Monthly Archives: June 2008

Paris Street Map

By | June 29, 2008 | in Maps

The best detailed Paris street map to buy is The Paris Mapguide from Michael Middleditch.  I’ve not found a Paris street too small to be included in this book.  There are some outlying arrondissements that are not covered fully though, so beware if you’ll be traveling at the outer edge of any of the border arrondissements of Paris.

I wouldn’t recommend this map book for Paris if I didn’t love it myself, and I seriously love this map book. This Paris map book is soft cover, just slightly bigger than paperback size (not thickness, it’s 64 pages), and is extremely detailed. It contains a Metro/RER map, RATP bus routes and shows Metro stations within neighborhoods/quarters. This last feature is not to be overlooked.  A Paris Metro map from the RATP is great to have, but if you overlay the metro stops with a Paris street map you’ll have a god-like understanding of how to move about Paris.  You’ll be giving locals directions with this map (this has happened to me multiple times, including once where I gave a nice elderly Parisien lady directions near Charles de Gaulle Etoile and just after helping her another nice Paris gentleman stopped and asked me: “You OK?”, not realizing that I was the one giving directions to the local Parisien woman).

Where can you find/buy this Paris street map? That depends on where you live.

The Paris Mapguide at Amazon.com for those living in the United States.

Live in the UK? Buy the Paris Mapguide from Amazon.co.uk

Canada? Amazon.ca

Vous habitez en France? Amazon.fr now carries The Paris Mapguide.

Michael, if you come across this page, I owe you a pint (or a beverage of your choice).

‘Gare du Nord’ Train Station

Above is a photo of the entrance to the Eurostar platform within Gare du Nord station in Paris, located up the stairs/escalators on Level 1 (Niveau 1). The Eurostar platform and trains are separated from other trains due to the need to screen passenger passports for the voyage to London. (The UK is not a Schengen zone country).

Eurostar check-in at Gare du Nord

Climbing the stairs in the last photo we arrive at the Eurostar check-in level. Visible on the left are e-ticket machines where one can collect Eurostar tickets purchased online at Eurostar.com.  The Eurostar ticket office (not visible) is located just left of the ticket machines.  If you don’t have a smart-chip pin protected credit card, these machines which will most likely not work for you.  Instead, enter the ticket office and collect the tickets in-person.  Have a print-out of your ticket confirmation email (with the ticket reference number) plus a passport to retrieve your tickets in-person.  At the end of this walkway is the Eurostar entrance. Non-EU citizens will need to fill out a declaration card for UK Immigration before you enter. Cards are available near the blue information kiosk visible in the centre of this photo.

Eurostar arrival at Paris Gare du Nord

The above photo is the scene at Gare du Nord upon arrival from the London to Paris Eurostar train. This is facing south east towards the front entrance of Gare du Nord on rue de Dunkerque. Centre middle is an overhead blue sign pointing left towards the Metro and RER trains located two levels down from street level (picture here).  There will be two sets of stairs leading one level down just left of this scene.  At the bottom of the first set of stairs will be two green Billetterie Ile-de-France ticket vending machines where you can buy Metro, RER and Transilien commuter train tickets.

Metro RER Ticket Machine Hall Gare du Nord Niveau -1

Continuing further down the hall you’ll see plenty of yellow TGV ticket machines where one can collect, change, cancel their Grandes Lignes tickets (TGV, Ter, etc.).  Visible is another overhead sign pointing towards Metro and RER trains with an airport symbol signifying the RER B train service from Paris to CDG Airport as well as Orly Airport to the south.

Billetterie Hall Gare du Nord

Here’s another photo of the same hall, opposite side.  In the distance you can see several green Billetterie Ile-de-France green ticket vending machines.  These sell both RER and Metro tickets trains (Billet Ile-de-France, Paris Metro Ticket t+) including carnets and can recharge Pass Navigo / Découverte with Carte Orange (although they do not sell new cards). Continuing down this hall leads towards Metro lines 4 & 5 and RER B, D, and E.

The above is a photo of the western half of Gare du Nord station from the Eurostar level overlooking train lanes/platforms 1-13 (voie in French) for Eurostar and Thalys trains arriving from London (Londres), Brussels (Bruxelles) and German cities. Near the center of the photo is a sign reading Reseau Ile-de-France RER with an arrow pointing to the east side of Gare du Nord station. This is the direction of the RER B, RER D, RER E platforms underneath Gare du Nord, at sublevel 2.

