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getting to Caen France from the CDG

Flying into CDG June 3rd. Destination Caen when we pick up a rental car. Can we get a taxi from CDG to the St Lazare train station where we can get the train to Caen? It's suppose to be 20 miles and a taxi seems much faster......

Posted by
3264 posts

20 min is highly optimistic, and could easily be 3 times that long depending on time of day and traffic conditions. Still, coming off a transatlantic flight, jet lagged, and with luggage, I'd opt for a taxi. It's a flat rate into the city from the airport. Make sure you use a taxi from the official taxi queue. Avoid anyone who comes up and offers to get a taxi for you.

Posted by
7189 posts

Yes, use the official taxi stand and avoid people offering you a ride.
The airport information center can point you in the right direction.

Posted by
68 posts

I meant it's 20 miles. How much would a cab be? there are also shared cars? Time is important. We were suppose to arrive at CDG at 9:30 am but the airlines changed the flight to 12:30. We have to pick up the rental car in Caen I think by 6PM. Being the D day week I'm sure all will be crowded.

Posted by
5853 posts

I will be doing the same trip less than a week before, except being by myself, and having experience with navigating European cities, I am opting for taking the RER trains. For Taxi, I do not believe St. Lazare Station is covered in the flat rates to central Paris, I saw an estimate of 50-70 Euro.

Still, a couple hours to get to St Lazare is a start, another 2 hours to Caen, maybe figure another hour to be safe, so you will need to keep moving.

Posted by
2891 posts

The flat rate applies to trips between Gare St. Lazare and CDG. Specifically, trips between CDG and Paris and 50€ and 55€, depending on whether one is going to or from the Right or Left Bank, respectively. Given that Gare St. Lazare is on the Right Bank, the fare will be 50€ for up to four passengers and their luggage. These fares went into effect in 2016 and there is a similar scheme for trips between Orly and Paris (30€ for the Left Bank and 35€ for the Right Bank). The taxi trip from CDG to Gare St. Lazare, without traffic (highly unlikely at the time you will be traveling), takes about 35 minutes. Trains will take about an hour and the Roissy bus will take a little more than that so it looks like a taxi is the way to go for you.

The standard advice I see is that you should allow four hours between ETA and ETD for a train leaving from a station in Paris. I just looked at the train schedule and the first train you have a shot of making is the 15:05 which is scheduled to arrive in Caen at 16:57. You have to make that train because the next one arrives too late for the car pickup if 6 PM is correct but you should check that because some places close at 7 PM. That being said, the June 3rd schedule is not your friend if you arrive at 12:30 PM. Please tell me that you will not have to go through passport control upon arriving and will not have checked luggage because either of those two things can throw a wrench into your plans.

If the offices all close at 6 PM or even 7 PM, consider renting your car through Avis and the SNCF program that guarantees that your car will be available at the station when your train arrives even if Avis is closed. You'll have to check to see if Caen is a station in that program. https://www.sncf.com/sncv1/en/getting-there/idavis

Posted by
68 posts

What is passport control? My bag should make carry on, not sure about my partner's. We are also planing on getting an ORANGE Holiday SIM card for our phones at CDG. We have a 3 hr layover at Dublin. Can we get our SIM cards there and will they work in France, etc...?

Posted by
5697 posts

In April we took a 20-minute taxi ride to St Lazare -- from our lodgings in Paris! Road construction, heavy traffic.

Posted by
2891 posts

Passport Control = Immigration.

Posted by
68 posts

We are US citizens coming to Europe for a 12 day vacation.

Posted by
454 posts

You will have to go through passport control (the process where you line up to have your passports checked and stamped by a border guard) in Paris if your Paris flight arrives from Dublin, because France is in the Schengen Area and Ireland is not. Passport control can obviously add a substantial amount of waiting time, although in my personal experience the peak at CDG is for early morning arrivals, like sometime between 6-9 am.

