Whenever I go to Paris I always take the RER into the city center (The RER is a suburban train that will take you from CDG airport into Paris) but I have heard that some people don’t know how to do that and end up spending way too much money on a taxi. I took these pictures on my last trip in hopes that I could share with you how to get to Paris from CDG airport and I hope that after you finish this post you will be ready to hop on the RER!
Please note, if you are someone who travels with lots of luggage, the RER may not be the best way for you.
Sometimes getting to the RER can be a bit tricky so I hope this helps. Once you collect your bags in baggage claim, you pass through a huge set of sliding doors. When those doors open there will be lots of people standing behind a railing waiting for their loved ones. You have to take a shuttle in order to reach the RER. Look for a sign similar to the one below (this sign is usually not immediately visible, it’s around the corner from the elevators) and when you see Paris by train, you know you are going the right way.
If you are flying from The States you will more than likely be landing in Terminal 1. You will need to go to Terminal 3 to catch the RER. If you follow the arrow on the sign, you have to go to a set of elevators then go downstairs.
When you get off the elevator, this is what you will see. Do you see the sign on the right hand side that says CDGVAL? That is the shuttle you will be taking to get to the RER.
You walk towards this people mover which has a slight incline. You won’t be able to take the luggage cart with you, there are barriers to make sure you only take your luggage on the people mover.
This is what you will see when you get to the top.
This sign is letting you know you are in Terminal 1, and you want to get to the RER which is in Terminal 3. If you look on the left hand side of this picture, the words ‘you are here’ are just under Terminal 1.
The shuttle has automatic doors that let you know in French and English when they will be opening and closing. Please wait for everyone to get off before you enter.
Terminal 3 is where you can catch the RER.
When you get off the shuttle, you have to go up the escalator, go to the right and then follow the signs.
This is the booth where you will buy your ticket to get to the RER. Most people don’t speak English but don’t worry about that. You can just say the stop you want to exit. If you know you will be traveling back on the RER, it’s best to buy a round trip ticket. Don’t be offended if you smile and the person behind the glass doesn’t smile back.
I didn’t realize this picture was so blurry, I’m sorry about that. I wanted you to see what the turnstile is like. This one is a little different than the others in that you have to put your ticket in the slot on the right hand side (can you see where the hand with the finger is pointing?) and then the doors open. Once the doors open, you have to wait for the doors behind you to close, your ticket pops up inside, you take it and then the doors in front of you open.
By taking the RER, you have many options as far as where you can go in Paris. Two of the most popular stops are Chatelet and Paris Nord (which is Gare du Nord). Even if you decided to take a taxi from one of those stops, it’s still much cheaper than taking a taxi from the airport which can be 50 euros, depending on where you are going.
When you go down the escalator to catch the RER into Paris, you will be able to tell which side you need to be on by the screens and the signs. More than likely the RER will be stopping in the center of town, which means you have a limited amount of time to exit. If you are getting off at Paris Nord, people do not let you get off before they rush to get on so be prepared to push your way off of the train.
When it says ‘train long’ that means it stops at every station which means your journey will take much longer. But you will be getting on at the beginning of the train which means you will have a seat.
When you get in the RER, someone may come by and ask to see your ticket. But if no one comes, please DO NOT THROW AWAY YOUR TICKET. You will need it to exit the station and if you don’t have it you will be fined.
So there you have it, this is how I always get into the city when I travel to Paris. Of course you can always take a taxi but I just don’t see the need to do that. I usually only have a carryon bag. I love people watching on the train, and seeing the suburbs (and all the graffiti) of Paris roll by outside the window is always interesting, and the hour or so that this ride takes doesn’t bother me at all.