Photo of the eastern half of the Gare du Nord station facing north, showing the departures board on the left, train lanes (voies) 14 and up, used for TGV trains and Ter (Ile-de-France) trains. At bottom right is an information booth with an ACCUEIL (Welcome) sign along the top. Beyond the Departures Board, on the other side, are more train lanes for Thalys (high speed trains from Paris to Brussels, Belgium, to the Netherlands and Germany) and Eurostar (high speed trains from Paris to London). East (looking right) of this position is the large open atrium leading to the RER B, D, E lines and Metro line 4 and 5 on sublevels 2 and 1.

This is a photo of the eastern atrium at Gare du Nord with a Transilien (Ile-de-France) ticket window selling tickets for Ter and Transilien trains traveling outside of Paris, but within the Ile-de-France. Further east (looking right) is the RER/Metro portion of Gare du Nord.

Photo from just above and west of the RER/Metro lines at Gare du Nord along the Eastern edge of the station. Here you can see a sign for RER lines B, D, and E plus Metro lines 4 and 5.

Photo of Gare du Nord’s RER/Metro station entrance section, full of turnstiles, leading to train platforms serving RER B, RER D and RER E and Metro Line 4 and Metro Line 5. RER B trains connect Paris to Aeroport Charles de Gaulle (CDG), taking roughly 25 minutes from Gare du Nord. RER B also connects central Paris/Gare du Nord to Paris-Orly Airport to the south requiring a train change at Antony Station with the final connecting train being Orlyval which stops at both Orly West (Ouest) and Orly South (Sud) terminals. RER D runs north-south, connecting Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon station in direction of Melun or Malesherbes. RER E runs east-west connecting Gare du Nord to Gare St-Lazare on the western side of central Paris.

A photo of ticket vending machines at Gare du Nord within the RER/Metro section of the station. These machines are used for buying individual Metro/RER/Bus/tramway tickets (Ticket t+), carnets (books of ten or twenty Ticket t), and also tickets for train destinations within Ile-de-France on Transilien or Ter trains. Remember that most non-smart-chip credit cards will not work with these machines, so use Euro coins if you have them. These machines can also charge up Pass Navigo / Navigo Découverte cards with Carte Orange week or month “subscriptions” (abonnements) using the Navigo slot.

Safety Security at Gare du Nord

Read about staying safe in Gare du Nord train station.

Other Resources

Simple Gare du Nord map showing the main train platforms (“Grandes Lignes”).

Gare du Nord Map

(Map courtesy of Railteam.eu)

‘Gare de Lyon’ Train Station

By | June 26, 2008 | in RER RER A Trains - Intercity stations

Here is photo tour of Gare de Lyon train station in Paris along with explanations to help you understand how to find your train and your way around Gare de Lyon. You may wish to refer to a map of Gare de Lyon station while following the pictures in this article to help familiarize yourself with the layout.

Arriving at Gare de Lyon by Metro or RER

Gare de Lyon Train Station Level 2 Signs

If you’re arriving at Gare de Lyon from a Paris Metro or RER train and are making a connection to a TGV or other type of surface train, you’ll need to make your way from Niveau (Level) -2 to up to the train platforms at street level (Niveau/ Level 0).  From the Metro or RER trains, take stairs or escalators up one level and follow the overhead signs pointing to the Grandes Lignes.

Gare de Lyon Suburban & TGV Train Departures Screen

Along the way you may see overhead screens listing surface train departures.  These screens show the type of train, train number, departure time, final destination or terminus station, which zone of Gare de Lyon the train will be parked at (either Blue or Yellow) and finally which platform (“Voie”), designated by letters A through N for the Blue Zone and numbers 5 through 23.  For an example, look at the first train departure on the left screen which shows a TGV train, number 7665, departing at 14h28 (2:28pm), final destination Dijon Ville station, leaving from the Blue Zone at platform D.  Further down you’ll notice blue and yellow squares beside destination names, but no number or letter.  This means that the station hasn’t decided which platform the train will leave from, only that it will leave from the designated zone: Yellow or Blue. These zones will be explained later in this article.

If you’re arriving by car, tax, bus, or on foot, below is the exterior of Gare de Lyon with its distinctive clock tower.

Gare de Lyon Train Station Building Front

The above photo of Gare de Lyon was taken from boulevard Diderot, just north of the station, looking south.

If you’re arriving at Gare de Lyon by TGV or other type of surface level train, you’ll end up parked at either one of two platform zones: Yellow or Blue.

Blue Zone Train Platforms

Gare de Lyon Train Station Panorama

Here is a panoramic photo of Gare de Lyon’s Blue zone train platforms and its Grandes Lignes trains.  To help get your bearings, the large clock tower you saw from the exterior photo, not visible here, is at the extreme far right hand side of this position behind us. The Yellow Zone platforms are diagonally left at the far end of the Blue platforms, accessible by a walkway traversing the left wall of the Blue zone.

