Architecture and Gardens As you approach France from the bridge near United Kingdom you will feel the change in atmosphere. The bridge is a replica of Ponts des Arts, a pedestrian bridge that crosses the River Seine. The garden flowers, colors, and trees are designed to provide an Impressionist lens for the entire pavilion. The beautiful park between the French buildings and International Gateway, next to the canal, is inspired by the great Post-Impressionist French painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. You may feel like you are immersed in a threedimensional recreation of the famous painting. It is appropriate that paintings take front seat here, as France takes great pride in its artistry. Look at the Morris Column surrounded by trees and park benches. It is not covered with advertisements for shows, but rather with famous French paintings. Along the wall by World Showcase Lagoon, you will see a box of paintings, artists’ tools, an old camera, and other items. There are also modern-day artists waiting to create a portrait or caricature of you while you wait, or perhaps you would rather have an umbrella hand-painted just for you to shade you from the sun. When most people think of Paris, the Eiffel Tower immediately comes to mind. The Epcot version was built according to the original building plans, but is only one-tenth the size of the original. It can best be seen from outside of the France Pavilion, towering over the city below. Disney Imagineers have made good use of forced perspective to allow guests to see the Eiffel Tower, but at a bit of a distance so that it doesn’t overpower the rest of the pavilion. It is sized to be about one mile away from the streets. You’re unable to see the base, because it is not visible beyond the roof line. To the right is an elegant, formal boxwood garden surrounded by seasonal flowers. The boxwood is shaped into a curly, maze-like pattern and nicely fills in the foreground on the right side as you face the pavilion.
Down the center is a long fountain; the sounds of the water mix with the lilting melodies of French music playing in the background. To the left is Les Chefs de France, a table-service restaurant with white tablecloths and a well-dressed waitstaff. If you peek in the windows, you will see elegant tables set with china, silverware, glass goblets, fresh napkins, and tablecloths. The windows are shaded by small trees that line the walkway nearby. Behind the water fountain there is a raised planting bed that holds different plantings seasonally. Above Les Chefs de France is another restaurant, Monsieur Paul, which is a signature Disney table-service restaurant. The entrance is located on the street behind Les Chefs de France. Monsieur Paul is perfect for a special evening, such as an anniversary, honeymoon, engagement, or anything romantic. Next is a small back street, which is one of the best parts of the France Pavilion. It is lined with small caf tables, and it leads to two special must-visit places. At the end there are three archways leading into Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie. To your left is a turret and the entrance to L’Artisan des Glaces Artisan ice cream and sorbet shop.
Along the right hand side are doorways to little shops that will be mentioned below. It is best to visit Les Halles first to grab a meal and a beverage. If you still have room, visit L’Artisan des Glaces second. (Who doesn’t have enough room for ice cream?) These are both quick-service locations and the bakery opens well before the rest of World Showcase, making it the perfect spot for a leisurely breakfast. Heading back out of Les Halles there are shops on the left that include a fine wine cellar that connoisseurs won’t want to miss. Back in the center of the pavilion is the entrance to Impressions de France, the main attraction in the pavilion. This is a well-made film showcasing the country’s architecture, landscape, history, and people. It is worth your time, and it might make you want to move to France. The Palais du Cinema is based on Chateau de Fontainebleau, but on a much smaller scale. (The original Chateau has over 1500 rooms.) You will be greeted by friendly French cast members as you enter. You may find yourself doing a double-take as you step onto a stone patio with iron garden benches and windows that you can look into to learn more about French landmarks. The details regarding Notre Dame de Paris are especially interesting. There is a reproduction of the Spitting Gargoyle of Notre Dame, which was made from a direct cast of the original at the cathedral. It was also the inspiration for the gargoyle named Laverne in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The film’s other two comedic gargoyles were named Victor and Hugo, after Victor Hugo who wrote the original The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
France Pavilion Travel Photo Gallery