Our coverage of the 2018 edition of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival continues with a look at the relatively-economically-priced Parisian Breakfast in the France Pavilion, which is hosted at (Les) Chefs de France. You may remember that the website has reviewed more than 250 items available from the Festival Marketplaces with an index of the reviews located here.
The Parisian Breakfast is scheduled on Saturdays during the Festival, officially from 9:15am to 10:30am. In reality, the breakfast runs from just after 9am through about 10:45am. You’ll have the easiest time getting over to the France Pavilion early by entering through the International Gateway entrance in between the France and UK Pavilions. We used Uber/Lyft to drop us off at the Beach Club Resort around 8:40am and then walked over to the International Gateway. Guests staying at the Beach Club/Yacht Club/BoardWalk Inn/Swan/Dolphin can easily walk to the International Gateway from their resorts. From elsewhere, those using Disney transportation would need to take the bus to Hollywood Studios from their resort and then walk over to the International Gateway from there, which will take about 20 minutes. Of course, you can enter from the main entrance as well – be sure to head over to the breakfast reservation line for early admittance. As usual, guests were released from the holding area at the International Gateway around 8:50am to head to the attraction of their choice. Those headed to breakfast in France waited in front of the bridge over to the Pavilion until right around 9am, at which point we were released towards Chefs de France. Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, the French quick service bakery, opens daily with the Park. While you may not be able to enjoy the Food and Wine Festival Parisian Breakfast outside of Saturdays during Festival season, you can put together a similar breakfast at the Boulangerie on any other date over the course of the year.
If you’re unfamiliar with the area or would like to see how the rope drop process ordinarily works, you can pull up this post, which covers rope dropping the Frozen Ever After attraction from the International Gateway.
Back to the task at hand, here’s how Disney describes the Parisian Breakfast:
With tax and gratuity, the event costs $42.60 per person, which makes it one of the least expensive special events at the Festival.
The Parisian Breakfast is hosted at Chefs de France, which is not typically open during breakfast. One downside to the event is how crowded it is in the main dining room – every seat is filled and then some. Parties of one or two may also be seated with other parties at community tables that seat six. Erin and I were seated at a two-top table that was “literally” an inch away from another two-top next to us and maybe two inches away from a four-top on the other side. Personally, I don’t necessarily mind the close quarters; it’s always fun to hear about what people have going on during the Festival, but we were so jam-packed into the restaurant that just getting up and angling around people to visit the buffet was a bit of a chore. I don’t think the poor woman sitting next to us could have gotten up if she tried before a couple of people left around 10:30am. On the other hand, those seated away from the main dining area had more room to spread out, but they were also closer to the hustle and bustle of the buffet area. In the picture above, we were seated near the window in the far left corner and the sun was beating down with considerable strength during most of the meal, creating some amount of discomfort. If I were to go the breakfast again, I would request a table away from the window if we were initially seated there both to get away from the bright sun and to have easier access to the buffet line.
We’ll start off with the most important aspect of the Parisian Breakfast – mimosas are included and unlimited. They’re also poured fresh and mixed in your glass at the table. The gentleman to my right requested a glass of sparkling wine without the juice and was accommodated without issue. I like a little bit of orange juice in my mimosas “for color,” and must have drank six or seven perfectly-prepared glasses over the course of the 90-minute experience. At the Boulangerie Patisserie, mimosas cost $7.50 each and are about this large. So if you commit to drinking three over the course of the breakfast, you could say that you’ve already consumed more than half of the value of the event. I don’t think my glass was ever empty for more than a minute and more often than not, the server brought the bottle around to top everyone off.
Non-alcoholic beverages like sodas, coffee, and cappuccinos are also available along with or in place of the mimosas.
Erin and I had been joking about going to “breadfast” for a couple of months leading up to our date, which was Saturday October 6, 2018. Being a Parisian Breakfast, the focus is definitely on carbs.
While our dining room was crowded, there were four identical buffet stations set up in the center of the restaurant. After the initial rush shortly after the event started, there was never a wait to grab anything from the buffet. Everything here is basically the same as what you’d be able to purchase from Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie individually. I don’t think the Chefs de France kitchen was used at all. These croissants are appropriately fluffy, buttery and flaky with a tender bite.
Pain au Chocolat, or Chocolate Croissants, were also plentiful with just the right amount of tiny, rich chocolate chips baked into the dough.
Here’s Berries and Cream Cheese on top of a flaky pinwheel. I appreciated the vibrant fruit along with the creamy quality of the cheese to break up a touch of monotony from all of the bread-heavy items. These were considerably smaller and lighter than the croissants, while still offering a similar buttery quality. Very good.
Next up we have Apple and Almond bars, which were surprisingly sweet with a generic brown sugar flavor and a little bit of an earthy, roasted crunch from the almonds. It wasn’t a personal favorite, but that’s just fine in this context – we each got to try a couple of bites and moved on without wasting any food or feeling like we had spent some money on something that we didn’t really enjoy.
The Lemon Brioche was another buttery extravaganza, this time denser than the croissants with a decidedly zesty quality from the lemon.
Baguettes are involved, of course.
You could grab as many slices as you like.
If I was going to come down on Chefs de France for anything, it’d be their butter selection, which has been these cold, hard, pre-packaged pieces for years. It works better in this grab-and-go context, but they serve the same stuff alongside dinner when you’d think the French could do something a lot more fresh and flavorful.
Fortunately, three flavors of Bonne Maman Preserves were also available, each sweet, fruity, and delicious in their own way.
Four cheeses were available- I’m thinking Brie, Swiss/Gruyere, Goat, and Blue – nothing extravagant, but it tasted good.
As is typical, the thinly sliced fruit was forgettable – riper than what we saw recently at Early Morning Magic at Toy Story Land, but still not as freshly-sliced as you’d hope.
A selection of meats was also available. It was fun to pair with the cheese and baguette.
Halves of Croque Monsieur were plentiful and while they weren’t served hot, they retained their crispy quality with a delicious flavor full of butter, cheese, and ham.
Here’s a lousy picture of my favorite item offered in what was labeled “Tomato and Cheese.”
Here’s an equally terrible picture of what it looks like at Les Halles. This is “Country Bread with Tomato Sauce, Swiss, Parmesan, and Goat Cheese.” There’s just a little bit of tomato, but it goes a long way to flavoring the crunchy, cheesy bread. Really satisfying.
That’s what’s available.
Was it worth the $40? We thought so given the fact that we enjoyed several mimosas and incredibly friendly service over the course of 90+ minutes. It was nice and relaxing to enjoy the brasserie’s bustling atmosphere even if we might have been squished in a little tighter than we would have liked. Compared to what I would have spent for the amount of food at the Boulangerie next door, I easily ate $10 worth of meat and cheese and another $10 worth of Croque Monsieur and Tartine aux Fromages on top of the other various breads. It’s a much worse value proposition for those that either don’t drink or probably won’t be consuming more than one mimosa. You could go next door and easily spend $20 less to fill up on stuff at the bakery and enjoy a similar view outside on the promenade with a lot fewer people around.
But if you’re looking to start your day off right, then the Parisian Breakfast is a smart choice. We had a lot of fun and the experience “feels” special given the fact that there are only eight or nine opportunities a year to enjoy it.