With your tickets booked and bags packed, while the vacation usually starts when you board the airplane, the holiday really only truly begins with that first breath of French air the moment you step out of the airport.
Charles de Gaulle Airport is one heck of a confusing place. It may have been modern for it's first decade but to me, it could have been planned a lot better. I'm most familiar with Terminal 1- which was built essentially like a doughnut with a hole in the middle. And somewhere with Terminal 2- which can require you to take an internal train from your gate to immigration/baggage collection.
The main thing is to keep your eyes peeled for signs and stop by the information counter if you're confused.
This is not a comprehensive list of all the ways you can leave CDG airport, just the modes that I take most frequently, or that I have experience in taking. For a full list, click here for the official airport website. Without further ado, here are some tips I've learned.
This is my favourite way to get to and from CDG because of it's convenience and price. A one-way trip costs 12€ per person but this price is included if you have a Navigo Card (post on this coming soon).
Although this bus doesn't have any frills (wifi, phone charger, etc), it gets you directly from CDG to Opera. Because the bus doesn't stop anywhere (and doesn't allow passengers to disembark while picking up other passengers from the other terminals) you don't have to worry about your luggage bags when you leave them on the rack. (Although there is no harm in keeping an eye on them.)
Once you get off at Opera, if you've enough the hands to lug your bags up/down staircases, and you're keen to take the metro, you'll have a to walk on the street to get to the station which serves Lines 3, 7 and 8. But not without a great view of the Opera Garnier.
Otherwise, this is a great place to get an Uber and pay a few Euros to get dropped off at your end location.
A couple other things to take note of when taking the Roissy Bus:
- Sometimes the buses don't arrive at the terminal in the time it states so on the screen. As long as you're not in a rush, the bus does come eventually. If you have the CityMapper App, that will be helpful.
- Expect the journey to Opera to take about 30-45 minutes depending on which terminal you get on at. And about 70 minutes during rush hour.
This is the second option I'd personally take to get from CDG to Paris City. Typically, without surge prices, the fare is 45€ for an Uber X for 4 passengers.
The only thing to note is that in Terminal 1, the Uber app, it will indicate that you head up to the Door 8 of the Departure Drop-Off area. This information is correct. Be mindful that not all elevators serve all floors and that because of the doughnut shape of the airport, look out closely for signs to avoid walking a whole round. My advice is so call for the uber once you've found the meeting point to avoid the "waiting time" charge.
Taking the train is a good option if you arrive during rush hour and need to get to your end destination quickly. I would say that taking the train can be the most uncomfortable- nowhere to put your luggage, unlikely that you'll get a seat, and the possibility of a packed train with people going to/from work. However, it does get you from Point A to Point B. A one way ticket will cost you ~10€, but it will be included on your Navigo Pass or if you buy the correct day/week ticket.
Taking a Paris taxi is the absolute last option I'd take just because of a couple of bad experiences. Nevertheless, I have had other perfectly fine experiences as well as a couple other friends. I'm not sure if I can take credit for my friends' smooth taxi experiences, I did advise them accordingly.
When taking a Paris taxi, the most important thing to note is that there is a FLAT RATE from CDG to Paris City. Take note if drop off location is on the Right Bank (Rive Droit) 50€ or Left Bank (Rive Gauche) 55€. Make sure to articulate your knowledge of this flat rate before loading up your bags into the cab.
There have been two occasions, once which I experienced personally, and once which happened to my guest, where the driver added 1€ per bag, and once hitting the border of Paris City, turned on the meter on top of the flat rate. It's unlikely that you'll get your money back even if you file a complaint, so just exercise some prudence and double check the flat rate before getting into the cab. There is usually an airport staff managing the taxi queue which you can ask for help if necessary.
Also, know that there is an official Taxi Queue at each of the terminals. Peppered along your route there will be drivers asking if you want a taxi. These are not official taxi drivers and what they are doing is illegal. Unless someone in airport uniform directs you to the line, do NOT take instructions from these people. I was right at the door to the beginning of the taxi queue pushing my bags on a trolley and one man told me to take the lift instead. Thankfully my husband said no and we were saved from a potentially uncomfortable situation.
So there it is, I hope that you found this useful. If you have any questions specific to this post, go ahead and leave a comment so I can reply and hopefully it will answer someone else's question too!