Paris stopover logistics and strategies?
October 2, 2007 7:12 PM   Subscribe

Paris stopover question(s): I have most of a day in Paris on the way back from my vacation. How much time should I allow to get through CDG?

I'm landing at CDG at 9:20a in a couple of weeks, and leaving at 6:55p. If I check my bags at my origin all the way through to New York, when do I need to be back at CDG in order to make my flight home? I understand the new TSA screenings at foreign airports can be slow, and CDG is generally a non-user-friendly place, in my experience.

Some ancillary questions: What's the quickest way into town on a Sunday? Air France bus or RER?

And does the #29 bus still have those great open platforms on the back?

(Any other stopover tips/advice/strategies/recommendations? My girlfriend has never seen Paris before and I want to show her around a little.)
posted by Vidiot to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Personally, I'd take the RER. It's cheaper than the bus and even on Sunday it's probably faster. Look for the express train. I've found the Air France bus convenient mostly when I've had lots of bags.

With any luck you'll be in central Paris about 11 o'clock or so. I'd make sure to be back on the train by about 4:15. Then you'll be back at the airport with about a 2 hour window before your flight.

So in total, you'll have about 5 hours in Paris proper. It's not a great deal of time, but certainly better than nothing.

Also, if any of you are under 26, mention that when you buy your tickets. On weekends it'll net you a pretty sweet deal.
posted by timelord at 8:41 PM on October 2, 2007

Best answer: You really need all of those 2 hours prior to the flight. The last time I flew to the states from CDG, earlier this year, we got to the airport about 2 hours exactly before the flight (a morning flight, no less) and BARELY made it on the plane. They really will close the checkin line if you aren't in it before a certain time, and checking in takes a really really long time (security wasn't too bad).
The RER is great but the terminal in CDG to Paris is a bit confusing and many of the automated ticket machines won't take American credit cards (ones without the smart chip). But it would be worth it even for a couple hours to wander around. Ah, Paris. Don't try to "do" anything, just drink in the city and grab a snack.
posted by ch1x0r at 9:15 PM on October 2, 2007

Best answer: 11a sounds about right to me.

Second the RER. It's kind of hard to find (really, finding anything in CDG is trying) but it's relatively cheap and drops you more or less in the middle of things at Les Halles, from which you can get everywhere.

Also, on the return - make sure to check train times. They're still pretty frequent, but I think low enough frequency that you might want to aim for a particular train in the way back.

If you've only got five hours, you don't want to commit to a single destination (eg Louvre, various other very worthy but also time consuming museums), so I'd recommend strolling the central axis of the 1er from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe, then heading SW to the opera and then across the river to the Eiffel Tower. It's a long walk (probably 4-5 miles total), but if you stop and sit at a cafe halfway there, or pause in the Tuileries for a while it's not too bad and it gives you a nice taste of the major sites in the city. The major thing you'll miss is Notre Dame, but that's not that far from the Louvre if you wanted to see it first.

I have made a quick map showing the route I have in mind.

Good luck and have fun in Paris!
posted by heresiarch at 9:33 PM on October 2, 2007

re: the open platforms on the #29 bus, sadly, sadly, no.
posted by agent99 at 5:29 AM on October 3, 2007

Response by poster: yeah, I was wondering if the check-in, etc. is speeded since I'll already have my bags & such in the system. Thanks. (and nice map, hereisarch. I may yet do that, but I'd been thinking about Ile de la Cite and the Left Bank.)
posted by Vidiot at 6:14 AM on October 3, 2007

One small point... I was recently at CDG, and it seems the airport is not near the gate. After we landed, we must have taxied for 20-30 minutes. Then we got off the plane and onto a bus - which took another another 15-20 minutes to get to the gate. And there were not enough buses. So plan accordingly.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:13 AM on October 3, 2007

Best answer: Flying from CDG to the US about a year ago the security was very slow, much slower than I was used to from flying in (and out of) the US. I'd say arriving at the airport 2 hours early is the minimum.
posted by erikgrande at 8:36 AM on October 3, 2007

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