DM and MM's Italy/France 2012 Diary

Day 24 - Paris to Kuala Lumpur

Monday, 21 May, 2012

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Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. 09:55

We've checked in for our flight home and are sitting having a snack before boarding the first leg to Kuala Lumpur. Charles de Gaulle Airport is obviously an old airport which hasn't been revamped much in its appearance and layout. The terminal 1 departure area is small and cramped, with only a handful of shops after the immigration passport check in a small circular building with very little room to move around or sit. The gates sit off radial spokes emanating from this hub, but we haven't gone down there yet as we presume the security checks are there and we won't be able to get back here easily if they turn out to be even less fun places to be for two hours.

We got up at 07:00 and showered before finishing packing our luggage. Rebecca, the woman who the guy said would do the check-out of our apartment, knocked on our door at 07:28, when we weren't even dressed yet. We'd told the guy repeatedly we'd be leaving about 08:00, and every time he said they'd check us out at 07:30. We opened the door at 07:40 and Rebecca came in and checked the apartment over for any damages. She was friendly and offered to take care of the garbage for us when we said we still had to take it out. Packed and settled, we left about 07:50 and walked through a very light sprinkle of rain on a cold, grey morning in Paris.

We arrived at the Châtelet-Les Halles giant train station interchange megaplex, which had about seven Metro lines plus three suburban train lines running through it. Tickets to Charles de Gaulle cost us 18.50 euro for two, then we navigated the maze of tunnels to emerge on a line B platform. The next two trains were going to different destinations and the number of people waiting for the airport train built up. When our train came, it was already standing room only. Some people got off, and then everyone tried to pack on. We had to push and shove and the doors almost closed on M. as some people waiting on the platform got left behind. We were fortunate to be on the train at all, cramped as it was. At the next stop at Gare du Nord it was even worse as not many people got off, and the platform there was packed with people, most of whom couldn't squeeze on. Thankfully at the next stop a lot of people got off and virtually nobody else got on, so we had room to breathe again for the rest of the trip, and M. even got a seat.

There are two train stations at Charles de Gaulle, and we alighted at the first one for terminal 1. However, we then needed to catch an airport shuttle train from there to the terminal. We descended to a small platform with glass screens guarding the tracks. Hordes of people from the train were going the same way, but we managed to secure a position right at the front of the platform, near the first door which would lead on to the shuttle. When it arrived, the shuttle train pulled up a door short, and we were stuck unable to get on as we had to quickly run down the platform to try another door, now at the back of the crowds of people. We ended up missing that shuttle and had to wait for the next one. It arrived three minutes later and was almost empty.

Au revoir Paris
A very wet day to leave Paris

At terminal 1 we checked the departure board and determined our check-in at hall 5, which was just a short walk from where the shuttle dropped us. There was a queue of about thirty people checking in for our flight, presumably all of whom had just got off the previous shuttle train that we'd missed. At the counter M. asked for exit row seats and the lady confirmed those for us, which is good. We're not sure if we also have them for Kuala Lumpur to Sydney, but I'm hopeful. With our bags checked in we found the tax refund counter to claim back the VAT on my Champs-Élysées jacket, but here there was a sign indicating you had to have the goods with you, but we'd just checked it in our luggage. There was also a very long queue, so we didn't bother and went straight in through passport control. Once inside, M. grabbed a cafe crème and a pain au chocolat while we sat and rested for a bit.


We're now sitting inside the security check near our departure gate, 41. Indeed, here on this side of security there is even less to do, with only some token shops selling chocolates and magazines and tacky souvenirs of Paris, but there are at least plenty of seats. The lounge near our gate is mostly empty, and we suspect the flight might not be very full, which would be nice.

17:00 Paris time; 23:00 Kuala Lumpur time.

We've been on our flight for five hours now, with roughly another eight and a half to go before landing in Kuala Lumpur. I've just finished off the parts of this diary left over from pervious days and am now fully up to date. Lunch on the plane was decent and passengers are starting to drift off to sleep, though we are still flying in bright sunshine. The rain was pounding down at Charles de Gaulle Airport, and it looks like we timed our escape from Paris perfectly, with what looked like a miserably wet day there.

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