Paris CDG Terminal 1: getting to grips with the octopus ….
Imagine you are a young, ambitious architect eager to make your mark in the world. The commission of a lifetime suddenly lands in your lap to develop a brand new airport for Paris. Where would you look for inspiration: a bird perhaps, or maybe an iconic French building such as the Eiffel Tower? How about an octopus? Yes, we thought that might not be the first thing that sprang to mind, but that eight-legged sea creature was indeed the muse for architect Paul Andreu’s avant-garde Terminal 1 (T1), the oldest of Paris Charles de Gaulle’s ((CDG) three terminals.On paper you can see what Andreu was thinking. A central, circular building linked to seven satellite ‘legs’, where planes can easily taxi in and out for passengers to get on and off their flights, was in theory a good idea. An eighth satellite with a dedicated shuttle rail link completed the octopus design. When first opened in 1974, T1’s striking design certainly grabbed the headlines and the futuristic building was often used as a location by film directors and magazine editors.
Rather less impressed, however, were the passengers actually using T1 on a daily basis. Navigating the central building’s ten floors was anything but simple and the confusing layout with its criss-crossing, glass-tubed escalators made switching flights a potential nightmare if time was short. In addition, the underground tunnels, which linked the satellites to the central terminal building, made passengers feel like light-starved moles.
In 2004 Owner Aeroports de Paris embarked on a huge and much needed €280 (£280) million renovation project at T1, which is now dedicated to all international flights not operated by Air France (around 10% of the airport’s total traffic). Improvements have included a speeded-up check-in, clearer signage, a new automated baggage system, better lighting and access for disabled passengers, a new 2,500 square-metre shopping mall and a food court.
The shops are definitely an improvement on what went before, but the range is more limited than at Paris CDG’s two other larger terminals. For instance, there are some notable gaps in the mix such as mid-range fashion, toys and electronics, which could all do with a better presence. Instead, as you might expect, luxury fashion brands are very much to the fore in the retail mix at T1with Bvlgari, Montblanc and Hermes all getting their own standalone boutiques. Famous Parisian Department store Printemps also has a scaled-down presence.
If you are still in the mood to shop, remember that the bulk of the retail offer is situated post-security on level 3 of the main terminal building. In contrast, there are only small Buy Paris Duty Free outlets and Relay newsagents by the way of shops in the satellites, where the gates are located. The outlying catering offer is very limited too so be sure you’ve eaten before heading to the gate areas.
As for the main Buy Paris Duty Free outlets, a joint venture between the airport and France’s biggest duty-free retailer Aelia, they do a great job of showcasing the best of the country’s famous beauty industry. Travellers will find fragrances and cosmetics to match every age, skin type and occasion, and it is always worth looking out for products and gift sets that are exclusive to the airport.
Wine, spirits and Champagne are also given a superb presentation. The famous French wine-growing areas such as Bordeaux and Burgundy are particularly well presented, and travellers will discover a wide range at different prices, including iconic premier cru wines such as Lafite, Haut Brion, Pétrus and many more.
The French love their Scotch whisky so single malts get a surprisingly good treatment with many rare and exclusive references on sale. XO Cognacs abound too from the likes of Hennessy, Martell and Courvoisier, but lines of a similar quality from some of the smaller, less well-known houses such as Otard, Gautier and Louis Royer can often be better value. Similarly, vintage Armagnac from brands such as Janneau can also make excellent gifts.
Buy Paris Duty Free also stocks a tempting selection of fine foods and confectionery. For instance, look for beautifully packaged teas from Mariage Frères, truffles from Maxim’s, boxes of colourful macaroons, jars of foie gras from La Rougié, spices from Hédiard and succulent smokes salmon from Petrussian
While we are on the subject of food, it is worth pointing out that the majority of cafes and restaurants at T1 are situated on Level 1 before security. Why that should be the case we couldn’t say. It doesn’t make much sense, but then not much does about the design of this wacky 1970s curio!
Paris Charles De Gaulle airport official shopping site
See our general airport shopping guide to …
- Paris Charles de Gualle Airport
- See our 2012 guide to Paris CDG Terminal 2 Shopping
- Airport Lounges Paris CDG Airport
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