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One of the world’s most influential cities, and the 5th most popular tourist destination in the world, Paris is a surefire bet when picking a holiday destination. It’s fortunate that Charles de Gaulle is the second largest airport in Europe and can therefore cope with the influx of tourists arriving annually (around 65 million).
Charles de Gaulle sits 25km north of France’s capital city, and Air France accounts for over half of its airline traffic; easyJet is the second largest provider for the airport.
Driving tips and how to exit the airport
There are a whole host of car rental providers at Charles de Gaulle. Most of the larger providers have desks located in all terminals, but some smaller companies may only be located in one.
To drive into the city, take the A1 southwest out of the airport. If you are heading to the region of Normandy then go for the A13 or the N12. There is a Total Service Station in the one way system within the airport grounds.
Places to Visit
The city of romance. The city of fashion. The city of food. Paris is renowned for an abundance of reasons, and the best way to discover why is to visit. The most versatile of capitals: its vicinity to many European cities makes it a perfect getaway destination. With its infinite selection of iconic landmarks and hidden gems, it’s a city you can escape to for weeks at a time. Paris ticks an array of holiday boxes, whether you intend to mainstream sightsee or seek ‘off the beaten track’ secrets.
Ascend the dizzying staircase of the gothic Notre Dame to visit the gargoyles and appreciate an aerial perspective of the Seine. Then head across the street to Comme Chai Toi for a view of the cathedral and a selection of delicious, rustic food. Another extraordinary Parisian masterpiece is the Sainte Chapelle. This stained glass, lilac kaleidoscope not only demonstrates exceptional craftsmanship, but provides gorgeous acoustics for classical concerts on weekends. So, if you want to be soothed by the baroque strings of Vivaldi, or evoke your musical passion through the romantic darkness of Schubert’s symphonies, then make sure you do so inside the Sainte Chapelle, with the glorious evening light spilling through the cathedral windows.
France is known for its magnificent food, so make sure you sample the local delights. Amble along pretty side streets and let the smell of fresh bread entice you inside a local boulangerie for an artisan loaf or a crusty baguette. Or visit a local patisserie to indulge in a taste of tradition: treat yourself to melt in the mouth croissants, delicate macaroons and fluffy eclairs. Later, consume your goodies on the sacred steps of the Sacre Coeur. With all the elegance and grace of a palace, this chalky, Taj Mahal-like cathedral is something to behold. If you’re lucky a busker will affectionately serenade you as you appreciate the grandeur of your surroundings.
Cultural treats are found in every corner of the city. Tourists will flock—for good reason—to the Louvre and visit Mona Lisa, and many others will queue to sample Angelina’s famous chocolat chaud and her signature dessert, the Mont Blanc. Both of these are highly recommended; however, if seeing some local culture is a priority, test out some of the lesser known Parisian neighbourhoods. Visit the vibrant Belleville for a cosmopolitan feel: we’re talking street art, jazz brunches and street art. You can even visit Edith Piaf’s apartment.
Away from the city lights, driving for an hour or so, you can reach Chateau de Maintenon. The opulent home of King Louis’ second spouse, this castle has aqueducts and French gardens. A few hours drive in the other direction, is the champagne city of Reims. Visit this area for impressive cellars, endless vineyards and tasting tours.
What to do at the airport
As you’d expect with any large airport, the facilities at Charles de Gaulle are good. From pharmacies and photobooths to ATMs and letterboxes, the usual amenities are here. In addition, there is free Wifi throughout the airport (with unlimited access) and charge boxes where you can securely leave your devices to top up their battery before the flight—just remember to pick them up again! There are also touchscreen booths which allow you to scan your boarding pass and receive personalised information on your flight, as well as find out where to dine and shop. Finally, there is a downloadable airport app where plenty of airport information can be found.
With regards to food, wholesome salads, healthy bagels, steamy soups and hearty wraps all live at the cafe, Naked. However, if you’re hankering for a steak, then Red D’Hippo is where you’ll find one. Ladurée is a well-respected establishment in Paris, and you can sample their pastel-hued macaroons at the airport and for the highest-class of French cuisine (and a price to match) try I Love Paris by Guy Martin.
There is an alphabet of shops at Charles de Gaulle, quite literally: From Armani to Zadig & Voltaire, Burberry to Yves Saint Laurent, Cartier to Versace, the list is endless. So if you are the kind to shop ‘til you drop, and you have some time to kill, then you will be well occupied.