Trains from Charles De Gaulle (CDG) Airport into Paris
Taking a RER Train Into Paris
Fast, Convenient and Cheap. In almost all circumstances, the RER B train is the best way to travel from CDG into the Paris. The train station is located in the airport and trains depart every 10-15 minutes from 5:00 in the morning to 12:30 at night. For 8.10€, you can bypass the traffic and zoom into Paris in 30 minutes. Then, transfer from the train to the metro and exit the underground within a few blocks of your hotel.
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Not convinced that a train is your best option? Learn about:
1. Lugging your luggage. Unlike the US, many train stations in Paris are not handicapped accessible. Elevators and escalators are rare. Be prepared to carry your luggage up and down multiple staircases and through winding metro stations.
Reasons to Take the Train
1. Quickest/Cheapest Way into the City - The train bypasses all traffic and runs on a set and very predictable schedule. At 30 minutes and 8.10€ a trip, unless you have a special circumstance (like too much luggage), the train should be your first choice. There is a reason why the locals love the train.
2. The "Wow" factor - Sounds corny, but there is something magical about traveling for 1/2 hour in a dark tunnel, then exiting from the underground metro into the beauty and bustle of a Paris morning. A sudden transformation that stuns your senses, and that you don't experience by gradually entering the city by a cab or bus.
Travel Tips for Taking the RER Train
1. Know your Arrival Terminal to Determine How to Access the RER station. All flights originating in the US, disembark at CDG in Terminal 1 or Terminal 2.
If you're flying United, US Airways, Air Canada, KLM, Lufthansa, or Northwest, you exit the plane into Terminal 1. From Terminal 1, you'll need to take a the CDG VAL Airport Shuttle train to Terminal 2 and the RER station. After you clear customs, find the elevators (follow the crowds) and follow the blue CDG VAL Airport Shuttle signs to the entrance (on Level 2 between check in gates 5 and 6). The CDG VAL is a free metro-like train that circles the Airport. Exit the CDG VAL at Terminal 2 - the signs in the for the right exit are clearly marked "Paris - by Train" in English. The trip from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 takes about 8 minutes.
If you're flying Air France, Continental, American Airlines, or Delta, you exit the plane into Terminal 2. Walk down the hall and follow the signs for the "RER" to access the train station.
2. Buy Your Tickets at the Counter - There are numerous automated machines to buy tickets in the train station. However, many do not accept US credit cards. Save yourself the frustration of fighting with the machines and buy a ticket at the counter. While you are buying your RER ticket, you can also pick up a "carnet" or set of ten metro tickets for your stay in Paris.
3. Plan Your Route Beforehand - After a day of flight and the effects of jet-leg, the last thing you are going to want to do is study a metro map to determine how to get to your hotel on the Paris Metro. Plan ahead by noting the stop closest to your hotel - the name of the stop and the metro line are usually prominently displayed on the hotel's web site.
You can't get lost on the train from CDG - all RER trains head into central Paris. The RER B stops at Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint Michel - Notre Dame, Luxembourg, Port Royal and Denfort Rochereau. If your hotel is closest to one of these stops, you don't have to deal with the metro - depart the train station and walk to your hotel.
If your destination is located at another stop, you'll need to transfer from the RER B train at one of the stops above to the Paris metro. Using a Paris Metro map, plot the route to your hotel. When writing down your route, note the name of your stop and the name of the last stop on that line. Once you're in the metro station, follow the signs to your train based on the name of the last stop.
For example, if we're heading to a hotel at the St. Germain des Pres station, we write our route as follows:
1. Take RER B from CDG to Châtelet-Les Halles.
2. At Châtelet-Les Halles, transfer to Line 4 in the direction of Porte d'Orleans (Look for the sign with a circled "4" and words "Porte d'Orleans").
3. On Line 4, depart the train at St. Germain des Pres.
Confused? For help planning your specific route, visit RATP - the French mass transit site for an interactive route planner.
4. Wait for the Express Train - Trains leave the station every 10-20 minutes. You may wish to wait a few minutes for a direct or express train into Paris. Express trains bypass 10 suburban stops - cutting 15 minutes off of your trip time. We have to admit that we are usually so jet-lagged that we grab a seat into the city on the first train available - direct or not.
Author: Cheryl Montgomery