CLICK TO PLAY THIS EPISODE
What’s the best way to get between Paris airports and the city? In this episode Annie shares her experience with the best Paris airport transfers and helps you think it through for your own trip.
Public Transportation Options to Go from the Airport to Central Paris
The RER is the cheapest option per person at 10,30€ per person. It’s also a huge pain in the behind because even if the service is running smoothly, you’ll have to deal with stairs and gates. Possibly lots of them. You have been warned!
These bus lines go between CDG (which French people often call “Roissy”) or Orly to Paris. Worth looking at if you’re staying at the Eiffel Tower or L’Étoile (top of the Champs Elysées) or Montparnasse. But if you’re not staying in those areas, you’ll be stuck transfering to a metro or a bus. The cost for these buses is 12€ per person as of today.
One advantage that I see for the bus rather than the metro is that buses are easier for people who have lots of luggage. But really, you should not come to Paris with a lot of luggage!
Private Van or Limo
I can’t say much about this option because there are thousands of different providers and quality of service vary greatly between them. If you’re inclined to go that route, all I can advise is that you do your homework.
I know hiring a private driver is common when visiting countries like India, but Paris has a lot of better and simpler options in my opinion.
Don’t Choose Drivers Who Solicit Illegally Between the Exit Gates and the Taxi Station
One thing is for sure: you should NOT let random drivers talk you into a ride on your way between the plane and the taxi station. Those driver are totally unlicensed and are going against the law. Do not hire them! There are places in the world where that’s how things work, not in France.
Call an Uber
Uber is legal in France, but Uber drivers are under restrictions that don’t apply to taxis. For example, Uber drivers cannot pickup or drop off near the taxi areas. Secondly, Uber drivers are not supposed to drive on bus lanes (whereas taxis and motorcycles are allowed to).
Best Practices for Uber
If you are planning on using Uber in Paris, listen to Tips for Using Uber in Paris, Episode 151 before you go. As you know, best practice is to call your Uber from the exact location where you want to be picked up.
But where are you supposed to stand before calling your Uber at the Paris airport? Here’s what the Uber site says today:
From terminals 1, 2A, 2C, 2D and 2F, exit on the departure level. From terminals 2E, 2G and 3, exit on the arrivals level. Head outside and wait at the curb.
I recommend you check what the Uber site says right before your trip just in case this changes. What I would do is check the price of the Uber ride as I exit the airport, decide if that’s the way I want to go, look for the right pickup place, then place the Uber order.
You have to do this in the right order or your Uber driver may never find you and will give up on you. And airports are all about one-way streets, if they miss you, they’ll have to take another go-around. This is a possible huge waste of time!
Uber Is Not Necessarily Cheaper
There are times when Uber gets a lot more expensive than taxis. This happens when there is a spike in demand for some reason. Someone on our Facebook group reported paying 96€ between the airport and Paris, which is ridiculously high. For reference, a taxi for 3 or 4 people will not cost at most 55€.
Be warned also that Uber drivers in Paris don’t tend to speak English and you don’t get to specify you need someone who speaks English.
Annie’s Choice: the Taxi!
I recorded this episode because I don’t want repeat things like a broken record. The best and smartest way to get between CDG or ORL and Paris is a taxi. I hearby make an oath that I will never answer that question again, I will just share a link to this episode and be done. Why is the taxi the best choice between the airport and Paris?
Set Price Between Paris Airports and the City
For one thing, taxi prices between Paris airports and the city are now fixed. Getting in a taxi used to be a gamble, you never knew how much it was going to cost. These days are gone. This change happened on Jan 1, 2016 and it is clear that strong competition from Uber is what made it happen.
How Much Will the Taxi Ride to the City Cost You?
- CDG to the right bank of Paris is 50€ (right wing means Louvre, Opéra, Châtelet, Beaubourg, Hôtel de Ville, Le Marais, Grands Boulevards, Champs-Elysées).
- CDG to the left bank is 55€ (left wing means Latin Quarter, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Montparnasse, Mouffetard, Butte-aux-Cailles).
- ORL to right bank is 35€.
- ORL to left bank is 30€.
The maximum you will pay per taxi is 55€. Compare to the cost per person of public transportation. If there are 3 or 4 passengers in your party, do the math!
Taxi Stand or Taxi Stations Are Easy to Find
Finding the Taxi stand at CDG or ORL is as easy as reading the signs. Walk towards the exit and you will soon see signs that show where to go to take a taxi.
Once you get to the taxi stand you’ll probably see a line, but the line always moves quickly because there are a lot of new taxis arriving all the time. And this is one place where French people actually line up nicely, which we don’t do for buses.
If you must have a driver who speaks English you can ask the taxi station manager for that. It is customary to take the next taxi that comes along, but if you don’t like the next available taxi for some reason, wave your hand no and wait for the next one. Nobody will care because there are lots of customers arriving all the time.
If you are traveling with a baby, the taxi driver will install any car seat you brought with you. Taxis are an exception to the law in France: you can take a baby in a taxi without a car seat. Passengers don’t have to wear a seat belt in a taxi. That doesn’t make it a good idea, but you won’t get in trouble.
What About the Luggage?
Taxi drivers know people who are going to and from the airport have luggage, they usually show up with a bigger car than average. Cars are smaller in France than they are in the US, but unless you went nuts, they’ll fit it all in. And if not, wait for a taxi that can accommodate all your luggage!
Note: There are taxis in Paris that can accommodate 8 persons. Talk to the station stand manager who will have you wait for the next big taxi.
There is no doubt in my mind that the easiest and fastest way to get between the airport and Paris is a taxi. It can also be the cheapest way, depending on how many of you there are. We all have our preferences, but having tried most of the options discussed above, I can tell you the taxi wins every time.
What If You’re Trying to Save a Buck?
There are smart ways to save a buck and not-so-smart ways to save a buck. Save on wine: buy wines around 4-5€ instead of your normal $20 at home. Never order bottled water at a restaurant, ask for “un pichet d’eau” instead, tap water is free. Don’t buy at the open-air market, go to the grocery store instead. See, there are ways to save money in Paris, but don’t try to save on the ride between the airport and the city. The RER ride will make you miserable!
For tips on saving money in Paris listen to Paris on a Budget, Episode 141 and also Food Prices at French Grocery Stores, Episode 197. Learn those money-saving tricks, but just use a taxi to go between the airport and Paris, OK?