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Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), which began service on 8 March 1974, is located near Roissy-en-France. The airport complex actually straddles the junction of three departments: Val d'Oise (95), Seine-et-Marne (77), and Seine-Saint-Denis (93) in Ile-de-France (see map).
The airport has three main terminals (fr. Aérogares):
Navigating between terminals
Passengers arriving on different flights at separate terminals who wish to meet each other, and those who will be taking an RER-B commuter express to Paris or a TGV train to other destinations in France, may board the free 24-hour VAL (Véhicule Automatique Léger) shuttle train which makes frequent runs between terminals 1, 2, 3 and the rail stations – plus two remote car parks – within 8 minutes.
While it is possible to walk the length of Terminal 2 from Halls A&B through E&F (using the moving sidewalks in some places), the distance is significant and can take more than 15 minutes; 2G is located 2.5 km/1.6 mi. away from terminals 2A-2F. Depending on your stamina (and luggage), you may find it more practical to take one of the free TransRoissy shuttle buses:
For suggested methods and routes between terminals and airports, consult the interactive Connecting Flights Guide.
Upon approaching the baggage claim areas, be sure to avail yourself of the free luggage carts – which are generally parked next to the baggage carrousels or conveyor belts. They will save you considerable effort in navigating to the exits and beyond!
As a precaution against terrorist incidents, French airports have eliminated all short-term baggage lockers. However, for travelers on a short layover at CDG who may be interested in visiting Paris unencumbered by their bags, there is a private "left luggage" service called Bagages du Monde situated at Terminals 2-E/F above the TGV station (facing the VAL stop). Rates are €6 per bag for up to 6 hours, €12 for 6-12 hours, and €15 per day. Hours: 6:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m., 7 days a week; check-in and check-out time is usually 5 minutes or less.
Announcements – the Roissy chime
Until 2005, every PA (public address) announcement made at Terminal 1 was preceded by a distinctive chime, nicknamed "Indicatif Roissy" and composed by Bernard Parmegiani in 1971. The chime can be heard in the Roman Polanski film Frantic. Although the chime was officially replaced by the "Indicatif ADP" chime in late 2005, there recently have been unconfirmed reports that Indicatif Roissy has occasionally returned.
Many airport staff can speak English; they are friendly when approached in a courteous manner (say "Bonjour, Madame/Monsieur!" first), and will give advice when needed. In each terminal there is a clearly marked Information desk where personnel can assist travelers with any questions or directions, and where one can pick up bus or train schedules.
Transport to and from Roissy-CDG
Transportation between CDG and Paris – or to Orly Airport for connecting flights throughout Europe – is possible by car, taxi, bus, RER (train), privately-operated shuttles, and limousines. A few of these options will also offer transport to certain suburbs and/or Disneyland area hotels. Your own choices may be influenced not only by your budget, but also by how much luggage you are carrying and your ultimate destination.
The distance from CDG to central Paris (75001) is roughly 28 km or 17 miles (consult travel times for each arrondissement, or neighborhood). From CDG to Orly is approximately 41 km (26 miles), and CDG to Disneyland is about 40 km (25 miles).
Car Hire / Rentals
Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport offers the convenience of picking up a car hire/rental quickly after your flight has landed – usually in the same terminal – thereby avoiding a trip into the city.
On the other hand, if you plan to visit Paris for a few days or longer before driving off into the countryside, you may save some money and avoid parking issues by picking up your vehicle at a number of central city locations (including railroad stations) toward the end of your Paris stay.
We would tend to discourage renting a car at all if you plan to remain in Paris for the duration of your trip – traffic is horrendous, parking can be difficult (and expensive) in the city, but public transportation is easy and extensive. In case of a special occasion – such as a dinner cruise on the Seine or at the Eiffel Tower, with pick-up at your hotel or apartment – you might wish to consider arranging a private chauffeured sedan instead.
There are six car rental agencies located in the airport:
Available car makes include: Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Citroën, Fiat, Ford, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Porsche, Renault, Volkswagen, Volvo, and more (varies by location). Body styles include: Mini/Economy, Compact/Midsize, Family Size, Luxury, Sports Car, SUV/4WD, and Cabriolet/Convertible.
