As France's largest international airport and a major European hub servicing hundreds of domestic and international destinations, Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris can be overwhelming to navigate. Boasting three enormous terminals stretching out over a mile, Charles de Gaulle processes more than 70 million travelers every year. While its three terminals are easily connected by trains and free shuttle services, it's still a good idea to familiarize yourself with this bustling airport before you take off or arrive there, so you know what to expect and plan any necessary transit in advance.
All three terminals offer numerous shopping, duty-free, health and wellness and dining facilities, so you won't likely run out of things to do when you have some free time before or between flights. Read on to learn how to smooth your travels and make the most of whatever time you spend there.
Charles de Gaulle Code, Location & Contact Information
Keep these details with you to help navigate the airport more effectively and stay informed about your flight.
- Airport code: CDG
- Location: The airport is located about an hour north of central Paris, easily accessible via the RER Line B commuter train from the Chatelet-les-Halles or Gare du Nord station.
- Contact telephone numbers: For the main CDG customer service line, call 3950 from an airport phone or +33 (0)170 363 950 from a cell phone or from outside France. Individual airline contact and customer service numbers are available at the CDG website.
- Departure & Arrivals info: For live flight tracking and updates on departures and arrivals, can be found at the Paris Aeroport website just choose "Paris-CDG" from the drop-down menu in the "From" field.
- Airport map: Maps are accessible online and include a link to a downloadable and printable version
- Information and assistance for travelers with disabilities: If you or someone with you are traveling with a disability, alert the airline 48 hours before your departure. Head directly to a customer assistance terminal after arriving at the airport to let the employees know you have arrived and you will be assisted throughout the airport.
Know Before You Go
Airlines: Most of the world's major international airlines service Charles de Gaulle, which serves as a major hub within Europe. It is the main home for France's national carrier Air France, and global airlines including Delta, American Airlines, British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air China, Air India, and many others offer multiple daily flights to and from CDG.
Meanwhile, low-cost airlines such as Easyjet and Iberia Express fly to and from CDG, serving other European destinations. Taking these flights can be an excellent way to budget travel when Paris is one of several European cities you'd like to visit on a single trip.
Main Terminals at Charles de Gaulle
As mentioned above, it can feel overwhelming to navigate this sprawling airport at first, but acquainting yourself with the general layout ahead of your visit can help. Here are some tips for making your passage through the airport smooth and stress-free, whether you're departing or arriving.
- First, look at a map of all the terminals for an overview of how each of them connect. If you wish, you can also download detailed maps of each terminal.
- There are easy-to-use, free shuttle and train services between each terminal. From whatever terminal you're in, follow signs to the "CDGVal" trains, or head to the shuttle buses parked outside the departures lounges.
Terminal 1 is the oldest at Charles de Gaulle, and is designed as a large, circular space with arm-like areas radiating out from the center. It has five floors.
- The majority of the check-in areas are found on the third floor.
- The fourth floor houses shopping and duty-free areas, restaurants and other passenger amenities.
- The arrivals area and baggage claims are primarily located on the top floor of this terminal.
- The free CDGVal train to terminals 2 and 3 can be found on the second floor.
Terminal 2 is also known as the Air France terminal, since most flights from the national carrier depart from here (as well as those from partner airlines). The largest terminal at the airport, it's divided into several sub-terminals, A through G.
- It's easy enough to use the inter-terminal walkways to get between terminals 2A and 2F, but if your flights departs from 2G, you'll have to use a shuttle bus or free metro train to get there since it's a satellite terminal.
- Terminals A through G offer their own restaurants, shops, wifi access and prayer rooms as well as resting and business areas.
- You can catch the CDGVAL inter-terminal metro train, as well as trains to central Paris and other destinations around France, from this terminal. The TGV station is located in terminals 2E, 2F and 2G.
Terminal 3 is CDG's smallest terminal and boasts only a single building. It has no boarding gates.
- If you're scheduled to depart from or arrive at this terminal, be aware that you will be automatically shuttled to other terminals to catch your flight or reach the arrivals area.
- The CDGVal metro train easily allows you to travel between Terminal 3 and the others at the airport.
If you are parking at the airport, try to familiarize yourself in advance with where the garages are located and plan your route accordingly.
- If you are dropping off a rental car, find their location at CDG in advance with the aid of Google Maps.
- For short-term, drop-off or pick-up parking for up to one hour, expect to pay up to 18 euros depending on how much time you need and where you will be parking. The CDG website has more information on the parking price tables and offers directions. These lots are located as closely as possible to each of the departures and arrivals terminals at CDG.
