How to go from Paris’ Airports to Our Paris Office
(or to our Paris apartments) in one easy lesson, with a bicycle.
Our address is 2, rue Dussoubs, 75002 Paris. The office phone is +33 (0) 1.42.36.02.34.
Here is a
From Roissy, a.k.a. Charles de Gaulle Airport
From Orly Airport
Ordering Airport Train Tickets, from Charles de Gaulle or Orly
Welcome to Paris. You have just de-planed, and you are still cursing the Wright brothers. Now you must make your way to our office (our guest apartments are upstairs from same), hauling a bicycle, and presumably your luggage as well. This is not going to be easy.
But first, you must figure out at which airport you have landed.
Most intercontinental flights come into Roissy, the name we locals give to Charles de Gaulle Airport. More often than not, you will be in Terminal 2. But USAir, United, Lufthansa, and several Asian / African / Middle Eastern carriers use terminal 1, instead. Budget and charter lines use Terminal 3 (Air Transat, Corsair...).
The other option (Paris’ other “real” airport) is Orly. Not much intercontinental service, but many intra-European flights.
A generality about making the trip into town with a bike: even though you are “legal” (that is, the railroad’s rule book says you are allowed to take the airport train with a cycle, boxed or unboxed), very few concessions are made to help you do so. Ticket barriers must be scaled, stairs and escalators negotiated, and non-railroad (airport) security personnel sometimes do not know that you are allowed to be doing what you are doing. Even some ticket agents don’t.
So, to avoid getting into lengthy discussions in a language you speak poorly or not at all, act at all times with the furtiveness of a hardened criminal. For instance, when you buy your ticket for the airport train, put the bike over by the far wall, where you can see it and survey it, but where the ticket agent will not necessarily associate it with you. When you go through the ticket barriers, avoid the set where the security guard is standing right there, and instead use one of the other 3 sets. That type of thing. At no time should you act like you have any rights — even though you do. The world of the railroad is one of petty ship captains, and the appeal process is difficult. Avoid litigation if you can.
And a Word About Timing: unboxed cycles are not theoretically allowed on Monday - Friday rush hour trains before 9a, or between 4:30p and 7p. In practice, you can usually get away with morning boarding out at the airport starting around 8:30a... it is the rush hour arrival in Paris that is really the problem. But, if you land at 6:30a, this can mean a bit of a wait. The rule will not generally be enforced at the airport, where no personnel are present to do so. But you could be challenged in town, and have to go through an unpleasant discussion with people in uniform.
Buying Tickets for the Airport Train (Orly or Charles de Gaulle)
If you wish to buy a ticket for the appropriate airport train through us, to avoid dealing with the issue in your post-flight fog (or to avoid ticket lines which can stretch to an hour in summer), you may do so. The cost is about a euro more than you would pay locally. Here is how to order tickets for the airport train.
If you do not already have your airport train ticket, get some euros from an airport exchange place before you get to the ticket counter. Credit cards without French “chips” are not accepted at ticket machines, and the lines at the windows can be very long.
The bike travels for free: no ticket is needed for it.
From Roissy / Charles de Gaulle Airport
These are both names for the same place. The French do this a lot.
From Terminal 1. If you land at Terminal 1, it is important to keep your cycle in whatever container it was in on the plane until you reach the airport rail station, for the train to Paris. After that,
you may get rid of the container if you wish. But security personnel may prevent an assembled (rolling) bike from boarding the airport people-mover, and you need this vehicle to go from Terminal 1 to the airport rail station via the people-mover.
From the baggage pick-up, carefully follow signs for Paris par Train (Paris by Train). These will direct you to an elevator bank, hidden behind a wall between exit doors 34 and 36. Luggage carts are available to get you this far.
The elevators here have only two buttons: the one corresponding to where you are, and the other one. Push the other one. The elevator will take you down a few levels, and let you out by the opposite door.
In front of you and up a ramp is a little train station for something called the CDGVAL. Go there. Board the next departing train (really a people-mover: a rubber-tyred, 2 car shuttle with no driver), on either side of the platform (you must abandon your luggage cart for this). Ride 2 stops, to Roissypole, the name of the station for trains to Paris (the RER / métro trains). Two more stops would bring you to the “Gare TGV” (long-distance trains), and to terminal 2.
