A Korean Winter Wonderland: Petit France and Nami Island

Our family arrived at Seoul on a cold December morning in 2013. We were there for a 5-day vacation in between Christmas and New Year’s, right in the middle of winter.

From the airport, our tour package had us scheduled to check out Petite France straight away. This is a quaint little French cultural village located in Gapyeong-gun, which also serves as a youth training center.

It’s a really nice place with puppet shows, an outdoor theater, antique galleries, coffee shops and restaurants, souvenir shops, and even a fountain plaza. You really get to experience French culture here, and guests can stay overnight if so desired. The village even has a memorial hall dedicated to The Little Prince author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and a 200-year old music box on display in Orgel House.

It’s too bad that we don’t have that many pictures of Petite France since we were still adjusting to the early morning cold while we were there. It’s also too bad that none of the painted plates we saw in one shop were for sale. Painted plates happen to be some of my favorite things to collect.

From Petite France, we went off to Nami Island. If you are a Koreanovela fan, chances are you already know why the island has suddenly become so popular among tourists. It is the location where the famous Korean drama Winter Sonata was filmed.

The drive to Nami Island Dock takes about 2.5 hours. It’s a really scenic drive, and along the way we stopped to take photos at a beautiful water dam. When you arrive at the port area you will find many restaurants serving popular Korean dishes. We stopped at one of those restaurants for lunch before heading off to the island.

Our guide, David, and the owner of the restaurant taught us how to cook and eat Dakgalbi, a spicy grilled chicken dish. The cooked chicken is served wrapped in a cabbage leaf along with rice cakes. This gets our vote for the best dish we tasted during our visit to Korea, hands down. The spicy kick went very well with the freezing weather, too.

After lunch, we took a 5-minute ferry ride to reach Nami Island. I’m so happy that every few meters there were fire places where people could huddle and keep warm. It really was so cold!

While there, we took a lot of photos of the beautiful sights, the giant statues and teddy bears, and of course the Winter Sonata memorabilia. We also couldn’t help but throw snowballs at each other. It was so much fun! I especially loved the breathtaking riverside of Nami Island with its gorgeous view.

According to our guide, the best time to come to Nami Island is in April or May when the flowers are in full bloom. During this time, though, there really are a lot of people, as the island is a nice place to go for a picnic or to just hang out.

After spending a few hours on Nami Island, it was time to take the ferry back to the port. We had another long drive ahead of us before finally checking in to our hotel. It was a full but fun first day for us, and we were all ready to relax and unwind.

Vacationing with the family, especially when your kids are big enough to enjoy many different activities and attractions, is a really great way to bond. It also provides busy parents with a way to de-stress, build memories and just spend quality time together.

I truly believe that trips are worth spending your time, money and effort on, be it for work or for leisure. You see, experience, and learn so much, and come home feeling renewed and refreshed. I feel this way, for sure, which is why I look forward to sharing my travel stories with you.

I hope you’ll check out the rest of the posts in my Korea series. You can find them here:

Always remember, travel enriches life. It teaches us to enjoy moments, to say goodbye to stress and embrace joy instead. Experience has taught me this, and I’m happy that I get to share my journeys with you now, too. Anytime you need help and tips finding worry-free, budget-friendly places to see, I’m here to help!