Sleeping in Airports

Paris CDG Airport Layover Sightseeing

This article includes links to our travel partners at Tripadvisor, where you can read traveller reviews, book tours and plan your visit to Paris.

Paris Airport Layover Sightseeing
Photo Credit: Bokstaz / Shutterstock

Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG) in Paris is located at least an hour outside the city center, making quick layovers in Paris a bit more time-consuming. However, should you find yourself with over seven hours at CDG, you should make an effort to explore what is arguably the most romantic and magical city on earth. While a proper visit to Paris does need more than a few hours, during a layover, you can at least rest your eyes on the Eiffel Tower, explore the Louvre or wander the charming cobblestone streets of l’Ile de la Cité. Find a moment to squeeze in some wine and cheese at one of these iconic sites to round off the Parisian experience before continuing your journey. Check out our guide below for information on what to do and how to do it!

Airport Overview

Unfortunately, Charles de Gaulle (CDG) has a reputation for being one of Europe’s worst airports, which makes layovers here less than ideal, depending on which terminal you are using. However, given the lengthy connection between CDG and the city, it is likely best to stay put if your layover is less than six hours. Given how long it takes to navigate the three terminals and eight satellite terminals, you may find the hours slip away quite quickly! Thankfully, the airport is making a few efforts to become more interesting, so keep your eyes open for light therapy rooms and the Sound Corner as you aimlessly wander. For more airport information, check out our Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Guide.

Paris Sightseeing Attractions

Below are a few of the top things to do in Paris:

Eiffel Tower

Paris Eiffel Tower
Photo Credit: Viacheslav Lopatin / Shutterstock

On a quick visit to Paris, it seems almost essential to visit the city’s most iconic monument: the Eiffel Tower. Erected in 1889 for the city’s World Fair, today it is the most-visited paid monument on the planet. For many, a walk around the base and a picnic in its shadow on the Champs de Mars is entirely satisfying. However, it is also possible to ascend to several different floors for sensational views of the city. Complete your visit here with a quick stroll along La Seine and perhaps a glass of wine or champagne as the tower sparkles with lights in the evening.

  • Time Required: If you only wish to sit at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, a half hour should be plenty of time to walk the base and take a few pictures. If you do want to go up, give yourself a few hours. The elevator ride to the top is short – but the queues can be lengthy. Note that this quote does not include travel time to and from the airport.
  • How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options and the required time.
  • Plan Your Visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting the Eiffel Tower, book a tour or read traveller reviews.

The Louvre

Paris Louvre Fountain
Photo Credit: maziarz / Shutterstock

The glass pyramid in front of the Louvre is perhaps Paris’ second most iconic monument, and the museum is one of the world’s largest and most visited ones on the planet! Of course, most famously, it is home to Leonardo da Vinci’s famed Mona Lisa, among other classic works of art. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, a former home of the French monarchy. Wandering the elaborately adorned hallways alone is a remarkable experience in and of itself, which is only further complimented by standing beside the Venus of Milo sculpture. The museum is located in the heart of the city, meaning a visit here can also be combined with a stroll along La Seine or a walk through the Tuileries Gardens.

  • Time Required: The Louvre is massive, and fully exploring it could take a lifetime. For a quick layover visit, you’d be wise to budget 1 – 2 hours, depending on how thoroughly you wish to explore the exhibits and the museum surroundings. Ticket lines can add to the overall time as well. Note that this does not include travel time to and from the airport.
  • How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options and the required time.
  • Plan Your Visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting the Louvre, book a tour or read traveller reviews.

Ile de la Cité

Paris Ile de la Cite
Photo Credit: Franck Boston / Shutterstock

Ile de la Cité in the center of La Seine might be the perfect place to explore for a taste of classic French culture, shopping and cuisine. The island’s most famous monument is, of course, Notre Dame, surrounded by charming cobblestone streets leading to the Palais de Justice and St. Chappelle Church. Stunning flats, delightful boutiques and sensational restaurants connect these treasured sights, making this an excellent spot to stroll and window shop.

  • Time Required: We recommend spending at least two hours at l’Ile de la Cité, assuming you hope to see a few significant sights, do some shopping and visit a restaurant. More time, of course, gives you more flexibility. This estimate does not include transport time.
  • How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options and the required time.
  • Plan Your Visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting Ile de la Cité, book a tour or read traveller reviews.

Airport Transportation

CDG is unfortunately quite far away from the city center. Both public and private transit options take a minimum of an hour to reach a primary terminal, with connections onwards adding a bit more time. If you plan to visit the city, give yourself a healthy cushion for time.

Public transit options include:

  • Light train RER-B (stations at all terminals): This line connects CDG to central Paris (Gare du Nord) and the suburbs in roughly an hour. For fares and schedules: RER-B Website
  • Roissybus (stations in Terminal 2): Shuttle service that connects CDG with Paris (Opéra station) in roughly an hour.
  • Cars Air France line 2 (Terminal 2): Daily shuttle service between CDG and central Paris in approximately an hour

Private transit options include:

  • Taxis (All Terminals, Arrivals Level): Taxi stands are available throughout the airport, providing transfers into the city center and beyond

Before You Go: Layover Tips

Now that you are motivated and excited about your mini layover vacation, check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.

  • Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost, and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
  • When is your next flight’s check-in time? Double-check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
  • What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for extended security wait times, so research in advance and factor that into your overall time budget.
  • What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, confirm whether your luggage is checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights.

Other Useful Resources

Finally, here are a few handy resources to help you plan your layover even more thoroughly: