From the air, Charles De Gaulle Airport’s Terminal 1 resembles an anus.
Charles de Gaulle Airport was designed by architect Paul Andreu whose influences include hamsters (tube tunnels), Stalin (decomposing concrete) and Hitler (suffering).
Andreu also designed Charles De Gaulle Terminal 2 (partially collapsed, 2004) and Dubai Airport Terminal 3 (collapsed, 2004). Presumably he’s working on a collapsing Terminal 4 somewhere.
When the airport opened in 1974 the design was avant garde. Thirty years later that translates to low-budget sci-fi set.
The taxi drop-off lane is prone to traffic because it’s the only taxi drop-off lane, with one entrance and one exit. Be prepared to exit the taxi when someone ahead of you parks. There are no indications for which airline is behind which entrance anyway, so try one and hope your airline is there. It isn’t.
The exterior of Terminal 1 was designed for maximum pigeon-perching capability, as evidenced by the carpet of bird poo at every entranceway. En garde!
Charles de Gaulle Airport was designed to be the first airport to not have passengers. At least, that’s the impression you have when a line of five people and their luggage trolleys create impassable congestion in the narrow hallways.
The lines for the ticketing desk merge lovingly with the lines for the check-in desk, as they are located directly opposite each other.
There are one or two monitors for your convenience which will tell you which Hall you’ll find your airline at. Do not confuse Hall numbers with entranceway numbers which go from 2-32, even-numbers only. Do not confuse Halls with Satellites, though they have similar numbers. Do not confuse Satellite with Terminal. Do not confuse Terminal 1 with Terminal 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E (collapsed), 2F or 3.
There are seven satellites numbered in this order: 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2, 3.
Free baggage trolleys are provided to all passengers. You are encouraged to leave them wherever you please. At some point an unhappy Algerian will collect them into a long train which he will use to render the hallway wholly impenetrable, thus scoring a small victory for disenfranchised immigrants.
Should you wish to bypass security, simply stand in the elevator. At some point someone on the “inaccessible” levels will summon the elevator and you will conveniently be brought to their off-limits floor.
The elevator can accommodate you, most of your luggage trolley and a bug-eyed boy who seems to be frightened of you. The doors may keep opening on the floor you never left, so be patient.
Amazingly you are no longer allowed to smoke in the airport and must stand outside where, unbeknownst to you, you and your baggage will be coated in gnat-like insects you will discover later. Relax! They don’t bite. They just crawl all over you.
If you have time to remove the 3,000 insects from your skin, clothing and baggage you can purchase bug repellant at the basement-level pharmacy for 11 Euro ($14). The bathrooms are eco-friendly – which means no towels. Be prepared to use 30 pounds of toilet paper.