One of the busiest airports in Europe, the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle International airport has numerous modes of transportation available from the airport to the Paris city center. The airport is connected through the RER & Metro, TGV, Thalys, Bus, Roissybus, Noctilien (Night bus line), airport shuttles, taxis, limousines, airport car rentals etc. Terminals are connected via the CGDVAL. Thus its famous high speed trains, metro, bus and night bus services integrate into one well tuned transit machinery.
Paris has 4 main Airports. Two of them are for private jets and discount flights but the other two are for large commercial flights. The ones for the commercial flights are the Charles de Gaulle airport at Roissy and the Orly airport. The Charles De Gaulle or CDG or just Roissy airport is the main international airport of France. Orly Airport is actually located partly in Orly and partly in Villeneuve-le-roi (towards south of Paris). Before the CDG, the Orly was the main airport. It caters to both international and domestic flights. The other two important airports are Beauvais-Tillé (mainly for discount airlines) and Le Bourget (mainly for business/private jets). The Paris Airshow takes place at Le Bourget. Aeroports de Paris manages CDG, Orly and Le Bourget airports apart from other airfields and airports.
Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), Paris
Address: BP 20101, 95711, Roissy Charles de Gaulle, France
This airport construction started in 1966 and it was opened for service in 1974. The architect was Paul Andreu. It is a little more than 14 miles (23 Km) to the NE of Paris.
CDG has 3 terminals. Terminals 1, Terminal 3 and Terminal 2 being a collection of 6 sections, each acting as a terminal. Hence the terminals here at Charles de Gaulle are 1, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2F, 3. 2E had encountered an unpleasant accident – a portion of the terminal collapsed in 2004 due to what was later determined as “design flaws”. A new terminal is being built in its place with completion in 2008. Meanwhile two departure lounges have been set up to handle the 2E passengers. Between terminals one can commute using the CDGVAL automatic Light Rail System. In terminal 2 the VAL station is quite a long walk from its farther halls. The Terminal 2 is served by RER and TGV stations underneath making it very convenient for commute into the city or other places in continental Europe.
Terminal 1 is mainly for non-Air France flights. All terminal 2 sections cater to Air France. Apart from Air France, terminal 2A caters to Japan Airlines, Continental, Air Canada, Air India, El Al Israel Airlines, etc., terminal 2B caters to the European airlines including Swiss, Bulgaria Air, Austrian Airlines etc.. Terminal 2C is for Air France long haul flights and also Aeromexico, Emirates etc. Terminals 2D and 2F are for Air France. 2D caters to Luxair (Luxembourg), Finnair, Portugalia etc. From 2F it’s Korean Air, KLM etc. Terminal 3 is mainly for seasonal charter flights and also Air Memphis, Air Cairo amongst others.
Car Parking at CDG
One can park the car at the CDG airport and leave it for days if required (of course parking fees apply!). CDG has a number of well maintained car parks and they are efficiently connected by the CGDVAL. Terminal 1 is served P1. P R is also relatively nearby. From here Terminal 1 is a two minute ride by CDGVAL. P3 Sud (south) and P3 Est (East) serve terminal 3. Terminals 2A and 2B are served by P AB, terminals 2C and 2D by P CD, terminals 2E and 2F by P EF. They are all well connected and accessible by the CDGVAL. P X and P vacances, are the other car parks in the CDG airport. P1, P3, P AB,P CD are the express car parks from where the terminals are accessible by a couple of minutes walk. P vacances and P X are open air car parks with no spaces reserved for the disabled. In case of P X one would have to take the CDGVAL to access the terminals from here. Its rates are different from the others. P vacances is close to terminal 3 – a five minute walk. But from other terminals it is relatively far and would not be a practical option. Mainly ideal for longer hours of parking. Payments at the car parks can be made by credit card or cash. Checks are not accepted. The first ten minutes are free (except for P vacances).
Commuting between terminals at Charles de Gaulle
There is a free automatic service called the CGDVAL connecting the three terminals, the RER and TGV stations, the car parks and the bus station. This takes about 8 minutes. (Click to enlarge Map; Map, courtesy Aeroports de Paris)
Getting to the Paris City Center from Charles de Gaulle
For public transport enquiries there is an SNCF desk on the fourth floor of Terminal 2.
This entire region is well connected by rail – the TGV, RER B, etc. The airport is accessible through all of these.
