WTF Weds: Charles de Gaulle Airport Signs

Posted on
Feb 26, 2014
Posted in: WTF, WTF Wednesdays

Rand was in Hamburg last week, while I stayed home and watched American Idol. We were both happy with this arrangement, because he HATES American Idol, and I wasn’t quite feeling up to going to Germany for only two days.

Also, I was able to learn that I kind of hate American Idol, too, and that sort of important introspection can only happen when you are home alone, wincing at the sounds coming out of your TV.

On the way back to Seattle, Rand flew through Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and he showed me this picture.

It’s hard to tell, but Rand is making a really awesome WTF face, which he happens to give me whenever I’m navigating us someplace.

“According to the sign, what direction do I need to go in to find those terminals?” he asked.

“I’d assume that you’d need to go downstairs – maybe by taking the escalator on the right?” I ventured.

“Wrong. You’re supposed to go straight ahead.”

“No way.”

But indeed, that was the case. In the U.S. (and, if I remember properly, throughout many parts of Europe) when something lies straight ahead of you, a sign will indicate that with an “up” arrow. But in Charles de Gaulle, a down arrow means that you should proceed straight ahead, because the French invented absurdity.

From my American perspective, may I say: WTF.

The good news: it was fine, and despite a delay on the ground, my dear husband made it home safely.

And even more good news – he brought me these:

No directions were needed to get them into my mouth.

The salted caramel ones are actually filled with caramel. And then I sprinkled more salt on top.



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  • OMG yes. I spent a good hour walking CDG’s neverending hallways trying to find my way from Gate 2D to Gate 2E… one would think that they would be next to each other, no? No. It took almost two hours, over a kilometre of walking AND a shuttle bus to get us onto our connecting flight. NEVER AGAIN!

  • Jay

    I had to show this to my husband as we were just through CDG at the beginning of the month and complaining about its terrible signage. In fact, CDG is our most hated airport (aside from those in Central Africa.) Numbers and letters, that damn train, little seating at gates & hardly any good food options in the terminals. We avoid it like the plague!

  • Wow! Just, Wow! It would be fun to stand there and take photos of the quizzical (WTF?) looks on the faces of passengers standing there looking at that sign.

  • I can definitely see the WTF face now that you’ve mentioned it. The arrows are the same here in Australia, if you’re going to go straight the arrow points up, if you need to go down to the next floor (usually) there is a little picture of a man (or woman) on some stairs.

    On a side note I’ve had those Macaroons before (one of the mothers that I worked for would do whirlwind round the world trips and bough some back) and they are fantastic!

    Sophie xxx

  • Learning about those ‘down means straight ahead’ signs was one of my very first WTF travel moments on my first trip to Europe when I was in college. My friend and I went in circles and up and down FOREVER trying to find one place or another.

  • Jerusha

    He goes to Germany for 2 days and comes back with an awesome WTF photo for your blog AND macarons from Paris?!?! Seriously impressed.

  • One word: Talkie-Walkie.
    And yes, that’s how the French write it.
    It all starts there, I’m sure.

  • Jane

    Silly me. I thought those were fancy soaps.

  • Jen

    Gah! Macarons!! So jealous.

  • I found Tokyo Narita a similar level of confusion when attempting to find the train into the city!
    Why so many different trains!

  • I’m glad he found his way home, getting the cookie’s to you was important!

    That is really strange though, Mayhaps the people who laid out the airport were drunk that day…

  • Me and my bf love this post. We got lost in Charles de Gaulle a few years ago. Such a confusing airport! And now I have to have macaroons. Luckily there’s a Laduree in London so I can get my fix! 🙂 x

  • Oh! I am planning a few days in Paris. Stopping in CDG. So, you might have just upped my little trip a notch. I’m such a lucky bastard. Need to hug you.

  • Very useful information for when I fly into that airport in a couple weeks!

  • Olivia esddms

    A few years ago, the boards apparently showed wrong gate numbers, and some employee had to direct us to, you guessed it, the other side of the airport.

    That started, throughout the following years, a string of missed flights, lost baggage, and general mayhem that made me want to punch that airport’s walls clean through.

    Never flying there or through there if I can help it.

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