Posted by
2891 posts

With the 12:30 PM arrival and assuming an on-time arrival, you have 2.5 hours to get from CDG to being onboard the train to Caen. I don't think you will make the 15:05 train but if you are luck and everything goes right and I hope that it does, you could make it. How long passport control will take is anyone's guess. I have gotten through passport control within 20 to 25 minutes of landing and I have also had it take more than an hour, including when I landed at CDG from Dublin and there was an emergency that closed priority passport control for almost an hour. I did have priority access for the times when I have gotten through in 20 minutes so if you have that, it will help. It would be ideal if you do not have to wait for luggage because that is another variable that you do not need with your tight schedule.

"We are also planing on getting an ORANGE Holiday SIM card for our phones at CDG." You will not have time for that. I don't know if you can get the card in Dublin but you can buy it from Amazon before you leave the US.

Posted by
8889 posts

We are US citizens coming to Europe for a 12 day vacation.

"We are US citizens" - that makes passport control longer, as you are not EU citizens
"coming to Europe for a 12 day vacation" how long you are staying for doesn't matter. Where you are coming from (last place you changed planes) is. If you are coming from within the Schengen Area, you will already have gone through immigration there.
In all other cases you need to budget 30 minutes to 2 hours (worst case) for immigration/passport control.

Land 12:30 + taxi, disembark and walk through corridors (15-20 minutes) + immigration + taxi to Gare St Lazare (€50 flat rate, 40-60 minutes) = ~15:30
And, if that is a transatlantic flight, they can be delayed by headwinds.

Posted by
4684 posts

Depending on how many of you there are, it may be cheaper to get the non-stop Roissybus bus service (12 euros 50 single per person) which runs to the Opera Garnier, in walking distance to St Lazare

Posted by
68 posts

There are two of us and we will be very tired by the time we get there. A short walk is not short when you have luggage and are very tired! What do they do with the passports? I don't understand why it takes so long to look at a passport. When you fly to Paris from the US it's either London or Dublin you go through..

Posted by
8293 posts

"I don't understand why it takes so long to look at a passport."

It doesn't take long at all. It's just that there are hundreds, maybe a thousand others who have landed from various countries on various airlines, all at the same time. So you have to line up and wait your turn. Patience is a virtue in such a situation.

Posted by
3264 posts

There are two of us and we will be very tired by the time we get
there. A short walk is not short when you have luggage and are very
tired! What do they do with the passports? I don't understand why it
takes so long to look at a passport. When you fly to Paris from the US
it's either London or Dublin you go through..

So this is obviously the first time you've ever flown internationally. Every. Single. Person. On Every. Single. Aircraft. arriving from outside the Schengen area has to go through Immigration/Passport control. Every person has to submit their passport to be scanned and verified by an Immigration officer and perhaps answer a question or two. The procedure may only take a minute. But there are hundreds of international flights landing on any given day, with hundreds of people on each flight. But there are only so many manned desks at any given time. Ergo: waits for that one minute passport check could be long.

By the way, everyone arriving with you will be just as tired as you, so I'm not sure what your point is in mentioning it. There are no special lines for tired passengers. Or extra special lines for REALLY tired passengers. (Now there's a potential money maker for the Immigration department! But I digress) But there are priority lines for first and business class, so you could always upgrade. . And you're quite wrong that all flights into Paris stop in either London or Dublin. Even so, it has nothing to do with going thru Passport Control in Paris- neither one us inside the Schengen zone.

So prepare yourself for a possible wait on arrival. There's no way around it- it's a fact of life when you travel.

Posted by
68 posts

Yep, never been to Europe. New Zealand only. The tired part was reference to taking a taxi instead of the bus to the train station. Not worth saving a few dollars. I have a friend who was born in France. Lives here in the US now and visits her family in France. Told me she never goes on a bus or the subway. Advised me to take a taxi only. Faster and safer.

Posted by
2891 posts

When you fly to Paris from the US, you do not have to go through London or Dublin. You could fly directly to Paris from loads of places in the US or you could make your connection in a Schengen country and thus avoided passport control at CDG. My niece flies through Iceland or the Netherlands, but that is water under the bridge. You are in the situation you are in and now have to work with what you have. Odds are not with you for making the 3:05 train so now you need to figure out what to do to get a rental car in Caen. Have you talked with the airline about getting an earlier flight? This schedule change was horrible. Have you checked the Avis program I mentioned? Have you considered getting the car the next morning?

