Airports - Culture

A blend of history and innovation, the airports in Paris reflect the latest trends and progress being made in aviation.

France has 450 airports.

The international airport of Paris-Charles de Gaulle, in Roissy, in the north of Paris, is one of the main air traffic hubs in Europe. It is the largest airport in France. The 2nd largest airport is Orly, in the south of Paris, and the 3rd is the airport in Nice.

Orly, a historical monument

After Bourget airport, Orly airport was inaugurated by Charles de Gaulle in 1961. It was built on a Roman road that now runs beneath the south terminal. It has been listed as a historical monument (south terminal and control tower) for its "60s look": this means the wooden furniture can never be replaced so as to preserve the atmosphere of the period in which it was built.

Roissy combines development and innovation

When Orly became too small, the airline Air France moved to Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy. Terminal 1 is used for international flights. Terminal 2, made up of six buildings (2A-2F), is used for European flights and Terminal 3 for charter flights.

The layout of Terminal 1

Particularly original in its layout, Terminal 1 was designed by the architect Paul Andreu in the 1970s. Passengers move between floors on escalators that cross over in the centre of the building in transparent tubes. This terminal was completely renovated in 2009.

A new building

Built in 2012, this connects terminals 2A and 2C. Shaped like a trapezium, with its champagne-coloured strips, it was inspired by a Paco Rabanne dress created for the singer Françoise Hardy.
Bienvenue à bord !
This memo is part of the workshop
Bienvenue à bord !


Mehran Karimi Nasseri, nicknamed "Sir Alfred Mehran", lived in Terminal 1 of Roissy-Charles De Gaulle airport for 18 years. Steven Spielberg drew inspiration from this story for his film The Terminal starring Tom Hanks, as did Philippe Noiret in Tombés du ciel.

And elsewhere?



  • Vancouver Airport boasts an impressive collection of works by Canadian artists.
  • Beijing Airport is reminiscent of the shape and colours of a dragon, the symbol of China.
  • The multicoloured ceiling of Terminal 4 at Madrid Airport in Spain is made out of bamboo.

He wrote

"With the aeroplane, we discovered the straight line."

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, aviator and writer in his novel Terre des hommes (English title: Wind, Sand and Stars).

Test your level

It's easy to browse the educational contents on this website. Taking the test will help you to find French workshops, games and challenges at your level at a glance.