Gare de Lyon Train Station East Side Blue Platforms Train Bleu

Gare de Lyon “Blue” Platform/Zone, looking in direction west north west, facing the restaurant l’Express Bleu, just above a set of stairs/escalators leading down to level -1 (Galerie Diderot). Healthy amount of Apple ipod billboards on display the day this photo was taken (June 21, 2008).

Gare de Lyon Train Station East Side Blue Platforms

Another photo of Gare de Lyon Blue Platform from the opposite angle/side. From here you can see the restaurant Le Train Blue, with neon sign, up at the top left, accessible by stairs on either side. It’s take away and quick meals restaurant L’Express Bleu, is located directly underneath. The escalators you see here lead down to Galerie Diderot’s western end, with access to buses, car rentals, taxis and Rue de Bercy.

Gare de Lyon Train Station East Side Blue Platforms TGV Trains

Gare de Lyon Blue platform again, facing west south west. In this photo, from left to right, we see escalators heading down one level to Galerie Diderot giving access to Metro lines 1 and 14, RER A and RER D, buses, taxis on rue de Bercy (for quick travel to Gare d’Austerlitz on the other side of the Seine) and car rentals (“location de voitures”). All of this is printed on the blue sign posted immediately west of the escalators.

In this photo there are several TGV trains parked on the blue platform. At the head of each train you can see a blue sign with a white letter, signifying the lane or “voie”. Beside the signs are television screens showing detailed information about the train: the train number, its destination, the station stops the train will be making along its route.

On the right hand side of the photo you can see the large departure board. Every train leaving Gare de Lyon will be listed on this board, regardless of whether the train is leaving from the blue platform or yellow platform. The trains are ordered in time till departure. The next train to leave Gare de Lyon will be listed at the top.

Each train listed on the departures board has the following information:

  • Type of train: TGV or regular/conventional train
  • Train number: marked on TGV tickets, but not on regional train (Transilien/RER) tickets
  • Time of departure (Heure): when the train is leaving, in 24 hour clock, example 14:25 for 2:25pm
  • Destination: the final destination (terminus station) of the train. There is a very good chance your station or stop will not be listed since your station is before the terminus station, but the train will stop at your station. To verify that the train in this lane/voie will stop at your station, refer to the television screens at the head of the lane, which give detailed information on the voyage.
  • Details (Particularités): 1st (1eme) and 2nd (2eme) class train cars or simply 2nd class.
  • Lane (Voie): where your train is parked. Note the color of the square, blue or yellow. If the square is blue, the train is waiting in the blue platform. If yellow, you need to go the other train platform at the other side of the station. If you see only a color but no letter or number on top of this, Gare de Lyon station controllers have not decided which lane the train will be parked in, simply which platform or zone. It would be smart to be at the correct zone before the lane number is posted for the train, so that you have time to get aboard and stow your belongings without having to rush.

Galerie Diderot Beneath Blue Zone

Gare de Lyon Train Station Sub-Level 1 East

This is Galerie Diderot, one level down for the Blue platform (niveau -1), facing east. Here you can find various clothing, personal care shops and toilets (located at the far eastern end). Note that the washrooms are pay-for-entry within Gare de Lyon. The fee is 0.50€ (fifty centimes), which you give to the madame working the gate and she provides you with a token to use in the turnstile giving you access to the washroom. The washroom is separated into men’s and women’s sides, but is in the same overall “room”.

Gare de Lyon Train Station Galerie Diderot West

Turning around we see Galerie Diderot at its western end, at street level, facing west towards Rue de Bercy and Gare d’Austerlitz. Just above us is the Blue Platform. Just outside the doors ahead in the distance are the buses 20, 24, 57, 63, 65, 87 which connect Gare de Lyon to Gare d’Austerlitz and various other places around Paris (and Paris central which is west of this location, accessible by Bus 24 among others). This is also the location of the car rental offices (Location de voitures). One more level down from this location are RER A, RER D, Metro line 14, all accessible just ahead and left, down the stairs.

Yellow Zone Train Platforms

Gare de Lyon Train Station Yellow Platforms West

In this photo we see Gare de Lyon’s Yellow Platform/Zone facing East towards Rue Chalon and Place Henri Frenay. In the foreground are escalators and stairs leading down to the Salle Mediterranée, giving access to Metro line 14 and RER A, RER D trains another level below (niveau -2). At the far end, left hand side are another set of stairs leading again to the Salle Mediterrannée giving access to the baggage lockers/luggage storage (Consignes). At the far end you can see the Departures Board listing trains leaving from both Blue and Yellow Zones. On the right are the Grandes Lignes train platforms (voies) marked by yellow signs with numbers instead of letters, since this is the Yellow Platform. In the center right of the photo is a glass box with “Accueil” marked overhead. This is the information bureau manned by several employees to answer questions about your train or Gare de Lyon.