Posted by
68 posts

Flying out of Pittsburgh is cost prohibitive. We can drive to Washington DC. Our air fair is only $1,300 for the both of us. DC to Paris and Amsterdam to DC. Made a hotel reservation last year in Caen for the first night, so can pick up the car in the AM if necessary. the rest of the week we have an AirBnB in Saint Lo. Even a year ago that was all I could find. They have been booked for well over a year. Our original plane reservation was earlier, but the air line changed it.

Posted by
2891 posts

When you wrote "When you fly to Paris from the US it's either London or Dublin you go through.." I thought you were under the impression that all flights from the US go to Paris by way of London or Dublin. As a result, my response was to clarify that this is not the case. It sounds to me like you are all set. If you make it to Caen before the car rental closes, you are fine and if you do not, you have a place to stay for the night and can get the car the next day -- excellent planning on your part. If only the airline had done the same and not messed up your arrival time.

Posted by
68 posts

I'm looking for the site for trains from St Lazare station to Caen but everything I find is in French! Wonder if I can buy tickets ahead?

Posted by
16770 posts

This site is from the train operator and it is in English.
https://en.oui.sncf/en/tgv

You can also use the agency www.loco2.com. They sell tickets at the exact same price as SNCF without fees. They may be easier to use for credit card acceptance than SNCF.

If you are trying to save time, buy refundable tickets. Cost is 40.70 EUR per person.

Posted by
8889 posts

looking for the site for trains

Which website?
There is SNCF, which is the company that runs the trains: https://en.oui.sncf/en/
There is also Trainline, which is a reseller that does not markup and has (reportedly) better acceptance of non-European credit cards: https://www.thetrainline.com/

Both have English language options.
Most tourist or travel related websites allow you to change the language. You need to find the menu with the "En" option, or possibly click on a flag.
As people have already told you, pre-purchasing tickets for the same day you land is risky. Most pre-purchased tickets (like air tickets) are only valid on the one train. If you miss that train you loose your money.

Posted by
16770 posts

The 40.70 EUR price quoted above is an "Intercites Tarif Superflex". You will have a seat reservation on the train you choose. If you miss your train, it will still be valid on any Intercity train to Caen for the next 7 days, but without a seat reservation. In that case, I assume you can buy a seat reservation before boarding if you wish.

Posted by
2891 posts

Odds are not with you for making the 15:05 train. If you accept that, you should have time at the station to buy the tickets because the next train leaves at 16:42. That being said, I usually like buying my tickets ahead of time because I do not like waiting and line or having to deal with a ticket machine. I buy my tickets at sncf.com/en. The 40.70€ ticket mentioned above cannot be issued as an e-ticket so you will need to deal with a ticket machine to retrieve your ticket. The cheaper ticket (26€) that is only exchangeable up until the day before travel can be an e-ticket.

Posted by
68 posts

I'm also worried about the tickets being sold out. Will be a VERY busy week.

Posted by
16770 posts

The trains to Caen are all Intercites without compulsory seat reservation, so they will not sell out, although you may have to stand until someone gets off and a seat opens up. From the Man in Seat 61:

Intercités without compulsory reservation use similar locomotive-hauled coaches with a plainer interior. Routes include Paris-Bayeux-Caen and Paris-Amiens-Boulogne. As the name suggests, you don't need a reservation for these trains, you can always just turn up, buy an open ticket which can never sell out, get on and sit where you like. Seat reservation is sometimes an optional extra if you want it. Although these trains don't need to be pre-booked, if you book in advance you can often find cheaper train-specific prems fares which save money over the on-the-day full-flex price.

Posted by
2891 posts

As Sam mentions the train you will take does not sell out. What could happen is that you have to stand until seats open up or as happened to me from Paris to Caen.

