Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
The sleek and modern lines of Charles de Gaulle Airport are a testament to the innovative designs of its architect, Paul Andreu. Named for president of the French Republic and leader of the French Resistance Charles de Gaulle, the airport serves as a major European hub with 61 million passengers in 2011, arriving in second place after London’s Heathrow airport. It achieved second place as the busiest cargo hub as well, when 2 million metric tonnes of freight moved through its system in 2011. The airport also serves as the primary hub for French airline Air France.
History of the Airport
Plans for the airport were drawn up in 1966. Eight years later, the airport was fully functional with one terminal, opening its doors to passengers, planes, and cargo on March 8, 1974. The avant-garde lines of Terminal 1 recall the limbs of an octopus. The main body of the terminal rises 10 stories and houses passenger services such as check-in, customs and baggage claim. Underground walkways connect the satellite “limbs” to the main body of the terminal, housing all passenger gates for terminal traffic. The airport maintains a complex of hotels, shopping, airport administration, and other passenger services called Roissypôle in this centrally located area of the airport.
Original architect Paul Andreu also designed Terminal 2. Opening in 2003, it suffered a partial collapse of its roof structure, injuring three people and killing four. An inquiry found that the sweeping, arched design of the expansive roof did not posses enough internal stability, due to the presence of vertical metal support beams. The inquiry board also found that the quality of the concrete used in construction was substandard. In 2005, the airport demolished the entire section of Terminal 2 in which the ceiling had collapsed, replacing it with steel beams and improving the design. The renewed terminal then reopened in 2008.
Since 2008, improvements have been made to accommodate greater numbers of passengers to the airport, with expansions to the terminals in the form of satellite buildings handling traffic and passenger baggage. Future plans will include expanding Terminal 3, which currently has one hall and is located a half mile from the main body of the airport housing Terminals 1 and 2.
Transportation at Paris Charles de Gaulle
Ground transportation at the airport consists of a free, automatic train service called CDGVAL. This efficient system links all three terminals as well as passenger parking areas and all satellite buildings, any of which can be reached by passengers using its system in eight minutes or less. The airport also houses a high-speed rail system that departs to several cities within France as well as Brussels, Belgium. A bus system links Terminals 1 and 2, and continues on into Paris, called Roissybus. There is also a bus line that connects the airport to Disneyland Paris in Marne-la-Vallée. The A1 Motorway has a designated exit for all airport automobile traffic.
Since 1971, Charles de Gaulle Airport maintained a unique chime by composer Bernard Parmegiani that sounded before any public service announcement made over its PA system. Nicknamed the “Indicatif Roissy,” it was discontinued in 2005 and replaced by a new chime, the “Indicatif ADP,” although fans of the previous chime still hope the original will return one day. The airport has been the backdrop for several Hollywood movies and even a music video by popular rock band U2.