Paris Travel Guide

Flights, Train & Cruise

By plane

Paris is served by two international airports - for more information, including arrival/departure times, check the official sites.

Charles de Gaulle International Airport (Roissy)

North of Paris, CDG is the main airport of the city. The airport is connected to the city by train, bus and taxi.

Orly International Airport

Orly,, this older international airport is southwest of the city and is used mainly by Air France for domestic departures, and international departures by European carriers. It consists of two terminals: Terminal Sud (south) and Terminal Ouest (west) connected by light rail. The airport is connected with Paris by bus and rail.

Orly is roughly 40 min from Paris via the OrlyBus, which departs from Métro Denfert-Rochereau (line 6); the price is €7.20 (2013). There are buses every 10 minutes from the Orly Sud (Platform 4) and it stops at Orly Ouest on its way to the city. Tickets can be bought at a counter near the baggage claim area or directly at the counter in Platform 4. The tickets need to be validated once on the bus. Another option is tramway T7 that takes you to the Métro Villejuif - Louis Aragon (Metro 7) in 30 min, but it stops on the way and is designed for commuters and not for travellers. Tramway T7 costs a single T+ (metro/bus/tram) ticket (€2 if bought on board the bus) and runs every 10 min, stopping at airport level -1. Passes covering zones 1-4 are accepted, excepted the day pass "Mobilis" on the Orlybus.

Via rail the airport can be reached by a southern branch of the RER-B line that heads from Paris in the direction of Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse (not Robinson). At Antony station RER-B line connects with the Orlyval light rail that carries passengers to both terminals of the airport. Orlyval runs every 4-7 min and costs €11.30 (2013) for transfer to Paris, including connections to central area metro stations. The RER B from Antony runs through Paris to Aéroport Charles de Gaulle. The airport can be also reached by RER-C trains heading from Paris to Massy or Pont de Rungis. From Pont de Rungis-Aéroport d'Orly station passengers get to the airport within 10 minutes by a shuttle bus. The travel from Paris downtown to the airport by RER-C and the shuttle costs €6.60 (2013).

Beauvais (Aéroport de Beauvais Tillé)

Beauvais,, a distance north of the city, is a smaller regional airport that is used by some low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and WizzAir. Like many small airports there is a cartel in operation in the form of the airport operated shuttle service connecting with the Métro at Porte Maillot station. Buses run even during the small hours of the morning (06:00). Buses leave 20 min after each flight arrives, and a few hours before each flight departs. Exact times can be found on the Beauvais Airport website. The journey will take about an hour in good traffic conditions, and costs €16 each way, there is no reduced price for children over the age of 2 years. Unless you hire a car this is the most realistic way to head toward Paris, hence why the airport charge the price they do. The alternative is a train service between Gare du Nord and Beauvais, and a connecting shuttle or taxi to the airport. This journey costs more and takes longer. Missing the shuttle bus could mean a taxi fare well over €100.

Airline Shuttles

In addition to public transport, Air France operates shuttles between Charles de Gaulle and Paris (€17), Orly and Paris (€12) and between the two airports (€20). Discounts apply for young/group travellers and online bookers. Note that if you have connecting Air France flights that land and depart from different airports, you would still generally need to fetch your luggage after landing, catch either the Air France shuttle or a taxi (readily available at all airports) to the other airport and check-in again. This altogether could take up to 2 hours, particularly if traffic is at its worst. It is also common to lose time during disembarking, as passengers often need to get off on the tarmac and get on buses which will take them to the terminal. Be sure you have sufficient time between flights to catch your connection. Check-in counters usually close 30 min before the flight departs, longer if flights are international.

If you want to take RER B to catch an early flight, make sure you bring enough change, because you can only buy tickets at the coins-only machines before the counter opens.

If you arrive to CDG Airport at night you'll need a Noctilien bus to get to the city centre. The bus stops at all three terminals (in terminal 2F it will be the second level in the departure section, difficult to find, but it really exists). The bus leaves every 30 min after 12:30 (see timetable ). The buses you'll need are N140 and N143; the price is 4 T+ tickets (€8 if bought on board).

By train

Paris is well connected to the rest of Europe by train. There is no central station serving Paris and the six different stations are not connected to each other. You will probably want to know in advance at which station your train is arriving, so as to better choose a hotel and plan for transport within the city.

Gare du Nord, (10th), Métro: Gare du Nord - TGV trains to and from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Cologne, Germany (Thalys), and the United Kingdom (Eurostar) and regular trains from Northern Europe.
Gare d'Austerlitz, (13th), Métro: Gare d'Austerlitz - regular trains to and from the center and southwest of France (Orléans, Limoges, Toulouse the long way), Spain and Portugal and arrival of majority of the night trains.
Gare de l'Est, (10th), Métro: Gare de l'Est - ICE/TGV to and from Luxembourg, and Saarbrücken, Kaiserslautern, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Munich in Germany.
Gare de Lyon, (12th), Métro: Gare de Lyon - regular and TGV trains to and from Southern and eastern France: French Alps, Marseille, Lyon, Dijon, Switzerland: Basel, Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Zurich and Italy, overnight trains from and to Italy.
Gare de Bercy, (12th), Métro: Bercy. Regular trains to Auvergne.
Gare St Lazare, (8th) Métro: St-Lazare - trains to and from Basse-Normandie, Haute-Normandie.
Gare Montparnasse, (15th), Métro: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe - TGV and regular trains to and from the west and south-west of France (Brest, Rennes, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse the fastest way and Spain). Gare Vaugirard is an extension of Gare Montparnasse.

