Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (IATA: CDG) is the main airport of Paris, one of the busiest hubs in Europe, largest airport in France and home of the national carrier, Air France. It is located north of Paris and is sometimes referred to as Roissy Airport (or simply Roissy in French).
CDG is amongst the largest airports in the world not only in terms of traffic, but also surface area, and its multiple disjointed terminals and sheer size may be disorienting. While connections from, to and via CDG are often attractive, one needs to take extra care not to get lost, and plan in extra time to just cover the distances needed to get to or from the gate.
CDG has three terminals. The free CDGVal shuttle train runs between terminals, car parks and train stations.
- Terminal 1 is the original one, built back in the 1970s to serve the intercontinental "jumbo jets" that had just debuted in service. It is notable for its unusual layout and retrofuturistic brutalist design, with a round central section featuring underground travelator connections to seven "satellites" to which planes dock via jetways. Nowadays it is used by Star Alliance carriers and some other non-allied airlines.
- Terminal 2 is the notoriously confusing gigantic one, consisting of interconnected sections named 2A through 2G. Terminal 2G is a separate building from other "Terminals 2x" and is only reachable via navette/bus in 10-15 min (bus leaves every 20 min) so allow extra time if you travel to/from there. Terminal 2 houses all Air France flights, as well as those of other SkyTeam carriers, with some other airlines' gates spread over the many sections. Notably, Easyjet uses terminal 2D. The TGV station and one of the two RER stations is in Terminal 2
- Terminal 3 is the low-cost terminal serving low-fare carriers, including Vueling, but not Easyjet, who has gates in 2D. Terminal 3 is removed from the CDGVal line and requires a walk from the CDGVal station to its entrance, and has limited facilities.
Check with your airline before leaving for the airport.
Terminal 1: Most Star Alliance flights.
Terminal 2: Air France, Air Canada, easyJet, most Skyteam flights, and most OneWorld flights.
Terminal 3: Most low cost carrier flights.
Say that again, please?
The RER B station named "Aeroport Charles de Gaulle 1" is a misnomer - it actually serves Terminal 3, not Terminal 1. However, the CDGVAL train (free of charge) links Terminals 1, 2, and 3.
By train to Paris
The RER train line "B" connects CDG airport to central Paris and is the fastest and most economical option for most travelers. The airport has stations in T3 (where you can take the free CDGVAL shuttle train to T1) and T2. Trains to Paris leave every 8 minutes and all stop at Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint-Michel Notre-Dame, Luxembourg, Port-Royal, Denfert-Rochereau and Cité Universitaire. Adult tickets cost €10, and for children between 4-10 the fare is €7 each.
Tickets are valid for connecting travel to any metro or RER station within Paris. The train takes around 35 minutes to Gare du Nord and 45 minutes to Denfert-Rochereau, making this the fastest way to get to the city. Tickets can be purchased either through green (sometimes blue) automated ticket vending machines ("Billetterie Île-de-France") or through the ticket office serviced by transit authority personnel.
The automated ticket machines accept Euro coins of €2, €1 and 50, 20, 10, 5 cent denominations and give change. 'Chip & PIN' credit card (typical in Europe and elsewhere) payment is OK on these machines, but cards from the US (or in general have only a magnetic strip or 'chip & signature'), you most likely will not be able to use your card. In the airport stations there are separate automated machines which change €20, €10 and €5 notes to €2 and €1 coins. However, due to the high demand, the machines frequently run out of coins. The currency exchanges explicitly state notes will not be changed for coins. Because of these limitations, purchasing tickets from the ticket office may be your only option. Although there are many counters, the queues can be very long.
Trains for Paris leave from platforms 11 and 12. Look for signs saying "RER B" or "All trains go to Paris". When using the ticket from and to the airport (as with tickets for the RER commuter trains in general) you have to use it to enter and to exit the quay areas. Always keep the ticket handy as the SNCF officials sometimes check for tickets, and if you are without one you may be fined €40. This means that after you put the ticket into the entry gate and are cleared to pass, you must retrieve the ticket from the machine and keep it with you until you leave the train system including any connections.
During off-peak hours and on the weekends, if you're not in a hurry, avoid the trains from the airport heading to Saint Rémy lès Chevreuse: they will stop at all stations between the airport and Paris. Instead, wait a few minutes for a train heading to Massy-Palaiseau, it will be non-stop between the airport and Paris Gare du Nord (but won't overtake the omnibus train). If you're going to the airport, look on the information displays on the platforms: if the next train to Aéroport Charles de Gaulle stops at a dozen of stations, the next one should go to Mitry Claye (don't take that one), and then the following one will be non-stop from Paris Gare du Nord to the airport. But remember, this is only during off-peak hours, as well as all day on the weekends.
By bus to Paris
The Roissybus service (€11.50) connects all terminals directly to Opéra Garnier in central Paris, but it's subject to traffic jams and rush hour, so it averages 60 min but can lasts much longer if the traffic is bad. Mobilis and Ticket jeune tickets are not accepted on this line, but Paris Visite zone 1-5 is accepted.
