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World's Ugliest Airports

DeGaulle, Paris

Jared Zimmerman

Charles de Gaulle, Paris

The long, arched, column-free concrete expanse of De Gaulle’s terminal 2E (designed, like the rest of the airport, by architect Paul Andreu) was once hailed as a graceful addition—until a section of it collapsed in 2004 and killed four people. Even apart from that disaster, travelers have come to view CDG the way Monsieur Hulot might: as a symbol of a fiendishly technocratic world where nothing works and nobody cares. “I’ve suffered more abuse and bad signage at De Gaulle than at any other airport,” notes globe-trotting science-fiction writer and design critic Bruce Sterling. Somehow, all the meanness once associated with modern architecture has gotten stuck inside De Gaulle, like the victim of some cruel 40-year flight delay. British design guru John Thackara, who lives in the south of France, believes the airport “has rendered everyone who works there sociopathic. Its staff are literally unable to empathize with the appalling experiences they inflict on passengers.”

The Upside: Rabbits seem to enjoy the airport’s grassy environs.


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