We are a family of three with a 4-hour 8am-noon layover at CDG. I can't imagine being in Paris for 4 hours and not going into the city. Is it practical? Which mode of transportation would be best? Where should we go? How long should we stay? Even a picnic lunch at Notre Dame or Champs Elysees sounds good to me. Advice?
Short answer, no. Rejuggle your schedule and give your self at least 8 hours.
Teresa, start imagining, since that's as close as you should get to Paris.. other then staying at airport. Your hope to visit Paris with a 4 hour layover is impossible. Paris is a 45 minute train ride away. So there goes 1.5 hours. Now getting back into airport ,, allow 1-1.5 hours just for security.. could be less, but....
When you land in Paris you have to go through immigration and customs,, could be 1/2 hr to an hour.. Times up. You can't visit Paris. You seem to forget an important point, you are not IN Paris, you are at the airport,, the airport is not in the city. Also, security takes a while.
"I can't imagine being in Paris for 4 hours and not going into the city." Start imagining it. Let's break it down. You may or may not land on time. Once you land, you have to get into the airport proper (planes can land at satellites and you have to be bussed in). You then have to clear immigration (can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how many other planes are being processed). It takes about 45 minutes to get into Paris, even by the fastest method (the RER), and that's not accounting for waiting for the next RER (they run every 15 minutes). A cab might be a bit faster - or you might get stuck in traffic, in which case you're toast. Then, having arrived in Paris, you have to be be back at CDG in time to get through security (I'd allow at least 90 minutes, even on an intra-European flight, as CDG is notorious for delays). So you see, you really don't have time to leave the airport. So, accept now that you'll be spending your layover in the airport. And, as I said, if your plane is late and/or it takes time for you to get through immigration and to your new terminal, you may not have that much "time to kill" anyway.
I was cross-posting with the others, but it's nice to see we all agree <g>.
Well, it was just a fantasy, right? I'm glad I asked, and appreciate that you let me in on the reality of the situation. Will have to be satisfied with seeing whatever sights I can see in the distance from the air. Thanks a bunch for your help! Next trip - days and days!