A post on a blog which I have just discovered - la petit anglaise - discusses the writer's fun and games at Roissy- Charles de Gaulle Airport recently. This reminded me of a post I made at the Motley Fool when some unfortunate complained about that airport, which I think is worth salvaging from the past:
For example, what the %#%$* is up with Paris' Charles De Gaulle airport?!
You were clearly misled. CDG is not intended to be a practical airport, it is actually a museum to style, modern French architecture and concrete.
For those that doubt me I suggest taking the guided bus tour otherwise known as the shuttle between T1, T9, T2 and the station. You get wonderful views of excitingly styled buildings, curved flyovers going nowhere and other monuments to modern living and just like all good museums the tour is free, although in France it is quite acceptable to tip the guide if he performed an adequate service. The fact that millions of people persist in trying to fly in and out of it is a cunning French ploy to get visitors to the CDG "musée de l'art concret" to participate in the largest performance art installation in the world. Without such a constant stream of humanity the exhibits would look too austere and it would be hard to judge the proportion and scale of some of the more dramatic monuments. Moreover the performance artists often perform amusing vignettes that provide a scathing commentary on the callousness of the modern propensity for horological exactitude and the deplorable habit of dehumanising personal interactions.
I particularly recommend the T1 exhibit which has a cafe on the "Niveau de départ" where you can both admire the atrium and the dramatic cross atrium escalators as well as watch the artists provide moving renditions of many human emotions. I particularly recommend showing up for an "en grève" annoucement where the artists graphically show the stresses and frustrations that are inherent in the modern globalised capitalist economy. If I have one criticism of the museum it is that it has become excessively commercial with far too many shops selling far too many knick-knacks, but even this can be taken as a part of the performance art as the store clerks show that charming Parisien arrogance and lack of customer service that is such a refreshing contrast to the subservience displayed by their counterparts in real airports or shops.
I didn't add to that post, but will here, that despite the criticism above CDG is far better than Orly as a gateway to Paris, although arguably Orly's utterly sleazy and decrepit outlook on life is an excellent preparation for Paris as it really is... (and if you think I'm a little anti Paris at the moment that would be because our Riviera roads are currently clogged up with clueless Parisiens unable to read a map or cope with a "rondpoint").