Settled in a beautiful environment and only sixty kilometres from downtown Seoul, Petite France is an interesting place for a short stop on your way to Gapyeong or Nami Island
Petite France is an artificially-made village inspired by European style built in a beautiful and pristine natural area between Cheongpyeong Dam and Nami Island. Located on the busy touristic road to Gapyeong, Nami Island or Garden of Morning Calm, Petite France is usually quite crowded especially during the weekend afternoons.
The concept of the village is to bring European feeling and atmosphere accompanied with cultural experience programs and performances (street flea market with European antiques, melodies from the Orgel and marionette performances). The main theme of the village being Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince, the statues and paintings of the young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid can be seen almost everywhere.
The village atmosphere with its colourful little houses gained popularity among filmmakers and Petite France became the filming place of many Korean TV dramas and entertainment programs. Today many Asian tourists are visiting to eagerly revive the scenes of “Beethoven Virus” ,“Personal Taste”, “My Love from the Star”, “Secret Garden”, “Running Man” and others.
On Petite France official website, you will find the exhaustive list of exhibitions and things to do in the village. If you are really craving for an authentic European experience, just don’t expect too much. The first impressions of the site are pleasant and the views of the surroundings are amazing (particularly the view from the observatory and Butterfly Park), however the village is quite small and the indoor exhibition areas seemed to us rather outdated and disappointing. Most of the exhibits are a poor display of mismatched, kitschy and fake objects pretending to be part of European or French heritage. Another weak point in our opinion is that there is no restaurant (better said there used to be one but it closed its doors). On a sunny day, the wooden deck of Petite Terrace would be the best place to enjoy a good meal while overlooking the Cheongpyeong Dam and the mountains. You can still buy a coffee and slice of pizza in the wooden booth but no hopes for a European style lunch.
Even if we were not fully ‘sold’ on the authenticity and European feel of Petite France, the village may be worth a stop if you are in the area and want to enjoy the beautiful nature with the mountains in the background – particularly now in a wide array of autumn colours.
If you are looking for a restaurant we tried Dakgalbi restaurant 성희네집 – located 5 km west from the village and loved it (경기도 가평군 청평면 고재길 86-297, tel: 031-584-3695)
616 Gosung-Ri Gapyeong-Gun, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
경기도 가평군 청평면 고성리 616
Beware… returns back to Seoul during the weekend late afternoons or evenings can be very very crowded. On the shorter itinerary, the route 75 connecting to the Cheongpyeong-Geumnam section (route 46) can frequently be fully blocked. It took us more than an hour to make the first 15 kilometers. You may consider alternatively to take the longer way through Gapyeong connecting to Gangchon IC. The full trip will be longer, approximately 110 km, but it might be faster if traffic on the Chuncheon-Seoul Highway 60 itself is fluid.
09:00-18:00 (Last admission: 1 hour before closing)
* Seasonally late night opening hours can be extended
Adults: 8,000 won
Teenagers (Middle & High School Students): 6,000 won
Children (ages 3-Elementary School Students): 5,000 won
Seniors (ages 65 & above) / People with Disabilities: 6,000 won