The SNCF (French national railway authority) operates practically all trains within France excluding the Eurostar to St Pancras, London, t he Thalys to Brussels and onward to the Netherlands and Germany, and some low-cost services such as iDTGV and Ouigo (although they are owned by the SNCF, they are considered as different rail companies). There are also a few local lines of high touristic interest which are privately owned. All SNCF, Eurostar and Thalys tickets can be bought in railway stations, city offices and travel agencies (no surcharge). SNCF sells tickets online on its website. You will need the card (with chips only) used to pay the tickets to retrieve the actual tickets in any SNCF station. You can also find tickets in online and physical travel agencies (Capitaine Train, Carrefour Voyages, Sélectour). You can book and buy tickets up to three months in advance. There are significant discounts if you book weeks ahead. Reduced ticket prices are different for each day and each train and can be used only on the train the reservation is for. Surprisingly, round trip tickets (aller-retour) with a stay over Saturday night can be cheaper than a single one-way ticket (aller simple).

Trains between Paris and south Germany (Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich) as well as the Marseille-Frankfurt TGV are jointly operated by SNCF and Deutsche Bahn, but each of the two operators will sell tickets at its own price! Make sure to check the price offered by each operator before you buy, or use Capitaine Train since they automatically compare SNCF and DB prices.

There are a number of different kinds of high-speed and normal trains:

TER: The regional trains (Train Express Régional); cheapest tickets, though prices are variable on the time of day of departure (and the day of departure as well). TER are sometimes slower, stopping at almost all stations. TER tickets bought at the train station are valid two months from the date indicated on the ticket, as long as you travel in the right fare period ("période bleue", the cheapest, "période blanche", for high-demand hours). There is no seat reservation, so arrive early enough or you may have to travel without a seat.
Intercités: A bundling of the former Intercités, Téoz, and Lunéa train categories. There are two kinds: the regular trains, which are priced the same as the TER and the trains you'll find yourself on if you have a Eurail or InterRail pass and don't want to pay extra for reservations, and the trains à réservation obligatoire, which require a reservation and are priced differently from the regular Intercités trains.
TGV: The world-famous French high-speed trains (Trains à Grande Vitesse) run very frequently to the southeast Nice(5-6 hr), Marseille (3 hr) and Avignon (2.5 hr), the east Geneva (3hr) or Lausanne, Switzerland and Dijon (1 hr 15 min), the southwest Bordeaux (3 hr), the west Rennes (2 hr) and the north Lille (1 hr). Eurostar to London (2hr 15 min) and Thalys to Brussels (1 hr 20 min) use almost identical trains. Reservations are obligatory.
ICE: Germans high-speed trains, operating most services between Paris and Frankfurt.
Thalys A high-speed train service running daily to/from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. It can be a bit expensive compared to normal trains, but cheap enough if you buy in advance.
Intercity: Intercity trains leave for all parts of Europe, including overnight trains to San Sebastian in Spain, Porto and Lisbon in Portugal.
Eurostar: The Eurostar service connects Paris with London St. Pancras directly and Brussels indirectly, as well many other destinations indirectly through the various west European rail services. Travel time between Paris Gare du Nord and London St Pancras International currently averages at 2hr 15 min, following the opening of a new rail link in late 2007. Eurail and InterRail passes are not valid for this train, though pass holders can benefit from a reduced price. You must arrive at the station 30 minutes before the departure of the train to complete security and passport controls.
Night Line (CNL): Overnight trains by the German operator DB which have sleeping berths in addition to the regular coach cars. These are not particularly speedy; they are designed to arrive at their destinations at a reasonable morning hour. While the trains themselves are covered by the rail passes, the sleeping accommodation supplements are not, and need to be booked separately, but what you get is a moving bed which transports you to another city, saving on hotel bills in the process. Paris has 3 departures nightly, all from the Gare de l'Est - to Munich (with continuing service to Innsbruck), Berlin and Hamburg.
Thello: night trains between Paris and Roma, and Paris and Venice (both with intermediate stops).
Transfer between Train Stations
By bus
EurolinesA transEuropean bus company that offers trips to and from Paris. Generally offers prices significantly cheaper than the train at the cost of much longer journeys. The Parisian office is located at Bagnolet, adjacent to the Gallieni metro station.
MegabusA British low-cost bus company that offers routes to and from Paris from throughout the UK, Amsterdam, and Brussels. Seats start at 1.00. Their pick-up and drop-off location is in the parking lot of the airport coach buses at Port Maillot.
iDBUSA subsidiary of the SNCF, offering routes between Paris and London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Milan, Turin.
By car

Several autoroutes (expressway, motorway) link Paris with the rest of France: A1 and A3 to the north, A5 and A6 to the south, A4 to the east and A13 and A10 to the west. Not surprisingly, traffic jams are significantly worse during French school holidays.

The multi-lane highway around Paris, called the Périphérique (BP), is probably preferable to driving through the center. Another beltway nearing completion; L'A86 (also A186 and A286) loops around Paris about 10 km further out from the Périphérique. A third, incomplete beltway is much further out and called La Francilienne (N104).

It is advised not to drive in the Paris Metro Area. It is better to drive to a suburban train station with a parking lot and then use the train to continue your trip throughout Paris. Most of Paris' roads were created long before the invention of automobiles. Traffic inside the city tends to be heavy, especially at rush hour; driving, however, may be rather easy and efficient in the evening. Parking is also difficult. Furthermore, the medieval nature of parts of the city's street system makes it very confusing, and traffic will almost never allow one to stop or slow down to get one's bearings. If you are unfamiliar with the streets and still insist on driving in the city, make sure you have a navigator in the passenger seat with you.

source: Wikivoyage

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