At Charles de Gaulle, the SNCF French Railways station is located in Terminal 2. SNCF is the National Railway of France and it manages the high speed TGV, Eurostar, Corail Téoz, Corail Lunéa etc. (Click to enlarge Map)
To get to the station at terminal 2 from terminal 1 and 3, take the CDGVAL. The time table of these trains are given on screen opposite the exits from the baggage claim areas in terminal 2 (A,B,C,D,E,F). In terminal 2 follow the signs for “Paris par train”. There are moving walkways here. Once the station is reached the trains are available to the city and also other places in France and into the neighboring countries directly from the airport.
At level 1 – Platforms for RER B, TGV, Thalys, Mainline.
At level 2 – the SNCF station
At level 4 – moving walkways for accessing terminals 2 (C,D,E,F)
At level 5 – Departure of Taxis and hotel shuttles.
The TGV –
From the CDG airport the TGV trains depart to the following main directions –
1) To Lille (Northwards)
2) To Lyon (Center)
3) To the Mediterranean (Southwards)
4) To the Alps (South-East)
5) To Bordeaux (South-West)
6) To Brittany (Westwards)
With speeds of 200mph, the TGV is the fastest land travel around France and also into Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Its network covers over 60 destinations across France. (Click to enlarge Map; Maps courtesy SNCF)
1) To Lille (Northwards) – In this route the TGV covers the following stops : Massy-TGV, Marne-La Vallee-Chessy-TGV-Disney, Airport-Charles-de-Gaulle-TGV, TGV-haute-Picardie, Arras, Douai, Lille Europe, Lille Flanders and onto Brussels.
2) To Lyon (Center) – In this route the stops covered are Massy-TGV, massy- Palaiseau, Airport-Charles-de-Gaulle-TGV, Marne-La Vallee-Chessy-TGV-Disney, Lyon –Part-Dieu, Lyon-Perrache, Grenoble.
3) To the Mediterranean (Southwards) – Here it covers Airport-Charles-de-Gaulle-TGV, Marne-La Vallee-Chessy-TGV-Disney, Massy-TGV, massy- Palaiseau, Lyon –Part-Dieu, Valence-TGV, Valence-Ville, Avignon-TGV, Avignon-Center, Aix-en-Provence-TGV, Marseille, Toulon, St-Raphael, Cannes, Antibes, Nice, Nimes, Montpellier, Sete, Agde, Beziers, Narbonne, Toulouse, Perpignan.
4) To the Alps (South-East) – The TGV stops are at Airport-Charles-de-Gaulle-TGV, Marne-La Vallee-Chessy-TGV-Disney, Massy-TGV, Montbard, Dijon, Dole, Besancon, Chambery, Moutiers,Bourg-St-Maurice, St-Gervais.
5) To Bordeaux (South-West) - The TGV stops are at Airport-Charles-de-Gaulle-TGV, Marne-La Vallee-Chessy-TGV-Disney, Massy-TGV, St-Pierre-des-Corps, Futuroscope, Poitiers, Angouleme, Libourne, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Hendaye.
6) To Brittany (Westwards) - The TGV stops are at Airport-Charles-de-Gaulle-TGV, Marne-La Vallee-Chessy-TGV-Disney, Massy-TGV, Le Mans, Angers, nantes, Le Croisic, Laval, Rennes, Quimper.
RER B & METRO
The RER (Regional Express Network or Réseau Express Régional) is a rapid transit system which combines the regional rail with the metro. It is hence managed by both the RATP (which manages the metro) and the SNCF. The RER has several lines viz. A,B,C,D and E.
The RER B runs between Robinson and St.-Remy-les-Chevreuse to Aeroport Charles de Gaulle and Mitry-Claye. The B line has four branches. In the north the Airport-CDG line (B3) and the Mitry-Claye line (B5) meet the city branch at Aulnay-Sous-Bois. The Robinson (B2) and Remy-les-Chevreuse (B4) meet at Bourg-la-Reine. (Click to enlarge map. Courtesy RATP)
This is a good option for transit from the airport into the city. It goes to Gare du Nord. Gare du Nord (or North station – Gare means ‘station’) is one of the main stations of SCNF network. It provides connection to several lines – Eurostar, Thalys, TGV, TER, RER D, RER E, Metro lines 2, 4 and 5. It is really convenient to travel from Gare du Nord because of the excellent connectivity. But this is a very crowded station. One needs to be careful with their belongings.
From the airport taking the RER one can get to Paris and within the city the following connections are available (apart from Gare du Nord given above) –
Chatelet les Halles - RER A, RER D, Metro lines 1,4,7,11,14
St-Michel Notre-Dame – RER C, metro lines 4, 10.