If you're looking for cheap alternatives, you could take bus number 350  to Porte de la Chapelle (Metro line 12, tram line T3b, 45 minutes), Gare du Nord (Metro line 2, 4, 5, RER B, D, 55 minutes) or Gare de l'Est (Metro line 4, 5, 7, RER E, 60 minutes), or 351  to Paris Gallieni (Metro line 3, 60 minutes) or Place de la Nation (Metro line 1, 2, 6, 9, RER A, tram lines 3a, 3b, 90 minutes). They requires three tickets t+ per person (about €5.70, €4.35 if bought by sets of 10, or €6 if the tickets are purchased on the bus).
Alternatively, even cheaper is the bus Express 93  to Bobigny Pablo Picasso (Metro line 5, 35 minutes): only one ticket t+ is required, you will need another ticket to transfer to Metro line 5 (reaches Gare du Nord in 15 minutes). The bus leaves from "Roissypôle", at the bus station located next to RER B "Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1-3" / CDGVal "Terminal 3 - Roissypôle" station.
The tickets can be purchased at newsstands, at ticket machines, or, for a higher price, inside the bus from the driver and they need to be validated with a device lying next to the driver's seat. Not that you can not transfer from a bus to the metro or RER, but you can transfer from a bus to a tram or another bus up to 90 minutes after your first validation.
Le Bus Direct (formerly Les Cars Air France) offers two lines going between Paris and CDG with a roughly 1 hour ride, one going to Porte Maillot and Place de l'Étoile (line 2, €17), the other one going to Gare de Lyon and Gare Montparnasse (line 4, €17).
To CDG from Paris
BE CAREFUL when using buses to get to CDG. There are frequent traffic jams on the motorways leading to the airport - the Air France bus normally may need 50 minutes to get to CDG, but it may take 1½ hours as well... your best bet for arriving on time with the buses is to take them very early in the morning or during times otherwise when there isn't much traffic.
When you arrive at CDG, you should note what terminal you arrived at (2A, 2D, etc.), because when you come back to the airport to depart at the end of your trip, the RER subway train makes two stops at CDG to cover the three terminals, but there are few indications of which airlines are at which terminals. Have a close look at your air ticket to figure out which terminal you are departing from. Air France and associates leave from Terminal 2E/F/G, most Star Alliance airlines leave from Terminal 1 (excepted Air Canada which leaves from Terminal 2A), most charter and low-costs flights leave from Terminal 3 (easyJet leaves from Terminal 2D). The RER B has the airlines serviced by each terminal on a not so obvious chart posted by the door of the train.
Noctilien N143 buses serve CDG airport roughly every 30 min between 12am and 5am. In Paris, they stop at Gare de l'Est, Gare du Nord, and Porte de la Chapelle, in CDG they stop in terminals 1, 2F and 3. In You will need either 4 t+ tickets (€8 if bought on board, €7.60 if bought at a machine, €5,80 if bought by pack of 10 at a machine), or a Navigo, Mobilis, Ticket jeune, or Paris Visite, covering zones 1-5.
Terminals, parking garages, hotels, the RER B stations, and the TGV station are linked by the free CDGVal, an automated people mover train. The train runs every 4 minutes and usually takes about 2 minutes between each stop. At peak hours expect heavy passenger loads.
Terminal 2G is not physically connected to the main Terminal 2 building. A navette (shuttle bus) connects passengers to and from Terminal 2E. The journey can take 15 to 20 minutes. It is important to allow for extra time if travelling through Terminal 2G.
Don't forget your papers!
Mehran Karimi Nasseri was an Iranian refugee who in 1988 was traveling to Britain when the briefcase containing his identity papers was stolen. Lacking identification he was denied entry in London and sent back to his previous departure point, Charles de Gaulle Airport. He was arrested in France, but as a refugee there was no country to return him to, so he was released back into the airport, thus beginning an ordeal that would see him forced to live in the departure lounge of Terminal One for eighteen years while his case worked through the bureaucratic system. His story was the basis for the 2004 movie The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks, that was released while Nasseri was still in residence in the aiport.
Power outlets specifically for charging passengers' laptops/mobiles are widely available throughout the terminals, before and after security.
Plane spotting is limited. Serious photographers interested in exploring the airport grounds must apply for permission at the police préfecture in advance.
Those with layovers longer than 5-6 hours, a quick trip into the city for lunch and a museum or shopping is possible. Passengers with less than 5 hours should only consider visiting if they are experienced travellers or if they know the city well.
Eat and Drink
Food and beverage is available throughout each terminal. Hours of operation vary, however, aside from the very early morning and late evening there will be options before and after security. Prices can range greatly and less expensive dining options can be found, however, expect to pay slightly inflated prices regardless of cuisine and level of service.
- Food Court, Lower level - CDGVAL (Outside security). Hippopotamus, McDonalds, Le Grand Comptoir, La Brioche Dorée, etc 8-30€.
VAT Tax refund: First, get your boarding pass for your flight out of France. Second -- have your tax refund papers stamped at the tax refund counter in the main terminal area, before you check in with your airline. Showing goods is signposted as mandatory, usually only required for high priced, marquee items.
