A Snotty Comment On Aeroport Charles De Gaulle

Lynne Kiesling

After flying home from Paris on Monday, I am convinced that the worthless labyrinth that is Charles de Gaulle airport is part of a deliberate French strategy to remove any separation anxiety in those tourists who are unhappy to be leaving France. By the time we got through security, I was downright thrilled to be going home; and this from a person who loves visiting France!

My father has a better, and less cynical, theory: he thinks that CDG was designed by a person who had never set foot in an airport.

It is certainly true that the nature and volume of air travel has changed in the 30+ years since the construction of CDG. But I must observe that good architecture, like good markets, is organic, robust and flexible. CDG always strikes me as an exercise in Cartesian hubris, in which the designers were so enamored with their vision that they ignored the forward-looking question of how useful and beautiful the design is likely to be in 20, 30, 40 years. It’s so rigid and maladaptive that the subsequent attempts to renovate it have only created incremental improvement.


6 thoughts on “A Snotty Comment On Aeroport Charles De Gaulle

  1. CDG is my all-time worst airport ever. Terminal 1 is the most egregious modernist concrete monstrosity ever constructed. After we landed and I first saw it out the window, I thought I’d mistakenly been flown to some decrepit ex-communist nation (okay, not too far off). Those slanted moving walks jutting pointlessly through the open center are so ridiculous.

    Terminal 2E is just sad – we had to board a bus which then drove us to our plane – by the time I’d boarded, I’d had to wait in five lines, and show my passport seven times (but of course not when I actually boarded the plane).

  2. I can agree the above noted comments about CDG. My own comment: The buildings are very nice but I am not sure about the technical quality since the failure of terminal 3.
    The restaurants and shops are OK, the food in the restaurants is very OK and the service people there is very kind and OK.
    The flight operations are “the biggest salad” which I have ever seen! (for instance: time between landing on the RWY and the aircraft door opening 55 minutes; afterward further 65 minutes waiting time for the baggage…..

    But “optical”, the airport is very nice and of course, Paris is one of the most beautiful cities of the world (in the US, they can only dream about such beautiful cities!).

  3. I lived in Paris and kind of liked CDG. Terminal 2 that is. The underground parking and rental car area was very convenient and generally available. Terminal 1, the roundhouse, is definitely dated. But no more so than Dulles — those people movers!

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