Booking your car hire in advance can save considerably on the base rental, insurance, and – particularly for non-residents of the European Union – the very high French TVA (en. VAT, or Value-Added Tax).
Discover France has partnered with Auto Europe to offer easy online booking of the widest selection of models to suit your needs and budget. Founded in 1954, Auto Europe is an international car hire broker (consolidator) which has negotiated the guaranteed lowest rates with all major rental companies.
Based on the model you select, your vehicle pick-up will be pre-arranged at any one of the Charles de Gaulle Airport or Paris City agencies, according to your preference. Toll-free customer service is available round-the-clock – 24/7. For longer visits (21 days or more), an attractive lease-buyback program is also available, featuring your choice of brand-new Peugeot models.
For the rules of the road, driver tips, information about speed limits, fuel, highway tolls, rest areas, parking, and a glossary of useful terms – see our article "Driving In France".
Limousines may be frequently found near each exit from the terminals, and though the chauffeurs may try very hard to seduce you with their charm, you can expect to pay €100-200 to ride in style.
A few words of caution are in order: Finding a reputable, licensed limo at the curbside is not guaranteed, as there are a number of "gypsy" drivers who operate at the airports without authorization or proper insurance. Also be aware that French transportation laws prohibit licensed operators from soliciting you to use their services.
Should you choose this method of transport, be certain that you have agreed to the exact final cost to your destination, before allowing the first bag to be loaded. Preferably, you would have reserved your ride in advance, through a limousine company's web site or by phone, and received an e-mail or faxed confirmation of your fare.
Due to their unpredictable cost, we recommend that you avoid taking a taxi. Since the fare depends on traffic, taxis can become rather expensive – particularly during the morning rush hour, when the A1 freeway becomes a congested nightmare. (Most overnight flights from North America tend to arrive during this timeframe.)
A taxi ride into Paris can take between 40 minutes to 2 hours, costing between €40 (minimum) and €60 or more – depending on the arrondissement. The CDG airport's web site (www.adp.fr) estimates around €50 during daytime hours, plus a surcharge for evenings after 7 p.m., Sundays and/or holidays.
In addition to the metered fare, there is a supplement of €1 for each piece of luggage after the first (weighing in excess of 5kg and placed in the luggage compartment), as well as €3 for a fourth passenger. Families traveling with infants should keep in mind that taxis will not have a child seat available; they are exempt from this requirement.
When you phone for a taxi to return from Paris back to the airport, the meter starts running from the point where the taxi was dispatched – which could be anywhere in the city. Consequently, the fare showing on the meter may already be €7-10 by the time you board the vehicle at your hotel.
Shared and Private Shuttle Vans
An affordable alternative to the high cost of taxis and other private transportation, various airport shuttle companies offer air-conditioned, non-smoking, 7- and 8-passenger minivans with comfortable seating and ample cargo space.
Volkswagen minivan – shared or private shuttle.
Also available, for private transfers only:
9-15 pax minibus & 16-49 pax coach.
(click to see other views)
Courteous English-speaking drivers will assist you with your luggage, then drive you safely from any CDG terminal directly to your hotel or other address in Paris. Some companies also provide transport to outlying suburbs (by prior request) and the Disneyland-Paris Resort area.
While Roissybus and Air France shuttle fares may be somewhat cheaper, they do oblige you to walk, navigate the Métro with your luggage, or take a taxi from their limited drop-off points in Paris to your hotel, thus increasing your final cost and time to your destination. By contrast, the minivan shuttles provide "door-to-door" service, combining convenience and the shortest travel time at reasonable rates.
Ideal for couples, small groups, or families with children (some operators offer child seats for added safety) – these shuttles plan their passenger loads so that no more than 3 stops are made on any one trip into the city (private shuttles are also available). Advance reservations are required. You will be asked to provide your arrival time, flight number, and airline; the operator monitors your flight's arrival status by Internet, assuring that a driver will be there to greet you – even if your flight is delayed.
The regional public transportation authority, RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens), offers a special bus service between Roissy-CDG and 9, rue Scribe (9th arrondissement) near the famous Opéra Garnier, in the heart of Paris. While it may take some time to leave the airport as it picks up passengers from various terminals, the route from the airport to its destination is direct, with no intermediate stops in the city.
