Paris Airport Transfers: Charles de Gaulle/Roissy

Bastille Day in Paris

Here’s a list of the various ways for visitors to get to and from the city of Paris from Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), where a majority of international flights arrive and depart from.

The airport is undergoing a much-needed renovation, so give yourself a bit of extra time to catch public transit and find your way around once you’re dropped off. They’ve also added an extra security stop (passport control) before you can enter the satellites and duty-free shopping area, which you need to pass before you get to the gate area, lounges, and x-ray screening.

Even though they’ve made the airport a bit easier to navigate, it’s still confusing and things aren’t always where you might think they’d logically be. On my last trip, a group of us loaded with luggage followed the signs to the airport from the RER station—which led to a solid brick wall. Ouch!

Depending on traffic, the ride can take anywhere from a minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour or more. Because schedules, fares, and hours of service change frequently, I suggest you check the website of the mode of transit you prefer for the most up-to-date information.



RER Train

The RER is fast and economical, and doesn’t depend on traffic patterns so even if you’re traveling during rush hour, it pretty much runs on schedule. The RER B line, the one to Charles de Gaulle Airport, travels through some dubious areas on the outskirts of Paris and I’ve heard third-hand reports of pickpockets and trouble, but haven’t experienced any of them firsthand. As always when traveling anywhere, be cautious, but not paranoid.

If you have a lot of luggage, schlepping through the underground métro and RER stations can be a big hassle, especially when the escalators and elevators aren’t functioning. If you do take the RER, when you arrive at the airport, you’ll need to hop on the tram (Terminal 1) or a shuttle (Terminal 2) to take you to whichever terminal you’re going to. Make a note of that before you get on so you’re not fumbling with paperwork during the scrum to get off the train.

The stations in Paris where the RER line B goes directly to the airport are: Gare du Nord, Châtelet/Les Halles, St. Michel, and Luxembourg. Some of these stations are very big and bustling so give yourself extra navigational time. Trains go every 15 minutes, from around 5am to 11:40pm and note the ‘B’ line splits, so make sure the sign on the platform says that the train is headed towards the airport before you hop on.

Frequent travelers might want to invest in a carnet aeroport of ten tickets, good for going to-and-from the airport. You get a discount for buying ten at once, and they don’t expire so you can use them on future trips. They can be purchased at the cashier’s desk, or in the machines, by scrolling past the single airport ticket option.

Website: Ratp.fr
(Click on country flag for other languages)

Roissybus

Takes 45 minutes to an hour, and leaves from the rue Scribe and rue Auber, just across from the American Express office. From Paris, if you take the métro, there’ll be signs in the station directing you where to go when you exit the train.

This is an inexpensive way to go at €9.40 and there are no staircases to contend with. Although unless you’re staying near the Opéra, you’ll have to take transit to get to the departure area in Paris, or vice versa. The other downside is that you’re traveling on surface roads and there may be traffic, especially at rush hour (although there are special lanes within Paris for buses.) Buses go every 15-20 minutes and run 5:45am until 11pm. There is a machine to buy tickets at the airport, or you can buy tickets from the driver.

Website: Roissybus

Air France Bus

These buses, called ‘les cars’ in France, depart from Charles De Gaulle every 30 minutes. Four various routes in Paris stop at Charles De Gaulle & Eacute;toile (Arc de Triomphe), Porte Maillot, Invalides, Gare de Lyon and Montparnasse. You can purchase tickets from the driver or the ticket booth in some instances.

The bus is inexpensive (around 15€) and relatively fast since they go on direct routes. They do travel on surface roads so travel time is subject to traffic.

Website: Les Cars Air France.

Noctilien Bus

If you arrive late at night, the Noctilien bus of Paris runs from 12:30am to 5am. You can get to the Châtelet, Gare de Lyon, Gare Montparnasse, Gare de l’Est and Gare St. Lazare using lines N120, N121, and N140.

Buses run every hour and the trip isn’t very rapid, so unless you’re really pinching centimes, my recommendation would be to spring for a taxi late at night.

Website: Noctilien

Semi-Private Shuttle

With these, you can pay in advance, online with a credit card, and you’ll be given a toll-free number to call which you do when you arrive at the airport. The operators and drivers usually speak English, but be sure to print out your confirmation with the number in case they don’t have it on record (which has happened to me.)

