Rendezvous With Paris: Things To Do During A Parisian Layover - Updated 2024

Rendezvous With Paris: Things To Do During A Parisian Layover - Updated 2024
| 8 min read

Who would dread a layover when it is Paris? The City of Love hypnotizes all. Live your Parisian dream during your layover and make the most of your time in the French capital. Take Cinderella for inspiration and explore! You might have even more time than she had for her ball night.

With more than 12 million people, traffic from Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) airport to the heart of Paris is very demanding. It is a large, spread out airport with a chaotic layout and three terminals. The lines while checking bags or getting a boarding pass can stand and take forever. So be on your toes. Paris Orly Airport (ORY) is, however, a little closer to the city centre.

A well-thought-out plan is the key. And yes, time is the main component. Don’t even think of becoming a Cinderella if you have a less than 6 hours free on your layover. Read on for what you can enjoy with a layover in Paris:

Getting to the city

Clearing Immigration and Customs and storing your luggage (if you have hold baggage that needs to be rechecked or you don’t want to cart your cabin baggage around with you) should take about an hour. You can then make your way into the city.

Both Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports are as well connected to the city as they are busy.

From Charles de Gaulle Airport

Light train is a popular option, as RER-B has stations at all terminals in CDG, and departs within short intervals (about 5-15 minutes) from CDG Airport. Costing 10 EUR (11 USD), the train is the simplest and swiftest way to get straight to the city center. It stops at Gare du Nord and Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame.

If you opt for Roissybus, it will drop you at the Opera station. It takes an hour and costs 12.50 EUR (13.70 USD).

Another slightly longer and less expensive option for your trip to the city is bus number 350, which starts from CDG and takes an hour to reach Gare de l’Est. It costs 6 EUR (6.60 USD). Bus 351 goes to Place de la Nation for the same price. Take the free N2 shuttle to commute between terminal stations.

If opting for a taxi, you can take one from all terminals. They take around 40 minutes to go all the way into to the city center. Flat-rate fees apply. It costs 55 EUR (60 USD) from CDG Airport to anywhere on the Left Bank, and 50 EUR (54.70 USD) for anywhere on the Right Bank.

From Paris Orly Airport

If you’re looking for transportation from Orly airport, Air France buses, RATP buses (also called OrlyBus), and the Orlyval (an automatic metro service connecting to the RER station) are the best available options in terms of public transport.

Air France services operate between Orly and Invalides, with other request stops along the way. The cost is 12.00 EUR (13.10 USD) for an adult, and 8 EUR (8.70 USD) for a child. The journey time is around 45 minutes, and services operate every 15 minutes. OrlyBus connects with Denfert Rochereau. The journey takes around 20-40 minutes, with services running every 20 minutes during the daytime. A one-way ticket costs 5.80 EUR (6.30 USD).

Orly Airport’s close proximity to the capital city allows for fast transfers by rail to central Paris. Catch Orlyval to Antony station of RER line B. The shuttle costs 7.40 EUR (8 USD) and takes around 8 minutes. You can then get a frequent train to the city for 6.10 EUR (6.70 USD). The train journey takes around 25 minutes.

You can also take a cab from outside the airport. A cab from Orly charges a flat-rate of 30 EUR (32.80 USD) for the Left Bank and 35 EUR (38.30 USD) for destinations on the Right Bank. The ride to the city takes around thirty minutes.

Orly Airport has an outstanding art collection and a large observation deck so do take a look after you are back from your trip.

Airport Guide of Charles de Gaulle Airport

Address: BP 20101, 95711, Roissy Charles de Gaulle, France

Website: Charles de Gaulle Airport

Airport Guide of Paris Orly International Airport

Address: 91550 Paray-Vieille-Poste, Île-de-France, France

Website: Orly Airport


Taxi2Airport is the easiest and most reliable way to get to and from the airport. Through secure online payments, you can book your airport transfers in advance, saving up to 35% on your journey.

To-do list for your layover in Paris

1. Go for a stroll on Île de la Cité (from USD 67.0)

Île de la Cité is one of the two last remaining natural islands in the River Seine. Sharing its neighborhood with La Seine, it is right in the middle of Paris’s city center and makes for an ideal spot to start your city tour. Around two hours should be enough to explore this old charismatic district.

If you pay attention to the historical aspects of the architectural beauties on this island, you will discover invigorating facts. Highlights include the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, Sainte Chapelle, and the tower of St. Jacques. Notre-Dame has free access and can be easily seen within 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Do stay for morning mass and to hear the bells if you happen to be there on a Sunday.

Île de la Cité is also a perfect place to experience the French culture. Marvel at the interesting and striking flats, charming boutiques, and amazing restaurants while walking the streets that connect with each other. The aura of this place is so Parisian that you wouldn’t want to miss any of those cobblestone streets. And, don’t forget to take that romantic stroll along the River Seine. Do keep track of time though!

Being right in the center makes Île de la Cité easily accessible. The M4 Saint-Michel stop is the closest when you enter from the Left Bank. The Right Bank’s stop is called Châtelet, and it has the M1, M4, M7, M11, and M14 with stops there. The M4’s Cité stop is the only Métro station present on the whole of island so be aware about the choices you want to make while navigating.