When you exit te CDGVAL people mover, and go up a stair / escalator, you will find yourself in the hall of a much bigger train station. Here is where you may unbox your bike, if it arrived in cardboard, and thus roll it / use it as a luggage cart for the balance of your trip.
If you already have your ticket, turn left and then right to get to the platforms / trains. If not, turn right to get to the ticket office. Your train to Paris will leave from the far platform (any train on either side of the far platform will go to Paris). Now skip down to Step 2.
From Terminal 2. You may unwrap your cycle as soon as you receive it, if this makes it easier to move (it can be rolled).
Signs in your terminal will point you to RER / TGV or Gare RER / TGV. Don’t panic if the “RER “ and the “TGV” are inverted: they are still pointing to the same thing. This is the rail station. Paris par Train also works. If you orient yourself by facing the street in front of your terminal, the station is to the right of terminals 2A, 2C, and 2F; to the left of 2B, 2D or 2E.
When you get to the trains, and are given a choice between RER and TGV, choose RER. This is the train into Paris. You will go down two levels to get to the main station hall, and another, third, level to get to the tracks. Elevators are available for all level changes: follow signs to find them. The elevator from ticket hall level to track level is past the ticket barriers to the left of the ticket windows.
Be careful when you reach the platform: trains depart from both sides. Be sure to look at the departure board, which will give each train's departure time, to see which is leaving first. Also, be sure to look along the platform: short trains park at one end, and you may not even realize that the train is sitting in the station until it has pulled out! Now go on to Step 2.
From Terminal 3. Signs in your terminal will point you to RER / TGV or Gare RER / TGV. Don’t panic if the “RER “ and the “TGV” are inverted: they are still pointing to the same thing. This is the rail station. Paris par Train also works, as does Roissypole. A bit of a walk will bring you to the train station, and you may use the luggage carts to transport your goodies.
All the trains from the airport stations go the same place. If you do not already have a ticket, buy one in the ticket office, a level up from the trains. Keep this ticket safe, since you will need it several times during the journey.
Locals make about 10 stops on the way into town; expresses run non-stop. Despite this, the first train to depart is the first to arrive: the “expresses” just run slowly, following the locals on their same tracks. We nonetheless wait for the express when we are moving a bike: it is less crowded, and less victimized by pick-pockets, as it makes no stops during which they could make their getaway. Note that during rush hour, when you are not supposed to be riding this train, anyway, intermediate variants exist, making some but not all stops.
Bikes are loaded to one of the end vestibules on each 4-car train set. Normally, this line is operated with two, 4-car sets coupled together, so the bicycle vestibules can be found at each end of the long train, with two others in the middle, where the two sets are coupled together. The bike compartments are usually
identified with a pictogram, but if not, you are looking for a door leading to a windowless cabin (other than the windows in the doors themselves).
After about a 30-minute ride, your train goes underground and stops at the Gare du Nord station, where it will idle for a minute or two. Start paying attention here. Stay on board, and ride one more stop, getting off at Châtelet - Les Halles.
You have detrained at the Châtelet - Les Halles station. Exit to the rear of your train, and take the escalator or the stairs up (one flight). At the top of the stairs or escalator you will see dark blue Sortie (exit) signs, with different sorties indicated. The one you want is labeled Rue Rambuteau, Rue de Turbigo. Follow the signs across the mezzanine concourse to get to it, and keep to the right to exit via the right-most set of ticket barriers, where a handicapped exit is suitable to passing through with a bike.
Go through the ticket barriers you find barring your way (using the same little ticket you used at the airport), and go up another flight of stairs / escalators. Keep following the Rambuteau/Turbigo signs, which will lead you outside after another few escalators, stairs, and the like. You would now expect to be on the 7th floor of some building, but you are just at street level.
If you prefer an elevator to a series of escalators, sometimes hard with a cycle, try this. — under construction until 2014, at least.
- After passing through the first set of ticket barriers, and going up one, short, escalator, abandon the Rambuteau/Turbigo signs. Instead, at the top of the escalator, go straight ahead, thus passing through one of a series of pneumatic doors that opens to let you out.
- Continue straight, thus exiting the métro system into the hall of a large shopping mall.
- Hug the right hand wall (which means angling to the right as you enter the hall), and go to the far end. You will come to a door, on your right hand, which clearly leads to a parking lot. The door is normally locked, but two buttons permit access: one for the parking lot, and the other for handicapped people.
