There are two major international airports in the Paris suburbs: Charles-de-Gaulle and Orly. They are jointly known as the Aéroports de Paris and share a bi-lingual website. Both airports offer full services such as car rental, public transportation links to Paris, tourist info kiosks, shopping, dining, business center, police, hotels, post office, news agents and currency exchange.
Heather's Quick Advice: The best way to get to and from either airport in terms of cost, safety, and convenience is to take one of the airport busses listed below into central Paris (then taxi to your hotel), or reserve an airport shuttle to take you directly to your hotel for a flat fee.
This is the main airport for flights to and from North America. It's sometimes referred to as "Roissy", after the town. It's about 40 minutes (26km/16 miles) northeast of Paris (without traffic). It has three terminals (formerly linked by the slowest shuttle bus in the world, now liked by the free, super-fast CDGVal light rail):
Terminal 1(pdf) was born the same year as moi, 1974. It's circular, and with the funky tiling resembles a public restroom. As of August 2009 it's coming to the end of seven years of renovations (and a good thing!), so certain sections are still closed off but should be completely open by end of 2009.
Terminal 2 is the pretty one, all modern and sexy like airports should be (built in the 80s and 90s). By far the best shopping is here. There are 6 sections in Terminal 2, A through F. Be sure you know from which one you're departing -- they're not that close together!
Terminal 3 used to be called T-9 just to confuse everyone. It looks like a military hangar. There's one café and a news stand. It's mostly used for inter-Euoprean flights and charters. FYI: You have to walk outside (up a slight hill and through a long tunnel) to get to or from the RER station.
Getting to and from CDG
The RoissyBus (operated by the RATP/Paris Transit Authority) has daily service from 5:45am-11pm between Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2 and the Opéra Garnier (Rue Scribe, in front of the American Express Office, Métro Opéra) with departures every 15-20 minutes, travel time 45-60 minutes. One-way tickets are €12 (Zone 5 transportation passes accepted), which can be purchased on the bus, at the airport, or in Métro stations in Paris.
The Bus Direct is more expensive (€17 one-way, €21 direct to Orly Airport) but has more drop-off/pickup points in Paris . There’s regular service every 15 minutes from Roissy-CDG from 5:45am-11pm to Porte Maillot, the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Gare de Lyon and Montparnasse. Travel time is approximately 50 minutes. (Note: I found this service is more reliable FROM the airport than TO the airport, buyer beware!)
The Noctilien (also run by the RATP) is the night bus service, with line N140 going between Roissy-CDG and Paris Gare de l'Est (southwest corner of Rue du 8 Mai 1945 and Blvd Strasbourg) every hour from 1am-5am (travel time 90minutes). Line N120 and N121 have more stops throughout Paris, with the most busses from Châtelet (southeast corner of Blvd Sebastopol and Rue Rivoli) between 11:30pm-5am, every 30-60 minutes. The airport is zone 5, so you'll need to stamp four Métro tickets or pay €6.80 directly to the driver. If you need to arrive at the airport at dawn the night bus is the best cheap option.
Just like their flying counterpart easyBus airport buses are the best deal in town (starting May 2015), with service from CDG to Paris Palais-Royal (Louvre) for just €2 each way. Book in advance online. No current route planned for Orly.
- By Shuttle
There are several companies offering shuttle service to or from the airport for a flat fee. There's usually a digressive rate for more than one passenger. They usually only operate from 7am-8pm, and you'll need to reserve at least three days in advance. If you are sharing the shuttle with other passengers, you may be the first or the last to get picked up/dropped off, so this is not a good idea for anyone in a hurry to get into Paris (although the shuttles know to get you to the airport in time, if not earlier than necessary). The peace of mind factor is the main asset here. A few links:
Cab Service Tel 08 25 56 19 19 (I use this service all of the time on my tours and can personally vouch for their professionalism and timeliness; not the budget option).
SuperShuttle Tel 0811 707 812 (budget rates; call between 8am-9pm).
Bee-Shuttle Tel 06 98 85 11 12
Paris Shuttle Service left my client hanging and never answered phone calls nor emails, so I highly recommend NOT using Paris Shuttle Service. And I've had some good and bad experiences with Paris Shuttle, so I no longer recommend them (it's the times when it doesn't work that stick out!)
