There are lots of options to get to and from Paris and its airports: taxis, shuttles, buses, and trains. I favor public transportation because it’s the cheapest option — and easiest since I travel light — plus it’s good for the environment. Depending on which airport I’m using, I’ll either take the RER commuter train, or the OrlyBus. Before leaving the airport, I pick up one of their handy free city and transit maps from stands, or the TI (tourist information) desk.
Charles de Gaulle airport
From Charles de Gaulle airport, I’ll take the RER B commuter train into town, which costs 10 Euros one way and is only a 30 minute ride to Gare du Nord where you can transfer to the Paris metro. Trains depart about every 15 minutes beginning at 4:56am. Last train departs at 11:50pm.
In the airport, follow signs to ground transportation, specifically ones that say “Paris by train” or have the RER logo inscribed in a circle. You’ll go down two escalators to a large room filled with ticket machines. The green machines are the ones that sell RER tickets. The machines are easy to use — first select your desired language, then follow the prompts. Purchase tickets Most machines accept card, cash, and/or coin.
Once you have your tickets, follow signs for the RER B platform for Paris. Insert ticket into turnstile, retrieve it, and walk through. Put your ticket somewhere safe because you will need to reinsert it into the turnstile to exit the RER station at your stop.
Returning to Charles de Gaulle airport is also simple. Use your Paris metro map to see where you can connect with the RER B commuter train, then take it all the way to the last stop at Charles de Gaulle airport. As the RER B line splits before reaching the airport, make sure you board a train that says Charles de Gaulle airport. The first train heading back to the airport from Paris du Nord departs at 4:56 am. The last train departs 14 minutes after midnight.
Orly is a much smaller airport than Charles de Gaulle, and less overwhelming. The cheapest option into town is the OrlyBus, which costs only 8.50 Euros and takes about 30 minutes. The OrlyBus drops off at Denfert Rochereau, which connects to the Paris Metro system. The bus runs every 15-20 minutes, with the first departure from Orly airport at 6am. The last bus leaves the airport at 11:30pm.
Returning to the airport is also easy — just catch the OrlyBus at Denfert Rochereau. The bus stop is aboveground and clearly marked with OrlyBus signs. The first OrlyBus departs at 5:35am, and the last one departs at 11:00pm.
Tickets for the OrlyBus can be purchased from machines at the airport, Denfert Rochereau, and other OrlyBus stops. They can also be purchased onboard the bus with exact cash, which is what I’ve always done.
— Laura Rowley