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Review: Iberia Arrivals Lounge Madrid Airport
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Review: LAN Business Class 787 Madrid To Frankfurt
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Review: Air France Lounge Frankfurt Airport
Review: Air France HOP Business Class Frankfurt To Paris
Review: Air France First Class Ground Experience Paris
Review: Air France Business Class 777 Paris To Toronto
Spoiler alert: the Air France first class ground experience in Paris is divine.
As long time readers will know, I had the chance to use the Air France First Class Lounge Paris in December 2013, after getting off an Air France A380 first class flight from Los Angeles to Paris.
Air France first class is extremely exclusive, in the sense that you can’t redeem miles for their first class product unless you’re an elite member in their own frequent flyer program. That being said, they do let business class passengers buy access to the first class lounge.
There are a few conditions you have to meet, the most significant of which are that you have to be traveling longhaul business class on a flight which doesn’t have a first class cabin, and that your ticket has to be issued by Air France. As luck would have it, my flight from Paris to Toronto had Air France’s new business class product and didn’t have a first class cabin, so I was eligible to purchase access.
So I purchased the Air France first class ground experience in Paris at a cost of 300EUR. Of course that’s not an insignificant amount to spend, but when you look at the overall experience, I think it represents an excellent value. I’d much rather pay 300EUR to access the world’s best lounge, than pay $50 to access a US airline lounge and be served packaged snacks and cubed cheese.
My flight from Frankfurt was scheduled to arrive at 8:55AM, while my connecting flight was at 1:45PM, so I had a connection time of almost five hours.
The experience began the second I stepped off the plane in Paris, or even a second before that. Someone from the first class team greeted me on the plane upon arrival, and said “Mr. Schlappig, I am here to drive you to the first class lounge.”
Given that we arrived at a remote stand quite far from the terminal, that was such a cool perk.
Usually I’d hate arriving at a remote stand far from the terminal, but in this instance I was thrilled about it. The drive to the lounge took over 10 minutes, and I talked to the lovely lounge agent the whole time. She was incredibly charming.
As we pulled into the first class lounge she pointed to the nearby BMW 7-Series and told me not to worry, because I’d be driven to my connecting flight in that car. You know it’s a good day when your biggest worry is what kind of car you’ll be privately driven to your plane in. 😉
We entered through the small door along the red wall, where there’s a security checkpoint. However, since I was connecting from another EU airport, there was no need for me to go through it.
We took the elevator up a level to the first class lounge, and she asked if I needed to be familiarized with the lounge. Since I had already visited I declined, and she just asked if she could arrange a spa treatment for me, which I of course agreed to.
As you enter the lounge there’s a large room with lots of seating, and then a leather wall which separates it from the dining area.
The lounge feels extremely inviting, with plenty of different seating areas — there are couches along the windows, and more traditional seats for lounging as well.
Next to the main room was a secondary room, which was even more private thanks to the sculpture in the middle of the room.
Next to that area is the blood-red bar. I’ve never actually seen anyone use it, though it does look pretty cool.
it also has a very nice selection of champagne on ice.
Past that is the main reception area. I believe that if you were to originate your travels in Paris you’d enter through the elevator in this part of the lounge. I’ve only used the lounge when connecting, so never entered that way.
But there’s a circular partitioned off area with plenty of magazines and newspapers, and then some more seating along the side of the room.
Then there’s a long hallway which leads to the relaxation area, spa, bathrooms, and shower rooms.
My favorite area to hang out is the relaxation area, which has a bunch of reclined lounge chairs. Each area has faux plant partitions, and there’s a cool wall display with constantly changing colors.
Behind that are two daybeds for relaxation. There wasn’t any bedding, but perhaps there’s some on demand, as I can’t imagine it would be very comfortable otherwise.
The shower rooms are near the relaxation area, and are spacious and well designed.
Even the basic bathrooms are gorgeous, perhaps the nicest of any lounge I’ve visited. There’s a center area with sinks.
Then there are some powder rooms.
And then there are individual bathrooms. Seriously, have you seen a more gorgeous airport bathroom anywhere?
After quickly touring the lounge I settled down in the relaxation area and ordered a cappuccino.
Following up on our earlier conversation about getting a spa treatment, the lounge agent returned with the spa menu, and she asked if I was okay with getting my treatment at 11:45AM. That worked for me!
The spa menu read as follows:
I settled on a 30 minute back massage.
