French Country Meal At Epcot Transports You To France

French Family Meals dessert

Sondra enjoys her birthday dessert during French Family Meal Traditions, a special event held during The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. (photos by Sondra Shapiro and David Budnik)

By Sondra L. Shapiro

France holds a very special place in my heart.

The history, scenery, culture and, of course, the food and wine are irresistible draws.

Walt Disney World is equally special, and since the International Food and Wine Festival happens during my birthday, a visit was the best gift for this foodie.

The 75-day event that runs until Nov. 12 features more than 30 global food and beverage marketplaces, cooking presentations, celebrity chefs giving lectures and demonstrations, special events, dinners and countless seminars that feature wine and food pairings and your favorite libations.


WDW: Epcot Food & Wine Event Has Something For Everyone

When I began perusing events for my recent visit, the French Family Meal Traditions lunch under Specialty Dining & Pairings caught my eye. The meal at Monsieur Paul in Epcot’s France pavilion would provide a “taste” of France during my Disney trip — the perfect way to usher in my milestone birthday.

The experience turned out to be my favorite activity to date. That’s saying a lot since I have attended the Wine and Food Festival  numerous times over the years and have participated in most of the event offerings.

Many Disney visitors are familiar with the very popular Chefs de France restaurant, which is visible from the World Showcase promenade. Tucked away upstairs is Monsieur Paul, an elegant dining establishment with first-class fare that pays homage to the famed late French chef, Paul Bocuse.

Once inside, it’s easy to believe you are no longer in the theme park with its frenetic atmosphere and crowds. Perfectly placed tables near the restaurant’s tall windows offer a bird’s eye view of the happenings outside for diners who want the best of both worlds.

Casual elegance came to mind as we first set eyes on the dining room. French country décor and architecture, along with white linens, modern-looking glass chandeliers and shades of cream, burgundy and yellow helped create the ideal atmosphere for the gastronomic experience to come.

As my husband and I were escorted to our table for two, I took note of the numerous mementoes of Chef Bocuse, who achieved three Michelin stars —  the highest rating — for 48 straight years at his famous Lyon restaurant, Auberge du Pont de Collognes.

While the  Monsieur Paul menu is built on the Bocuse tradition of French classical cuisine and created by Chef Nicolas Lemoyne who worked with Chef Bocuse in his restaurant in Lyon for 15 years, our host explained, the lunch draws inspiration from those long, informal meals served in private homes for family and friends.

The menu draws inspiration from informal meals served in private homes.


As our host described the day’s menu, we sipped on a Lillet rose and tonic water and munched on smoked salmon and lemon cream atop a delicate little dill roll — salty and sweet, yummy!

Lillet rose and tonic water

Smoked salmon & lemon cream atop a dill roll

Nothing was rushed during our visit, giving us ample time to savor each bite and sip. Our waiter, Benjamin, treated us like welcome guests and was happy to take time to talk to us about his life in France and his future plan to train further in Australia then buy a farm/restaurant someday.

Benjamin, our waiter

For the first course, Albert Bichot 2016 — a light, fruity Chablis — was poured in anticipation of the sweet pea soup with duck rillettes (a pâté-like dish traditionally comprised of a shredded protein, spices and Armagnac). The addition of sweet, creamy carrot puree was the perfect offset to the savory, rich duck.

When our server brought over crusty baguettes, we couldn’t resist liberally spreading them with the duck. Then we realized we still had that small bowl of pea soup waiting. Warm, delicate and fresh, the tastes perfectly balanced the rillettes.

Albert Bichot 2016

Sweet pea soup with duck rillettes

As we ate, wine was free-flowing with generous pours to start. In fact, my husband and I observed the initially subdued group of about 50 diners became louder and more boisterous as the meal progressed. Isn’t that how guests should be treated during a real French country meal? Generosity abounds, which leads to laughter and great conversation.

Next the “Plat de Resistance” — a rustic braised beef, fork tender and bathed in rich, red Burgundy wine along with creamy mashed potatoes and crisp carrots and Brussels sprouts served in individual Le Creuset pots.

Our entree was paired with a 2015 Albert Bichot Pinot Noir Secret de Famille, a simple Burgundy with hints of cherry and tart acidity that complemented the robust flavors of the dish.

Burgundy wine braised beef was paired with a 2015 Albert Bichot Pinot Noir Secret de Famille.

Not wanting to waste a drop, those baguettes came in handy for sopping up the luscious wine sauce.

No French meal would be complete without a cheese course — the day’s offering was a wedge of buttery, nutty brie from Normandy, accompanied by a 2015 Bordeaux, Chateau Tour de Prignac, Médoc. This well-balanced, full-bodied wine, with hints of spice and cherry enhanced the fatty earthiness of the cheese.

Brie from Normandy

Lest we forget the occasion, sweet Benjamin presented my dessert with a lit candle. An architectural work of art comprised of strawberry mousse, lemon mousseline cream, strawberries, meringue crowned with a Valrhona Waina white chocolate sphere and basil sorbet on the side. I was hesitant to ruin this whimsically presented dessert, but satisfying my sweet tooth won out.

The toothsome confection was paired with Le Grand Courtage Blanc de Blanc Brut — a dry, light bubbly to cap off a perfect afternoon.

Strawberry mousse, lemon mousseline cream, strawberries, meringue crowned with a Valrhona Waina white chocolate sphere and basil sorbet.

As we sat sipping our sparkling wine, our host introduced the cooks and staff, who took a spin around the dining room as we applauded and profusely thanked them for a job well done.

After a mere three hours, fully satiated with generously-portioned courses and many glasses of wine we decided to join the masses outside for a long walk.

A different wine was served with each course.

As we got up from our seats, we noticed many guests were lingering, waiters were still pouring and the clinking of wine glasses and laughter followed us out the door. C’est Magnifique!

If this is how French countryside meals go, book me on the next plane to France. Or better yet, I should get a head start on reserving this experience for next year.

French Family Meal Traditions is held on select Fridays and Sundays from noon to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $95 per person (a terrific value since portions are generous and wine pours are hefty with refills), plus tax, gratuity included. To reserve call 407-939-3378. Disney Vacation Club members may call 800-800-9800.

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