Gare de Lyon Train Station Yellow Platform

Above we see the Yellow Zone platforms in detail.  You can clearly see the platform numbers on their yellow background at the head of each lane. Near the centre of the photo is a set of four ticket machines.

Gare de Lyon Train Station Yellow Platforms Ticket Machines Detail

Looking more closely, the three machines on the left are for purchasing, pickup or exchange of TGV train tickets.  The last boxy blue machine on the right is a Billetterie Ile-de-France selling Billets Ile-de-France, which are tickets for station to station travel in the Ile-de-France region that contains Paris and its suburbs. For example, you’d use a Billet Ile-de-France for traveling from Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau. This machine also sells Metro/RER Ticket t+ and carnets of tickets (books of 10 or 20 at a discount).  Paris Metro Tickets are used for the Paris Metro and RER within zone 1.

Also to note in the above photo are the three types of validation machines visible, one for Carte Orange/Pass Navigo, one for Billets Ile-de-France and one for TGV Tickets.  Immediately beside the boxy blue Billetterie Ile-de-France is the Pass Navigo validation card reader.  Those using Carte Orange on either a Pass Navigo or Pass Navigo Découverte are asked to validate their card using this machine before boarding an Ile-de-France train (Transilien, Ter or RER).  The yellow box attached to the metal pillar is a TGV ticket validation machine (composter).  Finally, on the opposite side of the pillar, mostly hidden, is a Billet Ile-de-France ticket validation machine.  Use of this machine for Billets Ile-de-France is required before boarding.

Turning around in the opposite direction of the Yellow Zone train platforms is a long hallway known as the Galerie des Fresques, where the main ticket sale windows for Gare de Lyon are located.

Ticket Sales / Pickup at Gare de Lyon

Gare de Lyon Galerie des Fresques Hall

Turning left from the Yellow Zone picture above we see the long hall known as the Galerie des Fresques.  On both the left and right hand sides of the hall are ticket windows and sellers.  Lining the hall are yellow ticket vending machines that can also make ticket changes and handle ticket collection, provided that you’re using a smart-chip enabled credit card (normally European only cards, few if any North American credit cards work with these machines).

Gare de Lyon Train Station Ticket Windows

Above is another photo of the Galerie des Fresques from the opposite end, looking towards the Yellow Zone.  Clearly visible here are the manned ticket windows where one can buy or pickup pre-bought tickets for TGV, and other types of Grandes Lignes trains.

Gare de Lyon Train Station Ticket Window Detail

In this close-up photo of a ticket window you can see a video display screen noting which languages the employee speaks.  At the top of the screen are multiple of flags denoting spoken languages.  This gentlemen in particular speaks English, German and Italian in addition to French.  This ticket window is also equiped with a device to aid those with hearing impairment.  Keep in mind that you can’t actually queue for a particular ticket window as the lineups serve multiple windows.  You could simply note which seller speaks a language you’re comfortable using and let others pass in front of you till that employee in particular is free.

Gare de Lyon Paris Suburban Trains Ticket Window

Immediately to the right of the previous Galerie des Fresques photo is the ticket window for Billets Ile-de-France and Carte Orange. If you don’t have a smart-chip/European credit card (or lots of Euro coins) you’ll have to use this ticket window to purchase your billet Ile-de-France with cash. Beyond this area is the Blue Zone platform.

Gare de Lyon Train Station Transilien Ticket Window Paris Suburban Trains

A head-on photo of the Billets Ile-de-France / Transilien ticket window.

Paris Metro RER Suburban Train ticket vending machines

Just left of the Billets Ile-de-France / Transilien ticket window are two more ticket vending machines. Although one machine is green, the other blue, they are otherwise identical in their tickets and carnets sold.  They can be found against the back wall at the end of Galerie des Fresques near the blue zone, just beside the exit door to the right, taking Euro coins, Carte Blue French debit cards and smart-chip credit cards.

Getting from the Yellow to Blue Zones

Gare de Lyon Train Station Blue Yellow Platform Crossing

Connecting the Yellow zone to the Blue zone is the walkway show above on the east side of the Blue train platforms.  This photo was taken from the Yellow Zone looking towards the Blue Zone. Take note of the stairs leading underground on the train platform to the left.  These stairs give immediate access to Level -1 the Salle Méditerranée, which another level down gives access to the Metro and RER trains.