The best part of the shuttles are that they take you right to the front door of where you’re going. The downside is that you may end up cooling your heels at the airport waiting for others to arrive, or you may be the last to be dropped off in Paris, depending on where you’re going. The cost is usually close to 24€ for one person, with economical discounts for two or more. (You can tip the driver around 2€ if you wish.)

A few I’ve taken are Bluvan and Yellow Airport Shuttle. You can search for others online. One I’ve had particularly good luck with is Bee Shuttle which offers a “First Class” shared option, promising only two stops.

Taxi

You can get a taxi from the stand at the airport, although there can be a line waiting. In general, the fare to CDG is between 35-55€ and there’s a surcharge for each piece of luggage. Drivers will only take 3 people maximum unless they have a van.

From Paris, you can hail a cab although they’re technically not supposed to stop anywhere except at taxi stands, which are listed in your handy Guide d’Arrondissements. Since cabs can be scarce, especially in bad weather or during busy times, the hotel can call you a cab. Be aware that in Paris, the meter starts when the driver gets the call, so don’t be surprised to find a few euros on the tab when they show up. There is also a minimum charge in Paris. (You can scope out the cab stand near your hotel the night before, although see if it’s well-occupied which will give you an idea of availability the next day.)

Or better yet, get the phone number of a good driver you might have come across during your stay. Most drivers have mobile phones. A typical gratuity is 5%, or 10% for particularly excellent service.

You can also call G7 taxis direct or order one online. Their website has an English-speaking phone number and G7 also has over 100 wheelchair accessible taxis available (with advanced notice.)

Les Taxis Bleus has a bi-lingual website as well, and you can find more information here.

Private Driver

It’s possible to hire a private driver who’ll meet you as you exit customs. After a long overseas flight, it’s a nice luxury to have someone waiting for you with a sign with your name on it to take you right to your hotel or apartment.

Prices for drivers range from 75€-90€ per trip, although some apartment rental firms and hotels charge 4 or 5 times that for personalized service so it pays to check around. Since many drivers have their own vans, they can take more than 3 people and lots more luggage, which can mitigate the higher price. A typical gratuity is 5%, or slightly more—although it’s not required.



Note: Prices are subject to change and are noted just for informational purposes. Best to check the websites of the various operators for the most up-to-date information.



Links

General information about Official Roissy (Charles de Gaulle) Airport Transfer Information

Secrets of Paris Guide to Paris Airports

Top-rated Paris Travel and Dining Guides and Travel Necessities

Official RATP Website of Paris Transit (Multi-lingual)

Paris Trip Tips Transit Guide

10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris

More of my Paris Travel Tips

36 comments

  • I almost always ride the RER in from De Gaulle and have never felt unsafe or had any problem. I guess I don’t know the neighborhoods the line runs through very well, but if you don’t get off in a bad one, the train always seems completely safe. (For reference, I have always ridden it during the day, however.)

  • hi Fr Chris: Yes, as mentioned, I’ve never had any problems either. But it’s always best to just be aware of your belongings, especially if you’re jet-lagged and traveling in unfamiliar places.

    (I did have an Air France bus driver tell me round-trip tickets weren’t available, and he couldn’t give me a receipt. I also think I saw him pocket the money!)

    I take the RER and the Air France bus (still) but if folks have luggage, some of the other modes of transport may be easier to manage.

  • Important thing to remember: the RER line going from the center of Paris (say, Gare du Nord) to CDG *splits*. And one of the ends does not go to the airport at all. So when you are glad to see that train standing there when you arrive at the station, beware! It might not be the right train at all.

    No comment on whether it’s safer to wait in Gare du Nord versus the station where the line splits. On the one hand, I had my wallet stolen in Gare du Nord (seconds after buying the ticket to CDG, thankfully). On the other hand, Gare du Nord has a Paul boulangerie.

  • I used the Context Travel private drivers for round trip Roissy transfers in November. It worked OK from Roissy to the city, but they no-showed on the return transfer to the airport. We called the emergency number for Context and got voicemail. We were left scrambling for a taxi in the midst of the strike and barely made our flight. Context refunded our money but was unable to give a credible reason for the snafu. Lesson learned: I’d use Context again for tours which is their forte but not for transfers which they arrange through a third party.

  • Jurie: Yes, thanks for the reminder about the line-splitting. I’ll add that.

    And sorry to hear about your wallet…but you’re right also about the Paul bakery—I pick up a pavot poulet for the journey, even though I can never get those poppy seeds out of my teeth!

