Will you be flying into or out of Paris on your next vacation? If so, it's probably a good idea to get acquainted with the city's main airports. Processing millions of visitors and thousands of flights a year, these are global transportation hubs that can be stressful to navigate when you're not familiar with them.
Not to worry: we've taken much of the guesswork out of it for you. Read on to learn everything you'll need to know for smooth, hassle-free travel to or from the three main airports in Paris.
First Things First: Which Airport to Choose?
If you're traveling from North or South America, Asia, or Australia, chances are that your flight will operate from the Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), the largest in the greater Paris area and a major European hub for long-haul carriers. Orly International Airport (ORY) also handles some major international flights, including for Air France.
However, for those travelers coming from or heading out to other destinations in France and Europe, your flight may well land at or take off from Orly or the much smaller Beauvais International Airport (BVA). The latter is a regional hub for several low-cost European airlines, including Ryanair.
Paris-Charles de Gaulle International Airport: A Massive Global Hub
Alongside London Heathrow and Germany's Frankfurt Airport, Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport is one of Europe's biggest hubs for air travel and France's most-sprawling by a long shot. More than 50 million travelers fly into and out of this always-bustling airport each year, and there are a total of three massive terminals spread across more than a mile, connected by free shuttle buses and automated trains.
We recommend that before you land at or take off from CDG, you get acquainted with the layout and plan your transit there in advance. This is especially true if you need to change planes and switch terminals. A little planning ahead of your visit there will ensure a much smoother experience.
Main Airlines & Routes at CDG
CDG is a hub for most of the world's major airlines, and the main home for French national carrier Air France. International carriers such as KLM, Lufthansa, Delta, American Airlines, British Airways, Air China, Air India, Singapore Airlines, and dozens of others offer daily international and domestic service to and from this airport.
In addition, low-cost airlines such as Easyjet and Iberia Express offer convenient and budget-friendly flights to and from European destinations.
Terminals & Getting From One to Another
While there are only three terminals at CDG, these are massive, incredibly busy places that can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. See this map at the official Paris Aeroports website for an overview of how they connect. You can also download detailed maps for each terminal at the same page.
Make sure to take advantage of free shuttle and metro train service transporting passengers between each terminal. Just follow signs to the free "CDGVal" metro trains, or to shuttle buses parked outside the departures lounges.
Terminal 1 is the oldest of the terminals, an enormous, circular space with "octopus-like" arms spread across five floors. Most check-in areas are located on the third floor, while duty-free shops, restaurants and other amenities are mostly located on the fourth floor. Arriving passengers and baggage claims are concentrated on the final floor.
The CDGVal metro train to terminals 2 and 3 is located on the second floor, alongside more shops and restaurants.
Terminal 2 is where most Air France and partner airlines depart from. It's the largest of the terminals and is divided into several sections, 2A through 2G. You can get between 2A to 2F using inter-terminal walkways, but 2G is a satellite terminal that must be reached by shuttle bus or the free metro train.
Each section of terminal 2 offers amenities including restaurants, shopping, wifi and prayer rooms. From this terminal, you can catch the CDGVAL inter-terminal metro train, as well as RER and TGV trains to central Paris and other destinations in France. The TGV station can be found between terminals 2C and 2E.
Terminal 3 at CDG is the smallest of the terminals, consisting of one building and no boarding gates. Passengers who leave from or arrive at Terminal 3 are automatically transported via shuttle bus to departure or arrival gates elsewhere at the airport.
The CDGVal metro train is a free and efficient way to get between Terminal 3 and the others at Charles de Gaulle.
For more information on checking in, arrivals, and services at each of the terminals, you can visit the official website or download the Paris Aérports app on your smartphone (something we highly recommend for getting around without stress).
Facilities at Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Home to a sprawling and impressive complex of restaurants, duty-free and high-end shops, CDG offers sophisticated amenities that will allow you to stay occupied for many hours. From fast food to high gastronomy and from budget shopping to designer boutiques, there's something for everyone at this massive shopping and entertainment complex.
For a full list of restaurants, bars and cafes by terminal, see this page. For duty-free shops and boutiques located within each terminal, visit this page.
Other major services and amenities at CDG include free wifi, phone-charging stations, beauty and well-being services and prayer rooms.