Paris 2-Hour Private Walking Tour Including Île de la Cité

Price: from 38.02 USD

Duration: around 2 hours required

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Ile de la Cite Private Walking Tour in Paris

Duration: 2 hours

9 reviews

2. Eat in the local cafés (from 51.30 USD)

Le Nemrod
Source: Piqsels

A lunch break is well due once you are done with the cathedral and other sites on Île de la Cité. Munch on tasty food while wondering how this magical place was once founded on this old little island. Being Paris’s most hip and attractive districts, this island has the most popular cafés of the city. You can easily spot some great cafés while you walk the streets around the quaint residential park in the Place Dauphine. Surrounded by swanky apartments, the fascinating shops and cafés around the square are hard to miss.

You can choose to head over to Le Nemrod in the 6th arrondissement after visiting Notre-Dame Cathedral and treat yourself to some lip-smacking French duck confit with sarladaise potatoes. All Parisian restaurants typically operate between 12 noon to 2 pm and open again at around 6 o'clock in the evening. The standard dinner time is around 9 pm, so you can try out those fancy restaurants if you find yourself in the city during the late evening. The house wines in Paris are delightful, so don’t trouble yourself on opting for the more extravagant and expensive brands.

Paris Local Products Tasting Tour for Foodies

Price: from 51.30 USD

Duration: Flexible


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3. Visit the Eiffel Tower (from USD 47.0)

If it’s your first time in Paris, it’s an almost given fact that you won’t want to skip the iconic Eiffel Tower when you are out and about exploring the city of Paris. The instantly recognizable symbol of France has to be seen, and a selfie clicked with it, when you are in the City of Lights. It is rather like a ritual! Gustave Eiffel’s tower does indeed make people fall in love with it while they profess their love to each other.

Transfer at St. Michel to the yellow RER line, which will take you to Champ Des Mars. Get down there and head to the Eiffel Tower. It is up to you if you want to take a trip to the top of the tower or enjoy a walk around the base and have a little picnic in the garden. Half an hour is a good time estimate if you simply want to look up the tower and take few pictures before you head to the next destination.

On the other hand, it is important to keep a few hours to hand if you want to take the elevator all the way to the top; the queues can be extremely long. Purchasing a ticket online prior to your visit is a better option if you want to go up for the views and to dine. A skip-the-line ticket allows visitors fast-track entry to the first and second levels. However, keep in mind to make the booking a month or two prior to your trip; with around seven million annual visitors, it can get pretty crowded to access.

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Eiffel Tower Tour With 2nd Floor Access

Duration: 1 hour

2128 reviews

4. Take a cruise tour of Paris (from 136.92 USD)

Another beautiful way of exploring the City of Love and Lights is from the water. Discovering the majestic landmarks of the city through a cruise tour is ideal when you are time bound. It is also quite a popular credence among travelers that observing a city from a water gives a whole new and fresh perspective. Within an hour, or a little more, see the sights from the River Seine on a cruise that departs from the Eiffel Tower.

Almost as soon as you start to enjoy the soothing breeze, the splendor of landmarks like the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre, and Notre-Dame Cathedral will take your breath away. Most cruises come with a Parisian brunch, and you are highly likely to be served some fresh croissants, fruit juice, coffee, and delicious French charcuterie (meats) as refreshments. Lead by a professional guide, you will also be entertained by their narrative of Paris’s evolution and personal anecdotes.

Paris Seine River Cruise with Brunch Tour

Price: from 136.92 USD

Duration: around 90 minutes required

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5. Take a private guided tour of the city (from 399.35 USD)

Investing in a private guided tour is an organized, comprehensive, and convenient way of exploring a city within a limited amount of time. When you don’t wish to juggle trains and walk with maps, hiring a private tour guide makes the whole process smoother. Such layover guided trips usually commence with your guide waiting for you at the airport with a vehicle. All you need to do is hop into the vehicle and spin through Paris while soaking in the magic. However, remember that it takes an hour to reach the city from the airport and for the actual sightseeing to begin.

Like a friendly host, the guide offers some delicious local nibbles when you are peckish but busy admiring the “Iron Lady” or the Eiffel Tower. The tours commonly include a stroll along the banks of the Seine River to the iconic Eiffel Tower and a trip of the medieval Île de la Cité. Top attractions like the Conciergerie, the Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame Cathedral are also covered before you are taken back to the airport. You will head back to the airport at least 2 hours prior to your departure time. You can also tailor the tour somewhat by letting the guide know your preferences. Simple and seamless, isn’t it?

Private Guided Layover Tour of Paris Including Round-trip Transport

Price: from 399.35 USD

Duration: Flexible

Access: Round-trip airport transfer by the tour guide

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For magical alleys - you will be back again

Paris is alluring. It is one of those cities where you can see most of the major attractions within days but it still manages to make you feel as though there is much more to be discovered. Even if you manage to tick all of our layover recommendations off your checklist, Paris will still tempt you to come back again. As the French Poet Victor Hugo once said, “He who contemplates the depths of Paris is seized with vertigo. Nothing is more fantastic. Nothing is more tragic. Nothing is more sublime.”

While you’re here, be sure to check out some things to buy in Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Akansha is a former crime journalist from India. Her action-packed adventurous life took her to most obscure places in various parts of her country. In addition to crime, she also has extensive...Read more

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