Working as an au pair in France definitely has its advantages, but it’s not a lucrative position. So, travelling has to be done on the cheap – meaning a lot of inconveniently timed flights and consequent nights spent in airports.
On a recent trip, I took the last Faure Vercors airport shuttle bus of the night from Grenoble train station to Aéroport Lyon-Saint Exupéry for an early morning flight to Barcelona. A freezing cold evening, the shuttle was running late due to a major accident on the highway. Only two other passengers waited it out with me at the dark bus terminal.
About two hours later, when we arrived a little before midnight, the airport was beautifully lit and surprisingly populated.
The other two people on the bus rushed inside and, clearly knowing what they were doing, set up camp in the booths of the closed Premium Bar in Terminal 2.
Although the rest of the restaurants and cafés were also closed by this point (some even said they closed by 8PM!), nearby was a thorough vending machine offering both hot and cold beverages as well as snacks.
In the restrooms between Terminals 1 and 2, there are showers. However, to use them, you need to first visit the information center, which is open from 6AM to 11:30PM.
The “Centre de Services” also offers an internet kiosk, photocopies and faxes, lounge access, and more.
If you need to access the internet after the center closes, though, there are kiosks from which you can purchase various amounts of time.
With Premium Bar’s tables already occupied, I wandered to some soft, circular booths outside of L’Atelier des 2 rives. Finding an outlet right next to the couch, I felt like I’d won the jackpot. At that moment, though, I realized I’d forgotten the converter for my American laptop. With its 40-minute battery life, there was no way I’d be able to watch any of the movies I’d prepared for the wait.
If not for my Kindle, I’d have been very grateful for the free magazines the airport graciously provided.
My only other concern was that I’d be too cold to sleep. In January, I’d spent the night at Moscow Domodedovo after a flight delay resulted in missing the last train into the city. Even wearing almost every piece of clothing I’d packed beneath my extreme-weather coat, I shivered for hours.
As a backup plan, I figured I could retreat to Hotel NH, located literally right outside (the hotel website lists its distance from the airport as 0.00km). With rooms starting at about 80euros a night, it wouldn’t have been a terrible financial setback.
However, using my coat as a blanket, I slept soundly. By 5AM when I woke up, both of the other two booths were also occupied by sleeping travelers.
Although I would be flying out of Terminal 3 with easyJet, I had been advised not to sleep there. About a five or 10 minute walk away, the terminal was definitely less cosy.
Still, once through ticketing and security, the gates featured their own set of unique amenities, including a microwave and a bar with outlets for each stool.
Boarding, I felt there was little else I could’ve asked for from a night in the airport, and having spent (too) many nights in transit, few left me feeling as refreshed as Lyon-Saint Exupéry.
Visit the Sleeping in Airports Lyon-Saint Exupery Airport Guide