For more information on other services available at CDG, including departure and arrival assistance for unaccompanied minors and travelers with disabilities, see this page.
Orly Airport: Domestic & International Flights
Located just eight miles south of Paris and easily accessible by commuter train (RER) Line B, Orly International Airport is, for many passengers, a less-stressful option for getting to Paris by plane. It processes millions of travelers a year, but somehow feels less frantic on an average day than CDG does. And it takes significantly less time to get to and from central Paris from Orly—making it an attractive option for those who find ground transportation to be tricky and overwhelming.
Main Airlines and Routes
Orly is a secondary hub for Air France, which operates many of its domestic and European flights from this airport, as well as international flights from New York City's JFK Airport to and from Paris.
Other airlines operating from Orly include British Airways, Iberia, Icelandair, Alitalia, and Transavia, and Royal Air Maroc (flights to and from Morocco). Other airlines offer flights to Eastern Europe, Russia, and Scandinavia.
Low-cost airlines offering flights to and from other European destinations include Vueling and Easyjet.
Terminals at Orly (And Getting Around)
There are two terminals at Orly, South and West. Air France flies from both; to check which terminal you need for your flight, verify with your airline and/or at the official website.
For easy and free transportation between the terminals and the RER train station at Antony (which takes you to central Paris via line B), use the Orlyval automated train. Follow the signs to Orlyval at either terminal. You can also use free car park shuttles located outside both Orly East and Orly West.
Facilities at Orly
While Orly's shopping and restaurant offering is less substantial than the one found at CDG, it's still considerable. Whether you want a quick sandwich or a formal sit-down meal complete with wine pairings, the airport's numerous bars, restaurants and eateries offer a wide variety of options.
For a full list of shops and boutiques, including duty-free shops and newsstands, see this page.
For more information on services for passengers at Orly, from wifi to assistance for travelers with limited mobility, visit this page at the official Paris Aeroports website.
Hotels Around Orly
There are numerous hotels located within close reach of Orly Airport, but with Paris just minutes away, it's less likely you'll need to stay at an airport hotel. Nevertheless, there are many hotels nearby that have been consistently rated highly by fellow travelers.
Beauvais Airport: Shorter & Budget European Flights
Located around 50 miles northwest of Paris in the town of Tillé, Beauvais (BVA) is the smallest of Paris' regional airports, and the furthest away from the city center. Many travelers flying from overseas never encounter it at all, but it's a popular choice for budget domestic and European flights on low-cost airlines. Nevertheless, it's still a busy airport: the 10th largest in France according to the number of flights that land and take off here.
Main Airlines & Routes
Paris-Beauvais Airport offers flights from a total of six European, primarily low-fare and no-frills airlines: Ryanair, Air Moldova, Blue Air, Laudamotion, Volotea and Wizz Air. Flights depart from Terminal 1 or Terminal 2.
Destinations serviced by these airlines include the UK and Ireland, Germany and Austria, Spain and Portugal, and most countries in Eastern Europe.
Facilities at Beauvais
The facilities at this airport are far less extensive than those at Charles de Gaulle and Orly, but if you need to grab a bite, catch up on global news, shop for gifts or find a good book for your flight, there's plenty to keep you busy.
Both terminals at Beauvais include duty-free shops, international newsstands, restaurants, and vending machines. There's also free Wi-Fi.
You can see a list of other services at Beauvais here (including ones for travelers with limited mobility or disabilities.)
Hotels Around the Airport
Since this airport is not particularly close to central Paris, we recommend you stay in a hotel nearby only if and when you need to catch a flight early in the morning or in the middle of the night from Beauvais. Since many low-cost operators fly at low-demand times, this may well be the case.
How to Get From the Airport to the City Center
For complete information on getting to and from the Paris city center from Charles de Gaulle and Orly, including by metro and bus, see our full guide to airport ground transportation. You can also use this handy route checker at the Paris Aeroports site to find the quickest and most economical way to get from the city to the airport you need, and vice-versa.
If you're traveling to or from Beauvais and need information on ground transport by bus or train, see this page at the airport's official website. This airport is about an hour and a half from the city center by public transport; travel times may be a bit less or more depending on traffic conditions.