An article by Vokya D, added on January 30, 2024 3 min. reading

Roissy airport, better known under the official name of Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG), is preparing to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in March 2024. Beyond being a global hub for air transport, CDG represents the result of an ambitious vision of General de Gaulle, the founding father of this international airport.

Terminal 1 under construction ©Archives ADP

The advent of CDG

Paris Airport, “Roissy in France”, 1973©ADP Archives

In 1960s, Orly airport had just entered service. However, under the leadership of the President of the Republic Charles de Gaulle, the authorities already anticipated the spectacular growth in air traffic. Anticipating the future saturation of Orly, enclosed in a dense urban fabric, the idea of ​​a second airport platform near Paris was emerging.

Roissy, located at 22 kilometers from Paris, was chosen from six possible locations. This decision responded to the need to rebalance regional development, moving the airport away from urbanized areas. The construction of this new infrastructure, originally named “Paris Nord”, began in 1964, despite attempts by local communities to oppose it.

The challenge of the construction site

The Mortières Farm before the work ©Archives ADP

The CDG project was colossal, however leading to rare destruction. The commune of Roissy-en-France will experience difficult years with streets, roads, and even residents suffering from the incessant ballet of machines and trucks. Mortières Farm, located on the site of Terminal 1, was among the rare victims of this major project. Despite the challenges, the objective of creating a modern and efficient airport platform was underway.

The inauguration and the rise

March 13, 1974. Arrival of the first flight on the platform ©Archives ADP

March 13th, 1974, the long-awaited day arrived with the landing of the first plane, a TWA Boeing 747, marking the commissioning of Terminal 1 inaugurated five days earlier by the Prime Minister Pierre Messmer. CDG was officially operational, ending centuries of silence on the region's farmlands.

A birthday full of memory

Terminal 1, Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, March 1974 ©Archives ADP

The fiftieth anniversary of CDG in March 2024 provokes reflection on the considerable impact of this infrastructure on the region and on the global airport sector. The 700 hectares of expropriated agricultural land for its construction marked the rapid decline of the large farms of Roissy, but also the start of an unprecedented industrial success.

The Ministry of Culture has granted the label of “Heritage of the 20th centurye century” at Terminal 1, which currently remains the only labeled space within the airport.

This anniversary offers the opportunity to delve into the archives, discover testimonies and period images, as well as pay tribute to a project which shaped the history of the region and contributed to the worldwide reputation of Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

sources: ADP archives