- Most visitors and tourists will not require this service, but if for some reason you need to park your car for long periods, the long-term lots may prove necessary.
Driving Directions From Paris: Some Tips
While we recommend taking public transportation, a bus, or taxi to and from the airport (see section below), if you do choose to drive make sure you plan your route in advance and familiarize yourself with Paris' sometimes-complex highway system. If you're traveling from within central Paris, be aware that you will at some point have to drive on the ring road known as La Périphérique. See more about how to navigate it in our full guide to driving in Paris.
To choose your route and find information on traffic conditions, consult this page at the Paris Airports website. You can enter your departure point, terminal and/or parking lot of choice and the tool will calculate estimated travel time and a suggested route.
You can also use apps such as Google Directions for routes and traffic condition warnings.
Public Transportation and Taxis
It's relatively easy to get to and from central Paris using public transportation.
- The RER Line B commuter train departs numerous times a day to and from central Paris. You can purchase tickets at any Metro or RER station, including at the airport.
- The Roissybus bus line serves two destinations in central Paris (Opéra and Charles de Gaulle), departing from terminal 2.
- Le Bus Direct is a private coach service servicing several destinations in central Paris (and transport to CDG). Round trip fares range from 20 to 37 euros for adults. Use the website to book tickets and see the full list of fare.
There are official taxi ranks outside each terminal at CDG. Never accept a ride from a taxi that is operating outside the official queues, and always ensure your taxi is metered and bears the "Taxi Parisien" sign on the rooftop. If you're concerned about hailing a cab, you can book a taxi in advance online.
Where to Eat and Drink
There are a large range of restaurants at the airport, suitable for different budgets and tastes. For a full list and to search by terminal, visit the airport's website. Here are a few we recommend:
- For a quick and inexpensive bite (sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads, etc), try Pret a Manger (Terminals 2 and 3), Exki (Terminal 2), McDonald's (Terminals 1 and 2) or Paul (Terminals 2 and 3).
- For a casual sit-down meal or bistro ambience, try the Sushi Shop (Terminal 1), Frenchy's Bistro (terminal 2), Cafe Cubiste (Terminal 2) or Bert's Café Contemporain (Terminal 2, Airside).
- For more formal dining and fine wines, try Café Eiffel (Terminals 1 and 2), Teppan Chef's Kitchen (Terminal 1) or I Love Paris by Guy Martin (Terminal 2, Airside).
Where to Shop
Charles de Gaulle Airport has a sophisticated and extensive selection of shops, from women's and men's fashion and accessories to duty-free shopping, international newsstands, food and wine, luxury items and gifts. Most are on the upmarket side.
Each terminal has its own dedicated shopping area, offering shops from brands including Bottega Veneta, Buy Paris Duty Free, Bvlgari, Hermes, Gucci, Ladurée, Prada, Swatch, Fauchon, Dior, Lacoste, Cartier, Galeries Lafayette and La Maison du Chocolat.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport. Generally, you will be prompted to share information such as your name and e-mail and be required to watch one or more ads before accessing the network. You may also opt to pay for a faster and ads-free connection.
Most terminals are also equipped with phone charging stations around seating areas, and some are equipped with business centers where passengers may sit and work. Keep in mind, however, that outlets are in high demand and at peak times, you may be best off bringing your own battery-powered portable charger.
Charles de Gaulle Airport Tips & Facts
- High & low season: The airport tends to be busiest during the peak tourist months of April through September, and quieter in low season (roughly October through mid-March).
- To beat the crowds and avoid stress when you're departing from the airport, aim to arrive at least three hours in advance for international destinations and two hours ahead of time for domestic and European destinations. This will give you plenty of time to clear security lines, perhaps enjoy a meal, browse shops and/or relax in a lounge.
- The airport has been majorly refurbished in the past years to bring its mostly 1960s-era design up to date. It will continue to be expanded and refurbished in the coming years, as the airport is expected to accommodate 80 million passengers by 2020. But it still draws on some of the whimsical and utopian architectural themes from the period: heavy use of glass rooftops, domed and curved structures and futuristic, semi-enclosed walkways.
- Even if you're not flying business or first class, you can still opt to pay for a single day at one of the airport's many relaxing lounges. Every terminal has several from major airlines including Air France, Air Singapore and KLM.
- If you don't want to pay to access a lounge, not to worry: departure lounges at all of the terminals are equipped with relaxation and play areas for both adults and kids. Whether you want to rest your feet, play a game or even look at some art in one of the airport's pop-up museums, there are plenty of ways to relax.