Paris is a city of sensory treats. For the gourmet traveller, French cuisine is at its best in Paris' fine dining restaurants as well as neighbourhood cafes. Those looking to sample the famous vintages of Burgundy and Loire will find that the wine runs like water and is almost as cheap. And for fashionistas, the chic style of Paris' haute couturiers will have you drawn to every store you walk by.
Learning a few French phrases before boarding your flight to Paris will go a long way in helping you find your way around, but even if you can't read any of the signs, the City of Light will charm you anyway. While the Lourve and Musee d'Orsay are definitely worth a trip, try to visit smaller museums too, like La Pinacotheque or Musee Dapper which are packed with unique art and sculpture and frequently have discounts or cheap tickets available. Spend as much time as you can walking around Paris' many neighbourhoods — each has something special to offer and you will discover hidden delights that most tourists miss when riding the subway.
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Flights to Paris will take you to one of the city's three airports — Roissey-Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG), Paris Orly International Airport (ORY), or Paris-Beauvais Airport (BVA). CDG is the main airport for international Paris flights and is served by airlines such as Air Canada, American Airlines, US Airways, United, Continental, and Delta. ORY is served mainly by European airlines such as TAP Portugal, British Airways, and Air Berlin, as well as charter services and budget airlines such as EasyJet and Air Europa. Low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and Blue Air fly to BVA.
Summer is the busiest season when it is near impossible to find cheap flights or budget accommodation in Paris. Although the weather is best during this time with temperatures as high as 25°C, spring and fall are also good periods to visit in. The weather is still warm despite occasional showers, and there are fewer crowds. Avoid the Easter holidays and any French holidays which result in long weekends as Paris will be crowded during these times and cheap flights scarce. And for all that is said about mild winters in Paris, temperatures can drop as low as 1°C from November to February so you may not want to walk around outside for very long.
There are numerous ground transportation options available from Paris' three main airports into the city. For further details, consult the airport's website.
Arriving at Roissey-Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG)
CDG is has three terminals of which Terminal 2 is divided into seven sub-terminals from 2A to 2G. If you're connecting to another terminal once your Paris flights arrive, the free Aeroports de Paris shuttle bus or Charles de Gaulle Vehicule Automatique Leger (CDGVAL) rail service are your best travel options.
Bus: The Roissybus runs every every 15-20 minutes from CDG to Paris-Opera departing from Terminals 1 (Gate 32), 2 (Gate A9 and D11), and 3 (main Arrivals hall). The travel time is about an hour and tickets cost approximately €10. You can also use bus number 350 or 351 to travel between RER's Roissypole and Paris-Nation stations. Night buses 140 and 143 run from Terminal 3 and will take you to Gare de l'Est metro station.
Rail: Rail services run by Réseau Express Régional (RER)'s B branch connect central Paris with CDG's Terminal 2. Tickets are priced on the basis of travel zones and the minimum fare is approximately €2. Discounts of up to 50% are available on tickets for children, seniors, and student groups. Trains to regional destinations are run by the Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF) from a station located between terminals 2C, 2D, 2E, and 2F.
Airport Shuttle: Les Cars Air France shuttle bus runs between all three terminals and Etoile Porte Maillot (Line 2), Paris-Orly International Airport (Line 3), and Gare Montparnasse or Gare de Lyon (Line 4). Average one-way rides range from €15-€20 and discounts are given for group bookings and children.
Hotel Shuttle: Val d'Europe Airports operates a shuttle service from CDG to hotels along the route to Disneyland Resort Paris. Tickets are approximately €20, and discounts are available for children.
Taxi: Taxi stands are located outside the baggage claim areas of all arrival terminals. Companies like Alpha Taxis, ABC Taxis, and G7 provide cab services to destinations within Paris and a few regional counties. Average fares range from €20 to the Villepinte Exhibition Park to €55 to the Versailles Exhibition Park. Keep in mind that there will be an increase in price in the evenings, on Sundays, and public holidays.
