France

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France
Francepavilionnight.jpg
The France pavilion at night.
Epcot
Land World Showcase
Opening date October 1, 1982
Number of Attractions 1
Number of Restaurants 3

France is a pavilion located within World Showcase in Epcot. It is located between the Morocco and The United Kingdom.

Pavilion History and Layout

Original Designs and Changes

While the France pavilion was also going to be a part of World Showcase, the pavilion’s design and layout changed many times. Early designs of the pavilion show that theater which would eventually house Impressions de France was at one time going to be round [1]. This design suggests that Imagineers may have originally intended the film to be a CircleVision 360 film, although this in unconfirmed. According Richard Beard’s book, Walt Disney’s EPCOT: Creating the New World of Tomorrow [2], the pavilion's layout changed drastically before it was built:

“With the best will in the world, there was still not complete agreement among the EPCOT team during the planning of the France pavilion. One of the first concept sketches was of the Place du Tertre, the artists’ colony up near the cathedral of Sacré-Coeur. Then the Moulin Rouge and the Place Pigalle were considered, but the French advisers thought that was “tacky.” (It is; but tourists still love it.)

Sacré-Coeur itself, when they tried to build it to scale, looked rather Muscovite to a lot of people, with its onion-type domes. But the Eiffel Tower is unmistakable; it is one of a kind”

Walt Disney’s EPCOT: Creating the New World of Tomorrow

At one time plans for the pavilion also called for the creation of an animated map. Guests would be able to push a button on the map to learn about what was happening in the countries’ various regions including: the coasts of Normandy and Brittany, the skiing areas, the Riviera, and the wine country [1]. Another unused plan for the France pavilion called for an Exposition Hall based on Les Halles in Paris. The hall would have showed displays of France's provincial regions, as well as an information center [3].

Layout and History Since Opening

Concept Art for the France Pavilion, showing the Palais du Cinema as round.

The France pavilion opened with the rest of World Showcase on October 1, 1982 [4]. The pavilion is themed to look like Paris between the years 1871–1914, which is known as La Belle Époque (The Beautiful Age) in France [3]. The back of the pavilion incorporates the small towns and provinces in France, in the form of “Le Petite Rue” a small, quaint street. One way that guests can enter the pavilion is by crossing a metal bridge. The bridge is based on the Point des Arts (the first metal bridge in Paris) and the waterway that it crosses is meant to represent the Seine River [5]. The focal point of the pavilion is a re-creation of the Eiffel Tower, which was built at approximately 1/10 scale of the original [5]. Also of note is a park based on “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island La Grande Jatte” by the French artist Georges Seura [5]. Although the park is pleasant to look at, it is not accessible to guests.

When the France pavilion originally opened, it featured two table service restaurants: Les Chefs de France, and Au Petit Café. Both restaurants proved to be extremely popular, and due to demand the Bistro de Paris was built in 1984 [6]. This new table service restaurant was constructed on the second floor of the Les Chefs de France restaurant [7], replacing the office buildings that were previously housed there. Another change to France’s restaurants came in 1997, when Disney decided to merge Au Petite Café with Les Chefs de France [8]. The restaurant reopened as an expanded version of Les Chefs de France later that year [8]. On January 10, 2013, an expanded bakery called Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie opened in the France pavilion [9].

Besides its many restaurants and shops, the France pavilion is also home to the Impressions de France attraction. This film is shown in the Palais du Cinema, which was based on a theater in Fontainebleau [8]. Impressions De France is a travelogue which shows guests various regions of France, while a score of classical music arranged by Buddy Baker plays [3].

On July 15, 2017, Disney announced that a version of the Ratatouille: The Adventure attraction from France's Disney Studios Park would be constructed in the France pavilion [10]. The new attraction is expected to open in time for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary in 2021.

Attractions

Impressions de France- This travelogue film shows guests various sights in France on a 180 degree screen. The scenes in the film are set to a score arranged by Buddy Baker.

A small courtyard in front of the entrance to Impressions de France.

Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure- On this interactive adventure, guests use a "F.O.N.E." (Field Operative Notification Equipment) to help Agent P. stop Dr. Doofenshmirtz, by looking for clues throughout World Showcase. The adventure is based on the Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb.

Restaurants

Les Chefs de France- This table service restaurant features a menu created by the three famous chefs, Paul Bocuse, Gaston Lenotre and Roger Verge.

Monsieur Paul- This table service restaurant is located on the floor above Chefs de France. From 1094 until 2012 the restaurant was known as Bistro de Paris.

Les Halles Boulangerie Paitisserie- This counter service restaurant sells French pastries, sandwiches and snacks.

L'Artisan des Glaces- This ice cream parlor opened in 2013.

Shopping

Plume et Palette- This shop sells French fragrances, soaps and handbags. At one time guests could go to the second floor of the store and buy impressionist prints; however this floor is no longer open to guests.

Givenchy- This shop offers the entire line of Givenchy fragrances and cosmetics.

La Signature- This shop carries Guerlain fragrances for men and women. The shop was redesigned in 2007 to resemble the original La Maison Guerlain boutique in Paris.

Les Vins des Chefs de France This shop offers various French wines as well as wine tasting.

L’Esprit de Provence- Located across from Les Vins des Chefs de France, this store sells kitchenware, silverware and cookbooks.

Souvenirs de France- This large shop sells various French merchandise. Guests can also find France's Kidcot station here. Souvenirs de France was originally known as Galarie des Halles.

Live Entertainment

Serveur Amusant- This comical waiter performs a 20 minute juggling show, usually on Wednesdays through Sundays.

Fun Facts and Trivia

  • In 1989 the bridge found in the France pavilion was expanded to accommodate International Gateway (Epcot Center's second entrance) [3]
  • If guests look closely on the banks of the Seine, they can see an easel and painting. The painting is of International Gateway [5].
  • On the other side of the bridge, another painting can be found- this one is of the bridge itself[5].
  • Large green boxes line the shore of the Seine. These are common in France as many secondhand booksellers store their merchandise in similar structures[5].
  • In the lobby outside Impressions de France, guests can see the Spitting Gargoyle. The statue is a replica of one of the gargoyles that guard the Cathedral of Notre Dame. The gargoyle was made from a cast of the original [8].
  • The France pavilion was dedicated on October 20, 1982 [4]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 http://progresscityusa.com/2010/04/15/elseworlds-epcot-centers-french-circlevision/
  2. Walt Disney's EPCOT: creating the new world of tomorrow Richard Beard - Walt Disney - H.N. Abrams - 1982
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 http://www.martinsvids.net/?p=121
  4. 4.0 4.1 http://thisdayindisneyhistory.homestead.com/epcotgrandopening.html
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2011/09/epcots_france_pavilion_part_on.html
  6. https://d23.com/a-to-z/bistro-de-paris/
  7. The EPCOT explorer's encyclopedia: R. Pedersen - Epcyclopedia Press - 2011
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 http://land.allears.net/blogs/jackspence/2011/09/france_pavilion_part_two.html
  9. http://www.wdwmagic.com/dining/boulangerie-patisserie/news/10jan2013-photos---epcot's-france-pavilion-new-les-halles-boulangerie-pattiserie-now-open.htm
  10. http://www.wdwmagic.com/attractions/ratatouille/news/16jul2017-ratatouille-coming-to-epcots-france-pavilion.htm