Paris – Basic Guide 1 – Airports

Paris is the capital of France and it is known by the nick-name of the City of Lights. When you visit Paris as a tourist, you are coming to the most popular city in the world — about 25 million visitors a year! In fact, the city is well prepared for tourists, and has many wonderful historical and nouveau sites to share, as well as a welcoming community, if you meet them half-way.

There are two main international airports serving Paris – the newer, opened in 1974 as Charles de Gaulle (CDG) 14 miles north-east of Paris; it is the busiest airport in Europe (take-offs / landings) and second only to Heathrow, London in numbers of passengers in 2007.

It will take about 45 – 60 minutes to reach central Paris, after you have your luggage and have exited customs. For security reasons, left-luggage services are not available at Paris’ airports.

And the more historic Orly (ORY), south of Paris, which still has international flights (mainly African and Middle Eastern in the South Terminal and Air France in the West Terminal) is the busiest airport for domestic flights. Orlyval is free transport between the 2 Orly terminals. It will take 15 – 50 minutes to reach central Paris from Orly, depending on what type of transport you use and the route you choose.

A third, minor airport is Paris Beauvais It is mainly served by low cost airlines. A shuttle service (€13) is organized to and from its terminals and Paris-Porte Maillot.

There is public transportation available from both major airports, by taxi, or by bus -metro-train combinations (depending on your destination).

Download a Paris Metro map from the internet before you leave, and have French money, including coins, in your pocket before you land, or at the terminal, if you expect to use public transport.

From CDG, the cheapest and fastest (30 minutes) is the underground RER B to Gare du Nord running from 4.56 am to 11.56pm (€8 one way). From Gare du Nord you are connected to Paris’ metro network.

Air France offers buses which go to Porte Maillot and Etoile (every 15 minutes, €12 one way).

Official taxis have Taxi Parisien on the roof light and a license number on their right front fender. Beware of fake cabs, especially at the airports!

Taxis must show on the exterior if they do not accept checks, and you can choose your own taxi, from those waiting at the curb, if there is not an official queue at the rank.

If you desire to use a credit card, make sure that cab’s machine is working before you engage the cab.

And by train from CDG airport, consider a “Visite Pass” which provides SO much more, for about the same as a taxi ride: it is a pass for unlimited travel on public transport in Paris, including the metro, RER, bus and SNCF Ile-de-France trains. The pass good for 1,2,3 or 5 days costing 8.38 €, 13.72 €, 18.29 € and 26.68 € respectively.

Paris Visite offers exclusive reductions on admission to numerous places of interest around the capital, and one reduced price to children aged 4 to 11. It is available from the Paris Tourist Office and the main metro and RER stations.

Plan this part of your journey well, ahead of time, especially if you have had a long oceanic flight. You want to try to know the best way to get to your destination, and if you are not sure about anything, stop and ask your airline’s staff and airport personnel and any tourist offices you find open.

The airport is where you are most likely to find people who speak your language and understand visitor’s needs; this is especially true if you are landing in the evening.

And, then be prepared to enjoy your trip to a magical city, famous in art, literature and history.

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review