We just really want to see the Haunted Mansion in French, okay?
June 28, 2007 9:01 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to get from Charles de Gaulle to Disneyland Paris?

Your opinions on the folly of spending a day in Paris at Disneyland aside, how should I get from the airport to there and back in a day? We're leaning towards renting a car but only drive automatic, and all the people we've found who have any automatics at CDG charge an arm and a leg. It would be great if you knew of a local rental car company who could give us an automatic for less dough. We don't know what the terrain will be like and whether this would be a bad time to try to learn to drive manual.

If you're so horrified by this question that you must vent, feel free to recommend other places in Paris where two kids can go who have both seen the typical package tour sights. Bonus points if you think it's something that someone contemplating Disneyland would like.
posted by crinklebat to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (13 answers total)
You don't need to tackle a manual car, and Paris is certainly not the place to try and learn anyway. Both Charles de Gaulle and Disneyland Paris are on the RER train network, which is a sort of French rapid transit adjunct to the Metro. I haven't been to Disneyland Paris for more than 5 years, but tickets on the RER were reasonably cheap, and the trains are quick and run on time.
posted by roofus at 9:08 AM on June 28, 2007

Make sure you buy the right ticket -- my sister and I travelled from Paris to Disneyland on the standard ticket, and found that the exit doors would not open for us at the end of the trip. We jammed our way through, not knowing what was up, and were stopped by a couple police who were obviously posted there to snipe people like us :)
posted by crickets at 9:29 AM on June 28, 2007

Response by poster: The ride on RER is very long, which is the reason we hesitate to try it. Does it at least go through interesting countryside? And will it still run from Disneyland at the end of the night?
posted by crinklebat at 9:32 AM on June 28, 2007

I don't remember it being interesting particularly, but I don't remember it being too long, either, so it can't have been too bad.

We did take the train home at the end of the day, but I don't know what time they stop.
posted by crickets at 9:37 AM on June 28, 2007

The Asterix Park is much more popular and is pure European fun.
posted by JJ86 at 9:59 AM on June 28, 2007

If you're wary of the RER, the VEA shuttle bus is an option, as is a shared charter bus. Don't drive yourself.

As for somewhere else, how about the Cité des Sciences? Or one of these alternatives?
posted by holgate at 10:03 AM on June 28, 2007

It will probably take you longer to drive, given that 1) Paris has horrible traffic [traffic maps/stats, in French], 2) You're not familiar with the highways.

I can't speak for that particular RER route, but there's really nothing exciting to see off the highways, just like in the US. Besides, you can't pay much attention to the scenery since you're busy driving in a foreign country.
posted by desjardins at 10:11 AM on June 28, 2007

crickets: There's no direct RER from CDG to Disneyland Paris. You have to go into Paris and back out. That will take a while.
posted by grouse at 10:12 AM on June 28, 2007

Here's some info (in English) on getting to Disneyland from CDG.
posted by desjardins at 10:13 AM on June 28, 2007

I would really just take the RER - why make it complicated when it doesn't need to be? It will not be too bad. My advice, though is - you will be switching trains at Chatelet-les Halles - I think the red RER is quite close to the blue RER, but if you get lost, ask at a kiosk or ask a police for information. It's easy to get lost in les Halles but again, I think your two trains are right near each other.

Also, if someone random tries to sell you an RER ticket ignore it - buy yours at the kiosk only - and if a crowd of unaccompanied young people suddenly stand in your way near the train doors or elsewhere.. keep an eye on your bags! There can be sketchy people on the RER so, I'm just saying - don't weigh yourself down with luggage, pay attention, and if anyone hassles you it's best to use the ignore method.

That said.. visiting the Children's cité at the Cité des sciences/de l'industrie might be fun! Or, you could take the blue RER direct into the middle of Paris (stop: Luxembourg) and walk around the Luxembourg garden and surrounding area, it's very beautiful if the weather is nice.
posted by citron at 12:40 PM on June 28, 2007

I took the RER often when my cousin worked at Disney. It takes about an hour and the scenery is boring and flat after you leave the underground. But to drive there is even worse.
The RER is only one stop over at Chatelet Les Halles (make sure you are on the A4 red line). And there will be a train back from Disneyland at the end of the day.

Been to Parc Asterix too, that is such fun! The link from Desjardins looks good, but is very expensive!
posted by kudzu at 12:40 PM on June 28, 2007

On second thought, maybe it is better to take a shuttle if a shuttle is available. I was never a big fan of the RER - it will certainly get you there but it's often very crowded and I had some unpleasant experiences on it (such as being packed into a small car right next to a dude with a giant Rottweiler).
posted by citron at 12:45 PM on June 28, 2007

I haven't been to Disneyland Paris, but two kid-friendly suggestions off the beaten path:

A really fun place to have lunch in Paris is the restaurant at the Grand Mosque in the 5eme (closed on Friday). It's probably not on the package-tour trail, was reasonably priced when I was there (there's also a tearoom on a mosaic patio with just desserts, if you're just looking for somewhere to snack on a budget), and there are tours of parts of the mosque; they've even got Turkish-style hammam baths! I don't know if there are tours in English, but the baklava alone makes it worth visiting.

Nearby in the 5eme is the Arenes de Lutece (map), an ancient Roman amphitheater which is usually totally empty except for the birds; it's a public park now, so it's . If your kids are into history (or just running around and screaming like banshees pretending to be gladiators), it's a neat little corner of the city.
posted by mdonley at 5:26 PM on June 28, 2007

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