Running between 6:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m., the RoissyBus departs every 15 minutes (20 minutes after 8:45 p.m.), and the journey lasts approximately 45 to 60 minutes – somewhat longer during rush-hour. The bus leaves from the following airport locations:
A one-way Roissybus fare is €10.00 (no child discount is available). Other valid fares – when purchased for Zones 1-5 – include the Paris Visite pass (1, 2, 3 or 5 days), the weekly or monthly Navigo Découverte, and the yearly Imagine R student pass (valid on weekdays only). One-day Mobilis passes are not accepted.
This is not a "coach bus"; there is no storage compartment underneath. It is actually an articulated city bus (with an accordion center connecting two halves). At the front and in the middle, there are two small shelves for luggage.
Paris City Bus
The bus lines 350 (terminus Gare de l'Est, 10th arrondissement) and 351 (terminus Nation, 11th & 12th arrondissements) serve the airport's terminals 1 and 2. Both lines run 7 days a week, and can take up to 2 hours to reach the terminus.
Though the travel times for these buses exceed those of the other public transportation options (due to numerous stops made between Roissy and the terminus), they are by far the most economical choice. Furthermore, they afford a leisurely and fairly pleasant view of Paris neighborhoods passing along the route.
If your Paris accommodations are located in the 18th arrondissement (Montmartre), or the 9th/10th near the Gare du Nord or Gare de l'Est, then Bus #350 will drop you closest to your destination. Likewise, if you will be staying in the 20th close to Porte de Montreuil or in the 11th/12th near Place de la Nation and the Cimetière du Père Lachaise, then Bus #351 is your best bet.
The one-way 350 or 351 bus fare from CDG to Paris is €5.10 (€6.00 when purchased on-board) – or three (3) t+ tickets (not transferable to another bus or the métro).
Other valid fares – when purchased for Zones 1-5 – include the Paris Visite pass (1, 2, 3 or 5 days), the weekly or monthly Navigo Découverte, and the yearly Imagine R student pass (weekdays only).
Noctilien (Night Bus)
The night-time bus lines N140 and N143 (each terminating at Gare de l'Est, 10th arrondissement) serve airport terminals 1, 2, and 3.
Both lines run 7 days a week. N140, with 18 stops, takes about 82 minutes to reach the terminus; N143, an "express" with only 9 stops, takes about 55 minutes. From the Gare de l'Est, one can connect with 16 other Noctilien lines, plus the métro (lines 4, 5 & 7, after 5:30 a.m.) and SNCF trains.
The one-way N140 or N143 bus fare from CDG to Paris is €5.10 (€6.00 when purchased on-board) – or three (3) t+ tickets (not transferable to another bus or the métro).
Other valid fares – when purchased for Zones 1-5 – include the Paris Visite pass (1, 2, 3 or 5 days), the one-day Mobilis, the weekly or monthly Navigo Découverte, and the yearly Imagine R student pass.
RER-B3 (express commuter train)
Roissy-CDG is served by the RER (Réseau express régional) rail line, part of the Paris métro system, toward the city and its southern suburbs. These express trains with limited stops run from 5 a.m. to 12 midnight, departing every 10-15 minutes on weekdays – somewhat less frequently on weekends and holidays.
There are two RER stations within the airport complex, both of which fall within Zone 5 of the RATP's transit system (zones determine fares; the city of Paris falls within zones 1-2). A station situated midway between the 2C/2D and 2E/2F terminal buildings (see map) is the line B3 terminus ("Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2 – TGV"); the second station ("Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1") is situated next to terminal 3.
All the airport's terminals, RER/TGV stations, and remote car parks can be reached by taking the free CDG-VAL, an automated and driverless rail shuttle with five stops.
