Paris Orly is the older sister of the French capital’s main international hub,Roissy Charles de Gaulle.
Back in the 1970s before Roissy was completed, however, Orly proudly served as Paris’ main airport. That title has long since passed to her younger sibling although Orly is still France’s second largest airport and remains an important domestic and low-cost hub. The airport handled over 25 million passengers a year.
In the early 60s Orly was a bona fide tourist attraction, inspiring a famous popular song,‘Dimanche à Orly’ (‘Sunday in Orly’). The airport’s original South terminal was considered such a marvel of modernist architecture that people came from far afield just to look round it.
The fast-growing airport added a West (“Ouest”) terminal in 1967, but as the years passed Orly began to show its age and by the turn of the century the airport was badly in need of a facelift.
So in 2010 Aéroports de Paris launched an ambitious project to create an international business district near the airport complete with a conference centre, shopping mall and four-star hotel. The airport’s interior is also set for a phased upgrade, which will be finished by 2019, with a new international satellite opening a year later.
Exciting plans undoubtedly and the South (“Sud”) Terminal has already undergone some improvements with better seating, more Internet workstations, laptop charging points, as well as a brighter colour scheme. There have been several new store openings in both terminals recently too.
Overall, the shopping scene at Orly is none too bad. We are in France, of course, so the emphasis here is very much on luxury fashion and designer brands. If that is up your street, all to the good, but if you are looking for great bargains and price discounts, you may end up disappointed.
Let’s start with the recently rebranded Buy Paris Duty Free outlets, which you will find in both terminals. The range of fragrances on offer in these stores is second to none• look out for exclusive launches, which the French beauty houses often trial at the Parisian airports, before a wider travel-retail roll out. There is also an impressive selection of fragrances for men• recent launches include Chanel Allure Homme Sport, Armani Sport Code, Dior home Intense and Lancôme Hypnôse.
Wine and spirits are also nicely presented categories in the Buy Paris Duty Free
stores. The range of French wines is of course very good, especially in the
higher-price bracket, where many of those world-famous names from Bordeaux and
Burgundy are well-represented. If you have the cash to splash, the shop staff will
be able to guide you to some highly collectible vintage premier cru wines.
The selection of vintage Cognacs is equally impressive, but don’t overlook Armagnac,
a less-fêted French spirit perhaps, but one with an equally long heritage and
tradition, and often of superb quality. In fact, if you are looking for more bangs
for your buck, a vintage Armagnac rather than an XO Cognac might be the way to go.
The French love their single malt Scotch whisky so you can expect an excellent
selection in-store. As with fragrances and cosmetics, look for exclusive bottlings,
which you just won’t find anywhere else. Glenfiddich, Laphroaig, Balvenie and
Aberlour have all launched exclusive whiskies with Buy Paris Duty Free in recent
We can’t cover a French airport and not talk about fashion of course. One of the
most recent fashion boutiques to open at Orly is Cult, which is located in the South
Terminal, and specialises in sports clothing and accessories. Complete with 12
fitting rooms, the store features a line up of brands, which includes adidas, Nike,
Diesel, Puma, Eres, Agatha and Thomas Sabo.
For fashion of a more timeless, classic nature, head to Printemps, the famous
Parisian department store, which boasts branches in both the South and West
terminals. Alternatively, Solaris, another retailer with stores in both terminals,
is the place to go if you need to get a new pair of sunglasses. Brands sold include
Boss, Gucci, Maui Jim, Oakley, Ray-Ban, Tom Ford and Prada. We like the fact that
you are free to try on glasses before you buy, and the retailer makes a big point of
its customer service.
If you have a sweet tooth, may we suggest you try a visit to the Baillardan outlet
in the West terminal? It specialises in the Canelé, a famous (and delicious) type of
cake from the Bordeaux region of France, which is fluffy in the centre and flavoured
with vanilla and rum. It takes its name from the copper mould it is baked in and the
shop sells these moulds and recipe books in case you want to recreate these French
sweet treats back at home.
Guilty parents wanting to buy a toy for their bundle of joy back home are well
catered for Orly. There are toy stores in each terminal. The colourful Kaboom in the
South Terminal, for instance, stocks international brands such as Thomas the Tank
Engine and Dora the Explorer, while Quand La Chat N’est Pas Là has more of a
nostalgic, old nursery feel and stocks a selection of more traditional toys and
Last but not least, Air de Paris is a new gift and souvenir store, which recently
opened in the South Terminal. Marked by the Eiffel Tower at the entrance (what
else?), this nicely designed store, which has been mocked up to look downtown Paris,
stocks everything from clothes and gadgets to gourmet food.
Official Orly airport shopping site ....