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Paris at a Glance

  • Country: France
  • Time zone: UTC + 1 hour (CET), UTC + 2 hours (CEST)
  • Currency: Euro (€ / EUR)
  • Language: French
  • Power & standard plug type: 230 V, 50 Hz, Type C (Europlug), Type E (used in France, Belgium, Slovakia, and Tunisia).
  • Weekend days: Saturday, Sunday

When is the best time to book air tickets to Paris?

Audrey Hepburn once said, “‘Paris is always a good idea’.” Judging by an inexhaustible stream of tourists flow, millions of people worldwide think exactly the same way. Almost 18 million tourists visit the City of Light each year, outnumbering locals ninefold. The capital of the arts, fashion, romance, and gourmet restaurants has much to offer to everybody. Backpackers traveling on a budget are no exception.

Fly to Paris in the off-season

Paris is beautiful at any time of year, but many people avoid visiting it during the late fall and winter. Those who don’t mind a bit of rain and chill are rewarded with the cheapest airline tickets and hotel rates along with fewer crowds and shorter queues to key attractions. Of course, this doesn’t involve dates around Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

Spring and fall also see prices dropping compared to summer. The midseason offers the perfect balance between cost and comfort. The most expensive months to fly to Paris are June and July when prices are statistically around 25- 26% higher than the yearly average.

Travel early in the week and early in the day

On average, Monday is the cheapest day to fly to Paris. Then prices start increasing to reach their peak on Friday. Also, keep in mind that morning flights are usually 20 to 30% cheaper than evening ones.

Reserve tickets in advance

If you plan to visit Paris in the summer or during holidays, book flights at least four months beforehand. For off-peak travel, start looking for air deals one to four months in advance. This way you can save over 50% on airfares. One more tip: In the middle of the week your chances of booking at bargain prices are higher.

What should you know about Paris Airports?

Three international airports serve Paris: Charles de Gaulle or Roissy Airport (CDG), Orly Airport (ORY), and Beauvais Airport (BVA).

How to get between CDG and ORY

CGD is northeast of Paris while ORY is to the south. Around 28 miles (45 km) away from each other,  the airports offer seamless transfer by Le Bus Direct coaches. They depart every 20 to 40 minutes from 6:10 a.m. to 9:50 p.m. and charge €22 ($24) for a 70-80-minute ride. The transfer is free for Air France passengers. A taxi will cost you at least €80 ($88).

You can also travel by the RER train (Line B) that links CDG with Antony Station a few miles away from Orly. The railway station and ORY are connected by the Orlyval automated metro. The whole trip will take around an hour and cost from €20 ($22). This option is available between 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

How to get between CDG and BVA

The distance between Roissy and Beauvais Airport is 37 miles (59 km). Trains run from one airport to the other every 30 minutes on average, and the trip takes about 2 hours. The fare starts at €10 ($11) if booking in advance.

How to get between ORY and BVA

Hope you don’t need to. These airports are about 62 miles (100 km) apart, with no direct bus or train connection between them. To travel by public transport, you have to make a change in Paris. A taxi ride will cost you no less than €125 ($138).

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport  (CDG)

Handling over 72 million travelers annually, CDG is the second busiest airport in Europe (after London’s Heathrow) and the tenth busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic. It has four runways and serves as the major hub for Air France, the French flagship airline. Low-cost airlines EasyJet (UK), Norwegian Air Shuttle and Vueling (Spain) along with full-service XL Airways France and HOP! use CDG as their focus city.

The airport hosts three terminals: Terminal 1 is the oldest, Terminal 2 is the largest, and Terminal 3 is the smallest.

The Terminal 1 complex is designed in the shape of an octopus and consists of a five-story building with seven tentacle-like structures that house arrival and departure gates. Underground walkways link the seven “tentacles” to the octopus’s “body.”

Terminal 2, also called the Air France terminal, serves most flights of the national carrier and its partner airlines. The gigantic complex is comprised of seven sub-terminals

By contrast, Terminal 3 looks tiny and lonely as it’s located 0.6 miles (1 km) away from Terminal 1.

How to get between terminals

Terminals are interconnected by a free automatic train that runs every 4 minutes. Different parts of Terminal 2 are linked by free shuttle buses N1 and N2 departing every 5 to 15 minutes. Besides, additional free shuttles serve international flights with a connection at CDG. The travel between terminals takes 10-15 minutes on average.

