Earlier this year, I flew into Paris’ Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport and needed to get from CDG to La Rochelle, France via train. I knew that it could be done, but had a difficult finding an easy guide online. And then again, earlier this month, I needed to get from Strasbourg, France to CDG, and it was so much easier and less stressful having already figured it all out. So, here is my guide!
CDG is Paris’ largest airport and an ideal entry/exit airport for Western Europe. CDG is served by its very own SNCF train station in the middle of Terminal 2, called CDG-Roissy, that serves destinations throughout France, and even further into Europe. In addition, CDG has a local, cheaper train, called the RER, for venturing into Paris proper for even more connections!
On that note, SNCF is France’s national railway. SNCF runs long-distance, high speed trains throughout France, including to and from CDG! I have used SNCF a lot and find the trains to be timely, safe and comfortable. You can buy tickets online or at French train stations. If you are planning to get a long-distance train from CDG, I recommend booking ahead of time. You will need at least an hour from when your plane lands to the train’s departure to make the connection, and I would recommend allowing 2 hours. You never know how long it will take to get your baggage! I once had to wait over an hour for my luggage (AFTER an extremely long, direct flight from Tokyo) because the luggage hold doors were frozen shut due to the weather…
In contrast, the RER (Réseau Express Régional) is Paris’ commuter train system. The RER is totally separate from SNCF and only goes into Paris and its surrounding suburbs. The RER is much cheaper and more like a subway than a train, but it is a very convenient way to get between Paris and the airport. You can buy tickets at the airport or in any station just like you would buy Métro tickets. Note that some ticket machines only take cash or European credit card, so make sure you have some Euro coin on hand if you are planning to buy at the airport. You shouldn’t worry about the time of your flight and the RER, as they run consistently throughout the day.
How To Access CDG-Roissy From Terminal 2
If you are catching the train from CDG-Roissy, the train station is land-side in Terminal 2, meaning that you must clear customs and immigration and collect your luggage before arriving in the train station (this means no lounge access while waiting for the train – major bummer). After collecting your luggage, follow signs for ground transportation. If you have trouble finding the ground transportation sign, head toward “Arrivals.” The train station is directly below the Arrivals section of Terminal 2. There are escalators, and a few elevators, to transport your luggage up and down.
To enter the train station, take the escalator down and the grand lignes (the long distance train lines, aka the TGV) and the RER trains (commuter trains) are right in front of you! Grand lignes are typically to the left on tracks 3 – 6 and the commuter trains are to the right. NOTE – if you are traveling on a long-distance train, make sure that it departs from CDG-Roissy and NOT a station in Paris proper. That would cause a major problem.
Boarding the train is very easy, 10 – 20 minutes before your train departs, your track will post on the departures board. Just go to that track and use the escalator to get to the platform! Train employees are at the top of the escalator checking to ensure that everyone has a ticket. Don’t forget to validate your ticket before boarding!
How To Acces CDG-Roissy Station From Terminals 1 & 3
If you land in Terminal 1 or 3, get to the CDG train station by taking the easy and free CDGVAL intra-airport train. The CDGVAL stops at each terminal and two parking areas. It runs every four minutes and is completely free. It is also very quick. There are lots of signs, and it picks up and drops off very close to the SNCF station (lots of signs and escalators!). If you are landing in Terminal 1 or 3, I would allow at least 2 hours between landing and catching the train.
How To Acces CDG Airport From The CDG Roissy Train Station
If you are arriving to the airport via train (TGV or RER), you will be dropped right under the Arrivals section Terminal 2. Just follow the signs for Aéroporte. It should take you about 10 minutes to get to Terminal 2’s check-in area.
Terminals 1 & 3
If you are flying out of Terminal 1 or 3, take the free CDGVAL to your terminal. As I mentioned, the CDGVAL is super convenient and very quick. I used the CDGVAL and it probably took 20 minutes to get from the train station to Terminal 1’s Arrivals section.
In either case, I recommend getting to the airport for international flights 3 hours before your scheduled departure, two for domestic or within the Schengen Zone.
The CDG Roissy Train Station
If you do have some time to kill in the CDG-Roissy airpot, don’t get too excited. There is not much aside from an SNCF ticket office, a bathroom and a small stand or two selling to-go food and drink. if you have a decent wait (1 hour or greater), I recommend staying upstairs in the Arrivals area until 30 minutes before your scheduled departure. There are a couple sit down restaurants there.
Food Options Near The Train Station
As mentioned, the CDG-Roissy train station lacks much to pass the time. You are much better off wasting time in the Terminal 2 Arrivals section above the train station. For example, almost directly above the TGV entrance is a Paul restaurant, which is a fast food patisserie (only in Paris…). Paul has seating and sells pastries, breads, sandwiches, salads, coffee and tea (and I think wine). A bit further back (think a 10 minute walk away from the train station past Paul) is a Frenchie’s outpost and a McDonald’s, or as I like to call it, the Embassy. There is also a fantastic pharmacy a bit further down. selling all sorts of French beauty products.
We had about an hour to kill, and I couldn’t resist trying Frenchie’s, since it is all the rage right now – even if it was Frenchie’s in the airport! In short, service was quick, the food was fine and the best that I could do. There is also a Frenchie’s to-go next door if you are looking for something to grab on the train. Since this was my first visit back to France in SIX years (!!), I went traditional (or touristy…) and ordered a croque monsieur and creme brulée! Both dishes were good, and I am certain better than other airport restaurants.
STEAL OUR TRIP
CDG TGV Station: CDG-Roissy website.
SNCF: French rail website. Useful information and ticket sales.
CDGVAL: Information on CDG’s free intra-airport train.
RER: Website with information on the RER and Parisian Métro. Cost between CDG-Roissy and Paris proper is €10,00.
ON A BUDGET
If you are on a budget, take the RER into Paris to save money on a taxi. Both taxis and the RER take close to an hour to get into Paris proper. If you are catching a train on the grand lignes, the earlier you buy your ticket, the better the price!