Flying to Charles de Gaule, Paris with a Dog
Flying to Charles de Gaule, Paris with a dog is easy. Well a small one anyway. But if there is one thing that is always intimidating when traveling, it is a very large, complex and chaotic airport. Charles de Gaulle – Paris International Airport – falls in that category. The airport has grown over the years adding extensions and new terminals here and there without a seemingly logical plan for growth. There is no common look and feel with every terminal completely different from the others, no cohesiveness to this airport. You have to arrive knowing you will need time to make your connection and go through customs. The line-ups are usually very long. Always err on the side of too much time – trust me – this is not the place you want to have to make a mad dash to catch a connecting flight.
For starters, the signage is dodgy at best. The terminals are not within walking distance and you need to hop on and off a sort of internal high-speed subway/fast train. Luckily these are quick, silent and highly efficient … once you have gone up and down and around what seem a thousand steps to find it in the first place. Travel light for this airport! Heavy bags of duty free, long coats and everything else will really annoy you since you can’t take the trolley onto the high speed mini train – nor up and down the many steps, escalators and elevators you will take from one terminal to the next.
Having said that – for dog travelers this airport absolutely rocks! First of all the staff is hands down the most dog loving you will ever come across. One company that hires young people to help them get through to the correct gates and so on, has a name that starts with M … the logo in fact. We can not recall the name of the company – or the name of the lovely young woman – but one such young person gave me her M from her jacket when she found out my name was Montecristo! How sweet is that? I have never been petted, cooed at or shoed in quickly past long lines as much as I have at Charles de Gaulle; even the security staff had fun, petting me and asking me about my voyages. Good times!
In addition, the airport has fantastic green spaces just outside each terminal. They are not official dog poop zones – but in France that concept is rather looked at as a big joke. A dog poops on grass. That is what grass is for. The caretaker is responsible for the pet and thus must carry poop bags. But basically the dog can go relieve itself where it wants to. They will not object as long as you respect the poop and scoop.
We landed very early. In fact it was still dark outside. But we had a 6-hour wait for our connecting flight to Florence. Plenty of time to stretch have breakfast and get through security and nap. In that order!
We had a great time walking in the large grassy area near Terminal 2G and watched the sunrise as we ate croissants and drank coffee from Leon. The area has lovely benches and garbage cans. The people walking by will not even question the presence of a dog. Enjoy it if you can as long as you can. I find after a transatlantic flight it is good to not just walk but a good run helps as well.
Once we had gone past security and were in the terminal – the bipeds decided they needed a nap desperately. Unlike myself, they had not slept on the plane on the way down and so … the search was on for a place to settle down. It was with great pleasure that we discovered that I was allowed outside my carrier on leash inside the terminal! There is no sign to indicate this but since multiple security guards and airport staff walked past us during our 5 hours there and said nothing – we are assuming that indeed this is ok. I sat at the feet of my bipeds, or on a lap and got to even watch over them as they slept on these really nice lounge chairs. I made sure no one came near our stuff. It was good to feel important and needed.
In Review: flying to Paris with a small dog, as with any large airport means arming yourself with time and patience. But as far as dog friendliness goes – this airport gets five paws for sure! Just make sure you are flying air France, KLM or Alitalia for all these perks.