· Le Plan
The lounge is located downstairs from the main Terminal 2E, and a desk of receptionists greets entering customers, which include Air France Business and First Class (Affaires and Première), SkyTeam Elites and Flying Blue members with status. To the right and the left of reception are the two major areas of the lounge. It is open from 5:30am-11:30pm.
On the right, you’ll find a large, bustling café-style area with chairs and tables, a snack bar and a central island-bar with baskets of snacks and wines, lounge chairs lining one wall with small coffee tables and power outlets for chilling with your laptop, a quiet area for napping and working, a large flat-screen television against the back wall tuned to the news and sports, and an office area with iMacs. There is also a little newsstand with current newspapers and magazines in French and English for guests to read.
This side is also where you’ll find the shower suites, which were actually kind of nice compared to the rest of the lounge, with a simple wooden bench, a marble shower, a sink vanity area and a toilet.
The left side of the lounge is smaller in area, but is a lot brighter and airier, with high ceilings and huge windows overlooking the tarmac. It, too, has a café-style area and its own snack bar, as well as a little lounge area in the back, with lounge chairs along the windows with electrical outlets for charging your electronics.
The design of the space focuses on the use of blond wood, with brown, cream and red leather furniture. It is a sophisticated if somewhat bland palette, but all the chairs we tested out were tres confortable, and though the lounge was busy, no one objected to sharing a table or lounge chair coffee table with us.
The left side was by far our favorite, not feeling quite so much like a way station, and those huge windows made us feel much better about having to spend hours waiting for our plane and getting some work done. It's sort of like a long last look at Paris. We also made full use of the free WiFi provided by Orange during our wait, and were able to surf the web at high-speed without a problem, which is always a huge plus.
· Bon Appetit!
Considering how much we like eating in France, we were a little disappointed by the food and beverage choices in the lounge, though it was still far and away much better than most lounges we’ve visited in the U.S. We were there over the course of much of the morning and early afternoon, so we got to see a shift change in the snacks as well.
In the morning, there were breakfast items like little cups of yogurt, cereal, bread and bagels for toasting, and even some cold cuts like ham and cheese. The espresso machines were also going full-time. Also, and this is why we love France, there was already wine, champagne and beer out, plus all the usual hard liquors.
Towards lunchtime, the staff brought out some sort of tuna-potato salad hybrid that was…well, kind of unappetizing. There were also sort of canapés with goat cheese—those were better. The snacks were also pretty decent, and included peanuts, a few kinds of potato chips, and lots of delicious French butter cookies that (and we’re not too proud to admit it), we spirited away with us onto the plane so we wouldn’t go hungry on the flight.
On the beverage side, there were lots of soda choices, small Evian and Perrier bottles, a few juices, a couple beers, and that wine we mentioned. We were slightly disappointed to find that the wines were Louis Jadot and Georges du Boeuf, both widely (and cheaply) available in the U.S., but at least they were familiar and we knew we could drink them. Plus, when our flight was delayed, we settled in and made ourselves and our new friends a round of mimosas.
· Le Spa
One element of the lounge that we did admire was the fact that, since Air France partners with Clarins for its onboard amenities for Business and First Class, the Salon d’Affaires had a mini Clarins Spa inside, and reservations are made on a first come first serve basis with a sign-up sheet. So no pecking order, no preference or priority, whoever signs up first gets a slot for a 30-minute facial or massage. However, in a typically French fashion, the therapists do take an extra long lunch break that looked to be about 2.5 hours by the blacked out boxes on the sign up sheet, so be sure to zip right to the clipboard to the right of reception as soon as you check in.
· Au Revoir!
The bottom line is, the Salon d’Affaires was a perfectly nice place to spend a couple pre-flight hours snacking, working, and sampling some wines while making new friends. Would we have chosen to spend four hours there? No, but we sure were glad we had access to it when our flight delay was announced, because it sure beat wandering around 2E’s duty free shops.
[Photos: Eric Rosen for Jaunted]