I worked on my laptop for a bit over an hour, thanks to the fast wifi in the lounge.
At around 10:30AM I was a bit hungry, so headed to the dining area.
There was a small breakfast buffet setup, which looked beautiful.
I had a seat in the dining area, and the professional server presented me with the wine list, breakfast menu, and lunch menu.
The lounge’s menu is created by Alain Ducasse.
While I felt like having lunch, here’s the breakfast menu, just for reference:
The lunch menu read as follows:
Then there was a special lemon-themed menu:
The wine list read as follows:
There’s no lounge in the world which even comes close to the dining experience at this lounge. The server taking care of me was as confident and competent as at any top restaurant, though on top of that there was a Maître D’ of sorts, who came by to offer me suggestions of what to order, and what wines to pair my courses with.
Upon settling in my table was set, including with a hot towel and a bottle of sparkling water of my choice (they have quite a water menu!).
To start I had a glass of the 2004 Bollinger, which was delightfully nutty.
I was also offered a selection of bread from the breadbasket, all of which was warm and crispy.
To start I was offered a smoked salmon and carrot amuse bouche, which was sprinkled with caviar. I was promptly offered a refill of the champagne as well.
For the starter I ordered a shrimp caesar salad. The server recommended I switch to a different wine to pair with the course, which I of course agreed to.
The salad was fantastic, plain and simple. I know there were more exciting appetizers I could have ordered, but I loved it.
For the main course I ordered the seared sea scallops. This was possibly the best dish I’ve ever had, anywhere.
I appreciate food, but I’m not a real foodie. In other words, put a good steak in front of me and I’ll enjoy it, but I probably won’t savor every last bite. I savored every bite of this dish. It. Was. Incredible.
This course was paired with yet another glass of wine, this time a chardonnay.
I’m not going to lie, I was feeling rather, ahem, refreshed at this point, given that the wine pairing pours were anything but stingy.
The meal had been so good up until that point, so I asked the excellent server what his favorite dessert was. As luck would have it, he recommended the dessert which include alcohol.
To start he asked me to choose from two rums. I wouldn’t know the difference between the two, so asked him to choose.
Then he brought out the baba, which was a masterpiece.
He sliced it open in front of me.
And doused it in rum.
And then he put the cream on top.
It was… well, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let it speak for itself.
To finish off the meal I ordered a cappuccino, which was served with some sweets on the side.
I kept working from the restaurant area for a while, so ordered a coffee with milk.
For what it’s worth, at this point they had also set up the lunch buffet, so below are some pictures of it. With their incredible menu, I could only ever imagine using this to supplement what can be ordered.
Based on the quality of the rest of the food, I sure was tempted to have these all get lost in my carry-on. 😉
At 11:45AM I headed to the spa, located at the very back of the lounge. There the spa attendant was waiting for me, and immediately took me into a nearby room.
There I received an incredible 30 minute massage. This isn’t some watered down chair massage, but rather it’s a quality massage where you lay flat and take your shirt off. I was feeling fantastic.
At 1:10PM the same lounge agent who picked me up from my Frankfurt flight came by to tell me the Toronto flight was ready for boarding, and that she’d accompany me down to the plane.
We headed to the lower level, where we hopped into the parked 7-Series.
This time around the drive to the plane took only about five minutes.
We took an elevator up a level to the jet bridge, and then the associate brought me all the way onto the plane, where she introduced me to the purser, and I bid her farewell.
I’ve written in the past about what I consider to be the world’s seven best first class lounges, and the Air France lounge was at the top of the list. After my second visit, I can absolutely confirm that the overall ground experience is the most impressive in the world.
Sure, there are certain elements of other lounges which are fantastic. Thai Airways offers an hour-long massage in their lounge. Other lounges may have more impressive decor.
But Air France has you covered plane door to plane door. The food in the lounge is incredible, by far the best you’ll have at any lounge anywhere in the world. Other lounges have restaurant quality food. This lounge has Michelin star restaurant quality food.
Beyond that, there’s just something so refined and confident about the entire experience.
300EUR isn’t an insignificant amount of money to spend on a better lounge. Not at all, especially when you’d have access to a lounge already. But I still think this represents a fantastic value if you have a long layover and are into experiencing the world’s best lounges.
Simply put — if you haven’t been to the Air France First Class Lounge Paris, you haven’t been to the world’s best first class lounge.