson.
France is separated from the United Kingdom, not surprisingly, by a small channel of water. The International Gateway, the backdoor to Epcot's World Showcase, is just across the "Seine" from the pavilion.
The International Gateway is a great feature for folks that are staying at the Epcot Resorts. The Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk Resorts are just a short walk from the gateway. The Swan and Dolphin Hotels are a bit farther, but still fairly close. Friendships (covered launches) provide transportation from those resorts to just outside the gateway.
The visual centerpiece of the pavilion is a lovely fountain that sprays water in several directions. The fountain provides a nice, soothing sound for passersby. The area around the fountain also has street artists prepared to create your portrait. Kiosks with announcement posters add to the Parisian atmosphere.
Of course, what is France known for more than fine dining? Here's a view of Les Chefs de France, the most-well-known of the restaurants in the pavilion. Serving wonderfully prepared and presented meals made from the freshest of local ingredients, Chefs de France is a lovely place to enjoy a wonderful dinner.
If you'd like to "kick it up a notch" on the intimacy scale, you can request a table in the sunroom which is very cozy at night, with lovely views of the World Showcase Promenade.
The restaurant is named for the "three chefs," Roger Vergé, Gaston Lenôtre, and Paul Bocuse. These French culinary giants provide great input to the menu, although the local chefs that actually do the food preparation do the real work (and do it extremely well).
Upstairs, right over Les Chefs de France, is the Bistro de Paris.
This restaurant is a bit more intimate and quiet than the busier café downstairs. The service is very good at both venues, but the quieter atmosphere upstairs makes the Bistro a bit more romantic.
There are a few tables that have nice views of the Promenade down below, but most of them are too far away to see much of what's going on outside.
I had a rack of lamb at the Bistro. Carved up at the table, the presentation added some entertainment to the meal.
Of course, the soufflé that I ordered was made tableside, too. This poor girl was really working for her keep this evening.
I hope you're not too hungry, because I'm about to show you exactly what we had for dinner that night! (If some of this sounds and looks familiar, it's because some of these pictures and text were in my October 2000 trip report...I hope you don't mind the rerun.)
First, we enjoyed some wonderful hard rolls, and an interesting pâté and raisin relish.
Next, I had a salmon appetizer. I was expecting something like a braised or grilled fish (like at Artists Point), but was served something more akin to sushi. I honestly didn't like it very much, but I enjoyed trying it.
Filet Mignon for Barb...
...and Rack of Lamb for me.
Of course, you can't eat in France without having desert! Barb had a fantastic chocolate cake soufflé with a hot creamy chocolate center (we had to wait fifteen minutes while they prepared this one, and it was worth ever second!)
While I opted for the crepe's with orange sauce, prepared by our waiter (who flambéed them right there at the table!) It was an excellent top off for the meal. (Sorry, but the bright light during the "flambéing" prohibited taking a good picture...although I did try.)
If you'd like some more information on the restaurants in this area, check out MousePlanet's Walt Disney World Restaurant Resource page on the France Pavilion!
Another thing that the pavilion is good at is providing shopping opportunities.
In the very back of the pavilion, the Galerie des Halles shop sells touristy trinkets, posters (including prints of the work of famous French artists)...
...and miniature Eiffel towers in several sizes.
The Boulangerie Patisserie is a great place to buy a Napoleon, éclair, cream puff, or other pastry. The sell regular, ordinary chocolate chip cookies, too, if you have plainer tastes.
Note the lines, though. Even late at night, this is a well-known place to pick up a snack. The Patisserie is a popular place for a late breakfast, too.
Across the way, la Maison du Vin peddles fine French wines (tastings are held here on occasion, too)...
...and lesprit de Province has cookbooks, utensils, and other things for the do-it-yourselfers.
In the front part of the pavilion, the arcade has some other great shops.
la Signature has many designer French perfumes, soaps, and other items. If you have allergies, though, you should make your time here quick.
The Plume et Palette has more perfumes and other trinkets, jewelry, and so on.
Typical Bennett here, but just look at that ceiling! The skylight and the wrought iron railing around the balcony are lovely facets in a finely crafted room. Shoppers don't always notice the details, but this pavilion is filled with them.
Walking back outside, and strolling across the plaza, I took this shot of diners enjoying their late dinner at Les Chefs de France. I figure that it's appropriate to end this tour with another reminder of the wonderful cuisine here. The shopping is interesting, but the food and service at Chefs de France and the Bistro de Paris are highlights of any trip to Walt Disney World!
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