Baggage Storage at Gare de Lyon

Gare de Lyon Train Station Baggage Lockers

One level down from Gare de Lyon Yellow Zone is the Salle Mediterrannée giving access to Place Henri Frenay (to the right of this photo). Here you see the baggage storage room (Consignes). Upon entrance to the luggage locker area you’ll have to pass through a metal detector and have your luggage x-rayed before finding a locker. There will be change machines inside that take Euro bills and change them into 2€ and 1€ coins. The prices of the lockers vary depending on size, from 5€ to 9,50€. The large lockers will fit up to 4 medium sized wheeled suitcases.  The maximum length of a storage period is 48 hours.  I have no idea what happens after the 48 hour period is up.  The baggage storage room is open from 6:15am till 10pm at night everyday.

Map of Gare de Lyon

Here is a Adobe Acrobat format Map of Gare de Lyon station (PDF) and its three levels: Level 0 – Grandes Lignes Blue and Yellow Zones, Level -1 Galerie Diderot and Salle Méditerranée, and Level -2 Metro and RER trains.

Resources

Paris Transport Security & Safety Tips

Buying TGV Tickets

By | June 25, 2008 | in Tickets

Tips on buying tickets for TGV trains for Paris, London, France and Europe.

  • Buy online (web sites listed below)
  • Buy early (at most 60 – 180 days before departure)
  • Think about seat placement
  • Vary departure times/days for the best ticket price
  • Choose home delivery for your TGV tickets (if possible)
  • Or pick up your tickets upon arrival in Europe (before day of train travel)

Find and Buy a TGV Ticket Online

Start by finding a TGV ticket online:

When searching for tickets, be sure to try departure times earlier and later than your ideal departure time. You may see large differences in prices of tickets that are merely an hour apart due to popularity of certain train times or schedules.

Most TGV tickets are available up to 60 days before day of travel.  1st class tickets are purchaseable up to 90 days ahead of time.  And finally, iDTGV self printable tickets, are on sale up to 6 months from date of travel, although with extremely limited routes and schedules.

Buy as early as possible as the prices of TGV tickets increase as the number of remaining seats drops. Purchasing same day tickets for a TGV train at the station will likely cost double that of a ticket purchased a month ahead. For example a one way Eurostar ticket from London to Paris purchased at last minute on a Wednesday: €133.00. A Eurostar ticket for a Wednesday one month in advance: 88€.

If you’re given the ability to choose where you sit and you have difficulties with mobility or would like easy access to the toilets, choose seats that are near the ends of a given train car (if possible), i.e. low seat numbers (less than 20) or high seat numbers (above 70).

If you can choose your seating arrangement, I recommend avoiding the four-square seating position (unless you’re a family of 3 or 4).  This is where four seats face each other with a folding table in the middle.  Basically, you’ll have even less legroom than normal as you’re jockeying with the passenger directly in front of you for leg space. Side-by-side seating is similar to what you find on airplanes, facing forward, with fold a down tray from the seatback in front of you.

If you are traveling with backpacks or small luggage that you’d like to keep an eye on, aim for seats between 40 and 60, which are situated mid-car and gives access to luggage racks located near the center of the train car. Keep in mind that not all train cars have these middle carriage luggage racks.

Travelers with large suitcases should avoid these middle-car luggage racks as they are not easy to access due to the narrow aisles within TGV train cars. The luggage racks are marked with small white suitcase signs placed underneath the first row of overhead storage shelfs. The seats directly in front of or behind these luggage racks are unaffected in ability to recline, since the seats recline by shifting forward the seat bottom rather than reclining the seat-back.

Choose home delivery of your TGV train tickets as obtaining the tickets from machines at the station can be difficult (or impossible) for those without smart-chip enabled credit cards (i.e. most North American credit cards).

If you do have a smart-chip credit card and wish to pick up your TGV tickets at automated machines at a train station you’ll need:

  • the 6 letter booking reference (from your online ticket purchase confirmation),
  • your original credit card/debit card used to make the purchase

If you’re not able to use the automated machines to collect your tickets you’ll have to speak with an employee at a SNCF ticket window.

There are often long lineups at the manned SNCF ticket windows so go early to pick up your tickets.

Gare de Lyon Train Station Ticket Windows

Better yet, do not wait till the last minute to pick up your tickets. You can collect your TGV tickets at any time after your ticket purchase. Thus, pick up your tickets early, from either the automated ticket machines, or from SNCF ticket windows, upon your arrival in France if possible, even if your train travel is not scheduled till days or weeks later.

