My Disney Top 5 - Things to See in Epcot's France Pavilionby Chris Barry, contributing writer
Welcome back to another Disney Top 5. At this point in time, something truly unique is happening. I actually find myself looking forward to not one but two trips to Walt Disney World coming up in the next six months or so; I'm besides myself with excitement. The first one will be work related. I'll be chaperoning a group of students down there for a long weekend. The second trip, a much longer stay, will be to celebrate my 50th birthday. What better place to turn 50 than the most magical place on Earth? There's a whole bunch of us planning to head down to Orlando this summer to help me celebrate this milestone, and it's going to be a hoot for sure. There are so many things to anticipate, but one of the things I truly can't wait to get back to is Epcot's World Showcase. Spending time in World Showcase is one of my favorite things to do anywhere.
Here on MousePlanet I've been counting down my favorite things about each of Epcot's pavilions. Last time we were touring through Morocco, one of my favorites of the 11 nations that surround World Showcase Lagoon. Moving on from Morocco, we come to a pavilion that is also one of my top choices to see in Epcot—Morocco's next-door neighbor, France.
It's hard to beat France for beauty, shopping, food, drink and overall ambience. It's actually my favorite physical spot in World Showcase, nestled on the banks of both the World Showcase Lagoon and the canal leading to Crescent Lake. It's got its own unique, spacious feel to it and with the soon to be added Ratatouille attraction, this pavilion will actually be growing. I love spending time in France, so let's take a look at my Top 5 things to see in Epcot's France pavilion.
5 – Monsieur Paul
If you're talking France, then you're talking food. There couldn't be a proper French pavilion without good dining, and there's plenty to choose from here. Monsieur Paul is the kind of restaurant that people just don't expect to be inside of a Disney park. It's a little bit secret, discreetly placed on the top floor of the more popular, and more affordable, Chefs De France. Head up the beautiful staircase for a wonderful dining experience named for famed French chef Paul Bocuse.
Save Monsieur Paul for a special occasion. Ditch the Mickey T-shirt and baseball cap, put a collared shirt on, and see if you can score a window seat for the view of the lagoon and the "streets" of France. Expect to pay some hefty prices, but don't look and just enjoy. Sure $44 was a lot to pay for the filet de boeuf, but it was a special night for my wife and I, and it was delicious. The desserts are also top notch.
4 – Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie
Once again, when in France, eat and drink, and eat and drink well. This counter service choice in the back of the pavilion is a fantastic place to go for lunch.
Get yourself out of the sweltering Orlando sun and take a cool break back here but, don't come to diet. This is France. It's rich and savory but oh so delicious! Try the croissant jambon fromage—ham and cheese with bechamel in a croissant. Anything that includes bechamel sauce is worth trying in my eyes. You could skip lunch and just save room for the multitude of desserts here. I can't begin to choose a favorite, there are so many. In my opinion, these are the best desserts in World Showcase.
3 – The Flower Gardens
I'm always a big proponent of finding those special tranquil places in Walt Disney World to stop the madness and relax for a while. The France pavilion's flower gardens are high on the list of those very special places.
If you're a big gardener, like my wife, then you'll be blown away. If you're not a big gardener, you should be even more blown away. Order a pastry and a glass of wine and head out to the fountain on the main promenade, or the gardens behind the perfume shops along the canal and enjoy the stunning flower beds.
2 – Grand Marnier Slush
This is the best "grown-up drink" in all of Walt Disney World. That's a bold statement but I've thought so for years and I'm unwavering in this opinion. Out along the lagoon there is a small stand called Les Vins des Chefs de France. Here you can get French wines and beer, but truthfully, there's only one thing that matters on this menu.
It's tasty, it's refreshing, it's great looking, and it's one of my favorite drinks anywhere. Be careful. On a hot Orlando day, these go down a little bit too easy.
1 – Location, location, location
The France pavilion is situated in one of the most picturesque spots in all of World Showcase. It's the only pavilion that has essentially two waterfronts. It's got the lagoon in front and the canal on the side. This makes the pavilion feel much more open than any of its neighbors.
When entering France from the UK at Epcot, you cross a footbridge. The design of this bridge is said to be inspired from the Pont des Arts footbridge crossing the Seine River in Paris. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
You can really stroll around the France pavilion and take in the atmosphere and the sights. Better yet, head into the International Gateway and view France from across the canal that leads into Disney's BoardWalk area. Once again, it's a unique view and it's the only pavilion that offers this type of view.
The imagineers did an amazing job decorating the waterfront. There are flower carts, old bicycles, paint easels, and rowboats. It's truly one of Epcot's most beautiful locations, and helps make the France pavilion that much more of a special place.
I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of the France pavilion. There's another popular restaurant, Les Chefs De France, that I still haven't eaten in, not to mention L'Artisan des Glaces, the ice cream and sorbet shop. France already has one attraction, the film Impressions de France and as I mentioned above its slated for a second major attraction when the Ratatouille ride opens in 2021.
You can find some charming shops in France as well. Our favorite has always been La Maison du Vin. You can get samples of French wine in this quaint little shop and for years now, it's been the spot for my wife to get her favorite trays and dishes from Provence. Let's not forget perfumes from the Plume et Palette shop and cosmetics and fragrances from Guerlain.
So, have some gourmet French food and wine. Drink the best drink on Disney property. Meet Belle and the Beast. Have some delectable desserts. Bring home some Chanel No. 5 for your special someone. Cross the bridge and meander the cobblestone streets of France on your next visit to Epcot's World Showcase and make sure to stop and smell the flowers. Le Pavillon France d'Epcot est vraiment magnifique!
Click on the link below, let me hear your thoughts on Epcot's France pavilion and I'll see you next time with another Disney Top 5. We'll head over to the United Kingdom as we come close to wrapping up our World Showcase tour.