- Push the handicapped button, and when a voice is audible, try saying “vélo.” The door should open (sometimes the attendant will open it for you without discussion).
- Take either of the elevators you find on the far side up to street level (the top floor).
- Turn right out of the “elevator cage,” and walk to the edge of the park you find yourself in: a block.
- You are now at the start of the paragraph just below, which starts, “Straight in front of you now...”
At this stage, a neighborhood map may be helpful. If so, you may print one here.
Note that the localization of the métro stops on this map is not quite accurate, particularly as regards the “Etienne-Marcel” station, the entrance to which is on the opposite side of the rue de Turbigo from the spot marked.
When you come outside into the air, you are on a pedestrian street, rue Rambuteau.
• Turn right. In front of you is a rather large church.
• Slink along the wall that is now to your right, rounding the corner, and leaving the church to your left (you can avoid stairs with the help of an obvious, 20 m detour).
Straight in front of you now, between two cafés, a semi-pedestrian street leads away (the rue Montorgueil). Take this.
• Your third right, at a café called the Grill Montorgueil, is the rue Tiquetonne. Turn right onto this.
• Your first left, a fairly long block away, is the rue Dussoubs.
We are the unprepossessing glass door between numbers 2 and 4 (it’s your money, after all). If the iron curtain is still down it means we aren't up yet. If the curtain is up, but the front room is dark, it means that we've gone out for coffee, or are in the basement. Try knocking on the glass door with a key or a coin (so that your knock can be heard from the basement), or looking in the local bars. Or wait: we'll be back soon. There is bike parking directly across the street from our office, if you have to lock an unboxed bike up for a bit. But don’t leave it there overnight. And there is a rough, “vandal hour” when schools let out.
Follow the link for our normal opening hours.
Orly airport is in a state of flux. While all inter-continental airlines are currently in the south terminal, there is discussion of moving some to the west one (those are Orly’s only two terminals). The following information assumes that you arrive at the south terminal, or Aerogare Sud. If you arrive instead at the west terminal, follow signs to reach OrlyVal (“Paris by Métro”), take the automated people-mover to Antony (the first stop), and start reading these instructions in the 2nd paragraph of step 2, below.
If you land at Orly, it is important to keep your cycle in whatever container it was in on the plane until after you ride the people mover to the Antony rail station, where you catch the train to Paris. After that,
you may get rid of the container if you wish. But security personnel may prevent an assembled (rolling) bike from boarding the airport people-mover, and you need this vehicle to go from the air terminal to the Antony rail station.
When you exit the baggage pick-up area and pass through customs at Orly Sud, you will find yourself inside the terminal building, facing the street. Outside the terminal, above the roadway on a viaduct, is a green-and-white train. This is what you want to ride. The ticket hall is inside the terminal building, a bit to the left in the corridor that you are standing in once you clear customs.
If you do not already have a ticket, use one of the multi-lingual machines to buy one to Paris. You will need euros to do so.
Go up the escalator which leads to the platform, and get on the first train. They all go to the same place in the end: the Antony railway station. This is where you want to go. It is the 2nd stop, after Orly-Ouest, and the total ride takes about 10 minutes. Do not be alarmed when the train reverses direction at Orly-Ouest - it is still doing what you want it to.
When you reach Antony, get off. Pass through the turnstyles, along the short moving sidewalk, and up the escalator to your left. This brings you to the platform for Paris. Walk towards the left when you reach the platform if there is no train waiting, since you will need to be at the far front end of the approaching train when you get off.
Take the first train that comes. They all go where you need them to. Depending on whether or not you are on an express, this trip will take between 20 and 30 minutes.
When the train goes underground, which it does as it enters the Denfert-Rochereau station, start paying attention. You now have 4 more stops: Port-Royal, Luxembourg, St-Michel, and Châtelet-Les Halles.
When you reach the Châtelet / Les Halles station, exit towards the front of the train. Take the stairs or escalator up. At the top of the stairs or escalator you will see dark blue Sortie (exit) signs, with different sorties indicated. The one you want is labeled Rue Rambuteau, Rue Turbigo. You will be standing in front of this exit as you reach the top of the stairs coming up from the platform.
You are now at the start of the 2nd paragraph of Step 3 of the Charles de Gaulle instructions, above. Follow the rest of those instructions to get to our office.