For being so iconic around the world, Paris is a relatively small city despite its suburban sprawl. It may surprise you to learn that Paris is served by only one major international airport, along with a smaller, primarily domestic airport. Also, as is popular in most of Western Europe, trains are a major form of transportation into and out of the City of Lights! Sound confusing? Don’t worry, we’re here to help with a comprehensive guide to the most common forms of travel and transportation to and from Paris, and how to get from the airports in the suburbs to the city center.
Of course, once you understand your transportation, you’ll need a destination! Make sure you have your accommodations in Paris booked for your arrival. Staying in a Paris vacation rental (for short-term stays) or a Paris furnished apartment (for one month or longer) gives you the authentic experience of living in a real local’s apartment, plus the assistance of a licensed real estate agent in case of any communication difficulties or changes in travel plans. With our guide and an agent on the line, your journey to Paris will be as smooth as possible. Bon voyage!
Flying to Paris: Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
Charles de Gaulle Airport (also known as CDG or Roissy Airport) is Paris’s main travel hub for overseas and international travelers to the city. If you’re coming to Paris from abroad, your flight is likely to land here! CDG is located about 16 miles northeast of the city center in the Paris suburb of Roissy. Here are some quick facts to help you learn more about the airport:
- CDG is not only the largest airport in Paris, but the largest airport in France.
- It’s also the second largest airport in all of Europe!
- If that wasn’t impressive enough, CDG holds the unique distinction of being the airport with the most connections to foreign destinations of any in the world.
Charles de Gaulle also has nine main terminals. Terminals 2A through 2F are connected, but you will need to take the CDGVAL light metro train to access Terminal 1 or 3 from the airport’s main hub. Alternately, if your flight lands at Terminal 1 or Terminal 3, you’ll need to take the CDGVAL to access Terminal 2, where you can catch the RER rapid transit train system to the city.
Now that you know the airport, you need to know how to get there! Because it’s so trafficked, CDG is conveniently served by a variety of different transportation options that will take you to the center of Paris or even other cities in Europe.
One of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to get to Paris from Charles de Gaulle is via the RER train. The suburban train system offers direct service from the airport to seven metro stations in the Paris metropolitan area, including Gare du Nord, Châtelet les Halles, and St. Michel/Notre Dame. You can catch the RER directly from either Terminal 2 (RER station name Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2 – TGV) or Terminal 3 (RER station name Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1), and train tickets can be purchased at kiosks in either station. Make sure to take RER Line B bound for Paris, and keep in mind that trains run only from 4:53 a.m. to 11:56 p.m. daily.
From Terminal 2, you can also catch the TGV, a high-speed train that connects cities across France and Brussels, Belgium.
Another easy option (though not as fast as the RER) is Roissybus, the airport’s own bus system. The bus offers direct service between Terminals 1, 2A and 2C, 2D, 2E and 2F, and 3, and the Paris-Operá bus stop. Buses depart every 15 to 20 minutes, and though service is direct, the journey takes about an hour. Tickets can also be purchased in the airport’s bus stops or directly from the driver.
If you prefer, you can also opt for the slightly more expensive Le Bus Direct, a coach limousine bus from CDG to several popular destinations in Paris like the Eiffel Tower, Trocardéro, Champs-Élysées, Gare de Lyon train station, and Orly Airport. The bus departs every 30 minutes and like the Roissybus, tickets can be purchased in stations or from the driver.
Finally, a taxi for hire is usually pretty easy to come by at any terminal, but be prepared to pay a heftier fee. A taxi will cost you a flat-rate fare of €50 for destinations on the Right Bank of the Seine and €55 for destinations on the Left Bank.
Official Paris taxis are only allowed to pick up customers in designated areas (marked by signs that say “taxi”) and will have a fare meter, a badge, and a sign on the roof that says “Taxi Parisien.” Only accept a ride from an official cab for your own safety (and you can be Paris street-smart with more travel and general knowledge tips here!). Taxis will take you anywhere in the city, making them convenient for those staying or renting in more residential neighborhoods of Paris.
Flying to Paris: Paris Orly Airport (ORY)
Paris Orly Airport (abbreviated ORY) is Paris’s other main airport. Much like LaGuardia Airport in New York City, the airport is primarily a hub for domestic flights, but unlike LaGuardia, it also receives flights from overseas territories and even select flights from the United States. Though CDG is certainly Paris’s most famous airport, Orly has come into its own thanks to statistics like these:
- It’s the busiest French airport for domestic traffic
- Orly is the second busiest French airport overall
- The airport saw over 33 million passengers in 2018
The airport is located partially in the suburb of Orly and partially in Villeneuve-le-Roi, about 10 miles southeast of Paris. The airport is one of the primary bases of Air France and has four terminals, all of which are connected as of the opening of the brand-new Terminal 3 in April 2019. Because the airport is smaller and not as trafficked, travel to the center of Paris is not quite as direct as CDG. Fortunately, though, it’s still very possible!