  • DL, aren’t you a Saint! This makes it so easy. Might I be so bold to add that if you can’t pick-up and carry ALL of your own luggage by yourself, then please, take a taxi or get a private driver. I’d pay anything to have that darling M.Oliva drive me around Paris again! After taking us to Rungis at 4 in the morning, waiting for us outside all the halles, he was still charming as we breakfasted on ham and coffee.

  • Two years ago we tried to buy tickets to the airport at Gare du Nord and found that our credit cards didn’t work at the ticket machines because (we found out later) American credit cards don’t have a necessary magnetic strip embedded in them that European credit cards do. And the ticket window by the turnstile wasn’t open even though it was 8:45 in the morning. I think they also sell tickets upstairs. In short, buy the tickets in advance.

  • My family and I use Bee Shuttle private service for transfers. We have tried some others, but they are hands-down the best for reliability and punctuality. If you book a round trip making your reservation, you get a 10% discount. For 3 persons and a mountain of luggage the charge ends up being 59 Euros.

  • Katie: Yes, they’re trying to do away with human cashiers and switch to machines in Paris. Except the new machines, at present, may not accept most American credit cards (a commenter further on said they do). The new métro machines take cash (in euros, of course), but am not sure about the machines for the RER.

    I do hear talk that places in America are going to start adopting the French-style credit card machines that waiters use tableside since it minimized fraud.

    I wrote a post: Money In Paris that talks about how to get cash, but thanks for alerting others here!

  • Thanks for the heads-up about renovations at the airport — this will be our fourth spring visit in as many years, and we’re both reasonably good at following instructions and can read newspapers, books,etc., in French, but each year there seems to be some new difficulty whether with figuring out which terminal our flight leaves from or which wing of which terminal or . . . The first year, we had the same problem someone mentioned above, of not being able to buy a ticket from a machine at the unmanned Metro station near our hotel (we then walked to the nearest direct ReR a kilometre away!) — and made it to the check-in counter with only 45 minutes before our flight. Too close for my comfort. Makes your driver seem a very tempting option (except that I’ll have spent all those euros on macarons!)

  • materfamilias: Well, having been in similar situations, I can imagine there were a few moments there you would’ve been happy to spring for a driver! ; )

    When I was at the airport last month, departing Paris for the US, after I checked in at the United counter, I got so confused I ended up on the very top floor and had to exit via baggage claim, walk past customs, then go out and find a working elevator to take me all the way back downstairs.

    And start all over again.

  • I’ve taken the RER and hated it because of the lugging of the luggage. By the time I’d gotten to where I was going, I decided it wasn’t worth it to save the money, so I’ve always sprung for a Taxi since. If ever the glorious day comes where I’m traveling with one piece of luggage or a bag, I’d definitely go for the RER. Otherwise, it’s just too uncomfortable in my opinion.

    Plus, when I’m in the city using the trains, I hate it when people get on with 50 bags and bash you into a corner in a stinky metro car.

  • I spent a weekend in Paris last month, and I can’t stress enough the importance of making sure you pay attention to connecting train lines when taking the RER to the airport. The RER stopped about two stops before the airport, and half of the train got off while the other half (myself included) stayed on. To our collective horror, the train moved backward rather than toward the airport!

    We got off at the first stop, waited fifteen minutes until another train came by, and then waited an additional fifteen minutes at the original stop until the connecting train arrived. I was already running a bit late, and once I got to Roissy, I missed my gate by five minutes (the airline attendant gleefully told me I could not be admitted, despite the fact that my plane had not even arrived yet) and had to wait six hours for another flight that cost more than my original round trip flight!

    So take David’s advice to heart – give yourself plenty of time and be certain of the line you are traveling!

  • Great post! Roissy is such a mess, I don’t know how they call themselves an international airport. I’ve landed in 3rd world countries that have better designed airports than this one. I always feel like I’m entering a Barbarella space bubble. I come and go from this airport so much that I know it pretty well and every time I have to help people figure out how to enter the inner terminal or how to get into Paris. The AirFrance bus is one of my favs, the RER only when I have carry-on luggage.

  • When I visited Paris, I opted to take the Air France bus into the city. No problem, although it took a bit longer than I thought it would due to rush hour traffic. On returning to the airport, we waited for nearly an hour for the Air France bus, only to have one show up with not nearly enough room for the large crowd that had accumulated. We ended up sharing a taxi (which ended up being cheaper and more comfortable). Just another warning to leave yourself PLENTY of time! This is a fantastic post, thanks!

