Saturday, April 7, 2018

Paris Airport Charles de Gaulle: Instant Lounge, Instant Leisure

I didn't know anybody who was excitedly looking forward to a stopover in Paris - notably at Charles de Gaulle airport.


Soyez bienvenus at the - free! - transfer lounge of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
It's not only comfy and cozy, it's most of all hyper classy!
(Photo: Gwen Le Bras / Aéroports de Paris SA)

Well, this changed dramatically, and I'm here to show you what you are missing out on when you choose not to stop there.


The Cost-Comfort-Balance 


An unlimited urge to travel versus a pretty limited amount of money - how do you manage? I do it by travelling on a budget; and saving starts with the means of transportation - namely flights.

I have no intention to advertise for them, but it's a fact that the national Dutch airline KLM has often the best deals, whether flying to Asia or to South America.
While I find that their service, at least in economy, is quite average, I'm always looking forward to my connection at Schiphol airport. It's big, it's entertaining and most importantly it's quite comfortable: Many 'themed' waiting areas, furnished with all sort of large, soft seats and loungers - perfect to relax between flights.


I do not want to find myself in a situation where evacuation is necessary, but I wouldn't mind someone chauffeuring me around a little bit on this chair while I'm waiting for my connecting flight at Schiphol airport.  

Like most airlines, KLM is part of an alliance, here it's SkyTeam, and so is Air France, so that often I have to fly one way with KLM and the other with their French buddies. Which is fine when it comes to the flight itself - there Air France even takes the cake....metaphorically - and literally trades it for delicious food and very friendly service; a real treat for their customers.

When it came to the always obligatory stopover in Paris at the Charles de Gaulle airport, it was a different story: Terrible! Long, confusing corridors, hardly any store or restaurant or inspiration of any kind. Just dull and draining. I've never heard of anybody looking forward to a stopover at CDG.


The Cost-Time-Balance



This said, do I have to explain why I was pretty depressed facing my flight home from Rio de Janeiro, not only coming from from plus 40° C (over 100° Fahrenheit) and heading for minus 5° (sadly 23° Fahrenheit) - facing a stopover of over seven (yes, seven; as in....seven) hours at one of world's most depressing airports?

Seven hours - in Paris too short to go downtown, especially after a 12 hours flight, and far too long not to get into a really bad mood.

But as I was dragging my feet as well as my hand luggage from the plane towards the next gate where I intended to sit for seven hours on a metal woven chair, embossing its design into my but, I spotted a sign: "instant Paris - free transfer lounge". Free transfer lounge? At CDG? What could that possibly be - a complimentary cushion on the metal woven seating surface?
Grumpy and pessimistic, I followed the signs.


Remembering how my poor child had to sleep on uncomfortable metal seats, having only her plush penguin for a pillow. Well, at least in Paris, this misery is over.

I came to a large, white reception. To its left a gorgeous red sofa. Behind the counter a young man in a black suit looking at me in friendly anticipation. He was polite enough to ignore my traveller appearance of torn jeans and a hoodie stained from the French menu they served on the flight from Rio. And he was friendly enough to assure me that all the services in this area were completely free of charge.


Bienvenus à Paris



Whether Bauhaus or haunted castle style - every passenger waiting for the
connecting flights finds a quiet corner to relax, read or work.
(Photo: Gwen Le Bras / Aéroports de Paris SA)
I kept on dragging - feet and luggage - along a couloir, the hallway, which leads from the polished shiny white counter. To the left and the right are two different kinds of very comfy looking fauteuils - a Bauhaus-ish square kind with a middle grey cover.

To make up for the minimalist charm of these seats, the other kind looks a bit inspired by the Addams family: pseudo-baroque curvy shells in red and black.  Not my taste, but definitely very comfortable; plus the round shape certainly provides enough privacy to read or work undisturbed.

So does the whole arrangement, by the way: The furniture is positioned in a way that everybody is able to keep to himself if he so chooses.

















The Cafeteria



If you don't have your device with you, next to the hotel entrance is a large table
where you can use their pads for free - against the backdrop of the Eiffel tower.
(Photo: Gwen Le Bras / Aéroports de Paris SA)
Approximately halfway between the counter with the polite and friendly young man and a hotel entrance, the hallway opens to a sitting area with a food counter where they sell sandwiches, pastries and hot and cold drinks to be enjoyed in a very pleasant seating area.

