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Flying into CDG

We are seriously considering the Paris&HOF tour next fall. The tour looks wonderful. We especially want to see Normandy. However, we are apprehensive about flying into CDG. We have never been to Europe before, only Ireland and Britain. How anxious should we be if at all? Thank you.

Posted by
2514 posts

What are you anxious about? It's an airport, albeit a big, busy one. Just allow plenty of time and don't be in a rush.

Posted by
5010 posts

Yep, good advice above. It's a big airport, often super busy, sometimes seemingly chaotic. It's just a big airport, nothing special about that. Allow plenty of time for everything, expect long lines, keep your wits about you, and it's no big deal.

Posted by
532 posts

Yep, just a big airport. A little like Dallas where there are multiple terminals and a tram between.

Been thru it 3 times including twice coming in from the US. The first time customs lines were long and I regretted not hitting a restroom before getting in line. The second customs was fairly fast. No problems figuring out where to go - or at least no more than I would at any big US airport.

Posted by
1131 posts

It is easy to arrive into but more challenging in my experience to fly out of. Lots of lines--longer than in other airports. But I just walked out in a few minutes after arriving.

Posted by
2029 posts

You will be herded along with everyone else to everywhere you need to go. Just be sure you get in the line for "Non-EU passports".

You should consider arranging for a car service to pick you up at the terminal. If you do that, someone will be waiting for you, holding a card with your name on it in the baggage claim area. Your Paris hotel should be able to refer you to a car service.

Posted by
858 posts

If language is the concern, signs at CDG, and most other European airports, will have English in addition to the local language.

Posted by
3144 posts

If you are scared about flying into CDG, find an airline that flies into ORY.

You can also fly into BRU and take the Thalys train to Paris or even fly into AMS for a longer train ride.

FYI: Ireland & the UK are a part of the continent of Europe. 😉

Posted by
7757 posts

I'm not real savvy when it comes to airports - especially when my departure airport has one gate, lol. CDG IS big but it is not a problem when you are arriving there. You'll basically follow the herd to immigration, stand in line, get your passport stamped (usually no questions unless you are a young, attractive female - I'm old and gray and they barely look at me), then head to baggage claim and out into the arrivals area.

Here are my tips:

-Make a comfort stop if you pass a bathroom in the corridor on the way for deplaning to the line for Immigration. If you miss one there, there is a toilet on the left just before you get into the line up area for Immigration. I can almost guarantee if you have an empty bladder your wait will be minimal but if you have a full one it will move at a snail's pace.

-When you exit thru baggage claim it's a bit chaotic with all those drivers waving iPads with names. If you need a breather before you go further, if you are coming in to 2E there is a small M&S food hall on the left and you can duck in there.

-Look for the signs for the Taxi rank. Take a taxi from the official rank only. Ignore anyone who asks you if you want a taxi or who tells you you are in the wrong line for Paris. There is only one line. There will be a manager at the head of the line and they will motion you into a taxi or you'll just know the next one is yours as they drive up 4 or 5 at a time.

-Have your hotel name and full address printed out on a 3x5 card to hand to the driver so they can input it to their GPS. It will be a flat rate and we can tell you what that will be when you find out your first tour hotel. (50E to Right Bank, 55E to Left and this tour uses hotels on both sides)

This is SUCH a neat tour! You'll see a lot of different things - the Guedelon Castle, Chateaux, Normandy landing area, Giverny plus a small amount of time in Paris!

DO plan to arrive at least a night before your tour start. Two nights is better! IF you can also spend time afterwards, do that as well. There is SO much to see in Paris. I love it so much, mostly because of my excellent introductions to it by RS guides!

Posted by
5605 posts

I find the official airport website pretty difficult to actually find anything on. Check out “easyCDG” website.

Posted by
3483 posts

The airport is easy to navigate, and all of the signs have French/English. We always take the RER train into Paris, but you could easily take a taxi, instead.

