Charles de Gaulle was not my favorite airport. It generally seemed like a poorly-designed mess. I was stressed the whole time I was there. Terminal 1 has a very odd design because there are people-movers in giant plastic tubes to take you from one floor to another. You can look out of the plastic lining and see all the other people-movers in the center of the Terminal. It looks like hamster tubes all over the airport. I got to the right floor, found the set of gates I needed, and then had to take another, long people-mover to the gates. The positive part is security is very fast. There is security at each of the gate groups, so I only had to go through security with other people going to gates 70-78. I have a few tips below that may seem obvious but are necessary reminders for traveling through Charles de Gaulle.
1. Get to Charles de Gaulle Really Early
I mean really early! I normally fly out of Chicago O’Hare and thought that was busy, but Charles de Gaulle gives “busy” a whole new meaning. I took a shuttle bus from my hostel to the airport at 7:30am for an 11:10am flight. We had a slight detour to pick up another group before heading to the airport. We hit major traffic because it was rush hour. Then we hit heavy traffic at the airport because it was the start of a French holiday when I was traveling. Additionally, the trains were only partially running to the airport because of a strike, so that just added to the number of people taking cabs to the airport. The airport has a wacky design too, so there was generally an abundance of traffic. Thankfully I had plenty of time before my flight. Charles de Gaulle was a hoppin’ airport, so I recommend getting there really early.
2. Eat Before You Go Through Security
I flew out of Terminal 1, which is an older terminal. It’s hub-shaped with different spokes coming out of the center as the different terminals. If you are hungry there are 4 restaurants including McDonalds and Starbucks on the -1 level at Terminal 1 before security. I wish I’d grabbed a coffee prior to going through security because there is only 1 cafe, 1 duty free shop, and 1 convenience store past security for the gate I needed. Security was fast because there appear to be security lines at each of the group of gates. My group of gates was 70-78, and there was security just for this group. I ate at the one cafe while waiting for my flight, but the line was huge given it was the only cafe on this side of security. Perhaps there are more post-security food options in different terminals. I recommend grabbing food before going through security.
3. Charge Your Devices Before You Get To The Gate
As I write this, I’m at 14% battery, and there is no plug in sight. Well, there are a few scattered outlets, but they are all in use. Other passengers scooped up the open plugs immediately. At other airports I’ve had no trouble finding outlets to charge my devices. Terminal 1 only has a few charging stations, and they only have 3 outlets per charging station. Also, there’s almost no wifi in Terminal 1. Again, maybe this is different at the other terminals. There is wifi, but it was spotty at best; don’t rely on consistent wifi. I was connected for maybe 10 minutes.
I hope these reminders help you on your next journey through Charles de Gaulle!