France is one of the most important countries in Europe, and is located on the eastern side of the continent. To the north of conty, is the United Kingdom; while to the north-east is Germany. Italy borders the country on its south-eastern side, and Spain is found to the south-west of the country. France is divided into many smaller provinces, and each has a couple of airports serving the region. There are approximately 400 or more airports in France, but only about 200 of them are for civil use with paved runways. The other ones are for military use, heliports or those with only grass landing strips. The airports play a major role in the country’s economy, and serve as gateways for tourists from all around the world. They are also important for business travel.
The largest of the airports located in France are found nearby the city of Paris, towards the north of the country, and located in the Ile-De-France region. These two airports are known as the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, or the Roissy, and Paris-Orly Airport. Collectively, they serve approximately 85 million passengers per annum. Over 58 million passengers arrive and depart from Charles de Gaulle each year, while Paris Orly handles over 25 million passengers. Charles de Gaulle is also one of the largest air hub in the world, and is ranked as the second-largest in Europe, just behind London Heathrow. The Paris Orly was, however, the first one for the city of Paris, opened in 1932, while Charles de Gaulle followed in the later 1960’s. A couple of other airports are found in Paris as well, including one located just south of Charles de Gaulle, and known as the Paris – Le Bourget, and another as the Paris – Beauvais Tille, to the north of the city.
Towards the south of the country lie many of the other larger airports, which include the Nice Cote d’Azur, the Lyon-Saint Exupéry, the Marseille-Marignane and Toulouse-Blagnact. Nice Airport is the third-largest in France, with its passenger figures exceeding 10 million per annum. It is located just 7 km from the city of Nice, and is found in the Provence-Alpes-Cote D’Azur. Marseille is nearby, and along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. This airport serves the second-largest city in the country, and Marseille is also famous for being the oldest city in the country. Toulouse is found in the Midi-Pyrenees region, while Lyon lies to the north-east, in the Rhone-Alpes region. Both handle over six million passengers per annum. Other locations nearby include the Aix Les Bains, serving Chambery, Montpellier, the Caumont serving Avignon and the Marcillac, serving Rodez.
On the western side of the country, French airports include Bordeaux International, the Limoges – Bellegarde, the Nantes Atlantique, Laleu at La Rochelle and the Carpiquet in Caen, while on the eastern side of France are the Dijon Longvic, the Strasbourg, the Reims Champagne and the Metz-Nancy (Lorraine).
The Paris Charles de Gaulle is a hub for the airline carrier of Air France, which is one of the main airline companies serving the French Airports. From many of the locations, flights are offered to the United Kingdom, by airline companies such as British Airways, Easyjet, Flybe and Ryanair. The popular UK destinations include the London airports of Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh, while there are also many flights offered by a variety of companies to Spain, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Long haul flights travel to American destinations, such as Miami, Los Angeles and New York, as well as to China and South Africa, and some of the many airline carriers which operate flights to France include Lufthansa, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Air Europa, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Alitalia, Brussels Airlines, Aer Lingus, Delta Air Lines, Air Berlin and Swiss International Airlines.
The France airports handle millions of passengers per annum and many have multiple terminal buildings and up to four runways. Their passengers will find all the facilities they require in the majority of the terminal buildings, including banking and currency exchange services, conference and meeting room facilities, healthcare centres and pharmacies, tourist and general information services, lost and found offices, internet connections, public telephones and baggage trolleys. There are also extensive facilities for parents of young children, especially in the larger destinations, which include play areas and nappy-changing stations. All airports in France are well equipped for the arrival and departure of disabled passengers. They have adequately adapted toilet facilities, pavement ramps, clear walkways, special meeting and reception areas and reserved parking spaces in the parking lots. Passengers who require further assistance can also make the necessary arrangements with their airline company.
Passengers have a wide variety of transportation options to and from the airports of France, which include by bus, taxi, train or more private alternatives, such as hotel shuttle buses, private transfers and other private bus companies. All French destinations also have a good selection of car hire companies within their arrival areas. Each region in France has bus services operated by its own authorities, and are referred to by various names. Many buses travel to the airports on a frequent basis. Larger destinations are equipped with their own railway stations, for example, Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly, while those without a railway station on the site usually have regular bus services to the main train station of the town or city for which it serves. The railway company is called the SNCF, and trains connect all the major cities and towns of the country. The fast and efficient TGV trains are a wonderful way to travel between cities like Paris, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Dijon, Nantes, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Toulouse. Taxis are available from outside the arrival areas, and are operated on a metered system, with charges calculated per kilometre.
Airports in France provide access for tourists to all the wonderful and famous attractions the country has to offer, and visitors arrive from all parts of the world to see places such as Disneyland Paris, the Eiffel Tower and Moulin Rouge, or to enjoy a canal cruise in the city of Toulouse. The cities of France are also well know for their historical attractions, museums and exquisite religious buildings, while the coastal cities such as Marseille have some lovely beaches to offer.