Like CDG, Orly also has its own light rail system called Orlyval. The Orlyval connects passengers from the airport to Antony Station, part of the RER network, in only two stops. Once you get to Antony, Mitry-Claye or Aéroport Charles de Gaulle-bound RER Lines B5 or B3 (respectively) will take you to Paris and connect you with the Métro.
The airport also has its own self-named bus line: the Orlybus. The bus offers direct service from the airport to Métro stations around Paris, including Denfert-Rochereau, Porte de Choisy, Savigny-sur-Orge, Rungis-Marché Intl, and Villejuif-Louis Aragon. Tickets for the bus are available in the terminals and from the driver.
Le Bus Direct also offers service between Orly and Etoile – Arc de Triomphe station, or Orly Airport and Charles de Gaulle (if you need to make a transfer!). Lastly, as with CDG, you can always hail a taxi at your terminal! There is also a flat fare: €35 for destinations on the Right Bank in Paris and €30 for the Left Bank.
Whether you’re flying to Orly or CDG, you can find an apartment convenient to your destination with New York Habitat! You can find apartments all over the Left Bank and beyond, plus guides to individual Paris neighborhoods on our blog to familiarize yourself with your chosen area.
Our wide selection of furnished apartments, vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts are all fully furnished with kitchens equipped for meal preparation, linens, towels, and cookware. That’s one less thing to worry about when you’re carrying heavy luggage on the bus, Métro, or RER! Plus, you’ll have the assistance of a licensed agent at all stages of the rental process, from initial booking, to check-in, to move-out. If you experience an unexpected delay or cancellation in your travel plans, contact your agent who will be happy to liaise with your apartment’s owner or landlord on your behalf!
Train travel to Paris
If you’re traveling to Paris from within France or Western Europe, train travel may be an even more convenient option for you. Paris has seven major train stations that serve every corner of France and even offer connections to other destinations in Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Here are Paris’s major stations, all of which are connected by Métro service:
- Gare d’Austerlitz (13th Arrondissement, metro lines 5 and 10 and RER)
- Gare de Bercy (12th Arrondissement, metro lines 6 and 14)
- Gare de l’Est (10th Arrondissement, metro lines 4 and 7)
- Gare de Lyon
- Gare Montparnasse (14th Arrondissement, adjacent to metro lines 4, 6, 12, and 13 and TGV West)
- Gare du Nord
- Gare Saint-Lazare (8th Arrondissement, metro lines 3, 12, 13, and 14)
Traveling by train to Paris is fairly simple, and may even be faster than flying! To get around Paris from any train station, simply follow signs for the Métro. Tickets are sold at kiosks in all stations.
A South of France getaway from Gare de Lyon
You can have a unique multi-destination travel experience from Gare de Lyon in the 12th Arrondissement! The station offers service on the TGV, France’s high-speed rail. The TGV travels east to multiple cities in Switzerland and Italy, as well as south to the many exciting cities in Provence and the French Riviera, including Nice, Montpellier, Marseille, and Avignon. It even goes all the way to Spain!
If a destination in the South of France is calling your name from Paris, talk to one of our agents. We have a full selection of furnished rentals and vacation rentals in the South of France too, with all the same perks of renting in Paris (a licensed agent to assist your search and move-in-ready rentals!).
Additionally, Gare de Lyon is served by Métro lines 1 and 14 and the RER.
Big Ben to the beaches of the Riviera via Gare du Nord
The busiest railway station in Paris and all of Europe, the Gare du Nord serves about 22 million passengers per year (there’s even an eponymous film located in and about the station!). One of the reasons the Gare du Nord is so busy is that it’s a great central stop for travelers on the Eurostar Line. The Eurostar is a high-speed train that connects London, Paris, and the South of France—a travel corridor much loved by us at New York Habitat!
As you might expect from such a busy station, Gare du Nord is well-connected by the Paris Métro (lines 4 and 5) and RER. Between the Eurostar’s service and our furnished rentals in London, Paris, and the South of France, you can stay connected all along some of Europe’s best destinations.
Now that you’re a professional navigator of Paris’s airports and trains, you can get in and out of the fabulous French capital city with ease! You may still need help with your apartment search—if that’s the case, submit a request to get in touch with a licensed agent who will help you look. And stay tuned for our guide to Paris’s public transportation within the city, coming soon!