Prior to my Air France La Première flight from Paris to San Francisco, I had access to the Air France La Première Lounge at Terminal 2E of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
This lounge is considered one of the best First Class airport lounges in the world, so I was giddy with excitement as I approached the exclusive check-in space for La Première passengers.
In This Post
- Check-in Lounge
- Security Escort
- Wellness Area
- Private Car Transfer
Air France La Première Lounge Paris – Access
The Air France La Première Lounge in Paris is available to any passenger travelling in Air France La Première on a departing flight.
Passengers who are originating in Paris may make use of the dedicated check-in facilities at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Meanwhile, passengers who are connecting in Paris (either from or to a La Première flight) will be driven from their inbound aircraft directly to the lounge, and then from the lounge to their outbound aircraft.
Eligible La Première passengers are able to bring in a guest who is travelling on the same flight, subject to lounge capacity.
Moreover, it’s also possible for select Air France business class passengers to purchase access for €500 per visit.
Eligible passengers must have flown in Air France La Première at least once during the past 12 months, and must be travelling in business class on an Air France or Delta flight that does not offer a La Première cabin (on either a cash or award ticket).
Air France La Première Lounge Paris – Check-in Lounge
The experience starts at Air France’s exclusive check-in lounge for La Première passengers, which is found at Section 14 of the check-in counters at Terminal 2E.
Note that the check-in area is some distance away from the rest of Air France’s SkyPriority and regular check-in desks. Once you get there, however, you’ll see a bright red curved wall featuring La Première signage, so it’s hard to miss.
I arrived at check-in at around 7:15am, well in advance of my 10:25am departure time. Ideally, I would’ve made sure to arrive at 6am just as the La Première Lounge opened, but I had found myself occupied with some ticketing issues earlier in the day.
The staff at the check-in area initially directed me to the SkyPriority check-in zone instead, before noticing the “P” class on my boarding pass and that I was in fact ticketed in La Première.
After checking the passenger manifest, he welcomed me to the exclusive check-in space and invited me to make myself comfortable.
The check-in area is stylish and inviting, offering a few groups of seating and some enclosed displays of Air France paraphernalia for guests to look at while they wait.
At this point, I was also introduced to my dedicated handler for the Air France ground experience this morning: a lovely team member named Amy. Amy asked for my passport to handle the check-in formalities, and also asked if I had any bags to check or any tax refunds to process.
Taking my passport and checked bag, Amy disappeared – and that was all that was required from me in terms of check-in! I wouldn’t see my bag until 12 hours later in San Francisco.
I must’ve appeared to be noticeably high-strung on this particular morning, because the other team member in the check-in area urged me to take a seat and relax.
I was asked if I wanted any coffee or water while I waited, and what type of each: I opted for an espresso and a still water, which was promptly served on a silver platter.
After giving me a few minutes to relax and sip on my beverages, Amy returned and asked if I was ready to proceed via security. I gathered my hand baggage and followed her through a door in the back of the La Première check-in space.
Air France La Première Lounge Paris – Security Escort
Air France provides a dedicated security escort service for La Première passengers. The escort walks you from the landside check-in lounge to the actual post-security La Première Lounge and ensures you are comfortably settled into the lounge.
From the check-in lounge, a hallway leads out to the space between the rows of check-in counters and the security queues. There are red La Première signs emblazoned all over the walls in here.
You’ll then proceed to a dedicated La Première screening checkpoint, which isn’t the actual security checkpoint. Instead, the La Première escort verifies her credentials with the airport personnel before bringing you to the same security queues used by regular passengers.
Indeed, this is the only part of the experience that doesn’t necessarily feel very “premium”, since you’re rubbing shoulders with throngs of passengers who are travelling in a lower class of service. 😉
However, the La Première escort is empowered to cut through the lines: my escort opened and closed the retractable barriers, allowing us to pass through the crowd and skip to the very front of the queue.
Once there, she showed the security staff her credentials, and I received a La Première card in my luggage basket to indicate that my security experience should be fast-tracked.
Altogether, we were through to the airside terminal within minutes. Given the space constraints at Charles de Gaulle that presumably precludes a dedicated La Première checkpoint, this type of fast-tracked security experience with an escort along the way is probably the best that Air France can achieve.
After security, it’s a brief walk down the concourse to our right to get to the elevators that would bring us up to the La Première lounge.
Air France La Première Lounge Paris – Seating
The Air France La Première Lounge is an intimate space designed for a limited number of First Class passengers. It exudes elegance at every turn, while offering a wide range of seating and relaxation options for those who are privileged enough to grace its halls.
Arriving at the lounge, you’ll first enter a foyer leading into the rest of the space. Since my visit was in December, the lounge had been decked out in Christmas decorations.
To your left upon entering the lounge proper, there’s a television viewing room with one of the largest television screens I’ve ever seen. I didn’t see too many guests making use of this space during my time here.
The main section of the lounge is tastefully partitioned into dining and seating areas with a S-shaped half-wall in the middle of the space.
