Paris in the Springtime... Sucks
May 12, 2011 11:47 PM   Subscribe

RER strike in Paris today. What should I do to get to Charles de Gaulle airport?

Help! I am stuck in Paris and need to get to the airport this morning. What should I do to get to the airport? Are there buses? Should I take a taxi? Are some of the lines working?

posted by 3491again to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, I'm coming from the south, just outside of Paris.
posted by 3491again at 11:47 PM on May 12, 2011

I'm almost certain that RERs will still be running to CDG - they never shut down 100%. Have you gone to a connecting station to check? Timetables will be up there, and if you can't find the info you need, ask at an information desk or even any of the métro vendors. Parisians keep up-to-speed... and those who don't will be able to direct you to someone/somewhere that does!
posted by fraula at 11:59 PM on May 12, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, fraula. The thing is, I don't know when I need to leave and I'm quite a ways from the nearest station. Is there anything online I can check?
posted by 3491again at 12:04 AM on May 13, 2011

Sorry for the double-post, wanted to put that up while I looked for more specifics since I know how time-sensitive it can be:
Le Monde: Grève sur les lignes A et B du RER : ce qui vous attend vendredi ("Strike on RER lines A and B: what awaits you Friday" [today]).

Pertinent to you, and good news: La SNCF prévoit un train sur deux entre la gare du Nord et l'aéroport Charles-de-Gaulle–Mitry-Claye. Translation: "The SNCF forecasts one train out of two [so, half the usual runs] between the Gare du Nord and CDG". Busses are running as normal and there will be more métro runs than usual on lines 1, 4, 6 and 14.
posted by fraula at 12:04 AM on May 13, 2011

Btw if you're just south of Paris and far from the nearest station, and need to reach the airport in the morning... you need to leave now.
posted by fraula at 12:07 AM on May 13, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you so much! For future readers -- is there anything English-language that gives similar info? Or good search terms? I had trouble finding any details on Google.

Thanks again. This was *so* helpful!
posted by 3491again at 12:09 AM on May 13, 2011

Glad I could be of help! :) Sorry I can't say I know of anything in English that's updated as quickly as French sources, maybe other Paris-based English-speaking Mefites can be of help (I'm not in Paris, just visited several times and have friends there).

I went straight to Le Monde's site: since they're good about Paris-centric transportation info. Once there, I searched for "grève RER" and pulled up the result dated today. "Grève" is French for "strike".
posted by fraula at 12:13 AM on May 13, 2011

Here is the RER B schedule for today during the strike.
posted by jeather at 12:15 AM on May 13, 2011

I just went to the main public transit page, which had all the info (in French, obviously).
posted by jeather at 12:17 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks jeather. It looks like there's no RER B from 10 am to 4 pm. But I can't understand what I'm supposed to do instead. Sorry for my poor French comprehension... I'm supposed to arrive at noon or at latest 1 pm. What should I do?
posted by 3491again at 12:31 AM on May 13, 2011

3491, get yourself to a BUS.

The regular métro is running, so if you're near a station, go to one of the following locations, which are departure points for buses to CDG:

Arc de Triomphe
Gare de Lyon

If you're south of Paris, Montparnasse would probably be your best bet, but it all depends on what métro line you're taking.

If you're not near a métro, there's surely a local bus nearby that will get you into the city. Bus and tramway traffic are also normal today. Have a look here.

Good luck, and leave soon!
posted by Paris Elk at 12:44 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

If the standard routes are out of service due to the strike, the obvious backup is to take a taxi. It's expensive, but the whole point of having a transit strike is to remind people of their dependence on (and preference for) public transportation (workers).
posted by beerbajay at 12:44 AM on May 13, 2011

Take a bus as suggested by Paris Elk, unless you have a healthy amount of extra cash laying around. CDG is further north of Paris than many people realize, and getting there from the south can easily cost between 90-120 euros in taxi fare, possibly more. (I once payed 600 francs, or about 95 euros, to get from CDG to Gare de Lyon, and that was 14 years ago.)
posted by fraula at 12:50 AM on May 13, 2011

And for future reference: in any large city, when you have something like a plane to catch, research contingencies 24 hours ahead of time, and be prepared to wing it.

The reason I mentioned getting to a station at the very start was that once in a hub, no matter how small (busses service métro stations above-ground), you have better access to contingencies. And the closer you get to your destination, the less expensive worst-case scenarios get, such as a taxi.

This is what I do 24 hours before having to get to an airport for a flight:
- Pull out my public transit maps, which are always in an easy-to-reach spot
- Research all public transit options for getting to the airport and write them down, including their costs
- On the same piece of paper, write down a taxi service number
- Organize the public transit tickets I need, or buy them if necessary
- Put the best map, the note with transit routes, and my tickets in the previously-used easy-to-reach spot
- Charge my mobile phone
- Prepare to leave earlier than necessary
Once it's time, in case of anything unpredictable, leave ASAP and get as close to destination as possible. Chances come up, lines don't run as planned during strikes, for example the 10am RER could have left at 10:30am (delays happen often during strikes, according to Parisians I work with).
posted by fraula at 1:16 AM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

And just to make it clear - you don't have to be flying Air France to take the Air France Bus.
posted by hazyjane at 4:03 AM on May 13, 2011

It's probably too late for the OP, but I had a similar experience in Paris. The Metro stopped at the Gare du Nord and everyone just got out. The buses weren't running. Everyone knew they'd better get a taxi tout de suite so they were gone by the time I exited the station. I started walking, and finally found a taxi, but they didn't take credit cards. So I had to walk around and find an ATM (I'd already walked pretty far from the station, and gotten myself lost, I guess the smart thing to do would have been to go back there). Anyway, I had to walk around for another 20 minutes to find an ATM, which was complicated by the fact that I was in an Arab neighborhood and couldn't understand their accented French. I finally found an ATM, and I literally walked in front of a taxi to force him to stop.

tl;dr: Be prepared, carry cash, carry a map, and know French for "Where is the nearest ATM?"
posted by desjardins at 7:00 AM on May 13, 2011

Did you make it?

If you didn't catch you flight, my experience was that the person at the front counter kindly gave me a ticket out the next day. RER strikes are almost routine. Usually people will understand.
posted by JimmyJames at 7:25 AM on May 13, 2011

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