The B3 train takes about 25 minutes to reach the Gare du Nord railway station (10th arrondissement), 28 minutes to Châtelet–Les Halles (1st arr.), and 35 minutes to Denfert-Rochereau (14th arr.). There are seven stops within Paris; four of these offer connections (fr. correspondances) to certain métro and other RER lines, as follows:
The one-way RER fare is €9.50 for adults, and €6.65 for children (ages 4-10). Other valid fares – when purchased for Zones 1-5 – include the Paris Visite pass (1, 2, 3 or 5 days), the weekly or monthly Navigo Découverte, and the yearly Imagine R student pass (weekdays only).
Transport between Roissy-CDG and Orly airports:
A note of caution – Senior citizens, travelers with heavy luggage, disabled persons, or families with small children in tow are forewarned that navigating by rail from Roissy-CDG to one's hotel in Paris may require considerable effort:
TGV Train Station
Charles de Gaulle airport has its own TGV – Train à Grande Vitesse, 'high-speed train' – station that is part of the LGV Interconnexion Est rail line, offering connections to various cities in France and throughout Europe. The platform is located in the same station as the RER-B3 terminus, between airport terminals 2C/2D and 2E/2F (see map).
For TGV schedules and fares, visit the SNCF web site.
Your Transport Questions
If you have other questions regarding public bus or rail transportation (including the Paris Métro), you can also call the RATP English Information Center at 08.92.68.41.14 from a land line; the call will cost you €0.34 per minute in France.
Birds and Other Animal Hazards at the Airport
The grassy lands on which the airport is located are notorious for rabbits and hares, which can be seen by airplane passengers at certain times of the day. The airport organizes periodic hunts and captures to keep the population within manageable levels.
Bird strikes are a recognized hazard in the aviation industry. Because thousands of planes are struck by birds each year, aircraft designers and airport officials do all they can to minimize the risk of accidents.
Jean-Luc Briot, an ornithologist with France's Civil Aviation Administration in Paris, says French aviation authorities receive 800 impact reports from pilots annually, of which 10-15% are classified as "serious" – resulting in damage to the aircraft or flight delays.
At Charles de Gaulle Airport, fixed runway speakers are used to scare birds away, according to an ADP spokesman. Airport agents stationed on each runway are equipped with flares and noisemakers that allow them to play the sounds of a bird in distress, thereby frightening other birds. As a result of such prevention measures, Air France has reduced its number of collisions by a third during the past 10 years, says Briot.
Ed. note: On 2 April 2001, Flight AA 63 (a Boeing 767-323ER) was forced to return to Paris-CDG when multiple birdstrikes at 12,000 feet caused cabin depressurization. One bird entered the flight deck via the P1-1 panel on the captain's left side. There were no passenger/crew fatalities or injuries associated with this incident. (See photographs of damage to aircraft.)
An 18-year Layover... really!
According to "The Budget Traveller's Guide to Sleeping in Airports", CDG is the worst airport in the world to stay overnight.* Apparently that condition did not deter one remarkable individual from calling the airport home for an astounding 18 years.
On 26 August 1988, Mehran Karimi Nasseri found himself held at Charles de Gaulle airport by immigration. He claimed he was a refugee, but his refugee papers had been stolen. After years of bureaucratic wrangling, it was concluded that Nasseri had entered the airport legally and could not be expelled from its walls; but since he had no papers, there was no country to deport him to either, leaving him in residential limbo.
Nasseri continued to live within the confines of Terminal 1 at the airport until 2006, even though French authorities had since made it possible for him to leave if he so wished. Nasseri was the possible inspiration for the 2004 film The Terminal (starring Tom Hanks). In July 2006 he was hospitalised and later taken care of by charities; he did not return to the airport.
*(See also the traveler reviews of Charles de Gaulle Airport at Skytrax.)
Hotels at Charles de Gaulle
If your trip's purpose is just a quick business meeting before jetting off again, or you are in Paris on a layover – and sleeping inside the airport does not appeal to you – there are twelve hotels conveniently situated near or within the CDG complex, some of which offer day rooms for short stays. Due to the layout of the numerous airport terminals and satellites, transit hotels in the airside areas of the airport are not available.
On the other hand, if you are visiting Paris on holiday, please have a look at our extensive selection of hotels and short-term apartment rentals in the city. You can search for properties close to dozens of famous landmarks and train stations, or find a cozy retreat in the suburbs.
