RER B, Paris
Always, always check the signboard before boarding the RER "B" train (suburban train) from Paris to CDG airport!
Unknownst to me at that time, I took the wrong train, alone, at night and landed in some God-forsaken place in Roissy! To avoid the mistake, look carefully at the signboard on the platform where you board the train. If the sign for CDG airports lights up, it's all fine...
Other important things to take note of:
The RER train runs every 15min and the journey takes 30-35min. 5am-12:30am; €7.60, children €5.30.)
You can get to Paris from CDG airport by the RER train. If possible take Euro coins with you as you can purchase a ticket from a machine rather than have to wait in a queue at the ticket office. Price as at June 2004 is about E7.80 Once you arrive in Paris this same ticket will take you to your final destination on the metro "as long as you do not leave the station" (ie. go through an exit turnstyle)
Trains run very regularly, but just beware sometimes you may have to change half way through your journey when you did'nt expect too. Don't worry about it. You will soon get the idea when your still sat down and everyone else is getting off. Just wait at the same platform for the next train.
You can also use a Paris Visite ticket for Zone 5 on this train but check it's worth it before you buy. If you are not using the metro much for the rest of the day, a single train ticket may be cheaper.
The regional Metro (RER) has two stops at the main Charles De Gaulle airport, where the vast majority of long-distance flights arrive.
A ticket will set you back 7 Euro 75, which makes it a bargain. The travel pass or 'Paris Visite' although promoted as a pass for tourists will not provide good value unless
* you are only spending one night in the city and flying out again,
* or your hotel (unlikely) is in the outer suburbs
* You are planning to visit places around region such as Disneyland Paris or the Palace of Versailles.
It is therefore (in most cases) better to travel in on one ticket and then buy a normal day pass for Paris' central area for your sightseeing adventures.
Both of Paris's main airports are connected to the centre by the RER cross-city transit system. To get to and from CDG the line is the B line with trains running from about 5.00 am until 1.30 am. From Gare du Nord, platform 43, there are 4-5 trains an hour and the journey takes, on average, 35 minutes.
Allow yourself about 45 minutes before your check-in time to get there when flying out.
At the time of writing (June 2009) the single fare either way is 8.40 Euros and your ticket is valid for any pre or subsequent Metro journey. You can get your ticket from the machines - most cards, Euro notes or/and coins (change given), or from the manned booths.
A small point to note is that the trains aren't designed for heavy luggage and that at peak times you might have problems finding somewhere to put your bags without pissing-off the regular commuters.
Getting in to Paris was easy. Going back to CDG was a little more tricky for us. First, it's important to understand that trains may use the same main line in Paris, but branches off. If you find out that the train to the airport is on a particular platform, read the signs and make sure that the on-coming train goes to CDG. We couldn't see any signs on the train itself. We had to look at the overhead signs and see what was coming next. Don't forget that you'll have to lift up the stroller and luggage to get in. Once on the train you'll need to know which terminal you should go to. Our e-ticket papers had this information. When you arrive your correct terminal follow everyone and look for the exit. Everyone will be running for the shuttles. You won't miss them now. We had to wait 10 minutes before a shuttle came and although it was a long accordion style bus, we could tell that we might not get in if we waited. So we made sure we were one of the first ones to get in. People were wild and the just were so anxious to get to the planes...So be a little agressive and make sure you get on the bus!
The RER B will take you directly from Charles de Gaulle into the center of Paris and is a cheap alternative to a taxi. It cost 8.50 euro (one-way) but was very efficient. I arrived in terminal 2, and it was a 10 minute walk to the train. Just follow the signs for the RER. There are several ticket machines, but they do not accept paper money only coins. There is a change machine located off to the side, just outside a small concession shop (I don't recall if it is a Replay store or not, but it is located in the corner near the ticket machines). Hold onto your ticket once you enter because you will likely need it when you exit.
CDG is the final stop on the line, so you should have no problem getting a seat - the train does fill up as you get closer to Paris. It took approximately 45 minutes to get to central Paris (St. Michel station). If you take the RER back to the airport, make sure you take the RER B to Charles de Gaulle (the RER trains each seem to have several end destinations - just make sure the last stop is the direction you are headed to).
I took the RER from CDG to Les Halles/Chatelet metro for 7.95 euro fully armed with backpack, camera bag, rolling suitcase and rolling ski bag. Admittedly it was noon and the train was only 1/3 full. I was able to pick up a ticket at the airport station machine which took my Wells Fargo money card with even requiring my code. Getting off the train and negotiating through the Les Halles metro was no big deal and the locals were very helpful.
There are 2 RER B lines from the city to CDG (DeGaulle Airport); make sure you get on the right line that goes out to CDG. Sometimes it can be confusing: the boards list all the routes and designate whether they're 'long' or 'short' trains. Then when the RER's come in, they are identified by their names, not necessarily the destination.
One goes to Mitry, the other to CDG. They split after the Aulnay-sous-Bois stop. It may not always be clear which one you're on...but here's a fail-safe clue:
after the Aulnay-sous-Bois stop, if the train goes into a tunnel, you're on the right track; if you can still look out and still see the sights, get off at the next stop (Sevran-Livry), turn around, and get off at Aulnay for the right one.
