Charles de Gaulle as an airport is glorious. The structure is well-designed. It’s classy, airy, and nicely modern. It gives you all the sense of world travel that one would expect from a very proper international airport. The fact they have newspapers from around the world doesn’t hurt either. Sure, connections between terminals can be onerous due to the distance, but as I finally found out this time around, there is actually a shuttle to take you between them, although at times it seems hard to find.
The one single, bastard thing that hoses everything good about CDG is the passport control. It’s a disaster. Above is the line from my last trip two days ago. There are three, count ’em, three windows to check passports for every single person traveling through CDG internationally. W. T. F.?!! Naturally, the lines are hell and while waiting is often part of life, when you have an extremely tight connection, which is often the case, you will actually miss it simply due to the airport’s ability to get your passport stamped. This has happened to me before and while the opportunity to buy French cheese while waiting three hours for the next flight has its merits, this is just dumb.
The airport blames the government and the government blames the airport. In the end, it’s the passenger who gets screwed. There’s not really much way around it other than to not fly through CDG, but that’s pretty damned hard given that the routes through there go just about everywhere in the world. About the only suggestion I give people is to try and guess which of the two lines is the one being served by the two windows as opposed to the one. Also, ignore the EU Citizens and All Others signs. Both lines are for everyone, although the supposed EU one might be faster at times due to them basically not paying attention to most people in that line, while scrutinizing most everyone in the other line. Oh yeah, if you’re not white, be prepared for no end of crap as the control agents are quite racist. Lastly, try and avoid having a connection flight between 7-9 in the morning as that’s when it seems every flight in Europe connects at CDG.