Monitor Speedtest

By | June 17, 2008 | in Attractions

Please ignore this article, which is for monitoring & testing purposes. See the CDG to Paris by RER Train overview actual article here.

This is an overview of how to travel from CDG Airport to Central Paris by city train (RER B). For instructions in the opposite direction see Paris to Airport CDG by Train.

For step-by-step photo instructions see Terminal 2 to Paris by train or Terminal 1 to Paris by train.

CDG to Paris Overview

Line => RER B (Blue)

Direction => Paris (Robinson, Antony, St-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse)

Arrival Stations => Gare du Nord, Châtelet les Halles, St Michel/Nôtre Dame, Luxembourg, Port Royal, Denfert-Rochereau, Cité Universitaire

Ticket => “Billet Ile-de-France” Aéroport CDG – Paris (Zone 5 -> Zone 1)

Cost => 9,50€ (full fare, as of January 2013) / 6,65€ (children 4 – 9) / free (children under 4)

Passes Accepted => Paris Visite, Passe Navigo (Découverte)

First Train / Last RER B Train CDG to Paris => 04:56 / 23:56 (Last trains at 22:55 M-F until June 7 2013. See below for details.)

Photo Guides: Terminal 1 to Paris, Terminal 2 to Paris

 

Details

About the RER B Train

The quickest & least expensive way to get to Paris from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport is by taking the RER B suburban city train leaving from either CDG Terminal 2 or Terminal 3/Roissypole.

The RER B train line runs north-south through the centre of Paris, stopping at Gare du Nord, the London to Paris Eurostar station, then at Châtelet Les Halles the “super” exchange station with 4 metro lines and 3 RER lines available, then Saint Michel/Nôtre Dame, Luxembourg, Port Royal, Denfert-Rochereau, Cité Universitaire, and continues south towards Orly Airport (requiring a transfer onto the OrlyVal metro at station Antony).

The two train stations at Charles de Gaulle Airport are named “Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1” and “Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2 – TGV“, the first being located near Terminal 3 in the Roissypole building and the second located between Terminal 2E and 2C. (A map of CDG airport is provided below).

The first train leaving Charles de Gaulle Airport towards Paris departs at 4:56am from Terminal 2, stops at “Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1” station two minutes later, and then reaches Gare du Nord in Paris at 5:26am.

The last RER B train leaving airport CDG for Paris departs at 11:56pm just before midnight (update: see warning below), arriving at Paris Gare du Nord at 12:26am. This train schedule from CDG to Paris is the same every day of the week, including holidays.  (For a complete timetable, see the schedule of RER B trains).

*** Warning! Construction along the RER B train line until August 30 2013 is affecting late evening trains leaving CDG Airport to Paris.  From June 10, 2013 till July 12, 11:03pm is the last direct train leaving CDG Airport for Paris, Monday to Friday (Saturday, Sunday, holiday trains are unaffected). From July 15 to August 30, 2013, the last train leaving CDG Terminal 2 will depart even earlier, at 10:01pm.  And finally, August 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 2013 there will be no RER B CDG to Paris train service. Travelers attempting to take the RER B train on these days (or in the evenings mentioned above) will be directed to take the CDGVal airport terminal train to Roissypole/Terminal 1 RER train station and then take a shuttle bus to La Plaine Stade de France station where the RER B train is operating as usual to Paris. See the official RER B train line interruption notice (in French) with a calendar of dates affected.

For normal first and last train times see this timetable of first/last Paris Metro and RER A and RER B trains.

Getting to the Train Station

For step-by-step photo based instructions see either CDG Terminal 1 to Paris Photo Guide or CDG Terminal 2 to Paris Photo Guide.

If you’re landing at Terminal 1 you’ll have to take a shuttle train called CDGVAL to Terminal 3/Roissypole in order to catch the RER train.  The name of this station is “Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1“. Don’t mistake the “1” in the name as meaning “Terminal 1″, it doesn’t, it’s simply the first of the two train stations at CDG Airport.  Just follow the signs for the CDGVAL tram within Terminal 1.

To make things more confusing, Terminal 3 is located between Terminals 1 and 2, so traveling from west to east across terminals you’ll hit Terminal 1, then 3, then 2. Keep in mind that the CDGVAL tram stops at parking stations in between Terminals 1 and 3 (Parc P-r), and Terminals 3 and 2 (Park P-x), so don’t get off CDGVAL too early. There will be voice announcements at each stop in French and English to help guide you.

