There are many ways to get from Paris’s main airport, Charles de Gaulle, to central Paris. Depending on budget, travel style, time of day and where you’re staying, one is likely to work better than another. Here is an overview of the choices you have.
The standard, good old-fashioned taxi, is still my favorite, most direct, and reliable way of getting from Charles de Gaulle to the center of Paris. You’ll see signs directing you to the taxi stands at every terminal.
It’s always best to make sure you get in line at the taxi stand and only take a licensed Taxi Parisien. Ignore any annoying hawkers inside the airport trying to offer you a ride. Head right to the stand, queue and wait your turn. The line moves quickly, but if you have no luggage to collect at the carousel, you’ll get into the line faster, which is one of many reasons to become a carry-on only traveler.
On my last trip, my taxi driver whisked my luggage away to the trunk and handed me a cold bottled water before opening my car door. I paid €54 from the airport to the Marais in rush hour traffic. I’ve never had a bad taxi experience and they are always professional.
There is also talk of making a dedicated commuter lane, which may get you to Paris even faster if you’re traveling during work hours.
Cost : As of March 1, 2016 – Paris taxi fares will now be a flat rate fee. Expect to pay €5o to any address on the Right Bank; €55 on the Left Bank. And there will be no surcharge for evening rides, but fares will increase if there is more than four people in your group.
This long time option connects the airport with Paris’s Opéra area, which is the 9th arrondissement. Depending on time of day, the bus runs every 15 to 30 minutes and the trip takes 75 minutes. The coaches are air-conditioned, they serve every terminal and there is plenty of room for luggage. Tickets are available at automatic ticket machines at the airport.
Cost €11, one way.
Technically called Les Cars Air France, this reliable bus service operates two lines that service Paris, 7 days a week. Line 2 runs from CDG to the Place d’Etoile, between 5:45am and 11pm, and takes about an hour. Line 4 runs from CDG to Gare Montparnasse (with a stop at Gare de Lyon) from 6am to 10pm and takes 75 minutes.
These leave every 30 minutes and service almost every terminal (though some require an extra connection). Tickets are available online, at airport vending machines and even on board.
Cost : Line 2 €17; Line 3 €17.50, one way.
A brand new shuttle service owned by the British company EasyJet just launched a new shuttle service called easyBus. The buses run in both directions between the Palais Royal/Louvre area and Terminal 2 at CDG, making this the option that gets you closest to the actual center of Paris – the 1st arrondissement.
The trip takes 45 minutes to an hour and tickets can be purchased online.
Cost : Prices vary based on time of day you travel, but currently range from €2 to €10, one way.
The RER B line runs from Terminal 2 or Roissypole from Terminals 1 and 3. Stops on this line include Gare du Nord, Châtalet, Saint-Michel/Nôtre Dame, Port Royal and a few more options as the train heads south towards Orly.
I’ve done it before, and doing it your first time does require prior planning and can be a bit confusing as you need to buy your ticket at the airport and then navigate your way to the RER station and beyond. It’s also notoriously hit with technical problems and can be very unreliable.
This option is also not recommended if you have a ton of luggage, or if you’ll be hopping on during commuter times, as the trains are crowded, as are the Metro stations you may need to connect with in order to get closer to your final destination. The other dreaded thing you need to worry about that makes this a risky option – STRIKES. And we know how the French love their strikes.
Cost : €10, one way.
Popular shuttle vans like Parishuttle or Bluvan take up to eight passengers at a time from CDG to Paris. These will bring you directly to your destination, like a taxi, as opposed to a bus just dropping you in a central location – but that also means you’ll have other passengers to drop off as well, so your trip can take longer depending on which order you’ll be delivered.
Parishuttle requires you to call them from the airport to get your pickup location, while Bluvan has dedicated pickup spots at each terminal.
Journey time on a shared van is impossible to determine – based on how many others to pick up, at what terminal, how many stops en route to Paris and what number you are in the queue. Could be an hour, could be three days.
Both require you to book online, in advance. I’ve heard and read stories about their unreliability, so use caution and book at your own risk. In case of delayed flights or very late arrivals, you may have a bit of a problem, as they tend to only wait one hour. And since these are prepaid services, you’ll need to request refunds if for some reason you miss your ride or you decide not to use them.
Cost : Prices start at €25 one way, per person for shared rides. There is a charge for extra luggage. Both also offer private transfer options.
What’s on the horizon?
A new high-speed express train that links Charles de Gaulle to the center of Paris is planned. The line will run from CDG to Gare de l’Est in a mere 20 minutes. Sadly, since this will be part of the French Railway system, it will also be subject to – you guessed it – strikes. Ticket prices are predicted to be a hefty €24, but that’s still half the price of a taxi and will get you to the city faster.
Construction is set to begin in 2017, but the project is planned to take eight years to complete, so you’ll just have to a plan a trip to Paris and try it out for yourself in 2023!
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