Petite France 쁘띠프랑스

When people plan their day trips to Gapyeong there’s usually three spots people head for. Nami island, the Garden of the Morning Calm, and Le Petite France. Out of the three I would say Nami Island is probably the most popular with the Garden of the Morning Calm in second. The least popular is Le Petite France. It’s not close to the station and requires extra effort to get to down a long winding road. There’s also not a lot to do once there. Many people are there and done within an hour. But if you’re a fan of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novel ‘Le Petit Prince’ then it’s well worth a visit.

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Before I moved out of Gapyeong county I resolved to visit what I thought was the final tourist spot, only to learn of course while on the tour bus that there’s actually a lot more small things to do in the area. So on my last day I headed to Cheongpyeong station and went out exit 2. I stopped at the information booth somewhat resolved to take local transportation to Petite France only to find out I couldn’t. I grabbed a pamphlet in English for Petite France and was told I’d have to take the tour bus. You buy one ticket and it’s good for the whole day, it’s about 6,000 won and check out my post about taking the tour buses and their routes. (You can also catch the bus at Cheongpyeong Bus terminal.)

One of my biggest concerns was about lunch. I’d left in a hurry so that I could be back in time to meet a friend for a goodbye celebration at my favorite cafe and thus lunch hadn’t been had yet. I was concerned as I poured over the map and found no restaurants inside Petite France on the map, only about two or so cafes. However when the bus dropped us off I realized there were places to get food and snacks, several stalls right where the bus dropped off with street food, a restaurant and some convenience stores. I waffled between getting food then or trying my luck in the park. I went with the park.

Tickets are 6,000 won and you can opt to also buy a little piece of cloth for 500 won with your ticket so you can wander around the park collecting stamps. I wanted to do this but too late, since I’d already paid with a card and they weren’t able to put 500 won (almost 50 cents) onto my card. But as I wandered throughout the park looking for stamps I’m somewhat glad that it hadn’t worked out. The goal of the cloth is that you fill it up with all the stamps in the park, and if you do you exchange it for a free post card. (Which they collect and send at the end of the year, so since it was February post cards sent from the park would wait a long time to go out) A fun thing to do with kids I’m sure (or for me to do) but I noticed that at least one of the stamps was missing, making it impossible to complete the task. You also don’t get a cute ticket to keep, when you pay you get a regular old receipt.

My first goal was food. I walked past a cafe near the front to check out one that on my map said it had indoor seating. I found a sign for udon and wandered around in circles near one of the filming sites unable to figure out where the udon sign was for. Turns out all the cafes sell udon. So I just headed to the cafe nearby (Cafe Fennec) and ordered udon and a strawberry smoothie, then I went inside, charged my phone and waited. The seating inside is a bunch of stools along the wall, perfect for people on their own like myself or small groups. Outside on the balcony overlooking some pretty views were picnic benches great for larger groups. There’s also a couple other seating areas with lovely views.

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The udon was…somewhat bland. It hit the spot but wasn’t amazing.

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After my late lunch I wandered around with a new goal, to try and find all the statues I could from the book. They were spread throughout the park and rather fun.

The other “The Little Prince” thing that is definitely worth a visit is the museum. There’s a two level museum filled with art, books, statues, and a French/Korean history of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s life. Apparently if you can read Korean you’ll also find information on his writing process.

Three dramas were filmed at Petite France: “Beethoven Virus”, “Secret Garden”, and “My Love from the Star”. There is a building full of things from Beethoven’s virus for you to visit and walk around.

Near the entrance is also a stage with shows rather often, so you can go and catch a puppet show or marionette show. They’re quite popular with families.

The whole park is pretty kid/family friendly. There’s an entire section dedicated to fairy tales where kid and adults alike can dress up or watch a tiny train go around a model. You can also stay at the park if you want in little houses. It was a fun place to visit, but  “The Little Prince” is one of my favorite stories from when I was a kid.

Petite France is open from 9am until 6pm Sunday through Thursday and from 9am until 8pm Friday and Saturday. The ticket office however closes one hour before closing time.

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