Paris has two international airports: Aéroport d’Orly, 18km (11 miles) south of the city (mostly European flights), and Aéroport Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle (mostly long haul carriers, also known as CDG), 30km (19 miles) northeast (for both airports: www.aeroportsdeparis.fr; [tel] 00-33-1-70-36-39-50 from abroad, or 39-50 from France). If you are taking Ryanair or another discount airline that arrives at Beauvais, be advised that that airport is located about 80km (50 miles) from Paris.
Roissy-Charles-De-Gaulle Airport -- There are three terminals at CDG which are some distance apart from each other. A free train called the CDGVAL connects all three of them to the two train stations.
The quickest way into central Paris is the fast RER B (www.ratp.fr), suburban trains that leave every 10 to 15 minutes between 5am and 10pm (midnight on weekends). It takes about 40 minutes to get to Paris, and RER B stops at several central Métro stations including Châtelet-Les-Halles and Saint-Michel–Notre-Dame. A single ticket, which can be bought at the machines in the stations at the terminals, costs 9.50€.
Air France operates two buses from the airport to the center of Paris (Les Cars Air France; [tel] 08-92-35-08-20; www.lescarsairfrance.com). There are two routes, one stopping at Port Maillot with a terminus at Charles de Gaulle–Etoile, and one stopping at Gare de Lyon with a terminus at Gare Montparnasse. There are good Métro connections from all stops. Depending on the route, a one-way trip costs 15€ to 16€ adults and 7.50€ to 8€ children 2 to 11; both trips take about an hour, depending on traffic. Buses leave every 30 minutes between 6am and 9:30pm. The Roissybus ([tel] 32-46 from France only; www.ratp.fr) departs from the airport daily from 6am to 11pm and costs 11€ for the 60-minute ride. The bus leaves you in the center of Paris, at the corner of rue Scribe and rue Auber, near the Opéra.
A taxi from Roissy into the city will cost at least 50€, not including 1€ per item of luggage, and the fare is 15 percent higher from 5pm to 10am, as well as on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Long, orderly lines for taxis form outside each of the airport’s terminals.
Orly Airport -- Orly has two terminals—Orly Sud and Orly Ouest. To get to the center of Paris, take the 8-minute monorail OrlyVal to the RER station “Anthony” to get RER B into the center. Combined travel time is about 45 to 55 minutes. Trains run between 6am and 11pm and the one-way fare for the OrlyVal plus the RER B is 11€ adults and 5.70€ children under 10. Alternatively, you can take the “Paris par le Train” bus (www.parisparletrain.fr) to the Pont de Rungis station and then get RER C to Paris. Buses leave every 15 minutes between 4:40am and 1am. Combined travel time is about 30 minutes, and the one-way fare for the Paris par le Train bus and the RER C is 6.60€.
The Air France bus (Les Cars Air France; [tel] 08-92-35-08-20; www.cars-airfrance.com) leaves from Orly Sud and Orly Ouest every 20 minutes between 6am and 11:40pm, stopping at Gare Montparnasse, Invalides, and Charles de Gaulle–Etoile. The fare is 13€ one-way, 21€ round-trip, and 6.50€ for children ages 2 to 11. Depending on the traffic, the journey takes about an hour.
A taxi from Orly to central Paris will cost at least 50€, not including 1€ per item of luggage, and the fare is 15 percent higher from 5pm to 10am, as well as on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Beauvais Airport -- Beauvais airport ([tel] 08-92-68-20-66, .34€ per min.; www.aeroportbeauvais.com) is located around 80km (50 miles) from Paris and is served by budget airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air. Buses leave about 20 minutes after each flight has landed, and, depending on the traffic, takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to Paris. The bus drops you at Porte Maillot. To return to Beauvais, you need to be at the bus station at least 3 hours before the departure of your flight. A one-way ticket costs 16€.
One of best ways to get around France and Europe is by train. The French railway agency (the SNCF, Societé Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français) has a vast network that connects most major cities and quite a few smaller towns, though you will often have to pass through Paris to get from one place to another. For reservations and information visit the SNCF website (www.voyages-sncf.com).
