When we first heard rumors about Seoul’s “Little France” neighborhood, we thought it might be too good to be true. In this cheese-less land of soju, could it be? Could there really be a place to eat authentic baguettes, drink wine and hear snippets of French on the streets?
My friends, it’s true. Seorae Village is a little bit of Europe, plopped down in Asia. It’s home to 40% of the French community within South Korea. The village began to build up in the mid-eighties, when Lycée Français de Séoul, Seoul’s only international French school moved into the neighborhood. Soon French expats, mostly in the country for business, began to move to the area to be near the school. The neighborhood is nicknamed ”Montmartre” because of its hilltop location and similarity to the famous Parisian neighborhood of the same name. Since we both really like Paris, we figured we’d better go check this place out.
There’s not much to do in Seorae Village other than eat…but the eating is so good. There are loads of French cafes, French and Italian style restaurants, cheese shops, wine bars and some French chain stores, like L’Occitane. Once we actually found the village (it’s pretty tucked away and a little bit of a jaunt from the nearest subway station), we just spent the day walking around, eating, and taking it all in.
We had lunch at an adorable restaurant called Market Vinoflower (more of an Italian than French place), where we ate an amazing caprese-style garden salad (with pesto dressing, yum!), an extremely thin crust gorgonzola pizza, and some delicious wine. Pricey for sure, but definitely worth it. Plus, after our meal, the waiter gave me a rose!
After lunch, we made our way to the (fairly) authentic Paris Croissant Bakery (there’s also a famous coffee chain in Korea called Paris Baguette, but they are MUCH different!). This little gem devotes one whole floor to breads and pastries, the basement houses cheeses, wines, macaroons, soufflés and cakes, and the top floor serves as a cafe. We sampled a delicious blueberry cheesecake and an amazing cappuccino, and then purchased some rustic Italian-style bread on our way out. Everything was pretty pricey here too, but it was so delicious we couldn’t have cared less.
If you’re in Korea and need a little break from it all, Seorae Village is a great place to go and feel as though you’ve temporarily stepped into Europe. The streets don’t really look European, but the atmosphere is not very Korean either. It feels more like an international village than a strictly French village to me–but either way, it’s lovely and definitely worth checking out!
To get to Seorae Village, take Seoul subway line 3 or 7 to the Express Bus Terminal. Then take exit 5 (we didn’t do this and got super lost at first), and then walk down a long pathway lined with trees for several minutes. Once you reach the highway overpass, turn left, cross over the highway, and then follow Seorae road into the village.