  • I’ve had excellent luck with Paris Shuttle. Last May, I waited too long to make reservations to be picked up for our flight home, but they managed to accommodate us anyway, with a contract driver. And on that trip, on the way in, the driver was happy to show off his GPS system to a woman up in front, so we saw parts of Paris we’d not seen before. And the fellow passengers are very interesting, too.

  • I, too, used parishuttle (three times in October) and they were reliable. Je suis d’accord: The people responsible for the design of Roissy should be publicly flogged. I took that suspect RER line once: I didn’t have a problem but I could tell I wouldn’t be visiting those neighborhoods for pleasure, and advised friends and family not to use that mode of transportation.

  • Yes getting around Roissy was one of the more hectic parts of my trip to Paris with my Dad. When we arrived in Paris (and finally found the RER ticket area) we bought tickets using the machines so those do accept American credit cards.

    It was quite the workout going through metro to get to the RER B with my suitcase, backpack and purse. Especially since so many metro stations have lots of stairs and no escalators or elevators.

    I would also say to try and avoid Gare de Lyon as a metro stop. There are several other metro stations within walking distance and they are so much less complicated. I feel like I spent half of my trip getting lost in Gare de Lyon.

  • There was a pretty good article in the International Herald Tribune recipently; The Worst Airports in Europe, where they compared Charles de Gaulle to “like being in an Escher print.”

    How true!

  • Merci beaucoup for the info. I’m planning a trip to Paris in February, my first time to the city and am excited and at times confused about the whole thing.

  • Mochene: Welcome to Paris!

    I do recommend for first-time visitors, to either take a shared shuttle (or spring for a taxi), just until you get your bearings. Paris proper is easy to get around once you’re in the city.

    The shuttles are pretty convenient and save you the hassle of dealing with a lot of things when you just arrive and are wiped out from the trip.

    Even though shuttles and taxis costs a bit more than public transit, you can just order a carafe of vin ordinaire one night instead of a fancy bottle to make up for it!

  • On my first visit to Paris, several years ago, we were trying to get back to CDG for our departing flight. Unfortunately, at that time, work was being done on the RER line heading to the airport. It was very poorly signed but apparently we needed to take the non-airport RER spur to the end and get on a shuttle bus to the airport for there. We made it even if we were a bit later than we intended.

    And thanks for the more updated information. Any particular information that would be useful going the other way (from the airport to Paris itself)?

  • A good thing to know if you are taking the Air France bus from CDG is where to find it. You have to look on the actual road to see where to wait – the stops are painted on the blacktop/pavement – there are no upright signs. And, I’ve waited over an hour for that bus at Gare de Lyon – sometimes its good to be neurotically early.

    Thank you for the tips! My Tempurpedic eyeshades are anxiously awaiting the 17 hour flight to Bangkok!

  • Eva: You are going to LOVE that Tempurpedic eye mask. I travel with mine everywhere…so comfy! You’ll be thanking me for 17 hours non-stop
    : )

    Have fun in Bangkok—the street food is amazing!

  • Thanks David! I’ve been there before but its been 10 years…

    By the way, I’ve seen a tortilla warmer in 3 different places. when are you coming back?

  • David, I love your blogs — they are all well-written and truly informative.

    Unfortunately, the reason I am writing is to warn tourists, particularly first-time visitors to Paris, about the RER from Charles de Gaulle/Roissy airport. I have been to Paris many times over a period of 20 years, and previously I ALWAYS took the RER into the city and then transferred to the Metro. But in the past years, there has been an increase in thieves who board the train specifically targetting newly-arrived jet-lagged tourists — and you are immediately identifiable by the fact that you have even a single piece of luggage. The RER stops at some very unsavory places near the CDG airport, where the thieves initially board.

    I am a very street-wise traveller who lives in Chicago. I don’t even know how to drive, so all my life I have taken public transportation when traveling in the US or overseas. I always take the bus and subway when traveling to and from LaGuardia airport in NYC. In short, I am a seasoned commuter. So when I was seated on the RER train with my one piece of luggage held in front of me and was suddenly joined by three people, even though the car had lots of empty seats, I knew there would be trouble. One man sat next to me, and a couple sat across from me, effectively wedging me in next to the window.

