Airports -- The two Paris airports -- Orly (airport code: ORY) and Charles de Gaulle (airport code: CDG) -- are about even in terms of convenience to the city's center, though taxi rides from Orly may take less time than those from de Gaulle. Orly, the older of the two, is 13km (8 miles) south of the center; Charles de Gaulle is 22km (14 miles) northeast. Air France serves Charles de Gaulle (Terminal 2C) from North America. U.S. carriers land at both airports.
Most airlines charge their lowest fares between November and mid-March. The shoulder season (Oct and mid-Mar to mid-June) is a bit more expensive, but we think it’s the ideal time to visit France.
The Major Airlines -- American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) has daily flights to Paris from Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Miami, Boston, and New York.
British Airways (tel. 800/247-9297; www.britishairways.com) offers flights from 18 U.S. cities to Heathrow and Gatwick airports in England. From there, you can connect to a British Airways flight to Paris.
Continental Airlines (tel. 800/231-0856; www.continental.com) provides nonstop flights to Paris from Newark and Houston. Flights from Newark depart daily; flights from Houston depart four to seven times a week, depending on the season.
Delta Air Lines (tel. 800/221-1212; www.delta.com) flies nonstop from Atlanta to Paris every evening and operates daily nonstop flights from Cincinnati and New York. Delta is the only airline offering nonstop service from New York to Nice.
US Airways (tel. 800/428-4322; www.usairways.com) offers daily nonstop service from Philadelphia to Paris.
The French national carrier, Air France (tel. 800/237-2747; www.airfrance.com), offers daily flights between Paris and such North American cities as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Montreal, New York, Newark, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.
Flights from Australia & New Zealand -- Getting to Paris from Australia is difficult, because Air France (tel. 02-92-44-21-00; www.airfrance.fr) has discontinued direct flights. Qantas flies from Sydney to Singapore and other locations with service to Paris. Consequently, on virtually any route, you have to change planes at least once and sometimes twice. British Airways (tel. 1300-767-177; www.britishairways.com) flies daily from Sydney and Melbourne to London, where you can catch one of several connecting flights to Paris. Qantas (tel. 612/13-13-13; www.qantas.com.au) can route passengers from Australia into London, where you make connections for the hop across the Channel. Qantas also flies from Auckland to Sydney and on to London.
Getting There from the U.K. & Continental Europe
By Plane -- From London, Air France (tel. 0870/142-4343; www.airfrance.com) and British Airways (tel. 0844/493-0787 in the U.K.; www.britishairways.com) fly frequently to Paris; the trip takes 1 hour. These airlines operate up to 17 flights daily from Heathrow. Many travelers also fly out of the London City Airport in the Docklands.
Direct flights to Paris operate from other U.K. cities such as Manchester and Edinburgh. Contact Air France, British Airways, or British Midland (tel. 0870/607-0555; www.flybmi.com). Daily papers often carry ads for cheap flights. Highly recommended Trailfinders (tel. 0845/058-5858; www.trailfinders.com) sells discount fares.
You can reach Paris from any major European capital. Your best bet is to fly on the national carrier, Air France, which has more connections into Paris from European capitals than any other airline. From Dublin, try Aer Lingus (tel. 800/IRISH-AIR [474-7424]; www.aerlingus.com), which schedules the most flights to Paris from Ireland. From Amsterdam, try NWA/KLM (tel. 800/225-2525; www.nwa.com).
By Train -- Paris is one of Europe's busiest rail junctions, with trains arriving at and departing from its many stations every few minutes. If you're in Europe, you may want to go to Paris by train. The cost is relatively low -- especially compared to renting a car.
Eurostar (www.eurostar.com; [tel] 800/387-6782 in the U.S.) links London directly with Paris Gare du Nord station from as little as $66 one-way; trip time just over 2 hours. It also runs direct seasonal routes to Disneyland Paris, Avignon, and Aix-en-Provence. Better still, trips from London can be booked online to any major station in France. For the best deals, book as tickets become available exactly three months in advance (although tickets between London and Paris are available up to six months in advance). Highly recommended is train and accommodation specialist Railbookers (www.railbookers.com; [tel] 888/829-3040 in the U.S.). Their specialized teams can plan rail journeys throughout France.
By Bus -- Paris is a major arrival and departure point for Europe’s largest bus operator, Eurolines (www.eurolines.fr; [tel] 08-92-89-90-91). Its rather nasty bus terminal, Gallieni, is a 35-minute Métro ride from central Paris, at the terminus of line no. 3 (Métro: Gallieni). Despite the inconvenience, tickets are cheap, cheap, cheap. Standard singles to London are $29; trip time is around 7 hours.
Long-haul buses are equipped with toilets, and they stop at mealtimes for rest and refreshment. Tickets must be purchased online before you travel.
By Car -- The major highways into Paris are A1 from the north (Great Britain and Benelux); A13 from Rouen, Normandy, and northwest France; A10 from Bordeaux, the Pyrénées, the southwest, and Spain; A6 from Lyon, the French Alps, the Riviera, and Italy; and A4 from Metz, Nancy, and Strasbourg in the east.
By Ferry from England -- Ferries and hydrofoils operate day and night, with the exception of last-minute cancellations during storms. Many crossings are timed to coincide with the arrival and departure of trains (especially those btw. London and Paris). Trains let you off a short walk from the piers. Most ferries carry cars, trucks, and freight, but some hydrofoils take passengers only. The major routes include at least 12 trips a day between Dover or Folkestone and Calais or Boulogne.
Hovercraft and hydrofoils make the trip from Dover to Calais, the shortest distance across the Channel, in just 40 minutes during good weather. The ferries may take several hours, depending on the weather and tides. If you're bringing a car, it's important to make reservations -- space below decks is usually crowded. Timetables can vary depending on weather conditions and many other factors.
There are various operators of ferries across the channel depending on your destination. P&O Ferries (www.poferries.com; [tel] 0871/664-2121 in the U.K.) operate car and passenger ferries between Dover, England and Calais, France. Brittany Ferries (www.brittanyferries.com; [tel] 0871/244-0744) operates ferry services from Portsmouth to Cherbourg, Caen, Le Havre or St. Malo, France; from Poole, England to Cherbourg, France; and from Plymouth, England to Roscoff, France. DFDS Seaways (www.dfds.co.uk; [tel] 0844/576-8836 in the U.K.) operates between Portsmouth and Le Havre. It also sails twice daily between Newhaven and Dieppe; and up to 44 times daily between Dover and Calais and Dover and Dunkirk.
Under the Channel -- Queen Elizabeth II and the late French president François Mitterrand opened the Channel Tunnel in 1994, and the Eurostar Express has daily passenger service from London to Paris and Brussels. The $15-billion tunnel, one of the great engineering feats of our time, is the first link between Britain and the Continent since the Ice Age. The 50km (31-mile) journey takes 35 minutes, with actual time spent in the Chunnel 19 minutes.
The Chunnel accommodates not only trains but also cars, buses, taxis, and motorcycles. Eurotunnel, a train carrying vehicles under the Channel (tel. 0870/535-3535 in the U.K.; www.eurotunnel.com), connects Calais, France, with Folkestone, England. It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, running every 15 minutes during peak travel times and at least once an hour at night.
Before boarding Eurotunnel, you stop at a tollbooth to pay, then pass through Immigration for both countries at one time. During the ride, you travel in air-conditioned carriages, remaining in your car or stepping outside to stretch your legs. An hour later, you simply drive off.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.