Map CDG Airport

Map of (CDG) Charles de Gaulle Airport (PDF – Courtesy of ADP)

If you’re landing at Terminal 2, keep in mind that there are 7 sub-terminals and you must make your way to the train station which is located between sub-terminals 2E and 2F.  There will be numerous signs through the terminals pointing towards the Paris RER train.

Buying Train Tickets

At either the Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1 train station, a large open concrete atrium, or Terminal 2 train station, a white, triple level, escalator extravaganza, you’ll find plenty of ticket vending machines. Be sure to use the Billetterie Ile-de-France blue box machines and not the yellow SNCF TGV vending machines, as only the blue box machines sell tickets for the RER B line that you’re after.

Ticket Vending Machines at Roissypole CDG train station

Even more important to note is that American and most other non-European credit cards (without smart chips and without 4 digit pin numbers) will not work with these machines. At the CDG 1 station there is a large ticket window with 3 SNCF employees that will be selling individual tickets for the RER. At Terminal 2 there is a dark glass paned room on the bottom floor, off to one side that will be selling RER tickets and SNCF/TGV tickets. If you’re facing this glass room, the entry on the left will be for RER tickets to Paris. The entry on the right is only for tickets to other cities. Almost always there will be at least one ticket seller that speaks English and it will be noted by a little British flag on the corner of his or her window. Either way, you’re looking to buy a ticket for “Paris Aller-Simple” [Pear-Ee Alleh-Som-pleh] which is a one way ticket. The price should be roughly €9,50 for adult tickets and €6,40 for children (9 and under) RER B train tickets to Paris.

Boarding the Train

For Aéroport CDG 1 station it should be pretty obvious where the platform is as you can see it from the ticket machine areas and you’ll see turnstiles with green lights on them. Terminal 2 is not much worse: simply follow the signs that say “Trains to Paris”. It’ll be quite difficult to miss and all trains from these platforms travel to Paris. You can view the television screens while on the platform to see all the stops the train will make. The stops should include Gare du Nord, Châtelet les Halles, St. Michel-Nôtre Dame, Luxembourg, and others. The four mentioned here are the ones that the majority of travelers will be looking for as they’re all in central Paris. Gare du Nord is best for those going to a hotel near Sacré Coeur/Montmarte, Châtelet les Halles for those staying near the Louvre, St. Michel-Nôtre Dame is across the Seine (the Left Bank), and Luxembourg being near the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens).

For those extra keen travelers, there are “express” RER B trains that leave from both train stations. Simply look at the television screens on the platform and note how many stops are between CDG train stations and the four central Paris stations mentioned above. The express RER B train will go directly from Aéroport CDG 1 to Gare du Nord, without stopping at any stations in between. The regular train will make about 9 stops in between CDG Airport and Gare du Nord. You’ll save roughly 12 minutes by taking one of the express trains, but even the non-express RER B will get you to Paris (Gare du Nord) in about 34 minutes.

Enjoy your stay!

Useful Links

Disneyland Paris by RER Train

RER Map (PDF)

RER B Train Schedule Airport Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Paris Gare du Nord

RER A Stations Panel

By | June 16, 2008 | in RER RER A

RER A Station Panel Direction Poissy, Cergy-Le Haut

This is a photo of an RER A (red line) stations panel.

These panels can be found along each RER train platform for each direction of travel. This panel in particular is in the direction Cergy-Le Haut (A3), Poissy (A5), Saint Germain-en-Laye (A1).

Each name listed on the panel represents a station stop.  The next train that arrives will stop at all station names that are lit with a yellow square.

This train in particular will be traveling along the A1 branch of RER A, ending at Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

RER A Line Map Panel

By | June 16, 2008 | in Maps RER RER A

RER A Line Map within Gare de Lyon Station in Paris

This is a photo of a RER A Line Map within Gare de Lyon showing its five branches:

  • A1 – Saint Germain-en-Laye
  • A2 – Boissy, Saint-Léger
  • A3 – Cergy Le Haut
  • A4 – Marne La Vallée, Chessy, Euro Disney
  • A5 – Poissy

To know which direction you should be taking on a RER A train, first find the station you want to arrive at on a line map or panel like the one shown above.  Once you’ve found your station, follow the line on the map until its end: the terminus station.  The name of the terminus station will be the direction you’re after, either “Boissy, St-Légere, Marne-la-Vallée” (off to the east of Paris for locations like Euro Disney) or “St-Germain-en-Laye, Poissy, Cergy”  (off the west of Paris, for locations such as La Défense).

Once you’ve located the right platform for your direction, you need to take an RER A train that will stop at your station, since not all RER trains will stop at all stations along the line.  You must refer to the RER station stop panels located above the train platforms to see where the next train will stop.