How to get from CDG to the city center

Charles de Gaulle Airport is located in Roissy-en-France, 14 miles (23 km) away from Paris. Passengers arriving at CDG have three main transfer options.

By train
Transfer time — 30+ minutes
Trip cost — €10.30 ($11.40)

Taking the RER express train is the fastest and most cost-efficient way of transferring to central Paris. You find the Line B railway stations underneath Terminal 2 and at the so-called Roissypole area, a 5-minute walk from Terminal 3. The RER trains run every 7 minutes from 04:50 a.m. to 10:45 p.m.

You can buy train tickets from white and fuchsia vending machines or manned ticket offices at the station.

By bus
Transfer time — 60+ minutes
Trip cost — from €12.50 ($13.80)

Two bus services take passengers from CDG to the city center, both departing from Terminal 1 and 2.

The Roissybus shuttle provides a seamless transfer to the Paris Opera in the city center from 6:00 a.m. till 12:30 a.m. at 15-20-minute intervals. The journey time is about 75 minutes, and the fare is €12.50 ($13.80). You can book your ticket online and then pick it up from one of the tourist information desks at the airport. Another option is to pay cash directly on the bus. The drivers don’t accept credit cards.

Le Bus Direct links the airport with the Eiffel Tower via Champs-Élysées. The comfortable coaches run every 30 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 11:10 p.m.

The trip costs €18 ($20) and takes 60-70 minutes. You can buy your ticket online and then show it to the driver on your smartphone. The e-ticket is valid for one year. Otherwise, pay your fare on-board by card (CB bank card, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted) or in cash.

By taxi
Transfer time — 40+ minutes
Trip cost — €50-55 (around $55-60)

It’s strongly recommended you take an official taxi with the illuminated roof sign as all other services are illegal at the airports. The dedicated taxi service charges the fixed fare: €50 between CDG and the Right Bank of the Seine and €55 between CDG and the Left Bank. Drivers are prohibited to charge extra fees for luggage or pets. However, you have to pay an additional €4 ($4.40) for the fifth passenger.

Paris Orly Airoirt (ORY)

The ex-major airport of France, Orly remains the country’s busiest airport in terms of domestic traffic, with over 33 million tourists passing through its 4 terminals every year. It’s a secondary hub for Air France and a primary hub for FrenchBee, a low-cost carrier. Three other budget airlines — Transavia France, EasyJet (UK), Vueling (Spain) along with several full-service airlines use Orly’s three runways to operate their flights.

How to get between terminals

Four terminals make up a single complex called Orly 1-2-3-4. To walk between two adjoined buildings takes no more than 5 minutes. So, you need 15 minutes or less to get from Orly 1 to Orly 4 on foot.

Those who mind walking can go by the automated Orlyval metro, which provides inter-terminal transfers for free. Trains operate around-the-clock at ** 5-minute intervals** during peak hours and every 7 minutes off-peak. The trip time is around a minute.

How to get from ORY to the city center

The distance between ORY and the city center is 11.2 miles (18 km), and thanks to the developed transport infrastructure you’ll reach the world famous attractions in no time.

By train
Transfer time — 40+ minutes
Trip cost — €13.25 ($14.60)

First, take the Orlyval metro that will bring you to the Antony railway station in 8 minutes. There you should hop on the RER train (Line B), which carries passengers to the city center every 15 minutes from 5 a.m. till midnight. Note, that a single Orlyval ticket to Antony station costs €9.30 (around $10). It’s cheaper to purchase a combined Orlyval + RER ticket for just €13.25 (around $15) from a ticket machine at the airport.

By Tram 7 + metro
Transfer time — 45+ minutes
Trip cost — €3.80 (around $4)

Tram 7 runs between Orly 4 and the final stop on Metro Line 7 which goes to the central areas of Paris. The tram operates from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. at 7-15-minute intervals. The trip to the metro takes 39 minutes while the whole ride to central Paris will last from 45 to 90 minutes depending on the particular destination.

By Le Bus Direct
Transfer time — 50+ minutes
Trip cost — €12 (around $13)

Le Bus Direct coaches travel from Orly to Champs-Élysées via Montparnasse every 20 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 11:50 p.m. Tickets are available for online bookings. You can also pay the fare directly to the driver either by card or in cash.

