Recently, during a return trip to beautiful Gapyeong and its Nami Island, we decided to check out another tourist spot in the area. Gapyeong's lush countryside offers quite a few attractions -- in addition to Nami, two of the most popular are the Garden of Morning Calm and Petite France. We made this visit to Gapyeong while my sister was here, having taken the long way home from her teaching job in France. So, obviously, we had to visit the French "village" in Korea.
Since my sister had just finished a school year's worth of living and working in France, we approached Petite France with a healthy dose of skepticism. Petite France is best known for being the filming location of several popular Korean dramas: "Beethoven Virus," "Secret Garden," and the more recent hit, "My Love from the Star," which is what draws quite a few tourists to this spot.
It looks awfully adorable, and according to my sister, it's not entirely unauthentic. The brightly colored houses are nearly stacked right on top of one another, with narrow, winding stairways and quaint balconies. It was pretty surreal to wander through the little pathways and almost forget that we were in the middle of the Korean countryside.
Lots of cute little patios like this.
From the far end, where there's a lookout spot onto Petite France and the nearby lake.
Petite France has quite a few spots of interest as you wander through, including a memorial hall/museum about the author of The Little Prince, Saint-Exupery. (Statues of le petit prince can be found all over, actually, so keep an eye out!)
There are a couple little souvenir shops, selling kitchsy items geared towards the typical Francophile, as well as some antique shops selling (and just displaying) an assortment of items from France. These items included everything from decorative plates all the way to unnervingly dilapidated puppets and dolls.
Nope. No. No, thank you, sir.
Honestly, while it looks so picturesque and we got a kick out of their mini-Eiffel Tower, we were somewhat underwhelmed by the whole experience. It's a fun stop to make if you're touring around Gapyeong, but we were happy that it wasn't our sole destination. After about an hour and a half, we were ready to leave and we made our way to Nami Island.
So, Petite France isn't bad, especially if you're a K-drama fan (which I am not, hence me missing some of the appeal of this place), but here are some things we wish we had known, so you can be better prepared for your own visit:
We knew it was small, but it was still somehow smaller than anticipated. We really stretched out our time there to make the trip feel worthwhile.
Very limited food options. In my online research prior to going, I read about a restaurant in Petite France that served decent European food. We had been banking on eating here, only to find that it was closed. Apart from this one restaurant, all other food options are of the cafe and street food variety, which is fine, but not really what we wanted. So, I would recommend bringing a lunch and eating it on one of the terraces in between the little houses.
The shuttle bus to Petite France from Gapyeong Station is convenient, but nauseating. Fellow motion sickness sufferers: you've been warned.
Have you visited Petite France? Would you recommend it or any other spots in Gapyeong? Leave a comment below!
Between studying Japanese and Asian culture in university and setting her sights on a teaching career, it came as no surprise when Zannah Smreker announced that she was moving to South Korea to teach for Chungdahm Learning. In November 2011, Zannah accepted a position through Aclipse with the Songdo branch in Incheon, just southwest of Seoul. When she's not teaching, she keeps herself busy with exploring Korea, eating all the street food, and hunting down strange Engrish shirts. Check out her blog here for more of her adventures!