    During the ride, the woman “absent-mindedly” began to touch the zipper on my luggage, and stopped when she saw me glaring at her furiously. I knew my new companions were waiting for me to stand up before making their move. As we approached the Chatelet-Les Halles stop, I had decided my best option was to cause a scene and begin shouting loudly for someone to call the police. Fortunately, one stop beforehand, they announced over the loudspeakers that the Metro was on strike, so everyone — including the would-be thieves — immediately disembarked. I didn’t understand the announcement, so I stayed on the train (as did some other confused French travellers), only to discover that it was returning back to the airport.

    The Metro strike was a blessing. Imagine starting your vacation with all of your luggage ripped off! A person traveling alone, especially a woman, has little chance of overpowering three people determined to wrestle your bag from you. And typically, thieves work in groups.

    On my last trip to Paris, I took a shuttle from the CDG airport to my hotel. Yes, it was more expensive than the RER, but I considered it to be the best form of travel insurance. And note that I took the RER back to the airport for the flight home. At the end of your trip, you are no longer jet-lagged, are a seasoned Metro passenger, and even if, heaven forbid, you do get your luggage ripped off, at least it happened when your vacation was over anyway.

    Paris is one of the greatest cities in the world, and should not be feared. But be very, very careful of thieves on the RER and Metro. Two of my friends had similar experiences — one almost got dragged off a Metro car when a thief grabbed his backpack and bolted just before the doors closed, with my friend still strapped in to it.

  • Hi Kris: Sorry to hear about your experience. As mentioned, I’ve heard various reports of things happening, but not to me or anyone I know personally. Lots of folks take the RER without incident, but if it happens to you, the statistics are meaningless.

    I think when you’re traveling, it’s best to keep “saving money” in check. If you’re going to tired and jet-lagged, as you pointed out, it’s sometimes no bargain taking the cheapest method of transportation.

  • David-
    I’m wondering if you can offer any advice on getting from Orly to Paris center. We’re a group of five, including three kids (11, 13 and 18). I think I would prefer to avoid public transport, what with the kids and luggage in tow. After some research, the best rate I found for a shuttle for 5 is €71 on a site at http://airport-connection.hudsonltd.net/res. Do you know if they are reliable? If not, who might you recommend? We’re not traveling until August, so I’m also a little skittish about paying for a transfer this far in advance. I suppose I could wait to book closer to the date of travel. Thanks.

  • Dan: You don’t need to book until a couple of weeks or so before your trip. Especially since Paris empties out in August.

    I can’t make recommendations about various companies unless I’ve had extensive experience with them, but that price is in the ballpark for hiring a shuttle van. I’ve used Monsieur Oliva (listed in the links) many times, for myself and for groups, although you should contact him directly for a price quote.

  • Thanks for the most useful information on Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) shuttle. Mind you the first time you arrive at CDG things can look very confusing, especially if you use Ryan air or Easyjet, it’s a long walk to the transfer services like Bus, train etc. While I’ve never tried, Air France bus seems to be a popular choice these days.

  • David,

    How exactly do I contact Jean Pierre Oliva at Service Van Prestige? Is there a website/email or telephone number? I would love to use his service while in Paris in May.

    Thanks,

    Marilyn Cataldie
    New Orleans Louisiana

    Hi Marilyn: If you click on the link in the Links at the end of the post, it’ll take you to his e-mail and you can contact him that way. -dl

  • Mr. Lebovitz,
    I came across your website and was wondering if you had any travel tips for us. We are trying to plan a quick trip to visit the Omaha Beach area of Normandy in August. Unfortunately, our time there will only be limited to 1/2 day of touring. We would like to leave Paris in the morning of Aug. 12, 2009, take train to Caen or Bayeux and stay the night in one of those places, do tour in afternoon and return to Paris following morning since we must fly out that afternoon (Aug. 13th). Any suggestions on making our trip and transfers easier. I have emailed your contact for a private pickup at airport to/from train station and look forward to hearing from him.
    Thanks.

  • Patsy: Mr. Oliva actually does take folks to Normandy so definitely ask him if he’s available to do that with you. He speaks excellent English and is very knowledgeable about that region, and France… and charming!

  • Thanks for the information!
    I am going to try the Air France bus this time. I’ve always taken the metro from CDG. Would love to visit Normandy as well.

  • I heard that Jean-Pierre Oliva has retired. Do you have anyone to take his place? He was the greatest!

  • Steve: Yes, Mr. Oliva has retired. He does recommend a fellow named Sébastian, whose number is 06 07 15 42 04, . Apparently he speaks English and Spanish, as well as French. I haven’t met him yet, but M. Oliva highly recommended him.