It’s usually faster to take the RER (suburban express railway), but be prepared to haul your luggage up and down the stairs and through turnstiles. RER B runs daily from approximately 5am until midnight (until 11pm towards the airport), and costs €10 for a one-way ticket. Stops in Paris include Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, St-Michel, Luxembourg and Denfert-Rochereau. Travel time is 25-45 minutes depending on what station you get on and whether it's an express or local train. My experience is that it's not very safe to take the RER B after dark or if you're traveling alone to Paris for the first time.
Travel time between Roissy-CDG and Orly airport on RER B is 60-minutes, and costs €17.90.
- By Taxi
If you can help it, don't take the taxi. It's expensive, especially if there's traffic, and if you don't know Paris your driver may take the long way without you knowing. I only take taxis when it's before 7am or after 11pm (less traffic, but the fare is higher). Plan on shelling out €45-€65. Airport taxi info here (phone numbers for taxis to the airport on the right).
Note: Don’t ever accept a taxi ride from anyone who approaches you inside the airport (legal taxis are lined up outside the terminal).
This airport is slightly smaller than CDG, but is closer to Paris, about 20 minutes (9 miles) southeast of the city (without traffic). Whenever you have the option, try to fly into Orly instead of CDG. There are two terminals linked by the slick Orlyval monorail:
Orly Sud (south) was built in the early 60s, and is the main terminal for international flights.
Orly Ouest (west) was built in the late 1960s and is mainly used for domestic and French overseas territory flights.
Getting to and from Orly
- By Bus
The OrlyBus (run by RATP) has daily service from 5:35am-11:30pm between Paris-Orly and Denfert-Rochereau (outside the RER/Métro station) with departures every 15-20 minutes. One-way tickets are €7.70 (Zone 4 transportation passes accepted), which can be purchased on the bus, at the airport, or in Métro stations in Paris. Travel time is about 30-minutes.
FYI: If your Paris accommodation is in the 13th or 14th arrondissements, ask the driver about the additional drop-off and pick-up points in these districts (or pick up the OrlyBus brochure at the RATP ticket desk at the airport).
The Bus Direct has regular service from Paris-Orly to Gare de Montparnasse, Le Motte Piquet, Eiffel Tower, Trocadéro and Arc de Triomphe every 15 minutes from 5am-11:40pm, tickets €12, or direct to Roissy-CDG Airort for €21. Travel time about 40 minutes.(Note: I found this service is more reliable FROM the airport than TO the airport, buyer beware!)
The Noctilien (RATP) night bus service line N31 has nightly service to Orly Sud from Gare de Lyon every hour from 12:30am-5:30am (every half hour on weekends). Line N120 has stops throughout Paris, with the most busses from Châtelet (from Rue de la Coutellerie) between 11:30pm-5am, every 30-60 minutes. The airport is zone 4, so you'll need to stamp three Métro tickets or pay €4.50 directly to the driver. If you need to arrive at the airport at dawn the night bus is the best cheap option.
- By RER
The OrlyVal has the most reliable and regular service to Orly Airport, combining the RER B (€6.10) and OrlyVal (€7.20) monorail trip to both terminals with one ticket. It runs daily every 4-7 minutes from 6am-11pm between Antony-Orly and Paris (including Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, St-Michel, Luxembourg and Denfert-Rochereau). Approximate time between Châtelet-Les Halles and Orly is 35-minutes. Zone-4 transport passes are accepted.
The RER C also has service to Orly airport, combining RER C with a free Aéroport De Paris shuttle. It runs daily every 15 minutes from about 5am-11pm (depending on which direction you're heading), between Pont de Rungis-Aéroport d’Orly and Paris (stations include Gare d’Austerlitz, St-Michel, Invalides, Javel and Port Maillot). Travel time is about 40 minutes between Invalides and Orly, one-way tickets cost €6.30. Zone-4 transport passes are accepted.
When taking RER, be prepared to haul your luggage up and down the stairs and through turnstiles.
Travel time between Roissy-CDG and Orly airport on RER B is 60-minutes, and costs €17.20.
- By Shuttle or Taxi
Same info as for Charles de Gaulle Airport, above.
This is the "Low-Cost Airline Airport" with flights to other European cities by Ryanair, Sterling, Wizzair, and Norwegian Air Shuttle. It's about 90 minutes north of Paris, with its own shuttle connections.