To locate the tax refund counter in the terminal, look for the signs or ask any airline employee for directions. Don't be confused by a single line splitting between currency exchange and tax refund office: choose tax refund if you prefer Euros—while currency exchange refunds only in USD or your national currency, both buy at a robbery rate (and with no rollback to the refund window after you realized the rate).
The line can take a long time, expect several minutes per customer. At either office, you can also receive refund for your spouse if you have their passport and refund forms.
Duty-free shopping: There are no shops before security check zone. When you shop in post-security check zone, it's not genuinely taxfree, as you can receive a tax refund for those purchases as well.
Contrary to what one may expect, there is no L'Occitane; cheese is limited to soft sorts (and there are no ripe varietes); wines starts at €11 and some popular sorts like Chinon can't be found; selection of sausages is extremely limited.
There are no mid-range clothes or shoes stores, only luxury brands.
Post offices are available in Terminal 1 and Terminals 2B and 2D. Postboxes are available in every terminal. Postcards, stamps and stationary are available in every terminal at newsstands.
Free WiFi is available throughout the airport terminals. The network name is "WIFI-AIRPORT" An email address is required to connect. Some instant messaging services such as WhatsApp are periodically blocked.
Power outlets and charging stations are located throughout the terminals both before and after security. The outlets are the standard Europlug style at 220 Volts. However, most of the outlets in Terminal 2L, including the laptop benches, have been disabled; they do not work.
Passengers with long layovers and passengers who are stranded will find there are few benches and no public shower facilities in the airport.
Air France lounges have such facilities. Lounge access is included for Air France business and first class travellers. The members of Air France and cooperating frequent flyer programs may gain access with sufficient status. There is a possibility that some lounges may grant access to travellers on their flights for a fee. If you would consider paying for access to the lounge, inquire when checking in for your departure.
Alternatively, the airport hotels generally have rooms available.
Left Luggage/Storage. There are left luggage/baggage storage facilities in Terminal 2 (close to TGV-RER station). Baggage and luggage items can be stored for a few hours or up to 90 days. See Bagage du Monde. Average Time required to check-in: 4 mins. Open every day from 6am to 9:30pm. Located terminal 2 - Gare TGV - Level 4 (opposite the Sheraton Hotel).
Rates (April, 2016):
- From 0h to 6h: 7.00 € / per item
- From 6h to 12h: 14.00 € / per item
- For a period of 24h: 17.00 € / per item
- For day 2, 3 and 4 (per 24h) : 9.00 € / per item / 24h
- Starting on day 5: 7.00 € / 24h, whatever the number of luggage.
There are many hotels available for travellers at CDG. Most hotels are located nearby off the airport grounds. The Sheraton is the only true in-airport hotel. It is located in Terminal 2. Travellers in Terminals 1 & 3 might more quickly access the hotels at Roissypole, which is still on the airport grounds though not directly connected. The hotels at Roissypole are accessed from the terminals by the free CDGVal airport shuttle followed by a short walk.
Airport Hotels These seven hotels are the only hotels located directly on the airport property.
- Sheraton Paris Airport Hotel & Conference Centre, Terminal 2 (walking distance), ☎ . Four star airport hotel and the only true in-airport hotel at CDG. Convenient for passengers in Terminal 2. 175€.
- Ibis Paris CDG Airport, Roissypole (CDGVal shuttle), ☎ . Convenient to travellers at terminals 1, 2, & 3. 76€.
- Hilton Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, Roissypole (CDGVal shuttle), ☎ . Convenient to travellers at terminals 1, 2, & 3.
- Novotel Paris CDG Terminal, Roissypole (CDGVal), ☎ . Convenient to travellers at terminals 1, 2, & 3. 144€.
- CitizenM Paris Charles de Gaulle, Roissypole (CDGVal shuttle). Convenient to travellers at terminals 1, 2, & 3. A slightly longer walk from the CDGVal stop than the other Roissypole located hotels.
- Mercure Paris CDG Airport & Convention (formerly Pullman), Roissypôle Ouest (Shuttle from terminal), ☎ . This hotel used to be a Pullman until the new one's construction begun, and has been renovated to Pullman standards in 2014. It can be fairly convenient for travellers at terminals 1, 2, & 3. Not directly accessible on foot or via CDGVal. A hotel shuttle is provided.
- Hotel Pullman Paris Roissy CDG Airport, Roissypole (CDGVal Shuttle). The new Pullman opened to much fanfare in August 2015 and features lots of enhancements to comfort and style, including iconic works of art and a restaurant with serious culinary pretences.
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, Rue de la Chapelle 77990 Le Mesnil-Amelot, ☎ .
- Relais Spa Roissy CDG Aparthotel, 8 Allée des Vergers 95700 Roissy-en-France, ☎ . 111€.
- B&B Hôtel PARIS Roissy CDG Aéroport, 17 rue du Verger 95700 Roissy-en-France, ☎ . 47€.
- The most obvious place to go to from the airport is Paris, the city it serves.