There are two Paris airports whose names you will hear: Charles de Gaulle, northeast of the city, and Paris Orly to the south. Orly was the original airport in Paris but today is used mostly for domestic flights.
Charles de Gaulle Airport (also know as Roissy, and with the airport code designation CDG) is where most flights from North America arrive in Paris.
Here you will go through customs, pick up your luggage, and catch vehicle or train transportation to Paris.
CDG is the biggest airport in Europe, and one of the busiest in the world, with over 60,000,000 passengers going through its terminals every year.
Although there have been improvements in recent years, the passport control line-up at Charles de Gaulle Airport can still be long.
Don't worry, though. The line usually moves fast. Just make sure you're in the right line. There is one queue for EU Passports (European Union) and one for non-EU passports. Choose the non-EU if you're from the US or Canada.
If you're traveling with small children or if you are disabled, you can usually move to the front of the line at Paris airports. Look for an airport worker or official and explain (gestures also work). Odds are they'll escort you to the front of the line. It's a nice French custom and people will make way for you.
CDG is a sprawling airport with a confusing number of terminal designations, from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2A through 2F.
Terminal 2, in fact, is really a collection of seven terminals, with a few extras sub-designations like 2F-1 to make matters even more confusing. An additional terminal, S4, connected to terminal 2E, opened in June 2012 also handles long-haul flights, particularly wide-bodied planes. It is used for flights by Air France and its Sky Team partners.
But, not to worry. Check your ticket information before you leave to find out what terminal your airline is using. Most North American airlines generally arrive at and depart from terminal 2A, and that's an okay terminal, easy to get around. We use and recommend Air France, which flies out of the newer 2E.
If you are continuing on from CDG to certain European destinations (Air France to Florence is one example) you will need to transfer to terminal 2G, which lies quite a ways outside the other terminals in the 2 complex.
To get there, follow the directional signs inside the airport and you will end up at a bus stop, where you can catch the free shuttle to 2G. You don't need to worry about your luggage, it will be automatically transferred.
Secret Canadian Tip. This sometimes work for us, but we can't guarantee it! When the non-EU passport control line is really long, but the EU line is almost empty, we slip into the EU line and gesture with our Canadian passports at the official in the booth. Usually they wave us forward. The French seem to have a soft spot for Canadians.
Taxis are by far the most common means of Paris airport transfers. Before you leave home read our complete guide to catching a taxi at Charles de Gaulle airport. Then travel easy!
Have an early flight or an unexpected delay?
The good news is that the best Paris airport hotels are convenient, stylish and affordable.
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