How To Get To France
There are numerous ways to get to France, depending where you are coming from.
- While you can fly directly to major cities in France (ie. Nice, Marseilles, and Lyon) depending on your departure point, Paris tends to be the main “hub” and many flights do connect in Paris.
Note: If you are flying to another destination in France hopefully you’ll connect to a flight IN Charles de Gaulle airport. Be careful as some flights might go out of Orly (ORY) airport which is a smaller airport located south of Paris and about 43 kilometres away from Charles de Gaulle.
- If you are coming from Great Britain you can fly to France but you also have the additional option of the Eurostar and ferries.
- If you are coming from a European country which is on the border to France (ie. Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Monaco, Andorra, or Belgium), you can drive or take the train.
1. Flying Into France
First-timers to France often start their trip in Paris so here is some helpful information:
Transportation from the Airport to Paris
Getting To/From CDG Airport
Most transatlantic flights fly into Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport, also known as “Roissy”. It is located north west of Paris. CDG has 9 terminals (1, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G and 3). When you arrive you have a number of options to get into the heart of Paris: by train/subway, bus, taxi, or shuttle.
By Train and Metro (Subway)
You need to first board the SCNF train which will take you to Gare du Nord. Once there, you will take the Metro RER B (subway) to your destination. The cost (train and Metro) is approximately 8.7 Euros and the ticket can be purchased from one of the SCNF ticket machines. The SNCF main line station at Paris CDG is called ‘Aeroport Charles de Gaulle 2 – TGV’ and is located in between terminals 2C-2D and 2E-2F.
Le Bus Direct (formally called Cars Air France bus): It arrives at Etoile, Porte Maillot, Gare de Lyon, or Gare Montparnasse. Cost is approximately 17 Euros or 29 Euros return.
Roissy-bus: The Roissy-bus leaves Charles de Gaulle airport and arrives near the Paris Opera. Cost is approximately 10 Euros.
Taxis go from the following locations at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Cost is approximately 50-60 Euros.
- Terminal 1 – Exit 20
- Terminal 2A/2C – Exit 6
- Terminal 2B/2D – Exit 7
- Terminal 2E/2F – Exit 1
You can have a private shuttle (usually a van) or a shared shuttle ranging in price from 27 to 99 Euros for one person, taking you from the airport directly to your hotel.
2. Coming From Great Britain:
If you are coming from Great Britain, you might want to go directly to Paris. You could fly, take the Eurostar train, or take the ferry, depending on how quickly you want to get to Paris. There are advantages to taking the Eurostar or ferry:
- voyage is only about 2 1/2 hours
- being able to avoid the hassle of getting to the airport hours before leaving
- going from downtown London (St. Pancreas Station) to Gard du Nord in central Paris)
- ability to stop en route, for example in Lille France
- check out my post on taking the Eurostar from London to Paris
- leaving the south of England rather than London
- being able to visit the north-west region of France and avoid going through Paris
- very low cost (ie. a return trip can be as low as 60 pounds with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Cherbourg)
- you can bring your own car, not be restricted to how much luggage you can take, and only need 45 minutes check in time
- There are many other numerous advantages to taking the ferry. Check out this comparison about taking the ferry vs. flying from Brittany-Ferries (Infographic provided by Brittany-Ferries.co.uk). Their Ferries To France page shows the routes and prices.
Image source: Brittany Ferries – Ferry VS Plane to France
3. Driving From Other European Countries
Driving can be a fun way to see the French countryside. Just keep in mind the high price of gas, traffic (especially during holiday season) and the TOLLS! The website, http://www.viamichelin.com is one of my favourite tools as it can calculate what it will cost to drive from Point A to Point B including gas and tolls! You can then determine if it might be cheaper to take a train. And be careful about speeding. I found out the hard way. Check out my post: Trip Advice Part 2: Traffic Tickets In France