The layout of Charles de Gaulle airport may leave a lot to be desired and the short connection times and typically long distances between terminals means that transferring is not for the faint hearted. But Charles de Gaulle’s duty free shopping is amazing. Charles de Gaulle Duty free wasn’t always excellent, though, as the airport did suffer a bout of neglect up until about ten years ago when retail became more than a mere afterthought. This is especially so since the airport was privatized in 2006 and things have since improved dramatically. Today, Charles de Gaulle Duty Free has a retail offering befitting Paris’s status as Europe’s style capital.
Airport management has truly taken a commendable approach to retail. Instead of renting out store space to the highest bidder, as many airports tend to do, Aeroports de Paris has formed joint ventures with retailers for the main shops. This means that the airport manager has an active interest in improving sales as opposed to just collecting rent. As for retailers, they are offered the security of a long tenure which motivates them to construct appealing and attractive duty free shops and invest in quality service.
The airport has put a great deal of focus into improving the fashion offer. Several new shops have been opened in the airport along with the Charles de Gaulle’s fashion retail partner The Nuance Group. Among these fabulous stores are boutiques that feature a number of high fashion brands such as Hermes, Giorgio Armani, Longchamps, Celine and Burberry. You might be thinking that it’s a bit unusual to see such high caliber shops at an airport but it’s worth mentioning that the stores only stock a token selection compared to their larger counterparts. So if you’re looking for a handbag, wallet or belt, for example, as a souvenir, you will find one but don’t expect to browse through a full range of clothing.
Luxury exudes at this airport with big names ranging from Burberry to Bvlgari that enjoy standalone stores.
Cosmetics and Fragrances
This is another strong point at Charles de Gaulle duty free owing to retailer Aelia’s healthy relationships with various internationsl beauty suppliers. When you visit the airport, be sure to visit the Beauty Unlimited shops in T2E in particular, which are on par with the bigger and best stores on the French high street such as Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and Sephora. When it comes to range, presentation and service, you’ll be bowled over and if you’re travelling beyond Europe, the price savings are fantastic.
The real beauty advantage of Paris, and indeed Charles de Gaulle Duty Free, though, is the ability to find exclusive products. Guerlain and Clarins have both made exclusive fragrances only for sale at French airports and there are a number of other beauty companies that offer new products exclusively for a period of time before releasing them to other shops and other countries. You can’t miss the exclusives; they’re always well promoted and make for a wonderful gift or treat for the stylish people in your life.
Tobacco and Liquor
Aeroports de Paris and Aelia operate the Pure and Rare liquor and tobacco outlets which offer fabulous enticements if you’re looking for exclusivity. There has been a report of one particular traveler spending as much as 30 000 Euros on liquor at Charles de Gaulle and it’s not really difficult to understand: fine French wines are exquisitely presented and the sales teams are a force to be reckoned with. Besides wines there are other limited-edition or rare liquor products available. The range of cognacs and whiskies in particular are favorites with many travelers.
If you love cigars, Charles de Gaulle’s duty free shopping offers arguably one of the finest examples of a cigar shop in an airport. La Cave a Cigares can be found in terminal 2 complete with armchairs and plush wood paneling to complete a true connoisseur’s experience. The selection of cigars is outstanding and service, along with the staff’s product knowledge is superb. As are the prices (if you’re traveling beyond the EU). Many a traveler mentions “retail experience” when traveling through airports and La Cave a Cigares is possibly as close as you could come to indulging in a genuine airport retail experience.
Owing to Charles de Gaulle’s size, the quality of the duty free offerings varies greatly depending on which terminal you’re in. The newer parts of the airport, namely terminal S3 and T2E, offer the most impressive duty free stores. When the section first opened it was described as “a new vision for duty free and luxury travel.” And the reality does live up to the hype. The sight lines of the stores are great, branding is strong without being over the top and there are plenty or surprises and amazing offers. The area is elegant and classy – both in offering and environment.
The highly visible promotion areas and exhibitions spring out at you and the visibility of the stores beg for exploration. Confectionary in this airport is done really well too. In fact, there is plenty to admire in 2E including one of the best food and beverage outlets seen in an airport –Laduree. This famed purveyor of luxury cakes and pastries is also the inventor of the double-decker macaroon which is showcased beautifully on site. Caviar House & Prunier is also fantastic and the central Parisian Square allows you to sit back and relax in comfort and style as you look around at the retail offerings and wait to board your flight.
Charles de Gaulle Airport also houses its own museum which puts on different exhibitions throughout the year. Entrance to the museum is free so when you’re all duty free shopped-out, you can head over to explore.
Overall, duty free Charles de Gaulle has been well thought out for its quality and service.
A Few Quick Facts
- Paris Charles de Gaulle houses 121 stores.
- There are 62 bars, cafes and restaurants in total.
- It takes up to 30 minutes to walk from the shops to the gates depending on which terminal you’re in.
- Highlights to look out for include luxury fashion accessories, high-end French wines, cognac and whisky and exclusive beauty products.
- See whats cheap using Duty Free Addict’s price comparison tool
- Interesting shops worth visiting include Beauty Unlimited; Pure and Rare; Hermes; La Cave a Cigares and Longchamp
- You can check out the airport’s website here for special offers.
- There are 3 terminals. Terminal 2 is divided in sections A-G and some are in entirely different building.
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