Posted by
68 posts

I thought I saw a site where you could buy the tickets in advance for Caen....guess not. So many sites I go to are in French!

Posted by
454 posts

There's also Trainline, which will also allow you to book tickets ahead of time, and which people sometimes prefer because of the interface and if they have credit card issues with the SNCF website.

(And, well, of course they're in French -- the majority of the passengers on these trains are/speak French...)

Posted by
68 posts

The safest I see is to change my rental car to pick up in the morning of the 4th. Take the train into Caen with prepaid tickets, taxi to the hotel. In the morning taxi back to the car rental which is near the train station.

Posted by
3819 posts

Hi,
If you are planning to stay in Caen on the night of 3 June anyway, then yes, by all means start your car rental on the following morning: you will save parking fees, and maybe a day's rental cost. Also, you might not even need a taxi to get to Caen Station depending on hotel location.
If not, then I highly recommend the Avis-SNCF car rental agreement mentioned above. I tried it out last week actually, it works perfectly and will let you get the car keys after hours from the ticket office ("billetterie")

Posted by
68 posts

Actually, I changed the car rental with Hertz to the next morning and it is costing me $30 more since I made the first reservation in December.....rates way up now. Looked at the site you suggested and the cheapest car for 4 days is 326.09 GBP with Avis. NO idea what that means! but sounds like twice the amount I'll pay with Hertz. My hotel is 1/2 mile from the train station.

Posted by
3819 posts

That GBP quote (that's UK pounds) is very very high so keep your Hertz booking as it is. And for 1/2 mile, unless you have a lot of luggage or mobility challenges, I would just walk from the station to the hotel. It will be daylight. The following morning, you could leave luggage and non-driving passengers (if any) at the hotel while picking up the car.

Posted by
68 posts

Am considering purchasing my train tickets from RailEurope in advance. Paris to Caen then Caen back to Paris. From Paris will be continuing on to Brussels but may wait and buy that tickets when we get back to Paris. Concern is the crowds on D day week. Getting to and out of Caen...

What is Partials Flexible? If we miss a train, can we still get on the next one? and how do you pick up the tickets?

Posted by
16770 posts

I think you are referring to this, from the SNCF website, which is being offered for the Paris-Caen tickets that day.

INTERCITÉS LEISURE
This ticket can be exchanged and refunded free of charge up until the day before departure, or changed subject to an administration fee of 50% of your fare, up to a maximum of € 12 on the day of departure. Any difference in price between the old and the new ticket will be added to this fee. Tickets will not be exchangeable or refundable after departure.

So if you arrive at the station after your train has departed, you are out of luck. If you know you are going to be late, you can change it before train has departed for a fee. Tickets should cost about $35 US per person, anything more, and Rail Europe is marking them up.

Posted by
68 posts

So it's a matter of taking a chance and buying the ticket and if I wait till I get there may not be able to get one?

Posted by
2891 posts

As said before, the train will not sell out so you will be able buy a ticket at the station. You may not be able to get a seat. Why are you buying from Rail Europe?

Posted by
743 posts

Hi, Joanne,
Looks like you’ve resolved the biggest problem by changing the car rental. Now you can relax. Arriving at CDG, purchase your Orange SIM, go thru passport control (aka immigration), collect your friend’s luggage if needed, and take a taxi into Gare Saint Lazare. Use Sams link to the SNCF website in English.

I would do the 17h08 (5:08pm) train, selecting the Flexible fare for your own peace of mind. The drop down menu shows conditions. Basically you can take another train, but can’t have a seat reservation. Not the end of the world for a 2 hour ride, but the 5 pm train should give you plenty of time.

Your onward journey can be booked separately but I wouldn’t wait too long. Hope this helps.

Posted by
68 posts

What is the difference between Rail Europe and SNCF? How can the train tickets not sell out? I was told a quarter of a million people will be in Normandy those days for D day. What do they do, just stuff people in the trains standing up?

How do you get the tickets? print out on your computer? get a confirmation number and get at the station?

