One of Europe's Most Important Hubs
Planning a trip to Paris can be stressful, but not for lack of options. Paris is the world's top tourist destination and a major European air and rail hub, so travelers are virtually flooded with offers for flights, travel packages, and rail options to pick through. Click through for our advice, which should help you to make a well-informed and budget-compatible decision on getting to Paris and back.
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Flying to Paris: Main Airports
Paris has two major international airports: Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly.
- Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport is the second busiest airport in Europe after London Heathrow, with some 200,000 passengers moving through daily. Located about 15 miles northeast of central Paris, Charles de Gaulle airport offers quick and reliable ground transportation into Paris.Charles de Gaulle Airport has three terminals or "aerogares":
- Terminal 1: most non-Air France international flights, including United Airlines, Us Airways, Lufthansa, and Virgin Atlantic.
- Terminal 2 is the largest and is broken into 6 smaller terminals (A-F). Most Air France flights, as well as American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air, and Northwest Airlines, fly into Terminal 2.
- Terminal T-3 is reserved for budget and charter flights, including Ryanair and Easyjet.
Orly Airport is smaller and several degrees less frenetic than Charles de Gaulle Airport. Hosting around 30 airlines, Orly handles mostly domestic and European flights. Located just 10 miles south of Paris, the airport has two terminals:
Both Paris airports offer above-average services and amenities, including world-class duty-free and luxury shopping, free shuttle services between terminals, a large selection of restaurants, lounges, and play areas for children. In addition, some terminals, including Terminal 2 at Charles de Gaulle, are free wireless internet hotspots.
Information by phone:
- Orly Ouest handles mostly domestic flights, including Air France.
- Orly Sud handles international and charter flights.
- Voice server (flight times in real-time)
0 892 681 515 (0.34 Euros per minute)
- Airport information hotlines:
Paris-Orly : 01 49 75 15 15 (6 am to 11:45 PM)
Paris-CDG : 01 48 62 22 80 (24 hours a day)
Paris by Air: Carriers and Fares
Flying to Paris can prove expensive, but if you plan well ahead you can snag a good deal. As a general rule, reserve your tickets at least 3 months ahead of your travel date, and consider flying to Paris outside of the peak period (mid-May to September). In addition, connecting to Paris from London is often a cheaper way to get to the city of light. When flying from within Europe, choosing a low-cost carrier is smart as long as you're willing to forgo frills.
Carriers: What Company to Fly?
The following airlines provide regular service from major U.S. and Canadian cities to Paris:
For air travel to Paris from within continental Europe and the U.K., most of the companies listed above offer service to Paris from other major European cities. In addition, the following companies fly into Paris daily:
When planning your Parisian sojourn, booking a travel package that includes round-trip air fare, hotel stay, and perhaps other features like guided tours or restaurant vouchers can be a great money-saver. But before you get out your credit card, make sure to read the fine print and scour consumer reviews of the package you're considering buying-- this will limit the risk of getting scammed, or just disappointed.
- Trip Advisor is a very useful site offering consumer reviews of Paris vacation packages. You can also book direct at the site for many properties.
- Epinions is also a great resource for making a decision on a travel package to Paris.
- Air France regularly offers special offers on flights and travel packages to Paris, particularly during holidays.
Trains to Paris: Stations, Fares, and Buying Tickets
If you're traveling to Paris from within continental Europe or from the U.K., getting there by train can be a great alternative to flying. For one thing, Europe counts more and more bullet trains (called TGV for 'high-speed train' in France) that can cut rail travel time down by half. The Eurostar train connects London to Paris via the channel tunnel, or "chunnel", making for a truly unforgettable experience. There's also the advantage of foregoing endless airport lines-- not to mention getting a closer glimpse of the French or European countryside. Last, but not least, you'll be choosing a much more environmentally friendly mode of travel, and reducing your carbon footprint-- something you can definitely feel good about even if you do end up spending a bit more money. If you have extra time and you're traveling to Paris from elsewhere in Europe, rail travel may be the right option for you.