I will not go so far as to praise their cafeteria: It's still the same (whereby hopefully 'same' only in the sense of identical) pretty dry sandwich made of a forearm long piece of baguette with a paper thin slice of ham, garnished with a tired lettuce leaf - 8 €uro = are you kidding me?! To get this pretty dry stuff down, you need to order some sort of drink with it. Like for instance a large coffee - which everywhere else would be a small or at most medium coffee - for 5 €uro = seriously?!
















I forgive them. I had the pleasure to enjoy my totally overprized breakfast at the spotless eating area next to the counter, listening to very soothing, slightly jazzy versions of different songs from the charts. I don't know whether it was due to the early hour or to this quite relaxing atmosphere that everybody was very quiet, even speaking into mobile phones pretty piano.

Only in front of the hotel entrance was a Chinese guest yelling into his phone, otherwise: silencio!

In front of the hotel? Yap, if all the comfort they are offering for free is not good enough for you, you can check in at the Yotel at the end of the corridor. This hotel counts with many amenities and you can book yourself in already for a minimum of four hours.

If you just want to refresh yourself, you can access their shower area for 20 €uro.


The Lounges



While the walls in the hallway are mainly decorated with large scale mirrors - giving it, especially in combination with the pompous rococo-ish chairs, an air of Versaille - the lounge next to the seating area is decorated with pictures of Parisian icons. There is even a miniature wooden Eiffel Tower.

Next to the very comfy lounge, the smallest guest can play and build in their own little space - and learn to love flying with mummy and daddy.


Since you cannot go to see the icons, instant Paris! lounge brings the icons to you - like the Arc de Triomphe - or the inevitable Eiffel tower.
(Photo: Gwen Le Bras / Aéroports de Paris SA)

At this point I was already so impressed that I forgot about all the horrible hours I had spent at this airport in the past. They've made up for it big time. It couldn't get any better!

It couldn't? Well, walking further down the hallway, I stood corrected: Entering their library!

Their library is a real library with real books - and everything else that characterizes a library: Dim lights, silence, comfortable armchairs....and two of the most beautiful and most commodious sofas I've ever seen. Or sit on. Or laid on.
I crashed.


Can a sofa become a home? This light golden beauty can!
It's not only one of the most beautiful sofas I've ever placed my behind on, it's also incredibly comfortable.
(Photo: Gwen Le Bras / Aéroports de Paris SA)

These things are long. I am about 5"10 and as I laid down, there was still room for another person to sit (which of course no other person did!).

These things are wide. I am about...I don't put it in numbers, but I'm big, and as I laid down, there was still room to move freely without falling down.

What can I say, guys? After I had spent a couple of hours at their library, I hated travelling on. I wanted to stay longer! I wanted to move in!

You know what? I think next time I buy a ticket via Paris, I might just skip the rest of the trip altogether and stay at CDG - it might be the best vacation in Paris ever.


You should pin this for your next trip via Paris - this experience is not to be missed:



41 comments:

  1. Wow! What a refreshing oasis in what is usually about the least comfortable setting imaginable! How nice of them to set up a place of sanctuary for weary, often stressed travelers. Thanks for sharing...I had no idea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Neither did I - it incidentally found it...and wanted to stay forever!

      Delete
  2. Enjoyed your post! The airport looks more like a 5 star hotel. Wow, the library was impressive!
    I am totally with you cost of lousy food at airports, someday, someday someone will get a clue and make mega $.
    Your pictures are fantastic, really really nice!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I haven't been to Paris by plane, but when I was there 20 years ago I didn't have the possibility to go to the airport. The instant lounge looks really great and I would love at least to switch flights there and have the possibility to see how it feels like. In Milano for example there's no such thing and I had to sleep on the floor for one night because all the benches had been already occupied.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a great find - lounges are the only way to make travel tolerable these days. This one looks outstanding!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really enjoyed reading it. The most I love is that Tower is everywhere. I'm crazy about Paris and I still didn't reach it - I need to definitely! Thanks for sharing it!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Amazing. I've been there such a long time ago, everything looks different now. It's good to know as many airports are rubbish, with nothing to do or way to busy

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have been to CDG and it is nice on the departures side not so much on the arrivals. I do agree they have some overpriced stuff there of course. Airport prices are always ridiculous. At least it was clean. Love lounges. This looked like a good escape from the gate areas etc.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have to say if there is one airport i dislike it hasto CDG - its big, food Is terrible, shoopping is blah. This might be a game changer! I’ll have a look for it next time i transit!