Posted by
16770 posts

What do they do, just stuff people in the trains standing up?

Yup.

Posted by
3819 posts

Rail Europe is an agency, the North America retailer of SNCF tickets - SNCF being the train operator.
For booking, www.loco2.com or Rail Europe both work. You have the option of a print at home ticket, a show-on-phone ticket and (not recommended) a collect-at-station ticket.

Posted by
68 posts

OK! very helpful. I can't figure out how to get seat assignments. When I chose where I want to sit, nothing shows up. Just the two of us and want to sit together or close...

Posted by
3819 posts

You cannot choose your seats because it looks like these trains are entirely unreserved. You just grab the seats you want as you get on.
If that worries you (it should not), I see that there is a train at 5.43 PM on June 3 with good first class availability at a low price. It does mean waiting longer in St Lazare, but there are cafés there.

Posted by
743 posts

Which website are you using, Joanne? I just tried the sncf website and booked 2 tickets on the June 3 17h08 (5:08pm) train with seat assignments next to each other. Perhaps the re-seller websites don’t offer seat assignments?

Posted by
68 posts

That's the site I was at!! Too frustrating!!! Will keep trying.

Posted by
68 posts

found 1st class seating really cheap but when I go to the train # and seat # where do you find them???

Posted by
743 posts

Actually that’s the problem, there isn’t sufficient seating to book in first class so you would have to either gamble on a seat or go back to second class. Second class tgv is just fine, you won’t be missing much.

Posted by
8889 posts

found 1st class seating really cheap but when I go to the train # and seat # where do you find them???

Assuming your ticket is for a train with reserved seats, then your ticket should have train number, date and time coach (Vehicle) number and seat number on it.
If you buy multiple tickets, the are automatically assigned adjacent seats.

Click here for an example of an SNCF self-print ticket.

Train No. 6601 departing Paris Gare de Lyon at 05:47 on 6th September.
Coach 8 seat 61. 2nd class aisle seat.

The coach number will be on the coach, by the door. The seat number will be shown above the seat.

Posted by
743 posts

Chris I’ve been mirror booking to try to help, but the message for the first class booking is that sncf can’t guarantee seats at this point because they might be changing the carriages. Plenty of second class seating.

Posted by
8889 posts

Barbara, sorry, I thought I was answering a question from a rookie who either couldn't find his seat number on the ticket, or was worrying about finding the correct seat on the train.

Posted by
11832 posts

I've been to Paris through Iceland. Since Iceland and France are both Schengen (agreement) countries, I've had my passport stamped in Iceland and am treated as if I'm arriving on a domestic flight when I get to France.

My understanding is Ireland is also Schengen, which leads me to believe you will have your passport stamped at your layover in Dublin.

I only carry on a small bag (nothing checked) and I've found it takes me right at one hour from exiting the plane to get to the RER, buy a ticket and be moving from CDG. It's about a 45-50 minute trip to Gare du Nord and would likely take another 15-20 minutes to get to Saint Lazare by metro.

If by taxi, I'd expect maybe 30-40 minutes from walking off the plane to get to the taxi stand (not waiting for passport stamp or luggage) plus about an hour to Saint Lazare (with a large variable for surface traffic).

When shopping for a train to Caen, look for direct trains. They will save you the hassle of a change but also have fewer stops and save time overall.

If you're renting a car after that, be sure to shop either mid morning or mid afternoon. Most rental agents, even in larger cities, take a long lunch (something like 11:00 to 2:00) and won't be listed on a midday search - leading you to believe there are no car rental places in the area. Their hours will be something along the line of 7 to 11 and 2 to 6.

Posted by
16770 posts

My understanding is Ireland is also Schengen, which leads me to believe you will have your passport stamped at your layover in Dublin.

No, Ireland is not a Schengen member. It is in the EEC, and uses the Euro, but you still have to go through immigration arriving in France from Ireland.

Posted by
68 posts

I've had the car since December, as well as the hotels and AirBnBs. Taking taxies between the train stations, much faster and not confusing. Just need to buy the train tickets.