Main Paris Train Stations
Paris has six major train stations serving both domestic and international destinations.
- Gare du Nord is the hub for trains traveling from the U.K., Northern France and Northern Europe. The Eurostar train arrives at Gare du Nord from London.
- Gare de Lyon is a destination for trains from Lyon, Aix en Provence, Marseille, the French Riviera, Geneva, and Italy. Many of the trains arriving at Gare de Lyon are bullet trains. For example, you can get from Lyon to Paris in 2 hours and from Marseille to Paris in 3 hours.
- Gare d'Austerlitz serves destinations in southwestern France (namely Toulouse and Bordeaux), the Loire Valley, and Spain.
- Gare Saint-Lazare serves the Normandy region (central Northern France) and England (non-Eurostar).
- Gare de l'Est is the hub for trains coming from Eastern France (Strasbourg, Alsace), parts of Germany, Luxembourg, and central Eastern Europe.
- Gare Montparnasse is mostly reserved for bullet trains serving Nantes and Bordeaux.
For rail fares, schedules, ticketing and reservations, visit the SNCF national rail company website.
Paris by Train: The Eurostar
Getting to Paris by the Eurostar can be a good idea for many reasons, especially if you're departing from London.
- International flights to London can be cheaper than flights to Paris. In some cases, you can cut costs on travel by flying into London and then heading on to Paris by Eurostar. This also gives you the option of spending a day or two in London as a prelude to your Paris vacation.
- The Eurostar bullet train connects London St. Pancras station to Paris Gare du Nord in only 2 hours and 15 minutes.
- The channel tunnel is a feat of engineering and a thrill to experience. Unless you're claustrophobic, traveling through a tunnel that was painstakingly dug under the channel waters should be experienced by everyone at least once.
- If you're traveling to Paris from elsewhere in Europe or France, including Brussels, Lille, Avignon, or French Alps ski resorts like Aime la Plagne or Bourg St. Maurice, taking the Eurostar will speed you to Paris in no time. Eurostar also offers connections to over 100 other destinations across Europe.
Also See: How to Get From London to Paris
Discount Cards and Special Offers for Travel to Paris
Students and seniors traveling to Paris can benefit greatly from purchasing a discount card. Even if you don't fall into the "right" age bracket, travel companies regularly advertise special offers for discount travel to Paris.
- Rail Europe offers discount cards for unlimited travel within France for students, seniors, couples, and frequent travelers. Several passes are available:
- Find Rail Europe deals on trains and passes: Buy direct
- Rail Europe Youth passes (for travelers under 26): Buy direct
- Rail Europe Senior Pass: Buy direct
- France's rail company SNCF offers a variety of discount cards for students, seniors, and frequent travelers. These cards, which allow for discounts of up to 50% off on train fare, are a good option if you plan to travel to several destinations within France, or if you travel to France more than once a year. In addition, SNCF discount cards can be used for reductions on Eurostar train tickets and even on airfare.
- The Eurail Pass is a good choice if you're traveling to Paris as part of a larger tour around Europe. Available for travelers of all ages. (Buy your Eurail Pass direct at Rail Europe)
There are numerous deals out there for train travel, but it requires a little early investigative work. Explore some of these options:
- Find the latest deals for Eurostar fares at Rail Europe
- Air France offers regular special flight and vacation packages to Paris from major cities in the US. (Book direct)
- The SNCF reservation page allows you to perform a custom search for last-minute deals. You can save up to 50% by purchasing last-minute tickets, or "PREMS". Keep in mind that these tickets are nonrefundable and non-exchangeable, though.
More Resources for Discount Travel:
Travel Between Paris and Other European Cities: A Complete Guide
Are you planning a European vacation with stays in several cities or countries and want to figure out how to get to Paris from other hubs around Europe? Click on the guides below to find complete information on flights, trains and rental cars to Paris from other major European cities. Each guide provides pros and cons on various forms of transport to help you make the right decision.