The lounge opened in February 2009.
WHERE IS IT?
The Air France La Premiere first class lounge is in Paris CDG’s Terminal 2E, across from Gate 14. Guests will either arrive by car from the plane, if they are transferring from another flights (as I was, from London), or be escorted by a member of staff on foot.
WHO CAN ACCESS?
Air France first class passengers only.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Upon arrival, staff offer to take your bags and show you around. The expansive interiors are stylish, peaceful and and modern with accents of red and installations of free-standing silvery reeds that create nature-inspired screens. There is a dining room and lots of tranquil chill-out zones with comfy seating, and lots of light coming in through windows facing the aircraft stands.
There is a room with a massive mirrored TV screen where you can watch sports matches or do presentations. Wifi is free although you do need to input your name and email. I couldn’t see many power points around although they might have just been hidden from view. Once I had taken a seat, a member of staff promptly came over to take my order for a lemon tea and bottle of Badoit water.
If you want a specific magazine not in stock in the lounge, staff will go down to the terminal to get it for you. They are highly attentive but not intrusive – they are very good at leaving people alone where appropriate, and not asking too many questions, unless it’s obvious that the traveller wants to have a conversation. Discretion is the name of the game – one staff member I spoke to didn’t even know which destinations people were flying to.
A quiet zone has loungers and beds that can be made up with sheets and pillows. Some guests feel so relaxed they have a snooze on one of the sofas.
I had a spa treatment booked for 1000 (you should call ahead at least a couple of days in advance, if not a week to guarantee a slot). There are only two treatment rooms, but there are several showers as well if you just want to freshen up. Passengers all get a 30-minute leg, foot or back massage for free (no mani/pedis).
I went for the back massage. I was very impressed with how professional my therapist (Virginie) was. The music, temperature and lighting were all adjusted to just the right settings. Skincare products are all by luxury French brand Biologique Recherche, which are also available to buy. Other treatments for between 45 and 90 minutes cost 95 to 170 euros.
FOOD AND DRINK
Talking to staff, I discovered that what really separates business from first is the level of personalisation that can take place for this exclusive sub group of travellers. Although there is an extensive a la carte menu and a buffet that changes three times a day, you can also call ahead a few days before and order any food you like and warn them of specific dietary requests.
I was told that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy recently passed through and mentioned he liked chouquettes and, within 45 minutes, the kitchen had baked him some and put them in a bag to take on the plane. Other examples might be a request for sushi, kosher or vegan cuisine. I was given a bag of madeleines to take away.
With catering from Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse, the cuisine in the restaurant is French, of course, and the quality sublime. The menu (see below) changes seasonally. I chose the veloute, which was poured from a jug into my bowl at the table over some carefully placed pieces of roasted chestnut and butternut squash, followed a delicate oblong of sea bass with zesty pieces of orange and tender stems of asparagus. Absolutely delicious.
- Pumpkin and chestnut veloute
- Shrimp caesar salad
- Coddled eggs, mushrooms and artichokes with toasted country bread
- Cookpot of seasonal vegetables, crushed tops
- Elbow pasta with ham and black truffle
- Preserved duck foie gras with warm brioche
- Toasted sandwich of chicken, Comte cheese and black truffle
- Oven-baked sea bass with white asparagus from Les Landes with maltaise sauce
Specialities of Aquitaine:
- White asparagus from Les Landes with maltaise sauce
- Bordelaise-style sirloin steak
- Rocamadour goat cheese with fig marmalade
- Apple croustade with Armagnac ice cream
Mains (served with potato puree, seasonal vegetables or baby salad):
- Oven-baked turbot, root vegetables, vin jaune cooking jus
- Saddle of lamb roasted in cocotte, vegetables
- Corn-fed chicken, green asparagus from Provence, cooking jus
- Pan-seared fillet of beef with peppers
- Grilled thick slice of Ibaiona pig black pudding
- Monte Carlo-style baba with rum or Armagnac of your choice
- “La Premiere” pallet, chocolate from Paris, and praline
- Cookpot of mango and passion fruit, light cream with lime
- Ice cream or sorbet
It was a good thing I had 3.5 hours to experience the lounge but eve then I didn’t get time to sit in the opulent crimson speakeasy, Le Salon Le Premiere, which serves three types of champagne (2005 Bollinger, Perrier Jouet Blason Rouge and Selection Alain Ducasse).
It also lists three signature cocktails including the Gautier 1er, which is made with cognac Gautier, bitters, cardamom, espresso, sirop d’erable and Chantilly cream. If you want a gin and tonic, or a Bloody Mary, I am certain they would fix this for you too.
In the case of my Washington DC flight, the gate was close to the lounge, so passengers had the option of walking or having a member of Air France ground staff (Vanessa in this instance) take them to the plane in the car. I chose the latter. As anticipated, boarding was on time so after I finished my lunch, I was driven to the aircraft after exiting the lounge at the back.
An incredible lounge that has excelled itself in providing elite flyers with a luxurious, relaxed haven to pass time between flights. In fact, you probably won’t want to leave. The Alain Ducasse food is top notch, the spa treatments superb and the service elegant at all times. As one would hope, this marks a true distinction between first and business class experiences.
OPENING HOURS 5.30am-11.30pm