There are large, plush seats scattered around the centre of the room, as well as comfortable seating nooks lined up along the walls with tarmac views.
Then there’s another room in the back of the lounge with more seating nooks built around the walls, surrounding a snazzy circular light fixture in the middle of the room.
I loved the confident splashes of bright red that were visible everywhere in the lounge, which offered a bold counterpoint to the soothing shades of cream and grey on all of the furniture. All of the visuals in the lounge were certainly befitting of one of the world’s great capitals of fashion and style.
I placed my belongings down in one of the corners of this interior seating space, and spent most of the time relaxing here after scoping out the rest of the lounge and then enjoying breakfast in the dining room.
Air France La Première Lounge Paris – Wellness Area
A short hallway leads from the main dining and seating area to the relaxation and wellness area, which is quieter and more dimly lit.
There’s a handful of recliner chairs, separated by partitions made of white plastic “tall grass”, where you can sit back, relax, and perhaps sneak in a quick nap.
Alternatively, if you’d like to get some proper rest, there are two semi-private lie-flat nap pods that are available on a first-come first-serve basis.
Note, however, that these are separated from the rest of the lounge with curtains only, rather than individual enclosed rooms like you’ll find at the Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge or the Swiss First Class Lounge.
The Air France La Première Lounge has four shower rooms, which each offer a fully-enclosed shower along with a sink and toilet. Each unit is fairly spacious and well-appointed enough, though not quite to the standard of Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge and their signature cabanas.
The restrooms were also a model of creativity in their design. Each restroom is housed in its own cylindrical unit, consisting of a toilet, sink, and vanity table.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that the Air France La Première Lounge has a spa operated by Sisley, although I had visited the lounge just a few days before it reopened.
Guests are entitled to a 30-minute complimentary spa treatment, and reservations can be made by calling the La Première phone line prior to your journey or via your escort on the day of travel.
Air France La Première Lounge Paris – Dining
Soon after touring the lounge, I headed to the dining area. As I perused the buffet offerings, a staff member approached me and asked if I wanted to take breakfast, and I gladly picked a table to sit down and eat at.
The dining experience at the Air France La Première Lounge is entirely customized, with a miniature buffet selection and a full à la carte menu by three-Michelin-starred Chef Alain Ducasse (presented in beautiful red leather) that you can order from in unlimited quantities.
There are a handful of two-person dining tables to sit at, although any of the tables can be pushed together to accommodate larger groups. I imagine it’s not too often that there are larger groups travelling together, though, since any La Première cabin only sits four passengers!
Let’s take a quick look at the cold buffet bar, which offers pre-plated helpings of cold cuts, cereals, yogurt, and fruit. Everything was incredibly tastefully presented, to the extent that I almost didn’t want to grab anything from the buffet and spoil the perfect arrangements.
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Most impressive was the buffet shelf with 11 types of still or sparkling water, ranging from famed French brands like Evian and Perrier to global names like Voss and San Pellegrino.
The Alain Ducasse breakfast menu read as follows:
I decided to order the omelette, waffles, and petite viennoiseries. I appreciated that the server patiently communicated with me in French throughout the meal, despite my non-fluent skills.
The meal started with an excellent cappuccino, served with the utmost elegance in a glass cup on a silver platter. Indeed, I was in awe of the presentation of every food and beverage item throughout my stay in the lounge.
Soon, my omelette, waffle, and pastries were brought on all at once. I loved the attention to detail: the plates were adorned with La Première’s signature sea horse logo, along with the distinctive red trim.
The omelette, which I had customized with a wide range of garnishes, was truly the best omelette that I can ever recall having. The texture was so tender, its contents beautifully blended with melted cheese on the inside, and the umami flavour so vivid.
Rarely does something of the mundanity of an omelette light up a breakfast sitting, but here in the La Première lounge, under the curation of Chef Alain Ducasse, that’s exactly what mine did.
I was quite impressed by the waffles, too. I liked that they came in a smaller portion compared to a full-sized waffle, allowing me to try them alongside other breakfast items. They were the perfect amounts of sweet and crispy, dressed with a light layer of sugar with syrup on the side.
Lunch & Dinner
I was consciously trying to save some room in my stomach for the meal service onboard La Première, so I restrained myself from sampling even more of the breakfast menu.
However, I do regret that I didn’t ask to give the lunch and dinner menu a try, if only for the review. The kitchen is more than happy to prepare items from the all-day dining menu during breakfast hours if you request it.
The dining menu reads as follows:
Some of the items on the menu sound extremely appetizing, and I’d certainly like to pay the La Première Lounge another extended visit in the future to dig into the offerings for lunch and dinner.
Service at the dining table is incredibly attentive, with a distinct French air of coolness and professionalism over necessarily warmth and enthusiasm. I was most impressed by just how well-trained the lounge staff appeared to be, and how much they took pride in their work.
For example, several different members of the team (including Guillaume, who would eventually be my handler en route to the plane itself) would stop by to top-up my water every time I drank more than half of my glass, and would offer a different bottle if I had finished my current one, making some light conversation each time.
