Welcome to France

The arrival at Charles de Gaulle was smooth enough but some things were less smooth than others. Having 13 hours earlier passed through Changi airport, Singapore, I noticed several of the less smooth parts of the arrival that I doubt would be permitted in many places, and certainly not at Singapore. Here are three of those things:

First, the walking route from the plane into the terminal building at CDG was via several narrow corridors around the exterior of the building. That’s not too bad, but we then had to queue in the corridor for a while. Reason for the queue? Two police officers wanted to inspect passports. In the corridor! This was an additional step to the regular passport check at the immigration section. When we reached the front of the queue, one of the police officers asked how many in our party. Five. “Five? Okay, then we don’t need to see your passports.” They waved us through. Note to anyone wishing to avoid that passport check at CDG: arrive in a party of five, apparently.

Second, while awaiting luggage, I was pleased to see a drinking fountain. It was a flash machine with blue lights and moving parts. We were pretty thirsty by that stage, after so many hours in the dehydrating atmosphere of long-haul flying. Unfortunately, the machine was out of order. No water. A Frenchman beside me, also hoping to get water, said in a sarcastic tone “Welcome to France – nothing works.”

Third, having reached the train platform at the airport train station, we had the unpleasant incident with the nutter that Jennie has mentioned in her blog post. This guy was actually quite scary and threatening. I could not understand what he was shouting about in French, except for a few words: Italy… American… France. The trouble is you can’t predict what someone like that is going to do: was he about to become violent? Looking back now, I think it was actually a dangerous situation. His abuse seemed to be directed at us rather than just whoever happened to be nearest. When we moved away, he followed. The trigger was probably Tom’s t-shirt, which displayed an American flag. We had lots of luggage and I had Nicholas strapped on my front in a sling so I was not in a good position to defend anyone from an attack. I think a janitor may have been deliberately sticking close by with his long-handled mop. Thankfully our train pulled up and we got away. I wish those heavily armed police checking a few passports in the arrivals corridor had been more usefully deployed at the train station.

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One thought on “Welcome to France

  1. Doris Christie

    That must have been quite a scarey incident with the nutter!! Thank goodness he didn’t continue to follow you. You’d have all been feeling very tired and looking forward to journey’s end and a rest and could have done without that! The second leg of the flight sounds like something you’d rather forget too – the joys of long distance travel! Have enjoyed reading all the ‘putitontheslate’ messages.

    Reply

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