Bonjour, mes amis. Comment allez-vous ce beau jour? Bienvenue à Empreintes dans Pixie Dust et notre rencontre autour de la série World Showcase!
Hee, hee ~ I was looking forward to doing that ~ speaking French, that is. Forgive me, if you would. I took French in high school and have not really had the chance to use it until this particular moment. In any case, hello there, my wonderful friends. I am back with the next installment of Dating Around World Showcase. Yes, it has been a short bit, I know, but the holidays crept in there and filled the calendar in a way that prevented us from really digging deep into each of the pavilions the way we like. Nonetheless, we did make it to “France” and have only two more countries left to visit. Without further ado, let’s dive into the nooks and crannies of this pavilion. Shall we? Viens avec moi!
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Leaving Footprints in France
Okay, so confession time. Visiting France actually took TWO dates. Yes, two. It’s not because it had more to offer than expected ~ no. It was because we felt there was a portion of the initial date that needed a “do-over.” You’ll find out why pretty early on in the post.
In any case, the pavilion is third in the World Showcase when walking to the right at the Showcase entrance and ninth when taking the long route from the left. It’s pretty much right there to your right when you enter through the Epcot Resorts entrance near the back right of the showcase.
When you actually arrive in France, it has the feel of walking through a Parisienne neighborhood ~ every girl’s dream, right? There is a gorgeous fountain where tons of Guests sit to relax (and take photos). There are elegant shops to browse and, of course, a scenic view of the Eiffel tower in the distance. Honestly, it has the potential of being very romantic and I’ve known many of my friends to sneak off with their spouses or partners in the middle of their family vacations to enjoy an evening sitting within the pavilion walls enjoying some wine or an orange slush (a favorite among my friends).
A Quick “What to Find” in the France Pavilion
So, before I jump into what our date – or dates, rather – looked like, here are a few facts about this particular Epcot exhibit.
For those foodies out there
The France Pavilion is home to a handful of eateries, including (in total) three quick service spots, an ice cream parlour and two table service restaurants.
- Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie (quick service)
- L’artisan des Glace ice-cream parlour
- Crepes des Chefs de France (quick service on promenade)
- Les Vins des Chefs de France (quick service on promenade)
- Chefs de France (table service, $$)
- Monsieur Paul (table service, $$$)
Wines and Perfumes
It also showcases some very elegant shops that sell authentic French goods, such as elegant wines and aromatic perfumes.
- La Signature (health and beauty)
- Plume et Palette (health and beauty)
- L’Esprit de la Provence (gifts and housewares)
- Les Vins de France (wine)
- Souvenirs de France (souvenirs, in case you weren’t sure)
The France Pavilion features a panoramic film entitled, “Impressions de France,” which showcases the beauty of the country’s landscape, set to the music of French composers such as Debussy and Saint-Saëns. It is also one of the pavilions that participates in the “Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure,” a favorite among the younger Guests.
FYI: I’m sure you have also heard the rumors that another attraction is destined to find its way into the France Pavilion. In 2017, Disney announced that a Ratatouille-influenced attraction will be incorporated into the exhibit. At the time of this post, no anticipated opening date has been announced.
There is just too much going on around the Parks!!
Character Meet and Greets
Guests can meet up with a few of their favorite Disney princesses, either Belle from Beauty and the Beast or Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, at designated times throughout the day. I believe there are two locations where meet and greets tend to occur and I also believe Belle may show up in either her yellow ball gown OR her blue and white dress (I’ve seen both).
Also noted among promenade entertainment is the comedy chair climbing and balancing show called “Serveur Amusant.” Have you seen these guys?!?! I mean, talk about “speechless!” These two have been around for years and are absolutely stunning to watch EVERY ~ SINGLE ~ TIME. Without one single word uttered, these two draw the attention of Guests and captivate them with a mesmerizing balancing act. It’s one of our favorites to watch!
The First Date
Okay, so let’s get to OUR time in the France Pavilion. Shall we? We’ll chat first date first ~ makes sense, I would think. We arrived – gorgeous weather once again – and were absolutely famished. I think my stomach was grumbling as soon as we arrived at the park this time around. It was an afternoon date, as the days are a little shorter this time of year, and we like to grab photos while the sun is still up and shining.
We entered the park and made our way directly to France ~ there was no stopping anywhere in between. It was a short walk, so we took the journey through Canada and the UK, over the Pont des Arts inspired footbridge and into France. As soon as you enter the vicinity, the scenery is reminiscent of the Seine waterfront and Guests are immediately surrounded by flower carts and street side artists.
And one of these days, we WILL have one of those drawings done!! Have you had one done???
Now, one of the goals with this particular date was to try to save some money. With that in mind, we decided to eat at the bakery located in the back of the pavilion. It’s not an obvious find and you do have walk past the fountain and to the left to reach it. Ironically, however, though it’s tucked away, it is usually VERY crowded. Just be prepared.