The SNCF connects to railways in neighboring countries, including the U.K. The Eurostar (www.eurostar.com), which passes under the channel for a nerve-wracking 20 minutes, will get you from Paris’s Gare du Nord to Saint Pancras Station, London in just 2 1/2 hours. If London is your destination, know that even though the regular ticket price is high (310€ one-way!), there are scads of discounts available on the website, especially if you purchase in advance. Brussels is only an hour and a quarter away by high-speed train, and discounts go down to 22€. Visit the Thalys site (www.thalys.com) for high-speed trains to Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne. For rail passes that you can use throughout Europe, visit Rail Europe (www.raileurope.com).
Paris has six major train stations: Gare d’Austerlitz (13th arrond), Gare de Lyon (12th arrond.), Gare Montparnasse (14th arrond.), Gare St-Lazare (8th arrond.), Gare de l’Est (10th arrond.), and Gare du Nord (10th arrond.). Stations can be reached by bus or Métro; For details on a specific station visit the SNCF station site (www.gares-connexions.com/en). Warning: As in many cities, stations and surrounding areas are rather seedy and frequented by pickpockets. Be alert, especially at night.
Cheapest of all, and the most time consuming, is the bus. For travel within Europe, contact Eurolines (from France [tel] 08-92-89-90-91, .34€ per min.; international [tel] 33-1-41-86-24-21; www.eurolines.com), a consortium of dozens of different bus lines with routes that span the continent and then some (Casablanca to Moscow, anyone?). Most long-haul buses arrive at the Eurolines France station on the eastern edge of the city, 23 ave. du Général-de-Gaulle, Bagnolet, Métro: Gallieni.
I wouldn’t recommend driving in Paris to my worst enemy, but renting a car and driving around France can be a lovely way to see the country. All of the major car-rental companies have offices here, but you’ll often get better deals if you reserve before you leave home. AutoEurope (www.autoeurope.com) is an excellent source for discounted rentals. Check its prices against:
Avis: [tel] 08-21-23-07-60 (.12€ per min); www.avis.com
Budget: [tel] 08-25-00-35-64; www.budget.com
Europcar: [tel] 08-25-358-358; www.europcar.com
Hertz: [tel] 08-25-861-861; www.hertz.com
Rent-a-Car: [tel] 08-91-700-200; www.rentacar.fr
Thrifty: [tel] 01-82-88-16-77; www.thrifty.com
Before you step on the gas, at the very least, try to get a list of international road signs; your car rental agency should have one. Driving in France is not substantially different from driving in most English-speaking countries (though British travelers will have to get used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road). However, you’ll have to get used to French drivers, who tend to zoom around with what the more timid among us would call reckless abandon. Truthfully, since the installation of radars a few years ago, drivers have become much more well-behaved; you too should pay attention to speed limits or risk a steep fine. The two biggest driving differences: priorité à droite, which means priority is always given to vehicles approaching from the right at intersections, unless otherwise indicated; and the fondness for roundabouts. Rule number one: The person getting into the roundabout does not have priority. Rule number two: Be sure to take a look at the sign posted before the roundabout that indicates which exit goes in what direction so that you’ll be prepared when it’s time to get off. The good news is that if you miss your turnoff, you can just circle around until you figure out where it is.
By Ferry from England or Ireland
Ferry travel to France appears to be in its waning days, since more and more travelers are opting for low-cost flights or a much speedier passage through the Channel Tunnel. In England the two leading operators of ferries are P&O Ferries ([tel] 08-25-12-01-56, .15€ per min.; www.poferries.com), which runs ferries from Dover to Calais, and Brittany Ferries ([tel] 08-25-828-828, .15€ per min.; www.brittanyferries.com), which runs ferries from Portsmouth to Caen, Cherbourg, or Le Havre. Irish Ferries ([tel] 01-70-72-03-26; www.irishferries.com) operates an overnight ferry from Cherbourg to Rosslare or Dublin. Call or check websites for times, prices, and points of departure/arrival.
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.