This is a step-by-step photo guide of taking RER B Paris city trains from Airport Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2 to Paris city centre. From the CDG arrivals lounge to central Paris, I’ll guide you step-by-step on how to make this transfer. If you’re arriving at Terminal 1, see the CDG Terminal 1 to Paris photo guide. For train times, prices, maps and other details see the Overview CDG to Paris by Train article.
* Alert! A workers strike will reduce RER B train line service on June 21/22 2014 reducing the number of trains between CDG Airport and central Paris to 1/3 of normal service. Check the CDG to Paris by train overview article for further updates/details.
Safety/Security: Thieves work on this train!
Arrival at CDG
Upon arrival at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2 the first thing that will happen after exiting the plane is immigration/passport control, which can be very quick depending on where you are sitting on the plane. If you’re seated near the front of the plane and are the first to exit, you’ll be the first to go through immigration screening by French national police. Thus you could be past immigration within 5 minutes (or 40 if you’re the last to exit a large plane).
Next you’ll collect your baggage at the carousels. Estimate a good 30 minutes for this, nothing out of the ordinary in terms of expediency, perhaps even a little slow.
Customs control for baggage is next, which is separate from passport control and handled by customs officers near the exit of the baggage collection area. In general the customs officers spot check passengers and only stop those who rouse their curiosity. After this you’ll exit into an unsecured area of Charles de Gaulle Airport free to make your way to Paris or other cities via train.
If you happen to be arriving via Terminal 2G, the new Schengen (Euro Borderless Zone) terminal, you’ll need to take a shuttle bus to Terminal 2E/F in order to catch the RER train. The shuttle buses, circulating every 4-5 minutes, can be found just outside the arrivals area of 2G. [Thanks to Lynne P. for this updated information].
Getting to the Train Station at Terminal 2
The CDG Terminal 2 arrivals hall will look like this:
Notice the blue overhead signs? Those will point to Gare SNCF / Railway Station, Paris par Train / Paris by Train. Follow these signs to make your way to the train station located right within Terminal 2.
Here are some close-up photos of signs pointing to the CDG Terminal 2 train station:
At the end of each of the terminal buildings (there are six sub-terminals at Terminal 2: terminals 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E and 2F) will be a large sign noting how long it will take to reach other terminals and the train station. In this photo, we see that the train station at Terminal 2 is 3 to 5 minutes walk from Terminal 2F.
Here is a map of Charles de Gaulle Airport showing the layout of CDG Terminal 2. Also visible are Terminal 3, Terminal 1 (which has its own train station) and CDGVAL shuttle train between CDG’s 3 terminals and parking structures.
(Courtesy of ADP)
The moving sidewalks between Terminal 2′s sub-terminals definitely speed up walking times:
Closer to the train station area you’ll find more signs directing you down to the station.
When you’ve arrived at the train station area, you’ll be on Level 4 of an atrium with a Sheraton hotel on one end, HSBC Bank on the other end and multiple signs pointing to the Gare/Station/Paris by Train.
Another photo of the station atrium taken on Level 3 facing the opposite direction (towards HSBC Bank, one level up). Signage is quite clear on the station location. You may wish to withdraw some Euro cash from the HSBC bank machine (visible at the top right in the below photo). If your (non-European, non-smart-chip) credit cards don’t work with the automated ticket machines, they won’t work at the SNCF/RATP ticket windows either. Thus you’ll need Euro cash to buy your tickets.
At the bottom of the atrium, Level 2, the actual station level you’ll have various stores and eateries on one side of the hall and a SNCF ticket purchase office on the other side. Scattered throughout the middle of the train station are blue or green Billetterie Ile-de-France train ticket vending machines.
The SNCF ticket office is split into two halves, each selling only certain types of train tickets. When facing the ticket office the left half sells tickets and passes for traveling within Paris and the Ile-de-France area, known as Billets Ile-de-France.
The right half deals with TGV tickets (for sale, collection, refunds and changes) for trains traveling to other cities within France, known as the Grandes Lignes.
If you’re wanting to buy a simple train ticket to Paris and you have a smart chip credit card or Euro coins, you can use the blue Billetterie vending machines to purchase such tickets. (The machines shown in this photo are from Terminal 3, but they are otherwise identical). Note that multi-day passes such as Pass Navigo or Paris Visite cards are not sold by the machines. You must visit the ticket office to purchase passes.
Bear in mind that these machines will not work with most North American credit cards, which in general do not have smart chips nor are PIN number protected.
After buying your train tickets or passes it’s time to turn towards the train platforms which will require descending another set of escalators or stairs onto Level 1. The Paris Train platforms are marked as “Voie” (“platform”) 11 and 12 and also show “RER B Paris par Train“, the Regional Express Network trains that operate between Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Paris city centre.
This is a photo overlooking Paris bound train platforms 11 and 12 at CDG Terminal 2 Station.
On the platform itself you’ll see signs noting that all trains are going to Paris, since Aeroport Charles de Gaulle is the terminus or end-of-line station for the RER B train line.
Note that although the platform sign reads Aeroport Charles de Gaulle 2 TGV, this platform shown is not the TGV train platform, it’s simply the name of this station as a whole.
The TGV train platforms are located and accessed from the other side of the station. If you’re taking a TGV train to another city besides Paris, the train platform area should look like the following:
Remember to keep your train ticket with you at all times throughout the journey. You may be asked by a ticket controller to show a valid fare or otherwise pay a penalty fare of 35€. The tickets are also required to exit the arrival station in Paris as there will be turnstiles protecting the exits, just as they protect entrances. Finally, your RER train ticket is also good for connections onto the Paris Metro and other RER train lines once you’ve arrived in Paris; There’s no need to purchase a separate Paris Metro/RER Ticket T+ for making connections within the city centre onto other Metro or RER trains (but not buses nor trams, which require a new ticket).
The first Paris city centre station will be Gare du Nord, requiring about 30 minutes for the voyage from Airport CDG Terminal 2. Paris stations along the RER B line after Gare du Nord will be Chatelet Les Halles, St. Michel-Notre Dame, Luxembourg, Port Royal, Denfert Rochereau and Cité Universitaire.
Gares360.com has produced a virtual photo visit of CDG Terminal 2 train station, allowing you to visually see the 5 levels of the train station. Select the level & vantage point you wish to see on the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
The following train timetables show depature times of RER B trains leaving CDG Terminal 2 towards Paris. (Ignore the second pages).