Car Rental: Avis, Europcar, Hertz, National Citer, and Sixt, and TT Car Transit are the six companies which provide car rental services at CDG. The companies have kiosks located at a number of different terminals so follow the signs for the company that you have booked with.
Arriving at Paris Orly International Airport (ORY)
For those on Paris flights with connections from ORY, travel between the airport's two terminals Sud (South) and Ouest (West) is most convenient via the free Orlyval rail service.
Bus: The Orlybus runs every 15-20 minutes and fares range between €7-€10. This service will take you to Place Denfert-Rochereau from where you can connect to RER trains and Metro services. You can also take bus numbers 183, 285, 292, and night buses 31 and 131 from the South Terminal to destinations in Paris.
Train: The Orlyval light rail services connect to the RER B Antony Station from where you can get connections to central Paris. Average fares are €10-€15 with discounts for children. You can also take a shuttle service from either airport terminal to Pont de Rugnis which is served by RER C trains connecting to Invalides and St. Michael-Notre-Dame stations.
Hotel Shuttle: Shuttle services operated by Val d'Europe Airports transport passengers between both airport terminals and hotels along the route to Disneyland Resort Paris. One-way tickets average €20 with discounts available for children under 11 years.
Airport Shuttle: A shuttle service operated by Les Cars Air France operates from ORY to Gare Montparnasse, Invalides, and Etoile (Line 1) and from ORY to CDG (Line 3). Average one-way tickets are €10-€20 with discounts available for return trips, children, and group bookings.
Taxi: After your Paris flights, take a taxi for central Paris destinations from Exit M at the South Terminal or Exit B at the West Terminal while taxis for suburban destinations can be found at Exit B of the West Terminal and Exit L for the South Terminal. Average prices for central Paris range from €30-€80 while trips to suburban destinations typically cost between €30-€140. Rates increase by approximately 15% in the evening, on weekends, and on public holidays.
Car Rental: Car Rental Services are provided by companies such as Peugeot Open Europe, TT Car Transit, Sixt, and National Citer. Kiosks are located in the West and South Terminals so follow the signs for your company of choice.
Arriving at Paris-Beauvais Tille Airport (BVA)
BVA has two terminals and is served mainly by airlines with cheap flights to Paris. To get to your connecting flight from BVA, you can easily walk between terminals or stop by one of the help desks if you need a wheelchair or assistance.
Public Transit: A taxi fare of approximately €15-€20 or a shuttle service for €4 will get you from the airport to the Beauvais train station where you can take a Transport Express Regional (TER) train to Gare du Nord in Paris. One-way trips average €12 and trains leave approximately every 40 minutes.
Airport Shuttle: An airport shuttle bus also operates between the airport and Paris-Porte Maillot on Boulevard Pershing. Tickets are about €15 per passenger and buses depart about 20 minutes after the arrival of each flight. You can buy tickets with cash only at the arrivals area of each terminal or outside the exit gates. SuperShuttle and Navett'o Bus also operate shared-ride and exclusive shuttle services from the airport to destinations in Paris and the adjoining counties.
Hotel Shuttle: Val d'Europe Airports runs three shuttle services a day (10:30 a.m, 2:00 p.m., 8:10 p.m.) between the airport and Disneyland's hotels via CDG. Tickets average €20 for one-way trips and discounts are available for children.
Taxi: Taxi stands are located outside the baggage claim areas of Terminals 1 and 2. Average fares from the airport to Paris are between €140-€180 depending on the time and day you travel. There are also extra charges per additional passenger, per item of luggage over 10 kg, and for animals.
Car Rental: Car rental services are offered by Avis, Europcar, Hertz, National Citer, UCAR, and Sixt. Each company has different operating hours so call ahead to make sure the company you book with will be open when your flight to Paris arrives. Also note that the airport is closed from 11:30 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.