Definitely arrive a couple of days early, so you can get over jet lag before the tour begins. I would even consider arriving at CDG and taking a train to a smaller town for a beginning location. Rouen is an easy one, and it’s a town used to American tourists. There’s the beautiful cathedral, the medieval pretty section of town, a wonderful art museum that’s free, and an interesting metalwork museum that’s also free and of course, the Joan of Arc history. I didn’t care for the ceramic museum (& I like ceramics). For that town, I stayed at the Mercure Rouen next to the cathedral. It’s modern, quiet, and has a wonderful breakfast.

Posted by
974 posts

I have this theory about CDG compared to some other airports. The overall airport design motif is what you would call curvilinear. In other words, there are very few straight lines to be found in any of the buildings. This makes it more challenging to figure out where you are in relation to space.

In contrast, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson (ATL) is another very large airport laid out in nice rectangles.

The signage at CDG is good, so if you focus on that you will be OK.

Posted by
4450 posts

I’ve never had a problem arriving ar CDG. I avoid transferring there, but arrival is easy.

Posted by
195 posts

I have this theory about CDG compared to some other airports. The
overall airport design motif is what you would call curvilinear. In
other words, there are very few straight lines to be found in any of
the buildings. This makes it more challenging to figure out where you
are in relation to space.

Interesting ... I've never actually looked at a floor plan of CDG, but I know what you mean. The people-movers that my husband calls the "gerbil tubes" are particularly disorienting! But it's fine if you just follow the signs (in English) and the general flow of traffic. I don't know if anyone has mentioned it above, but do watch out for unofficial guys trying to get you to take their taxi. There is an official line, but it may not be obvious if you're jet-lagged.

I do like the baggage carousels at CDG ... U-shaped with a little oasis of calm for handicapped people and bulky items in the inner part.

Posted by
2788 posts

The gerbil tubes are in (circular) Terminal 1. The curved buildings make up Terminal 2.

Posted by
6443 posts

we are apprehensive about flying into CDG

What is it about CDG that causes you apprehension?

Posted by
2355 posts

Do your self a favor and have 100-150 Euros in your pocket when you land. Many on this forum will advise you get Euro’s from an ATM in the airport, but for me that is just one more thing I have to do when I’m brain dead, having to clear immigration, get a taxi. Yes, getting the small amount of Euro’s from the bank in the US will cost you $5 to $10 more. Well worth it. You’ll have money for a snack, your taxi. You can get more once you are settled into your hotel and at many times during your tour. We have found every year we use less cash and more credit cards.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for all the replies.
Maybe I am being silly about CDG, how does it compare to O’Hare? We live outside of Chicago
so that is the biggest airport I am familiar with.
Arrived at LHR at 7AM, practically empty so that was a good experience. JFK shuttled between terminals so didn’t experience the security, etc.
O’Hare can be a pain, as many have noted on
this page. If it’s comparable to O’Hare I can live with that. Will follow everybody, pay attention
and have a good time.

Posted by
188 posts

First of all you will LOVE that tour! We did it in May.

CDG is big but arriving there is no problem. All of Pam’s tips are perfect. All the signs have English.

Have some cash on hand. There are a few taxis that don’t take credit cards. If you are able to pay cash you’ll jump ahead in the line. DEFINITELY have the hotel name and full address written down.

Do get there a couple days ahead if possible. We stayed in the 2nd Arrondissement for our first few days and found it really easy to get around from there. Bon voyage!

Posted by
7757 posts

--> Veering a bit off topic but in regard to the tour. IF you had a family member who landed at Normandy, do some research to find out what unit he was in. Often the excellent local guides RS uses for this area can show you the location where a group came in.

On my tour one guy's Dad had landed and when we were standing on Utah Beach with Dale setting the scene for us, he looked over at the tour member and said your Dad probably would have come in right over there as he pointed down the beach and then marked it on the map he had drawn in the sand. Wow, so powerful and personal.