Never ones to pass up a good thing, when we were at Epcot for Memorial Day 2016 we decided to have a quick, but large brunch at the France Pavilion. What we thought would be a quick stop turned into too much food, but it was so worth it.
A little backstory: the day before we’d been in line for Frozen Ever After, which had just opened a couple of weeks before. The ride had a lot of mechanical kinks to work out and we ended up close to boarding when the ride decided it take a time out. The Cast Members were on it, though: FastPass for anything, including Frozen Ever After, for the next three days. We decided to come back the next day if the ride was up and running.
Upon checking the info and finding it was running (thank you Disney World app!) we decided we’d just pop by, grab some breakfast, ride Frozen Ever After, then high-tail it to Animal Kingdom before our FastPasses there started. Since we didn’t plan on being there for more than two activities and Epcot is a famously huge park we did something naughty: we parked at the Boardwalk Resort. Those who know me know I’m a stickler for some rules at Disney parks (hey, I used to work there are I know they exist for a reason), but parking is free and available for non-hotel guests for up to three hours. We’d be gone in two tops. We took the boat into Epcot and quickly made our way to the France Pavilion.
Les Halles Boulangerie and Patisserie are famous for their baked goods (want to start a fight? Ask a fan to choose between Les Halles or Kringla Bakeri in the Norway Pavilion). Upon entering there is ample space for a long queue, but since we came right as World Showcase opened the line was empty. We were greeted by a veritable army of Cast Members ready to assist.
I took French in high school and the lack of daily use has slowly leached it from my brain, but I still can pronounce words in a pretty good accent. I’ve understood that while French people may seem rude or aloof to some, they warm up considerably when you attempt the language. This was clear when I began to order. Much like when we went to L’Artisan des Glaces the Cast Member who helped us was quick to start a conversation in French with me. I held it for about two minutes before conceding to her amusement that my French was very limited (Je parle Francais, mais un peu. Un petit peu.) No matter, since she and the others complimented my language skills as well as our pastry choices.
I won’t lie: our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. We got ourselves a Quiche Lorraine each (egg tart with Gruyère, onions, and lardons aka bacon), a Frangipane (an almond paste-filled pastry), Mousse au Chocolat (the famous chocolate mousse with chocolate pearls), Tarte aux Fraises (strawberry tart with cream), and a special: Brioche avec Confiture (jam filled brioche aka a jelly doughnut).
Again, I cannot lie: we ate it all and we loved it. The quiche was a great savory start to the day. Sometimes the pastry crust can be too thick and sticks in your throat, but not this one. The size was perfect and the ingredients were well-balanced: not too much cheese, not too much lardons. The chocolate mousse was rich, but went well with our other pastries. The brioche was heavenly, and the filling of raspberry jam made it the best doughnut you could get before Disney started selling their own doughnuts. The strawberries in the tart were amazingly fresh and sweet, not tart at all, and the glaze wasn’t heavy. The cream was a bit thick so we did have to ration the berries to get through it all. The Frangipane was my favorite. The pastry is a laminated dough, like a croissant, but inside is a tasty almond paste like you’d find inside a bear claw. It was sweet and nutty without going overboard.
We made it in just in time because after eating for maybe 15-30 minutes the lines were getting long and there were no tables to sit at. People were stalking us waiting for us to finish so they could snatch the table. This is a very popular place so try to go during off hours or grab some items to go and find a seat somewhere outside. The France Pavilion is beautiful and makes a fine outdoor dining room.