Ice Cream & Sorbet
Lastly, it’s worth noting that the lounge has an entirely separate ice cream and sorbet menu:
I tried some of the pistachio praline ice cream over in my seat shortly before departing the lounge. Every bite of the ice cream was exquisite in taste, and the presentation even more so with a chilled metal goblet.
Air France La Première Lounge Paris – Bar
The lounge has a small bar adjacent to the main seating and dining room. It doesn’t appear to be staffed regularly or designed for sitting and socializing; instead, most guests would stop by to order a drink and then wait for it to be served at the seat.
The lounge has several different beverage menus. Here’s the whisky menu:
Here’s the bar menu:
And here are the coffee and tea menus:
In terms of the champagne selection, the lounge carried 2011 Amour de Deutz Brut Millesime, and I helped myself to a glass despite the early hour.
This was my first time trying champagne by Deutz, and I enjoyed its fruity flavour as I sipped on a rather generous pour.
Air France La Première Lounge Paris – Private Car Transfer
Throughout my stay in the lounge, my would-be driver Guillaume came up to introduce himself, and then check-in on me a few times to let me know what the boarding situation looked like for Flight 84 to San Francisco.
In the end, I remained the only passenger booked in La Première that day, so I was free to choose to proceed to the plane at any time. Naturally, I decided to stay in the lounge as long as possible and head to the plane just before departure.
(Guillaume also noted that the gate was relatively close to us in the concourse, so I could choose between taking the private BMW car transfer or simply being escorted to the gate via the elevators. I told Guillaume it wasn’t even a question; he smiled and said he still had to ask.)
At around 9:50am, Guillaume approached me and asked if I was ready.
I finished up the last of my pistachio ice cream and took one last around at my gorgeous surroundings, before following Guillaume to the service elevator at the corner of the lounge – ready for one of the crown jewels of the Air France La Première ground experience.
We took the elevator down one level to the ground floor, where there was an exclusive La Première security and immigration checkpoint. This is where inbound connecting passengers enter the lounge from, while in my case, Guillaume took my passport and handed it to the immigration officer for an EU exit stamp.
After one final check of my negative test and proof of vaccination for a US-bound flight, Guillaume led me to the waiting bay, where the trunk and passenger door to a BMW 7 Series was already open and waiting for me.
Wow – I could hardly believe my surroundings!
Settling into the backseat of the car, I stretched out with ample legroom and still or sparkling water at my fingertips.
The best was yet to come: since we still had some time before I needed to be at the plane, Guillaume graciously offered to take me on a quick driving tour of the Charles de Gaulle airport tarmac.
We took the scenic route via the taxiways themselves, admiring the Air France heavies parked at the gates (including the 777 that would take me to San Francisco). We even waited on the road for an Air France aircraft to pass in front of us en route to its takeoff sequence!
After an enjoyable conversation with Guillaume in which I learned about the sheer pride and prestige of working on the La Première team, as well as some of the famous encounters he’s had over the years, we parked at the base of the stairway to the jet bridge.
Guillaume led me up the stairs, unfurled the barrier to the jet bridge leading to the forward door on the 777, and accompanied me all the way into the La Première cabin itself to hand me off smoothly to the onboard crew.
He helped place my tote bag in the overhead bins, before leaving me with a parting gift: a La Première luggage tag to remember the occasion, and a dedicated La Première phone number to call on my next ultra-luxurious journey with them, whenever that may be.
Air France provides its La Première passengers with one of the world’s best ground experiences, starting from the exclusive check-in zone at Paris Charles de Gaulle, through security with a dedicated escort, inside the intimate La Première Lounge with world-class catering, and finally with a seamless journey into the First Class cabin itself.
Indeed, no other airline takes care of their most valuable passengers quite as attentively from start to finish, and the entire “white-glove” style of service (or “red-glove” by La Première’s design standards) from the moment you arrive at the airport to the moment you disembark at your destination is something I’ve only ever experienced here with Air France.
Among the many finer elements of a premium ground experience, the food and drink stands out as head-and-shoulders above Air France’s global peers when it comes to aspirational travel, which isn’t a surprise here in the world-renowned culinary hub that is Paris.
Chef Alain Ducasse and his team have masterfully elaborated the in-lounge dining and beverage menus, and based on my delectable breakfast sitting, I’m confident in naming the Air France La Première Lounge as the best airport lounge I’ve been to in terms of gastronomy.
Meanwhile, across the other pre-flight rituals, while La Première perhaps doesn’t quite achieve the same lofty heights as, say, Cathay Pacific’s shower rooms or Qatar Airways’s in-lounge hot tub, Air France nevertheless delivers an extremely well-rounded experience across wellness, service, and convenience.
I’m beyond grateful to have spent time in the La Première Lounge, and I hope to return one day to sample the full breadth of its culinary offerings and Sisley spa treatments – perhaps even within the next 12 months on a buy-up from Air France business class.