Paris Travel: Getting to and from the Airport
Mon 25 Mar 2013
So you’re all prepared for Paris travel. You can’t wait to wander the halls of the Louvre and the winding streets of Montmartre, and don’t forget that famous tower, equally beautiful in the day or at night. But hold your horses: How are you going to get there from the airport? There are options for every price point, but each has its pros and cons. Here are a few ways to get between Paris and the airport.
By Public Transportation
If you’re flying through Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), it’s easy enough to catch the train that travels through Paris and its surrounding areas. For just 9.10 euros, the RER-B stops at Terminals 2 and 3 at CDG and at Gare du Nord, Saint-Michel/Notre Dame, Luxembourg, Port Royal, Denfert-Rochereau and Cité Universitaire in Paris. From the airport, follow signs to the RER-B and buy a ticket on the spot. From Paris, it’s a good idea to check out the timetables online before your journey to give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the train station, purchase your ticket (look for one of the many bright green vending machines at the station or visit the ticketing office) and get to your track before the train arrives. It’s even better if you can purchase your ticket the day before, just to avoid harried rushing at a busy station.
To get to or from Orly Airport (ORY) via public transportation, your best bet is to take the Orlybus, available only at Denfert-Rochereau for 7 euros. It runs every 15 minutes, and tickets can be purchased online, at the station ticketing machine or on the bus.
Taking public transportation allows for the reliability of strict timetables at an affordable rate. However, you must deal with any heavy luggage bearing your chic Paris wardrobe and souvenirs. Plus, you never know when there’s going to be a traffic jam or a strike shutting down public transport.
By Shuttle Service
Taking a shuttle like Paris Shuttle, Super Shuttle or Yellow Van Shuttle combines the convenience of door-to-door service (12–32 euros) without the price tag of a taxi or car service. If you don’t mind sharing the ride with other Paris travelers, it can be a nice way to see the city (especially if you’re the last person to be dropped off). A word to the wise, though: you may have to call the shuttle company immediately after landing to find your pickup point, and there’s no guarantee that it’ll keep you as a customer, even after you’ve paid. I had one experience in which my shuttle was scheduled to pick me up from Paris, but it canceled on me two hours before my pickup time because there weren’t enough passengers to justify the ride.
Additionally, Les Cars Air France offers affordable shuttle service between both Orly and CDG and Paris 2–3 times per hour. Whether or not you’re flying Air France, you can catch the shuttle at one of several terminals (check the site for a full list) and enjoy the ride to Gare de Lyon, Gare de Montparnasse, Porte Maillot, Etoile/Champs-Elysées or Invalides. From there you can either take a taxi or the metro, or walk to your destination. Prices range from 11 to 20 euros for a single and 9 to 13 euros for a group, and even less for children, but book online in advance for the lowest prices.
This tried-and-true method carries with it only the risks of bad traffic and crazy drivers. From Paris, your concierge can call you a cab or you can find one at the nearest taxi stand (usually near metro stops). From the airport, simply follow the signs near the exits and be prepared to wait in line for the next cab to take you straight to your destination. It’ll cost you between 30 and 70 euros. During off-hours, such as early morning or late at night, a taxi can be an easy and smooth choice indeed. But not as easy as . . .
By Car Service
Ah, there’s nothing quite like the luxury of le chauffeur. After my most recent 13-hour sojourn from Arizona to Paris, I arrived at CDG exhausted, jet-lagged and ready to just go home. Directly outside the baggage area, a spunky driver chick from CityzenCab waited for me. CityzenCab is a service that works with Paris-based taxis and car services to provide guaranteed, fixed-price transportation to and from the airport. You can choose to share the taxi/van or get a private car, but your price is guaranteed regardless of other passengers, time of day and traffic. My driver carried my bags straight to the car and filled our ride into Paris with political conversation and Vanessa Paradis tunes on the radio. While other car services can cost upwards of 150 euros, CityzenCab offers shared rides for 29 euros and private cars for about 69 euros. Think of it as a chauffeur at shuttle prices.
The best way to get between Paris and the airport depends on your budget, amount of luggage and entripage. Taking public transportation is the way of Parisians and is the most affordable, but can be a nightmare if you have a lot of heavy baggage. Shuttle service is easy on the shoulders and the wallet, but can be unreliable if you’re traveling alone. Taking Les Cars Air France seems a safe bet for larger groups, but if you’re on your own and will have to take a taxi to or from the train station anyway, it might not be the most logical decision. And taking a taxi or car service is always the easiest way, but not everybody can afford it. You’ll have to weigh your pros, cons and baggage before making your final Paris travel decision. But no matter how you get to or from the airport, remember: it’s always kind to tip your driver, and don’t forget to look out the window and catch a glance of la trip Eiffel either approaching or receding from view.
More info on trains/buses: RER-B to CDG (map and schedules)
Orlybus (map and schedules)
Yellow Van Shuttle
Les Cars Air France
Editor’s note: There are many ways to get from CDG to central Paris, but having a car waiting for you is always the most luxurious. Check out some great options for car service in the Services & Discovery section on our partner page.