Denfert-Rochereau – Metro lines 4,6.
The RER runs daily from 4:45 A.M. to 1:30 A.M. The Metro runs daily from 5:20 A.M to1:20 A.M. On Saturday night it runs an extra hour.
The stations covered in the Metro lines are given separately – List of Paris metro stations
Thalys connects Paris, Marseille, Bourg-St.-Maurice (the latter two in southern France), Amsterdam (in Netherlands), Cologne (in Germany), Brussels, Ostend (in Belgium) and several stations in between. It also touches CDG before forking off to Marseille and Bourg-St-Maurice. Thus one can take the Thalys directly to Brussels from CDG airport. (Click to enlarge map)
The double digit numbered buses serve the Paris City area and for the suburbs it is three digits. All buses run from Monday morning to Saturday evening. Many run on Sundays and public holidays but with lesser frequency. The buses run from 5.30 A.M. until 8.30 P.M. and many continue till a little after midnight. At night however it is the special “Noctilien lines” which do the rounds. Noctilien is the network of night buses in the Ile-de-France region and their line numbers start with the letter N. It operates at night between half past midnight and 5.30 A.M., 7 days a week, when the metro, RER, buses and suburban trains are shut down. It connects the 5 major transfer stations – Gare Montparnasse, Châtelet, Gare St Lazare, Gare de Lyon and Gare de l’Est apart from serving other areas which are generally busy at night viz. Champs Elysees, Bastille, Place de Clichy etc. (N01, N02). (Click to enlarge map. Courtesy RATP)
The RATP runs a special “Roissybus” from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport to 9 Rue Scribe. This is near the Opera de Paris (Palais Garnier) in the center of Paris. The bus runs between 6 A.M. and 11 P.M. There is a bus every 15 minutes (after 7 P.M. its a 20 minute gap) It stops at all three terminals.
Bus line 350 – This connects Terminal 2A and 2C and Roissypole Gare RER to the Gare de l’Est. Other stations covered in this route are Pte de la Chapelle, Musee de l’Air, Garonor Porte Sud, Citroen Production, Parc des Expositions, Fret Center.
Bus line 351 connects Terminal 1, Terminal 2A, 2C Roissypole Gare RER to Paris Nation. The other stations covered in this route are Bagnolet Gallieni M, Auguste Polissard, Pierre Semard, Fret Center, Entretien Sud ADP.
It is not allowed to take these buses to travel between terminals.
The Noctilien (Night Buses of Paris)-
The Noctilien lines which serve the airport include –
Line N140, which connects the CDG airport to Gare de l’Est. At Gare de l’Est one can connect to N41, N42, N43, N44, N45, N141, N142.
Line N121 which has the airport at one end and Gare de La Verriere at the other end. In this route, apart from others, the main stops it touches are Gare de l’Est, Chatelet and Gare Montparnasse.
Line N120 connects the airport to the southern part to Corbell RER. This route covers Gare de l’Est, Chatelet, Gare de Lyon, Juvisy RER amongst others.
Taxis – CDG:
Taxis are available outside the airport. As in other major airports, one can follow the “Taxi” sign. But they would be comparatively expensive especially during the daytime when heavy traffic is common. In the evening there is a surcharge. Also they charge for each piece of luggage and extra charge applies for the fourth passenger. Customers are expected to tip about 10%. Also while going to the airport it would be better to call for a cab to pick you up. The meter will however start from where the taxi leaves to pick you up which could be from anywhere in the city. Child/infant seats are not available. English speaking drivers are rare. Better to have the destination address written down along with some major landmark or RER/Metro stations for added reference. But then this would be definitely be a very convenient form of transportation since it would be door to door without any transfers.
CDG Airport Shuttles
Another door to door service but reasonably priced is the airport shuttle. These are mini vans used on a shared basis – i.e. other passengers would also be picked up. However for this advance reservations are required. If there is a lot of luggage or children or seniors travelling where transfers would be cumbersome, this is the best option in terms for value for money. It would of course take more time than a taxi since it would pick up and drop other passengers as well.
Car Rental at CDG:
Car Rentals are available at all terminals. Some of the noted ones operating here are –
5) National Citer
6) Sixt Car Rental
7) TT car Transit
8) Aeroports Limousine Service
There might be chauffeurs outside the airport trying to solicit customers. These could be unduly expensive and it is advisable not to take these. If opted for, it is highly recommended that the exact fare be agreed upon before starting the journey.