More Information

RER A Schedules and RER A Line Map

France TGV Train Ticket Validation-Punching

By | June 16, 2008 | in Tickets

Train ticket validation for TGV/Grande Ligne trains is required before boarding and can be done with machines that look like this:

TGV Ticket Validation Machine

The grey mouth-like slot near the bottom allows you to insert one end of the ticket (length wise).  Use the left end of the ticket, where there is usually a bar code and an SNCF logo.  Also, insert the ticket face up (magnetic stripe down).  After you hear a printing noise similar to an old dot-matrix printer remove the ticket.

Here is a photo of a validated/composted TGV ticket.

TGV Ticket

Just left of the barcode is a line reading “P Lyon 2106080926″.  That is the compostage or validation stamp created by the yellow machine above.  After this is done, the ticket is valid for travel.

TGV tickets are similar to airplane/flight boarding cards in size and shape. These tickets or “billets” shouldn’t be confused with the smaller regional Billet Ile-de-France tickets used for Transilien trains which use different validation/composting machines.

Paris Train/Metro Ticket Validation/Punching

By | June 16, 2008 | in Tickets

Validating or punching your train ticket or “billet” [bee-yay] is required when traveling on the Transilien, Ter, and various other Paris regional trains (not Metro) going to other cities in the Ile-de-France region that contains Paris.

The machines to validate or “composter” [com-post-ay] the little purple or white Billet Ile-de-France tickets look like this:

(Photo by Ben Lam)

To use the machine, lay your ticket with the front side face down, magnetic stripe facing up, on the black plastic area and slide the ticket to the left. Wait for the machine to make a loud stamping noise after which your ticket should be punched and validated. Orientation of the ticket, besides magnetic strip facing up, doesn’t matter.

Don’t confuse these machines with the TGV Ticket Validation Machines, which are yellow and take the larger format tickets.

If you’ve used your Ile-de-France Ticket/Billet for travel on a Metro line before boarding a Transilien/Ter train, you don’t have to validate the ticket as it’s done automatically by the Metro/RER turnstiles.

Ticket validation or composting is required to prevent riders from using a single ticket multiple times.

Orly (ORY) to Central Paris Transportation

By | June 11, 2008 | in Airport Attractions Orly (ORY) RER B

ORY to Paris

Line => OrlyVal + RER B (blue)

Direction => Mitry – Claye, Aéroport Charles de Gaulle

Change Trains at => Antony

First Train / Last Train to Paris => 06:00 / 23:00 (from Orly South Terminal)

Frequency => 4 to 7 minutes

Average Travel Time => 38 minutes

Cost => 11,30€ ; child 10€ (Orlyval train + Zone 4 => Zone 1)

Passes Accepted => Paris Visite 5 Zone (57,75€ /5 days)

(Prices up to date as of January 2013)

Details

The fastest transportation from Orly International Airport to central Paris is by train. After arriving at ORY, take the OrlyVal train from either Orly South (Orly Sud) or Orly West (Orly Ouest) terminal towards Paris. A change of trains is required once you arrive at the OrlyVal terminus (last) station: Antony. From Antony, take the RER B train line in the direction of Mitry-Claye, Aéroport Charles de Gaulle, which passes through central Paris stations Luxembourg (Jardin du Luxembourg), Saint Michel Notre Dame, Chatelet Les Halles, and finally Gare du Nord before leaving central Paris and continuing onto Aéroport Charles de Gaulle in Roissy.

Orly Airport Map

Orly (ORY) Airport Map

Travel time between Orly South and central Paris (station Chatelet Les Halles) is at longest 40 minutes, station to station, including changing trains at Antony. The travel time from Orly South to Antony is 8 minutes. If you’re leaving from Orly West, travel time to Antony is 6 minutes. From Antony to Chatelet Les Halles station in Paris along RER B train line travel time is 25 minutes.

Keep in mind that the Pass Navigo Découverte for Paris is not valid for the OrlyVal train, even if you have the required zones (4 zone) purchased. If you have a Pass Navigo / Carte Orange with at least 4 zones purchased, it would be best to purchase a single ticket for the OrlyVal train just to Antony at a cost of 8,70€ and from there use your Passe Navigo for the RER B line to Paris. A single ticket (a billet Ile-de-France) for the entire journey between Orly and central Paris will cost 11,30€ (adult) and 10€ (children).

The cheaper option, avoiding the OrlyVal train fee altogether, would be to take the RER C line from Gare d’Austerlitz towards Massy Palaiseau getting off at station Pont de Rungis – Aeroport d’Orly and then taking the Aeroport de Paris shuttles to the Orly terminals.