People with bags at Paris Orly airport in France.
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Arriving in France: visas, airports and transport

Most international travellers will fly into Charles de Galle, but with its prime position in Europe, France is easy to get to by land, sea, and air.

From the UK, travellers can catch the Eurostar straight from London to Paris, or drive into the Eurotunnel from Dover to Calais.

France also has a great public transport and road network linking it with the neighbouring countries of Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

Although France is a vast country, most will start their journey in Paris. The capital city sees over 30 million visitors a year, and is one of the most visited city destinations in Europe.

It’s a great place to get a first impression of France with its swathe of historic sites, iconic monuments like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, and of course, its world-class museums like the Louvre and Musee D’orsay.

Who needs a visa?

Visas aren’t required for 60 non-EU countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many others, for stays of up to 90 days in Europe in a 180-day period.

Other nationalities require a short-stay Schengen Visa, the cost is €80 for adults and €40 for children aged six to 12 (free for children under six). To find out if you need a visa, you can use the handy wizard on the official government website.

Travel for passport holders from within the Schengen zone is free and easy between the 27 European countries that are part of the zone.

For everyone else, travellers will need a passport valid for at least three months after their intended date of departure, proof of insurance, evidence of an onward travel ticket and accommodation, and in some cases a visa too.

The new ETIAS system due to come into effect in 2024 will require everyone to apply for “pre-travel authorization” online. The cost is €7 for a three-year pass valid throughout Europe (free for under 18’s and over 70’s).

Rules and regulations

Generally entering France is straightforward and the rules are the same as the rest of the countries in Europe. However French immigration officers can be sticklers for red tape, so make sure you have all of your paperwork in order and know your travel plans before you arrive.

Arriving by plane

Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris (CDG) is the second busiest airport in Europe with 108 airlines serving 237 destinations. It’s located 26 km northeast of Paris and has good links into the city centre as well as the rest of the country.

Paris Orly (ORY) comes a close second when it comes to France's busiest transport hubs, while Nice Airport (NCE) and Marseille Airport (MRS) are the main entry points for travellers to the south of France

Wi-Fi and data

Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly International Airports have unlimited free Wi-Fi facilities for visitors. At CDG you can also pay for premium Wi-Fi known as “Wi-Fi Faster” and “Wi-Fi Stronger”.

For charging devices there are secure lockable charging points at both airports known as ChargeBox which are completely free to use.

You can buy a sim card at Tourist Information or at the Relay convenience stores, but buying a sim card at Paris Airport is more expensive than in the city centre.

Always check to make sure if they allow free EU data roaming if you are travelling to multiple countries. A great option to avoid the hassle is to use an eSim like Airalo.

How and where to get cash out?

There are plenty of free ATMs, money exchanges, convenience stores and other tourist facilities in arrivals, but most will close between 09.00 pm and 06.00 am.

Airport money exchanges never have the best rates, so it’s better to change money in the local banks or use a travel card like Wise.

Getting to your hotel in Paris

Getting from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris by train

From Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, the train is the best option to get into the city centre. The RER Line B departs regularly (every 10 to 20 minutes), taking around 35 minutes to arrive in central Paris.

Trains run between 5 am and 11 pm and cost €11.45 for adults and €8 for children - buy at a vending machine or ticket desk at the station.

There are actually two train stations at CDG Airport: Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1 (terminals 1 and 3), and Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2 TGV (terminal 2).

You can take the RER B train from either, but at terminal 2 make sure to use the Paris Ile-de-France ticket vending machines and not the Grandes Lignes SNCF TGV vending machines (TGV trains connect to the cities of Marseille, Strasbourg, Lyon and Lille).

Getting from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris by bus

The RoissyBus is a direct service from terminals 1, 2 and 3 at the airport to Opéra (in the heart of Paris). It's a great central location to get a bus, metro or taxi to your accommodation.

It takes about an hour and costs €16.20, services operate every 15 minutes between 5:15 am to 8:00 pm, then every 20 minutes from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and every 30 minutes from 10:00 pm to 00:30 am.

Getting from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris by taxi

A taxi from Gare du Nord to Charles de Gaulle Airport will take 20–60 minutes (depending on traffic) costing around €50-70. It’s best to pre-book, although you can find official taxi ranks outside each terminal.

Unfortunately fake Paris cabs are an issue, it’s illegal for anyone to solicit a ride inside the terminal, so just ignore them and always check for a green illuminated taxi sign and a metre.

Accessible travel

Paris airports offer free self-service wheelchairs, priority lanes, and special assistance. You can find more information on the Paris Aeroport website.

The taxi booking service G7 offers accessible vehicles adapted for non-folding wheelchairs, equipped with an access ramp.

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Jo Williams

Author - Jo Williams

Jo Williams is a freelance writer with 10 years' experience working in travel and tourism. A Brit who got fed up with the 9 to 5 corporate life, she sold everything to become a full-time wanderer.

Jo has travelled to over 70 countries and worked throughout Europe for a major tour operator. She hopes to inspire you to work less and travel more.

Last Updated 28 November 2023

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