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is a cool, well designed lounge. Would love to spend there time between the flights. We don't seem to have lounges that beautiful in Scandinavia

    ReplyDelete
  10. That looks like a really amazing airport! It does seem like lots of places are starting to realise they need to spruce up their airports and make them more user friendly. I'm glad it has changed a lot and gotten better :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow! This is one of the nicest lounges I've ever seen! Thanks for sharing all these pictures! :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a pleasant and welcome surprise! I hate layovers but if all airports were like this it wouldnt be so bad! Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I was last in that airport two and a half years ago. Looks like it's really been spruced up since then! Nice article :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Nice description of CDG and the aminities. I was there just a few months ago too. The elevators in the the cylinder certainly were unique and reminded me of Harry Potter

    ReplyDelete
  15. Even in a nice airport walking through the corridors and dealing with the crowds can be a drag. This lounge looks like the perfect respite for anyone spending some time in CDG.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I wish I had gone to the lounges while I was at CDG airport. It looks beautiful and I regret being a cheap traveller!

    ReplyDelete
  17. What a great find. I didn't know there was a transfer lounge at CDG and I've travelled through there a million and one times (ok that might be a bit of an exaggeration!)

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a cool place to hang out! The sleek, modern look is fantastic and I love how light and airy the rooms are. I've hung out for hours in that airport and could't' leave the concourse due to tensions in the city and lockdown. It sucked. This is definitely a fun option. P.S. I LOVE flying with KLM. Makes me feel like I'm on a retro TV show.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Stopover times at airports are really awful at times! Its good that you found out the lounge. The place looks relaxing. And I would love to visit the library. It looks inviting.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Ha ha paper thin slice of ham, yelling Chinese... :) A memorable over priced breakfast indeed. The view is too good. I think we can forgive all.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a nice lounge. Can believe it was free.

    ReplyDelete
  22. What a wonderful place for stressed travelers. This place looks quite relaxing. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'm not one to spend more time than necessary at airports, but this one looks like it's worth it! I love Paris, and can't wait to go back one day!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Fantastic, this is something worth knowing about. A free transfer lounge at CDG with places to crash and a library! I'm going to have to keep an eye out for the airport whenever I fly long haul. Thanks for posting, it's really useful to know.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on Dutch airline KLM prices from now on. I think I'm going to consider a stop-over in Paris at CDG the next time I travel. What incredible service!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love how you formatted your review and yes I agree, this is definitely a stop over to look forward to! Now I’m also going to look at KLM airlines for some good deals! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  27. CDG has traditionally been known to be a crappy airport. That's why we mostly
    try to avoid flying via Paris. But this lounge looks totally awesome! Might make us reconsider.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Wow forgot Paris itself, check out that airport! I'd be sacking off the hotel and setting up camp right there, haha!

    ReplyDelete
  29. What a lot of facilities are available . It’s nice to have this lounge to relax in prior flying especially if you have a long flight ahead or have s long wait.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Great review here. I love how you have written it. I love this airport a lot. Been there a few times.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Isn't it the best when you're suprised (in the best of ways?!) Is there a place you can write to their mgmt and pass along your post? I bet they'd love to hear that they're doing such a great job. Not to mention offering an oasis of peace and quiet to a weary traveler! ps: Loved the photo with the Eiffel tower in the background. xx

    ReplyDelete
  32. I haven't been there but this seems a luxury airport lounge . Never seen any lounge like this before at any airport . Thanks for suggesting!

    ReplyDelete
  33. How chic, is this airport lounge. Looks like it should be in a sci-fi movie.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oh wow! We too like to save up on flight tickets. Waiting at the airport is not really a big deal but 7 hours is a little longer. I am glad you wrote about this instant free lounge which we can make use of in case of our long transfers. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  35. That is so great to hear! I will be passing thru CDG in October this year! What a make-over!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Long lay overs are pretty awful. The longest one I ever had was about 12 hours. I kept moving from one empty terminal to another as planes came and went. I would've loved to stay at a free lounge! Especially with those big couches lol!

    ReplyDelete
  37. After a lot of traveling, I would simply want to crash on a long layover. Those couches look absolutely perfect for a nap. Way better than those awful chairs in the airport.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Great find! Very cozy and comfy, I'll definitely have to keep this in mind for my next layover in Paris!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Thanks for the tip about this lounge and hotel. Sounds like a nice place to spend some time and if you need to book a room for a few hours its nice they offer one for a minimum of four hours. Sometimes that is all you need in between flights.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Love learning about new places to spend long layover time in various airports. Had not heard of this in Paris and look forward to a visit. Another of our favorite airport layover stops is in Istanbul when flying Turkish Air ... their international lounge is one of the best we have ever visited.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you very much for your comment. I do appreciate your visit to my page and your interest. Come back soon!