RER B is the only train that goes from Charles de Gaulle to Ile-de-France (Central Paris). Once you get through Passport control, you're now in France and have to get to Paris somehow. You get the RER from the Gare (train station) located somewhat far from the terminals. There are free shuttle buses you can take to get to the Gare. Look for the train symbols near an exit or on the directory boards to find a pick-up point. Or, you can walk all the way to the Gare from inside the terminals, but it can be quite a haul.
Once you find the Gare (located under a hotel, Sheraton I think), you'll have to get a ticket. There are many automatic machines in the terminal, but they only take coins or credit cards and no one's credit cards were working. Worse, there are no change machines anywhere. Thus, you'll have to stand in the long line to purchase the ticket (8,50 Euro). Note there is a section to purchase tickets for "Grandes Lignes" which is for grand lines travelling much farther. You don't need to stand in that long line. Find the local tix section (Ile-de-France is a good indicator) and stand in that long, yet a bit shorter, line.
Trying to decide if you want a taxi, shuttle or train into Paris from the airport? I posted this on the Forum and it may help you consider. Someone asked if there was a problem booking a taxi. Normally we take the RER train into Paris and back out to the airport. If we have a very early flight and the trains are not running, we book a shared shuttle and have never had a problem. When we travel with our daughters, we book a limo since the four of us can share the cost. Once, I hurt my foot and we used a taxi. All of these serve the purpose. You will want to consider cost (your budget), convenience (luggage, children, handicaps) and time.
You can book with other people in a van for 8 people with luggage which is what we have done a few times for very early flights. You can also book a shuttle just for yourselves (a private shuttle) and that will cost more but probably not as much as a taxi.
Here is the web site for the shuttle we use and we share with other people so it's not a private shuttle. They do offer the private service. Paris Blue Shuttle Web Site
Here is a web site for a limousine service we have used twice. It is quite reasonable. FIrst Way Limousine Service
Here is a site that will give you the cost of a taxi. World Taxi Meter Web Site
And finally, here is the RER train web site, our preferred mode of travel. Paris Metro Official Web Site
Hope this helps and that you enjoy your day in Paris.
Taking the RER from CDG was a round trip journey. Exactly how we carried everything and managed a toddler in a stroller is what this tip is about. This is what we took: a stroller, a small carry-on tote bag, a backpack, a car seat (Britax Marathon - huge), a large rolling suitcase, and a check-on pack with internal frame. We devised this system for the two of us: My husband pulled the suitcase with the car seat attached to it. He also wore the day back pack. I pushed the stroller while wearing the large back pack with the internal frame and I hung the tote bag on the stroller handles. We did not need any coats on the way in to Paris because all of the movement and carrying kept us HOT! Don't forget to have some water and energy bars handy (we put ours in our tote bag for easy access!) Later on, after we checked the large pieces on our way back, I wore the car seat as a back pack as I pushed the stroller. It was much lighter than the back pack my husband was wearing!
You can get to Paris either by plane or by train, and both methods are just fine. Paris has 2 main airports: Charles de Gaulle -CDG- (where I usually fly into and is located in the north east of Paris) and Orly (located in the south); a smaller airport (Beauvais, mainly used by the budget airlines and quite small and inconvenient) and many train stations, such as Gare de Lyon (shown on the picture). All of the airports and train stations are connected to the Metro and/or RER (regional train) network, so you don't have to spend a fortune in a taxi to get to downtown Paris as it was the case many years ago.
In my personal case, I took the RER + metro from CDG airport (I've flown from Mex City to Paris directly with Air France and via London with British Airways) all the way to Gare de Lyon train station, which was only 2 blocks away from the hotel I was staying at. You can do the same if you arrive at any other of the train stations located in Paris - it's easy to move from one place to the other using the extensive metro/RER network.
If you arrive by plane, there are also buses (such as the so called Roissy-Bus) which will take you from the CDG airport to the Opera Garnier, and Air France cars that will take you from either of the 2 airports to different spots in Paris for a fee of around 9-15 EUR (per person) depending on where you're going (for more info on the latter check website provided).
If arriving to Orly, they also have 2-3 different options to go to Paris, besides the AF Cars: you can take buses to nearby RER stations or a fast train called ORLYVAL which takes you to the Antony RER station; then you can go anywhere you want within the metro network.
There are also different options to transfer between these 2 airports, with Orlyval, Orlybus and AF cars.
1) The RER line B will take you directly to the left bank (Saint Michel) for 10euros. As you'll exit the metro station, you'll be right in front of Notre Dame.
2) the AIR FRANCE bus (for 10euros) they'll take you to Montparnasse, Champs elysees ou Porte Maillot - buy your ticket as you enter the bus
2bis) the bus "ROISSY BUS" will take you for about 9euros to Opera - tickets to be purchased as you board
3)If you'd rather take a taxi, plan on spending a minimum of 50euros... be carefull on rush hours... you might get stuck on the highway with a taxi charging and charging...
RER is a great way to get from CDG to Paris city centre. Service runs 7 days a week from 4:45 am to 1:30 am and the timebles are posted in the stations and on the platforms.
Depending on what part of Paris you plan to visit, you will either take the A, B, C RER.
I've only taken the RER once as my friend usually picks me up at the airport. But it's a good an inexpensive way to travel if you have little luggage.
When coming into Paris by RER trains from the CDG airport, the ticket is good to your final destination in the Métro system in Paris. Do not exit the RER station, but continue into the Métro via the gantries using the same ticket. The gantries are not luggage friendly so you have to manage the gantry with your luggage together (no adjacent side window to push the luggage through like gantries at the airport).