We continue our tour around World Showcase with a visit to the main quick service arm of the France Pavilion, after considering a review of the all-day menu and the current state of (Les) Chefs de France in this post.
For whatever reason, Les Halles is not an ordinary haunt for the website and as much as I am ashamed to admit it, it may well be an out of sight, out of mind sort of thing.
Or it might be the somewhat convoluted ordering process. You wait in the initial line with a different menu on three different sides and hope whoever is at the front of the first station notices your presence and then bothers to see if you’re interested in ordering anything in between shuffling croissants and other people’s orders.
It might be the fact that you have to wait in said line to see what the various items look like and even then, you’re not going to have much of an opportunity to see given how low to the ground the cases stand and how spaced out all of the items sit.
It might be the harsh lighting in the often crowded, cramped, loud seating/standing area.
And it might be that in the history of the world, nobody has ever wanted to hear me butcher the pronunciation of “Pissaladière.”
But it might be a mistake that I bypass it so often and in turn, a mistake if you do as well. Because a lot of what Les Halles offers is reasonably priced and freshly prepared.
Said Pissaladière – Tomatoes, Olives and (probably not really) Gruyere Cheese is a great value at $4.50 or a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan – a substantial portion that’s freshly toasted with plenty of swiss cheese and other toppings. I just wish it was a little easier to communicate that this is what I wanted.
Now there is some debate over where the word “Viennoiseries” comes from and how it/they differ from “Pâtisseries” or “Boulangeries.” If you are interested, this post is helpful: https://jeparleamericain.com/a-french-pastry-primer/, but then you might question everything you think you know when you find out that the croissant is actually from Austria and more specifically, Vienna. Most of these items are available for a snack credit, though they have not quite gotten to the “items over $5 are okay too” as we’ve seen funnel cakes north of $8 included, in addition to $7 candy apples and other items.
A look at the case:
As I mentioned previously, it’s a lot to take in with more than 20 dessert items located on two levels across a wide counter, in addition to the variety of sandwiches, quiche, salads, and other items. Try to note the French name of what you’re interested in ordering on the menus overheard as the ingredients/English words won’t be listed on the displays. The good news is perhaps that it’s hard to go wrong as portions are typically larger and quality typically higher than just about any quick service pastry/cupcake/viennoiseries/dessert at Epcot outside of perhaps Sunshine Seasons. And that comment is specifically aimed at the various Food/Wine/Flower/Garden kiosks if you find yourself in the area.
As previously mentioned, the lighting in the seating area is particularly harsh, I was without a flash, and it was dark out, so these pictures don’t make the food look particularly appetizing. But I wouldn’t let that deter you from ordering anything.
This is the $6.75 Tartine Aux Fromages – Country Bread, tomato sauce, swiss, parmesan and goat cheese. It’s very light on the tomato sauce, making this much more of a cheesy bread situation than a French bread pizza. But it works very well with the creamy tang from the goat cheese in the center contrasting nicely with the other salty cheeses and the sauce providing just a little bit of tomato-y sweetness. I don’t think I would necessarily wait in line for this specifically, but it’s a nice choice if the group is headed inside and you’re looking for a substantial snack.
This is the $7.75 Croissant Salé – Eggs, Cheese, and Bacon Croissant, which is a somewhat new addition.
The fact that the egg appeared to be some sort of reheated patty was a bit of a bummer, but the overall flavor didn’t suffer tremendously because of it. The croissant remains flaky and buttery and there is a considerable amount of melted cheese along with three slices of crispy bacon.
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie opens with the Park, which is typically at 9am. Only the Frozen attractions will be operating at that time, but you can walk freely through Canada/United Kingdom/France Pavilions either from the main entrance or the International Gateway. This makes no sense from a touring efficiency standpoint as waits only build at the priorities in Future World, but you can theoretically grab a mimosa and one of the better theme park breakfast sandwiches in the Croissant Salé as quickly as you can walk to the French bakery. Personally, I would hit at least a couple Future World priorities before beginning my trek through World Showcase no earlier than 10:30am, but it’s an option for those that prefer to enjoy the peaceful early morning ambiance over the rush of Test Track.
The $3.95 Beignet – filled with chocolate and hazelnuts, like the Croissant Salé , is not on Disney’s online menu.
And while this is perhaps the worst cross section picture of all time, there is quite a bit of Nutella hiding beneath what ended up being basically layers of tender pastry. The texture and density reminded me a lot of a Krispy Kreme filled doughnut much more so than you would receive at Port Orleans Riverside or Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, but I don’t mean that at all negatively and my eyes lit up after taking the first bite. It’s a light, airy viennoiseries that isn’t at all oily or at all hollow, though there is some powdered sugar involved. Really quite good for what it is though they may want to figure out a better translation for “Nutella filled doughnut.”
One final item in what is listed as the $5.75 Macaron on the menu – “Macaroon [sic] with raspberry & lime cream.” They do a nice job with this with the exterior of each meringue-like cookie offering a crisp texture before giving way to a slightly chewy center. The fresh, fruity flavors from the plump raspberries are enhanced by the sweetness of the jam and a slight tartness to the lime cream. It’s probably overpriced by a dollar, but delicate, handmade desserts probably deserve a slight premium.
Overall, I am probably wrong in my apprehension about visiting Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie, though I wish they would offer some printed menus to offer a better idea about what’s available and perhaps for the sake of being able to more easily identify whether it’s the Quiche Lorraine or Quiche Florentine that I’m after. And to never have to say Pissaladière out loud again. On the entree front, the sandwiches are also more unique than I give them credit for, though I have never really gone to Epcot and been like, “sandwich time.”
But Les Halles is one of the best stops for a hearty snack or a shareable dessert with a lot of variety, fresh flavors, and unique offerings. And I think most people enjoy it more than I do.
A few items in the gift shop:
Now that I’ve convinced myself that I like Les Halles, while perhaps convincing you that you don’t, we’ll have to return to France to take a better look around.
I think we might take another visit out to Animal Kingdom next. Maybe some nighttime stuff.