Enter Paris – Charles de Gaulle Airport

Over a month ago, I had the great pleasure of travelling to Paris for the first time. It was a big milestone for my wife and I. I wanted to travel somewhere I always wanted to go. I had been in Europe on a band tour when I was a teenager. So I had always wanted to go back. Paris was a great place to reacquaint myself with Europe.

We flew Air Transat direct from Vancouver to Paris. It’s cheaper than a direct flight on Air France. It’s also way better than taking two flights via Toronto or Montreal with Air Canada. Air Transat may be a charter airline, but it never felt like it. The seats were comfortable and the service pleasant. The only “charter” feel about the flight was arriving at Charles de Gaulle’s Terminal 3. CDG’s Terminal 3 is specifically for discount and charter airlines. The plane stops on the tarmac and you have to take a shuttle bus into the actual terminal building. Apart from that, nothing about the flight felt “charter.”

The Air Transat flight leaves Vancouver in the afternoon and arrives the next morning at 8:45am Paris time. It’s essentially a red-eye/overnight flight. I’ve always worried about these kind of flights since I don’t sleep very well on planes. However, I think arriving during the day and forcing myself to be up all day helped me to be more tired for the first night.

When we arrived, customs was very much a non-event. They had no questions for us. They looked at our passports. They looked at our mugs. And then we were waved through.

Because our Airbnb apartment would not be ready until 12:45pm, we decided to hang around the airport and explore. We really didn’t want to be walking around the streets of Paris with our luggage. I felt we’d be an easy target for pickpockets and other petty thefts if we were exploring Paris with a large suitcase in tow.

credit: SmarterParis

We took the CDGVal airport shuttle train from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2. I instantly sought out one of Tourist Information Desks. We needed to get our Paris Museum Pass, our one-way tickets into town via the RER B train, and a carnet of t+ tickets to use on the Paris Metro and buses.

from aeroportsdeparis.fr

We walked around the vast Terminal 2. Terminal 2 is actually made of several small terminals. So you will see Terminal 2A, 2B, etc. I was hoping for a lot more shops and stuff to explore, but there was only a smattering of shops in each mini-terminal. Then each mini-terminal was 5-10 minute walk from each other. We eventually bored of walking the terminal and settled in around the Terminal 2 train station.

The train station, or gare in French, looked really busy. One could hop onto France’s famed TGV and go to points further afield by rail. The Departure board has impressive with it’s vast 3 columns of trains. It was still only 10:00am and we still had a lot of time before we had to hop onto the RER B for Paris.
The area above the train station had some seats here and there, but it wasn’t altogether that comfortable. I noticed that an entrance to the Sheraton Paris Airport Hotel was just by the train station. I scoped it out and it looked quieter and more comfortable to lounge around inside in their lobby.

We found a quieter part of the hotel lobby with less people. It looked like most hotel guests hung around the Sheraton’s entrance to the train station. We hung out on the other end of the lobby with a small entrance to the roadway. Sitting around in a hotel lobby wasn’t my ideal way to start our first day in France, but I wasn’t about to explore the streets of Paris with luggage.

It was about 11:45am when we started to make our way down to the train station and hopped on the RER B for Paris. Next Stop – our Airbnb apartment.

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