By bus + metro
Transfer time — 40+ minutes
Trip cost — from 3.90€ (around $4.20)

The cheapest bus service is the route 183 that links Orly with Porte de Choisy metro station (Line 7) every 30-40 minutes from 5:20 a.m. to 11:50 p.m. The bus fare is just €2 ($2.20), while a single metro ticket will cost you another €1.90 (around $2). The ride takes 30 minutes and the additional travel time depends on your destination in the center.

The Orlybus shuttle provides a connection between the airport and Place Denfert-Rochereau, where you can easily change to the metro running towards the center of Paris. Coaches depart every 8 to 15 minutes from 05:35 a.m. till midnight and the ride takes 30 minutes. Buy tickets for €8.70 ($9.60) from vending machines or manned ticket offices at the airport. You may pay the fare on board as well.

By taxi
Transfer time — 30+ minutes
Trip cost — €30-35 (around $33-38)

The official taxi services marked with the illuminated roof signs have a fixed price that amounts to €30 ($33) for the ride to the Left Bank of the Seine and to €35 (around $38) if you need to reach the Right Bank. The fifth person in the car will cost you an extra €4 ($4.40).

Paris Beauvais Airport (BVA)

This relatively small international airport with two runways mainly serves low-cost carriers Ryanair and Wizz Air as well as some charter flights. Two single-level terminals located in the same building welcome almost 4 million passengers annually, but in the daytime only.

The complex closes for tourists from 11:30 p.m. till 6:30 a.m. as the airport doesn’t accept aircraft at night. This restriction was introduced to secure comfortable sleeping for inhabitants of nearby Beauvais.

How to get from BVA to the city center

BVA is almost 60 miles (90 km) northwest of downtown Paris. There is no direct railway connection with the capital, so the road is the only transport option available.

By shuttle bus
Transfer time — 1 hour 25+ minutes
Trip cost — €15.90 (around $17.45)

The airport offers nonstop shuttle services aligned with the flight schedule. The buses leave 20 minutes after aircraft arrivals and come back 3 hours and 15 minutes before departures. Even if a flight is delayed, the bus will wait until the plane lands. The destination in Paris is near the famous Arc de Triomphe and the Porte Maillot Metro station (Line 1).

Buy tickets from ticket windows or vending machines in the arrival hall or directly at the bus station near the terminals. The one-way trip is €17 (around $18.70). You can save a bit by paying the fare online (€15.90 or $17.45).

By taxi
Transfer time — 70+ minutes
Trip cost — from €175 (around $192)

A taxi is the fastest way to reach Paris with the ride somewhat hard on the wallet. The drivers charge a flat fare which runs €175 (around $192) in the daytime and at €210 ($230) at night.

What is the best way to get around Paris? 

Paris boasts an easy-to-use and affordable metro with more than 300 stations around the city. This allows you to reach almost any destination within the shortest possible time and avoid traffic jams.

You can pay the fare with a standard paper t+ ticket, which costs €1.90 (around $2) and is also accepted on buses, trams, the Montmartre funicular and RER trains within Paris. The ticket is valid for a single journey of any length.

If you’re going to use the metro and other modes of public transportation frequently, the smarter option will be:

  • a pack of 10 tickets for just €14.50 (around $16).
  • Navigo Day Pass (Navigo Jour) for unlimited rides by Metro within one operating day. The price ranges from  €7.50 to €17.80 (around  $8.20 to 20) depending on the number of zones covered. The most expensive option includes transfer from or to Roissy and Orly airports. Additionally, you have to pay €5 ($5.50) for a rechargeable Navigo card.
  • a paper day ticket (Ticket Mobilis). It has the same price as a Navigo Day Pass and duplicates it in terms of coverage. The difference is that you don’t need to pay for a physical plastic card.
  • Paris Visite Pass aimed at tourists and valid for Metro, RER trains, buses, Ile-de-France trains, and trams. The price depends on the number of covered zones and days. The cheapest option is a one-day pass covering 1-3 zones (€13.20 or $14.50). At the max, the pass will cost €36.20 covering 5 zones for 5 consecutive days.

