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. 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 2E) from North America. U.S. carriers land at both airports. Flight status and transport information for both airports can be found online (www.aeroportsdeparis.fr). If you’re heading to the South of France, Nice Côte d’Azur (airport code: NCE; www.nice.aeroport.fr) is served by direct flights from New York.
Most airlines charge their lowest fares between November and mid-March. The shoulder season (Oct and mid-Mar to May) is a bit more expensive, but we think it’s the ideal time to visit France.
Paris is one of Europe’s busiest rail junctions, with trains departing from its seven major stations every few minutes. If you are in the U.K., Germany, Holland, Italy, or Spain, our recommendation is to travel to the country by train.
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 hr. It also runs direct seasonal routes to Disneyland Paris, Avignon, Marseille, 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 3 months in advance (although tickets between London and Paris are available up to 6 months in advance). Highly recommended is train and accommodation specialist Great Rail (www.greatrail.com; tel. 866/711-2858 in the U.S.). Their specialized teams can plan rail journeys throughout France.
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-min. 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 hr.
Long-haul buses are equipped with toilets, and they stop at mealtimes for rest and refreshment. Tickets must be purchased online before you travel.
The major highways into Paris are A1 from the north (Great Britain and Benelux); A13 from Rouen, Normandy, and northwest France; A11 from Nantes and the Loire valley; and the A6 from Lyon, Provence, the Riviera, and Italy.
By Boat from England
Ferries and hydrofoils operate day and night from the English Channel ports to Normandy. The major routes include at least 12 trips a day between Dover or Folkestone and Calais or Boulogne. Ferries often drop passengers off by the rail junction of each port.
Various ferry operators cross the channel for multiple ports in France. 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.) sail twice daily between Newhaven and Dieppe; and up to 44 times daily between Dover and Calais and Dover and Dunkirk.
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.