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Help me choose a flight - connection times in Paris

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Hey all.

I am going to be flying from Montana to Cairo (Egypt) next February, and I basically have two choices for my flight (which will start on Sunday, Jan 31 and arrive on Monday, February 1st):

1) Stop first in Minneapolis, have 49 minutes to make my connecting flight to Paris (CDG airport), where there is a 5-ish hour layover until continuing on to Cairo.

2) Stop first in Salt Lake City, with a 2.5 hour layover, then fly to Paris, with another 2.5 hour layover, before continuing to Cairo.

My concern is the layover in Paris...I have read horror stories about CDG airport and not having enough time to make connecting flights. I'd love to have the 5 hours there (grab some food, have plenty of time), but I am worried about the 49-minute connection in Minneapolis. I've only been in that airport once, and it's a lot bigger than Salt Lake if I recall...trying to make a connection to an international flight, I am wondering if I will have enough time there. So, I guess the question is this:

Will 2.5 hours be enough time in CDG airport in Paris to make my connection to Cairo, or should I chance the 49-minute connection in Minneapolis to give myself more time in France?

My first choice is the leisurely 2.5 hour layovers in both places, but since the departure and arrival times for the flight are essentially the same (one flight leaves Montana a half-hour earlier, but that's meaningless). I don't want to end up being late for a connection though, for obvious reasons.

Any suggestions as to which to pick?

As a follow up question, will I be required to go through customs/security in France, or is it not considered a "point of entry" since I am just catching a connecting flight to another country? I know when I came back from Mexico last month, I ended up in Huston before coming back to Montana, and I had to go through customs and then back through security before my connecting flight home. Hopefully I don't have to do that in Paris? I know I will in the way back...the return flight has a 23-hour layover in Paris, so I am going to get a hotel and stay the night. But that will be fun, not a chore. At least, I hope. =)

Thanks for any advice you can give...

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