You can purchase any of tickets mentioned above as well as other options from vending machines or ticket windows at all Metro and RER stations or at CDG and Orly airports.

The popular way to explore Paris is the Velib, which stands for velo libre or free bike. There are 1,800 bike stations with 24,000 bikes throughout the city.

To use the service, download the Velib Paris app and pay for a 1-day (€5 or $5.50) or 7-day (€15 or $16.50) pass depending on how long you are going to use the Velib. The fare will be charged to your credit card. Also, the app will block €300 ($330) on your card as a security deposit. This measure is taken to prevent theft of or damage to bikes.

What’s the weather like in Paris? 

The climate of Paris is moderated by the Atlantic ocean, so the city generally enjoys temperate weather all year round.

The typical Parisian winter is wet and chilly, but not frosty. The temperatures rarely fall below 32°F (0°C) fluctuating from 33°F (1°C) to 44°F (7°C) on average.

Spring and fall see unstable weather with temperature fluctuation, rain, and even cold snaps. The most comfortable time is from mid-May to September with average highs around 70-77°F (21-25°C) and plenty of sunny days

What is the average hotel price in Paris? 

The closer to the Eiffel Tower, the higher the hotel prices. If you are a budget traveler, look for accommodation somewhere on the outskirts of the city. Thanks to the perfect public transportation system, you’ll quickly get to all key attractions while saving tons of money. Another benefit of the suburbs is quieter streets, while nightlife in the city center doesn't favor healthy sleep.

You can rent a double room in a 2-star hotel some 9-12 miles (around 15-20 km) from the city center for €45-50 ($50-55) per night. By Paris standards, this is unbelievably cheap. The same level of comfort offered somewhere 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from downtown will cost you €80 ($88) at the very least. A location smack in the city center will double this price.

A one-night stay at a 3-star hotel starts at around €100 ($110) and gets more expensive as you move towards the central areas.

For those ready to share a room with several strangers, a hostel located near the metro is the most cost-effective and convenient choice. On average, €25 to 30 ($27-33 ) will be enough to pay for a bed in the dorm room, WiFi, and a shared bathroom.

What are the must-try dishes in Paris? 

Forget your diet while in Paris. The French cuisine is considered the number one in the world and you can’t leave the gourmet capital before trying at least the most iconic foods.

  • French onion soup. This delicious dish is especially popular during the cold months. Slowly simmered, a rich beef broth loaded with caramelized onions covered by melted cheese with two large croutons afloat is very filling. A croque of onion soup in a Parisian brasserie costs around €8 ($8.80).
  • Duck confit. Duck legs cooked in there own fat are incredibly succulent with tender meat under crispy skin. You can taste the dish in a small cafe for less than €11 ($12). In restaurants, the price of duck confit starts at around €20 ($22).
  • Escargot. Large land snails with butter and garlic sauce are usually served as a starter to the main course. Dining out in a restaurant, you will pay around €20-40 ($22-44) for the delicacy, depending on the number of snails. Feast on a plate of six escargots in a less swanky place for under €15 ($16.50).
  • Crêpes. There are plenty of excellent crêperies offering thin French pancakes throughout Paris.
  • Croissants. Sadly, more and more bakeries don’t bake croissants themselves and buy them frozen instead. It’s worth looking for an authentic boulangerie where the pastry is still made from scratch.

What are the must-see places in Paris? 

The Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame-de-Paris cathedral, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées, the Louvre Museum, the Pompidou Centre, Montmartre, the Sacré-Coeur basilica, Père Lachaise cemetery, and Château de Versailles — definitely. These names are familiar to everybody. And, of course, tourists want to see them all, especially when they visit the French capital for the first time.

The good news is that many key attractions are located at a walkable distance from each other. Notre Dame is about a 30-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower and just a 15-minute walk from the Louvre. If you don’t feel like walking, the reliable metro network is at your disposal.

You can explore Paris for less with one of the discount cards offered to travelers. For example, the Paris City Pass provides a free visit to over 60 attractions and museums. It also includes a one-way transfer from the airport, a one-day hop-on hop-off bus tour, a Seine cruise, and unlimited trips by public transport within central Paris (zones 1-3).

The price depends on the number of days you are going to use the card. The cheapest 2-day adult pass is €130 ($143) while the most expensive 6-day option goes for €230 ($253).

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