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie
As noted, we were pretty famished, so we were eager to take a peek at the menu. Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie is a traditional French bakery that boasts a variety of delectable treats and tempting delicacies. Interestingly, I haven’t had that much difficulty understanding Cast Members up until now. We had to do a lot of pointing when it came to showing them what we wanted. There weren’t many smiles given off here either ~ but perhaps that was just the day we were there. I mean, it was just after the holidays.
When we glanced at the menu, we saw everything from soups and salads to fresh baguette sandwiches and pastries. With regard to beverages, there was a variety of wines, champagne, beers and gourmet coffees from which to choose.
What did we end up ordering?
Here’s another confession. We weren’t all that impressed with what we saw. However, we were determined to see this through. We ordered one of the newer sandwiches, a Jambon Beurre, to share. This was a ham and cheese with Dijon mustard butter served on a demi baguette.
It was okay. I mean, we ate it all.
In addition, we ordered a slice of Quiche Florentine, which had spinach and goat cheese in it (love those two foods together). Quiche is a favorite of mine, but it’s something with which we have to eat with caution because of our son’s severe allergy to eggs.
As a dessert, Hubby found this ginormous pastry that he thought would be perfect. I could tell that his mind was picturing this soft, flavorful, perhaps custard filled dessert that would just make him swoon. It looked like it had chocolate AND vanilla and, well, I clearly had no reason to argue, so we ordered the Chocolate Dipped Meringue.
Umm ~ nope. It wasn’t soft. It wasn’t filled with custard. To be quite frank, it tasted like styrofoam. It was overly sweet and crumbled when touched. It made quite the mess, too. Now, I do have some friends who have enjoyed this ~ so don’t take my word as gold. However, I can say with absolute certainty that we will not be ordering this….ever…again.
So – now you know why we felt we needed a “do-over.”
Out of all nine countries we had visited to that point, this was the biggest disappointment to date when it came to food.
BUT – that didn’t ruin the date!!
We continued our exploring and found ourselves checking out perfume samples, investigating wine options and reading about the gardens. As I am currently in the market for a new perfume (mine is no longer being sold), we had fun shopping around, eventually finding something small to test ~ that Hubby ended up not liking once we got home and I started using it.
Go figure, right?
We also took the time to watch Impressions de France, the 18-minute panoramic movie that features chateaus, forests, hot air balloons, cyclists and more. The film makes it perfectly clear why France is the muse for so many writers, musicians and painters. It certainly had us entranced and eager to add France to ~ at least ~ MY travel bucket list!
Aside from the enormously inconsiderate group that planted themselves in front of us, I think this may possibly be my favorite of the World Showcase films. For one reason, there are seats! The second reason is because it isn’t a complete 360° film, which tends to send me into a crazy dizzy spell. I was able to focus and not have Hubby catch me when I started to fall from the vertigo.
Sweet ending to First Date
We did find a way to add a delicious treat to our day. On our way out of the movie, we once again passed by the L’artisan des Glaces, which is a VERY popular ice cream parlour. While I am not able to devour an ice cream cone without suffering certain consequences, I can enjoy it in tiny amounts – and that we did.
We walked in and found a delicious looking seasonal macaron ice cream sandwich~ pumpkin spice, to be exact ~ to share. Yes, it was small and, yes, we shared it. We weren’t that hungry and were actually a little hesitant after our last dessert attempt. We just wanted to change the taste in our mouth from that black and white piece of styrofoam we bit into earlier in the afternoon. The macaron sandwich, however, was absolutely delicious and I wish we could have enjoyed more of it.
Now, while we did not enjoy one this trip, there is a dessert that comes highly recommended from many of my friends. How many of you have had the Croque Glacé? This is a treat that includes one scoop of ice cream with the Guest’s choice of sauce sandwiched in a homemade brioche. It is then pressed warm before being handed over to consume.
Oh – Em – Goodness……it just SOUNDS yummy! Like I said, however, that’s just too much ice cream for this tender tummy and Hubby was not up for as much sweetness at that point (I know, strange, right?).
We pretty much ended our date that day with that delicious macaron. However, while we enjoyed our time together, for some reason that quick service meal really put a grey cloud over our heads about the date as a whole.
We made a dinner reservation to try one of the table service restaurants.
The second date
As noted above, there are two table service restaurants in the France Pavilion. One is more expensive than the other, but we had already been to the other approximately five or six years prior. However, there were no reservations available for Monsieur Paul on our desired calendar date, so we made one with Chefs de France.
Our Second Dining Experience at Chefs de France
We had dined as at this venue as a family back in 2012, just after our son had taken his first year of French. It wasn’t the best experience at that point ~ found a hair in my wine, my water glass literally broke in front of me without anything touching it. It just wasn’t stellar. However, we surprisingly had high hopes for redemption with this visit.
I made our reservation for earlier in the day. In fact, it happened to be one of the FIRST reservations of the day and we were the FIRST Guests to be seated. I guess you can say we “opened” the restaurant (which provided for some GREAT photos!)
We were led to and seated right by the front window, which had its pros and cons. It was a pro because we had great seats to watch Serveur Amusant. However, the con was that those walking would glance often to see what we were eating.
Well, it really wasn’t that bad.
