Robert's Impressions de France
Written by Robert NilesPARIS - "Among gentle spirits of the air, my France awakens with the early dawn."
Published: July 16, 2012 at 9:16 AM
(Monet's garden, in Giverny)
Loyal Theme Park Insider readers will remember that I've called Epcot's Impressions de France the greatest theme park movie ever made. But until this week, that movie represented my closest encounter with the nation of France, as I'd never before visited Europe.
Except in a theme park. ;^)
But this month, I brought my wife and daughter to London and Paris for two weeks, and while in the Paris area, we just had to experience some of the sights we'd feel in love with thanks to Rick Harper's exquisite film.
"The majestic gardens of Versailles - the magic window into a golden age of kings."
(The Temple of Love in the gardens of the Petite Trianon at Versailles)
(The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. There were a few more people there when we visited than when the movie was filmed.)
(In the Gardens of Versailles)
"In distant towns, in quiet villages, within the heart of all my people dwells the secret heart of the vagabond."
So of course we had to take a bike tour through the French countryside. And a train ride to get there.
We booked a bike tour of Giverny to visit Claude Monet's home and gardens, through Fat Tire Bike Tours in Paris. This might have been my favorite experience in France - a great trip through the lovely French countryside, not hidden away inside some fortress-like tour bus, but pedaling and walking our way through a delightful part of the country. And, yes, we relived many Disney fans' favorite moment in the movie by shopping at a patisserie, to stock up for a picnic along the Seine.
Since we visited in July, we didn't get the chance to go skiing in the Alps. Nor did we venture too far away from Paris, to Mont Saint-Michel, the chalk cliffs of Normandy or "to the golden glow of the Riviera." Nor were we invited to a wedding in a French chapel. But Laurie did attend Mass at Notre Dame.
(Look for the hidden Mickeys!)
Just try to imagine that bridge filled with people releasing red, white and blue balloons.
Or the Garde Républicaine riding through the gates of the Louvre.
"Bastille Day. Nothing makes us prouder in all of France than to celebrate the birth of our Republic."
Even though we did visit Paris on Bastille Day, we skipped the crowds lining the Champs-Élysées for the annual parade to take advantage of another July 14 French tradition - free admission to Louvre. And with everyone out on the parade route, we waited just five minutes to get in.
(Cue the Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3, "Organ.")
"Paris. The City of Lights. The living symbol of every age, of every season, across my beloved France."
(Okay, we allowed ourselves some fun after walking the 700-plus steps to the second level of the tower.)
Thank you for visiting Robert's Impressions de France. Please gather all your personal belongings, and watch your step as you exit the blog post.
Tomorrow: We're visiting Disneyland Paris. Please follow Theme Park Insider on Twitter for updates through the day.
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.
Previous article: Vote of the week: Anticipation builds at Universal Studios Florida
Theme Park Insider: Orlando 2014
Get all of Theme Park Insider's reader ratings, tips, and advice for planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, or SeaWorld, in our new 2014 Orlando guidebook! It's more than 200 pages of well-tested, insider information that will help you get the most from your vacation.
Order now: Kindle | iBooks | Paperback | Kindle (UK)
Theme Park Insider Guidebooks
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Other Top International Parks
Readers' Top Themed Rides
Top Roller Coasters
Top Theme Park Shows
Features, News and Advice
2014 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar.
2013 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2012 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2011 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2010 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2009 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2008 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2007 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2006 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2005 Blog PostsDec.
2004-2005Staff column archive