How to go from the AIRPORT to GARE DE LYON
in one easy lesson.


From Charles de Gaulle Airport
From Orly Airport
From Beauvais Airport
Ordering Airport Train Tickets, from Charles de Gaulle or Orly (this takes you to a different page)



Introduction
Welcome to Paris. You have just de-planed, and you are still cursing the Wright brothers.  Now you have to make your way to the train station.

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.

If you were on a “low-cost” carrier, such as Ryanair, you may have landed at Beauvais.
Beauvais is not really a Paris airport at all:  it is in the eponymous town, 90 minutes northwest of the city in normal traffic.  You can go by train to some foreign countries faster than you can get to Beauvais.

No one at Blue Marble, nor any of our friends, has ever used Beauvais Airport, so we only know of it by reputation.  (We take trains within Europe, even when they cost more — we all have our luxuries).  But we tell you what we know about making this trip.


Buying Tickets for the Airport Train (Orly or Charles de Gaulle)
If you wish to buy tickets 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), here is how to order tickets for the airport train.

Otherwise, get some euros from an airport exchange place before you get to the ticket counter.  Credit cards without French “chips” are not accepted at all windows (nor in ticket machines).



From Roissy / Charles de Gaulle Airport
These are both names for the same place.


Step 1.
From Terminal 1

  • From the baggage pick-up, 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.  Get on the next elevator.
  • These elevators have only two buttons.  One corresponds to where you are.  Push the other one.  The elevator will take you down a few levels, and let you out via the opposite door.
  • In front of you, and up a ramp, is a train platform for a people-mover called “CDGVAL.”  Go there.  Board the next departing train, on either side of the platform.  No tickets are required. 
  • Ride 2 stops, to Roissypole, the name of the station for trains to Paris (called the “RER”). Two more stops would bring you to the “Gare TGV” (long-distance trains), and to terminal 2.
  • Exit the CDGVAL people mover.  Go up a stair / escalator.  You will find yourself in the hall of a much bigger train station. 
  • If you already have your ticket to Paris, turn left and then right to get to the platforms / trains. 
    If you need to buy a ticket, turn right, to come 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.  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. 
  • Go down two levels to get to the main station hall, and another, third, level to get to the platform, with a train track on each side. 
  • Consult 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!  Board the next departing train.  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.

Step 2.
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.

Take the first train - they run about every 10 minutes. 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. But they are less crowded, which is nice if you have baggage.

After about a 30-minute ride, your train goes underground and stops at a station called Gare du Nord, 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.


Step 3.
You have detrained at the Châtelet - Les Halles station. Walk across the platform, without going up or down any stairs. There is another train track here, against the wall, used by line A of the RER (express subway). Take any train that comes on this track one stop, to the Gare de Lyon.

To exit the station in the direction of the trains, follow signs for whichever you see of “TGV” or “Trains Grandes Lignes;” sometimes translated as “Main Line Trains.” These will lead you up a very long escalator, through some ticket barriers (use the ticket that got you through the barriers at the airport), and up another long escalator to the station.

Find your train on the departure monitor (its track will typically be posted about 20 minutes prior to departure). If you are travelling on a railpass (as opposed to a point-to-point ticket), do not forget to go the ticket window to have it validated. If you have a point-to-point ticket, you must date-stamp it (composter, in French) in one of the little yellow machines at the track gates. It is NOT VALID until you do!



ORLY AIRPORT

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.


Step 1.
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 little 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.


Step 2.
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. Go 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.


Step 3.
When you reach the Châtelet / Les Halles station, take the stairs or escalator up. At the top of the stairs or escalator, cross the concourse, following signs for RER line A, in the direction of Boissy St.-Léger, Marne-la-Vallée, or Eurodisney; whichever you see (they all lead to the same place). Go back down a flight of stairs / escalator, and turn towards the track that is on the side of the platform against the wall. You are now at the start of step 3 in the Charles de Gaulle instructions, above. Follow the rest of those instructions to get to the station.



BEAUVAIS AIRPORT

Beauvais Airport is not really a Paris airport at all. As it's name implies, it is in the town of Beauvais, 90 minutes north of Paris. A shuttle bus operates from the Beauvais airport to the Porte Maillot, a large traffic circle on the eastern edge of the city, meeting most flights. From Porte Maillot, métro line 1 runs direct to the Gare de Lyon.

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