Our server, Cyril, approached very quickly and had the most beautiful accent, though my crazy hearing had difficulty understanding him at times. Cyril went through the specials, the rundown of the restaurant and talked to us about various beverage options. He was very pleasant, had a beautiful smile on his face and was extremely patient.
While Hubby stuck with water that day, I ordered a Vesper Martini, which had gin, vodka and a Lillet wine. It was a little sweet, but not overpowering. I enjoyed it ~ including the foam at the top (which was not heavy, so it did NOT affect me like a whipped cream would).
The ambiance was perfect. There was French music playing overhead and we felt as if we were able to relax (beyond grateful the boys are old enough to allow for us to do this!). Within minutes of being seated, things began to stir outside as we watched the entertainment begin to make its way to a spot on the promenade. We spent the next ten or so minutes watching one Cast Member bravely climb and balance himself on top of several wooden chairs!!!
I could never – just never…
WHAT DO YOU THINK?: We had a chat with Cyril about how those chairs stay in place. I’m thinking magnets – anyone else know or have a guess?
Okay, So What Did We Order This Time Around?
As what seems to have become our habit, we ordered two appetizers and shared an entree. For our appetizers, we ordered a cup each of the Lobster Bisque and the French Onion Soup. Originally, I was going to eat the French Onion Soup because I had just had Lobster Bisque elsewhere. However, within bites of each of us trying our own appetizers, we switched bowls.
The French onion soup (Soupe à l’oignon gratinée) actually lacked the standard salty flavor I’m used to enjoying. Don’t get me wrong – it was good, but not spectacular.
The Lobster Bisque (Bisque de Homard) on the other hand was amazing. Okay – but now I have a confession to make….
I really shouldn’t be eating things containing direct shellfish. Yup – I do have a small allergy and, yes, my lips did start to tingle (just like they did the time previous)…but I’M OKAY!!! I am in no way as severely allergic as our son is to eggs, peanuts or tree nuts. I do know my limits. However, I actually, as much as I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Lobster Bisque, do not think I’ll be doing it again. (insert HUGE sigh)
For our actual main dish, we shared the Poulet fermier à la Layonnaise, pomme puree. This was delish!! It was a Lyon style roasted chicken served with tomatoes and vinegar sauce, along with a side of mashed potatoes. They brought a second plate and we split the meal in half fairly easily. The chicken was wonderful – loved it. However, the potatoes lacked a little something. They were good – just lacked….maybe it was sour cream. I don’t know. It wasn’t very well seasoned either, but the sauce on that chicken was perfection.
I have a favorite. Hands down, I absolutely love, love, love creme brulee. Fortunate for me, Hubby was willing to let me choose the dessert and we indulged a fabulous dish of my ultimate favorite treat.
Cast Member Highlight!!!
Okay, so here is the part so many of you guys enjoy. I’ve heard some clear chEARing when it comes to highlighting a Cast Member during our Disney dates. Well, unfortunately, the first trip to the Pavilion did not lend itself to speaking with anyone in particular. I think that probably contributed to the downward spiral of that particular event. However, this go round we were able to spend some time chatting away with our server, Cyril. Cyril was more than willing to share his Disney story with us!
(OH, MY GOSH ~ I FORGOT TO TAKE A PIC!!!!)
Cyril is a young gentleman from Toulouse, France, which we found out is closer to the Spain border and approximately eight hours from Paris. In fact, Cyril has only been to Paris once or twice and isn’t as impressed by it as the rest of the world. Instead, when back home, he prefers to pop over to Andorra in the Pyrenees Mountains where things just happen to be a little cheaper.
Cyril is here through one of the Walt Disney World International Programs. At the time of our visit with him at Chefs de France, he was four months into his year-long stay. This is his first time in the United States and his very first time working with Disney.
I know, right? He lived in France, but never worked for Disneyland Paris! I was shocked, too!
Cyril went to school for culinary arts and eventually moved to the United Kingdom to begin his career as a cook. When he returned to France, however, he found a job as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant and that ultimately inspired him to think a little more about where he wanted to go with his career. While he still loves to cook, he found that he enjoyed being face to face with customers, so he decided that he would stick with this a little longer and perhaps consider training to be a bartender in the future.
When asked why he applied for the International Program with Disney, Cyril was quick to point out that he loves an adventure. Having never been to the United States, this, combined with his passion for working in the restaurant setting, created the perfect scenario for him. When he’s not working, he loves to play guitar and tries to find opportunities here and there to play when he is out and about in Orlando.
Notre deuxième rendez-vous était-il un succès???
Was our second date a success?
I would say that our second visit to the France Pavilion went very well. It was a gorgeous day. The food was good. The entertainment was fun and captivating. Our server was dazzling and, as always, we had the opportunity to spend quality time together at our one of favorite places in the world (ha! That’s a funny pun).
Have you been to France? What’s your favorite thing to do when visiting this Pavilion? Have you dined here and, if so, where? I’d love to hear YOUR stories about visiting the France Pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot. Feel free to share a story down below or tell me what part of our time there fascinated you the most. I can’t wait to hear from all of you!!
Be sure to check out these Dating Around World Showcase pieces!!!
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