If you're traveling from North or South America, Asia, or Australia, chances are that you will fly into Charles de Gaulle Airport, the largest in the greater Paris area and a major European hub for long-haul carriers. Orly International Airport also handles some major international flights, including for Air France. But both are also major hubs for domestic and inter-Europe flights, too. There's also the much smaller Beauvais International Airport (BVA), which services low-cost airlines like Ryanair and Wizz Air.
- Location: Roissy-en-France
- Best for: Long-haul international flights
- Avoid if: You dislike crowds
- Distance to the 1st Arrondissement: A 30-minute taxi will cost about $55. You can take the RER train to the metro, which will take about an hour and cost about $15. The RoissyBus will take you directly to the Opera district (Central Paris)—it's an average 60-minute drive and costs about $15.
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. In 2019, 76.2 million travelers flew into and out of this bustling airport. There are a total of three massive terminals spread across more than a mile, connected by free shuttle buses and automated trains.
Many of the world's major airlines fly into CDG, which serves as the main hub 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 Iberia Express offer convenient and budget-friendly flights to and from European destinations.
While there are only three terminals at CDG, these are massive, incredibly busy places that can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. From fast food to high gastronomy and from budget shopping to designer boutiques, there's something to entertain everyone at this massive complex. Other major services and amenities at CDG include free Wi-Fi, phone-charging stations, beauty and wellness services, and prayer rooms.
- Location: Orly
- Best for: Inter-Europe travelers
- Avoid if: You're flying long-haul international, except to/from New York
- Distance to the 1st Arrondissement: A 25-minute taxi will cost about $45. You can take the RER train to the metro, which will take about an hour and cost about $15. There's also a bus, which takes about 30 minutes and costs roughly $10.
Located just ten miles south of Paris and easily accessible by commuter train, Orly International Airport is, for many passengers, a less-stressful option than CDG. It processes millions of travelers a year (31.9 million in 2019) but somehow feels less frantic on an average day than CDG does. Plus, 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.
Orly is a secondary hub for Air France, which operates many of its domestic and European flights from this airport, as well as long-haul international flights from New York City's JFK Airport. A number of other airlines offer flights to and from other European destinations, include budget carriers Vueling and easyJet.
There are four terminals: 1, 2, 3, 4, that are all connected. While Orly's shopping and restaurant offerings are less substantial than those 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.
- Location: Tillé
- Best for: Budget flights
- Avoid if: You want to get into the heart of Paris quickly
- Distance to the 1st Arrondissement: A taxi will take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes and can cost upwards of $200. Instead, take the shuttle bus, which takes about 75 minutes to get to Paris and costs about $35.
Located around 50 miles northwest of Paris in the town of Tillé, Beauvais is the smallest of Paris' regional airports and the farthest 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 relatively busy airport with an average of four million passengers per year.
Paris-Beauvais Airport offers flights from a total of seven European, primarily low-fare and no-frills airlines: Ryanair, Air Moldova, Blue Air, Laudamotion, Sky Up, Volotea, and Wizz Air.
The facilities at this two-terminal airport are far less extensive than those at CDG and ORY, 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.
Globe Newswire. "Aeroports de Paris SA: December 2019 traffic figures." Published Jan 14, 2020. Retrieved Jan 19, 2021.
Globe Newswire. "Aeroports de Paris SA: December 2019 traffic figures." Retrieved Jan 19, 2021.
Aeroport Paris Beauvais. "History." Retrieved Jan 19, 2021.