Services at Charles de Gaulle
From a local landline/payphone*, you can call the Aéroports de Paris information hotline at 3950 (the cost is €0.34/minute incl. tax; additional fees may be charged by your local telephone operator) or dial +33 220.127.116.11.50 from abroad.
* Payphone use will require a credit card or télécarte (prepaid phone card).
In partnership with the Île-de-France region, the airport provides five welcoming information desks, located in the areas beyond baggage claim. You can get assistance with your itinerary, practical information, a range of services (including hotel reservations), and a selection of tourist products.
* or from a mobile phone with a foreign number/SIM card (roaming service), not a French cell number.
Lost & Found (fr: Objets Trouvés)
For items left behind on a plane, you should contact your airline directly. For items lost within the airport terminals, there are Lost & Found offices located at:
Note: After a certain period of time has passed, the airport turns found objects over to the Paris police department (36, rue des Morillons, 75015 Paris; métro Convention, line 12), which estimates that 40,000 lost items are returned to their owners each year. They can be reached at 08.21.00.25.25 (a €0.12/minute toll applies).
There appears to be plenty of anecdotal evidence, including numerous online forum posts, which would suggest that the Lost & Found staff at CDG can be rather unhelpful to foreigners. Some posts have gone so far as to accuse the staff of stalling about found property until the waiting period has expired, with the intention of keeping such items for themselves. While we are unable to verify these claims and can only hope that CDG staff intentions are less sinister, our strongest recommendation is that you keep your wits about you, safeguard your valuables to the best of your ability, practice caution and common sense in all public spaces – particularly in transportation hubs and near tourist attractions, where thieves and pickpockets prey on unsuspecting travelers! (See articles "Feeling Safe in Paris" and "Pickpockets in Paris" for more tips.)
Emergency & Medical Services
1. The Medical Center attends not only to emergencies but also to general medical problems.
2. Drugstores carry para-pharmaceutical products, regulation-size first-aid kits and other travel-related items. They are located in two terminals and several halls:
Persons With Disabilities, Special Needs
All facilities at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport are ADA-compliant. Should you need special attention due to a disability, we recommend contacting your airline 48 hours prior to your departure time.
With advance notice, personnel at CDG can provide assistance for disabled and reduced-mobility passengers. Upon landing and getting off the airplane, you will be greeted by a CDG representative who can assist with your transportation. Traveler's Aid: 01.48.16.45.24 local phone; +33 18.104.22.168.24 from abroad.
The global HSBC Bank provides 25 automatic teller machines (ATMs) throughout the CDG Airport, and also maintains two full-service branches – offering cash advances, assistance in case of loss/theft of travelers checks or credit cards, buying and selling travelers checks and many international currencies, as well as value-added tax (fr: TVA) refunds. Services are available:
Both HSBC Bank and American Express provide currency exchange services. There are also 20 Travelex locations situated throughout the airport.
Ed. note: Travelex is notorious for charging very high fees to exchange currencies, recently reported to be as high as 8.5% of the total funds exchanged, PLUS a €3.50 transaction fee. Instead, we recommend using a debit card with a 4-digit PIN to obtain local funds from an ATM, and using either a credit or debit card for purchases.
North American credit and debit cards containing a magnetic strip (as opposed to European cards with a smart chip) will generally not work in automated vending machines, such as those which dispense rail tickets. When confronted with such a situation, there is little one can do but queue at a ticket counter instead, where the clerk/cashier can swipe your card. [See related article.]
Wi-Fi / Internet Access
Free Wi-Fi is available at Roissy-CDG for 15 minutes. Beyond that, you can pay a fee to extend your time. Time cards may be purchased at the Relay Stores or directly online from HubTélécom. The cost is €1.90 for a 30-minute connection, €4.50 for 90 minutes; an "unlimited" day pass is €9.90 (valid only on the day you begin to use it). Tip: Don't buy a day pass at 10 p.m., because you will only get to use the Wi-Fi for 2 hours.
If you don't have your own mobile device or laptop computer and need Internet access, there are two options:
Restaurants & Pubs
Travelers can dine at the various bars, cafés and restaurants in the airport.
Continued: Le Bourget Airport
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