How to Have Fun at Charles de Gaulle Airport

Quick Facts


  • CDG is infamously confusing. If you're going to be there for a while, consider downloading your terminal map to get your bearings.

  • Thank the internet heavens--there's free wifi throughout the airport.

  • Terminal 2 is enormous and spread out throughout 7 sub-terminals. Terminal 2E specifically has a wealth of restaurants and shopping options.

To everyone who has wandered Charles de Gaulle from dawn until dusk in the wake of a cancelled flight: don’t despair.

Instead of huddling for hours near the departure gate, cursing nature’s unruly weather patterns, take this opportunity to indulge in a complex built for luxurious leisure. Yes, we’re talking about Paris’ Charles de Galle Airport! Europe’s second busiest airport, has a wealth of shopping, food and relaxation options.

It may be the airport, but it’s still France; go have some fun.

Eat

Savor macarons at Ladurée. Grab a box (or twenty – VAT free!) at any of a number of kiosks. If you want to compliment your macaron feast with a serving of foie gras—you’re leaving Paris, so you might as well—head to their Restaurant & Salon de Thé in terminal 2F. They offer some of the best food in CDG.

Get your last taste of Paris at the beloved Ladurée salon de thé or kiosks.
Get your last taste of Paris at the beloved Ladurée salon de thé or kiosks.

Apart from the Ladurée Tea Room, options are limited in terms of sit-down restaurants. You can try I love Paris by Guy Martin (Terminal 2E), a design-y spot with good cocktails that was recently awarded the prize for “best in-airport dining worldwide”. A triple Michelin-starred chef, Martin may be resting on his laurels with this one – the food is often inconsistent and the service mediocre… but it’s v. Instagrammable!

If you have some extra euros to throw around, you could a) consider giving them to me, or b) treat yourself to the Caviar House and Prunier (terminal 2A, 2C & 2E). They offer a quality seafood selection with excellent service, an elusive airport combination.

Brioche Dorée is the perfect grab-and-go for when the sudden announcement comes to head back to the gate. They’re located pretty much anywhere (Terminal 1, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D) and serve standard – and routinely delicious – French café fast-food including baguette sandwiches, quiches, and pastries. It’s not exactly haute cuisine, but it’s filling, moderately priced, and that tartlette chocolate-banane is still better than anything you’ll find in a French patisserie back in the US.

Kick off your day of airport adventures with a quick pastry. Photo courtesy of Brioche Dorée.
Kick off your day of airport adventures with a quick pastry. Photo courtesy of Brioche Dorée.

For those terminals devoid of a Brioche Dorée (2E, 2F, 2G), you can upgrade to Paul, also a French staple. The food is equally quick, with crispy baguettes, luscious flan, and an all-round artisanal feel.

Relax

Good news, economy passengers—you need no longer gaze mournfully into the windows of fancy travel lounges. Buy a day-pass for under €50, and see how the other half lives!

The difference between economy and business or first class tickets on long-haul flights is usually in the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, so find yourself a happy medium by treating yourself to a three-hour airport lounge pass. In Terminal 1, there’s the Star Alliance (£30/3 hours) and ICare Lounges (£40/3 hours), and Sheltair in 2D (£26/3 hours), all available for pre-purchase online. American Airlines offers at-the-door entrance ($50, Terminal 2A), subject to space availability.

You could also take a break at Be Relax Airport Spa & Lounge. Their main spa is located in terminal 2E (with kiosks throughout other terminals), and you can treat yourself to everything from a manicures to a full-body Swedish massage. Even if you don’t have an excessively long layover, Be Relax offers express services to make sure you feel détendu, ASAP.

Treat yourself to a massage or manicure.
Treat yourself to a massage or manicure.

Shop

CDG offers many of the luxury shopping staples, but the obvious choice would be Hermès, located in most terminals. Known internationally for their leather goods, silk scarves, and haute-couture, this is the perfect (albeit, pricey) way to end a visit to Paris. To follow the French theme, check out Longchamp’s bag collection (2C, 2E, 2F). Because airports are duty-free and shops don’t add the pesky VAT tax, you’ll save almost 20% on all purchases.

If you’re scrambling for some souvenirs or one final sugar fix, don’t miss La Maison du Chocolat, one of the best quality chocolatiers in the world, and well-represented at CDG with seven locations. And unlike macaroons, which will likely become stale by the end of your international flight, these chocolates can last until your next trip to France.

…Which is hopefully soon, for both your happiness and your chocolate collection.

Quick Facts


  • CDG is infamously confusing. If you're going to be there for a while, consider downloading your terminal map to get your bearings.

  • Thank the internet heavens--there's free wifi throughout the airport.

  • Terminal 2 is enormous and spread out throughout 7 sub-terminals. Terminal 2E specifically has a wealth of restaurants and shopping options.

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