5 Hour Layover in Paris

Old Dec 12th, 2007, 09:45 PM
  #1  
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5 Hour Layover in Paris

Hey everyone,
I will have a 5 hour layover in Paris enroute to Egypt.
Do you think it's possible to sneak out of the airport for a bit? I would love to see the Eiffel Tower (never been to Paris before). How far is the Eiffel from the airport? And what mode of transportation should I use to get there?
And if the Eiffel is not doable in that timeframe, do you have any other suggestions on what I can do? Thanks in advance!!
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Old Dec 12th, 2007, 10:22 PM
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You can get from either airport to the Eiffel Tower in under an hour by RER (suburban train). From CDG Terminal 2, you're about 35 minutes via the "B" line from St-Michel Notre-Dame station, and from there, Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel is about 15 minutes further on the "C."

At the airport, buy a one-day Paris Visite pass valid in Zones 1-6 for 18€. This will pay for your round-trip from the airport to the city and back, plus unlimited travel by RER, Métro, bus, tram, and SNCF (national train) within the six zones. A map of all the trains can be downloaded here:

http://www.ratp.info/orienter/f_plan...secteur&fm=pdf

Another useful map for getting around by Métro is here:

http://www.ratp.info/orienter/f_plan...secteur&fm=pdf
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Old Dec 12th, 2007, 11:08 PM
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Robespierre has given you excellent advice, but you will be cutting it awfully close. If your luggage is checked through to Cairo, and you don't have to collect your bags, you could just do it. Remember you need to allow at least two hours to allow for check in and security.

Also, hope that the transport strike is not still sputtering.

I don't mean to rain on your parade, as it would be dreadful to pass on a dream of seeing at least a portion of that lovely city, but realize that five hours is awfully brief.

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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 12:00 AM
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thanks everyone. i know 5 hours is brief...but at the same time, it's terribly LONG to just stay at the airport. argh. my baggage is checked in through to cairo (i'm not changing airlines or anything). i think i will check out the security lines at the airport that day. if it feels like it's going to be a crazy day, i'll just have to miss seeing this beautiful city for now.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 01:29 AM
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ira
 
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Hi R,

Just a reality check.

If your plane is scheduled to land at 08:00, plan to be off the plane about 08:30.

You might not land at the terminal. If you have to take a shuttle bus, add 0:30 hr.

You will have to clear passport control - 0:30 min.

It is now 09:30. It will be about 2 hr to get to/from the ET - 11:30.

You should be back at CDG by 11:00.

If you are not on the RER into town within 1 hr, you ain't gonna make it.

Alternatively, take the RER to Notre Dame. It is worth visiting, and will save you about 1/2 hr. You can see the ET from almost anywhere in the city.

I hope you make it.

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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 01:31 AM
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ira
 
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PS,

> i will check out the security lines at the airport that day.

Won't do any good. There could be a 10 min wait when you leave and a 2 hr wait on your return.

Plan on 2 hr to get back to your boarding area.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 06:45 AM
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If all goes well, you may have time to get to the base of the Eiffel tower and back to CDG; but I doubt if you'll have time to ride the elevator to the top.

I second ira's suggestion of getting off the RER B at St-Michel Notre-Dame. See the cathedral and take a short walk along the Seine.

Be aware that the RER B line divides northeast of Paris. When you're ready to return to CDG, be sure to get on a train that is going there. If you don't take any other rides, buy a single ticket from CDG to Paris and a single ticket for the return. The cost each way is €8.20.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 08:55 AM
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Too close for comfort, IMO. You have no time cushion for emergencies and delays.

Last time we were in Paris and took the RER, we were delayed in the city enroute to CDG for an hour because of problems on the train line somewhere.

Although we left with plenty of time to spare (3 hours till flight), we barely made our flight, even with carry-on luggage, because airport was unbelievably mobbed.




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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 09:36 AM
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I've been at CDG 3 hours before departure and barely made the flight, and gotten there 45 mins ahead and made the flight easily. Just too many variables and there is no way I'd risk it.

Even IF the flights are on one booking, if you miss the connection due to your own actions (as opposed to airline delays) you'll probably have to buy a full fare ticket.

There can be stoppages/delays on the RER and you'd be totally SOL. I'd maybe try it if I had 7 hours. But 5 hours - nope.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 09:59 AM
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I can understand the desire, but Ira does mention a lot of things you aren't considering. Like how long to get through passport control. YOu know you are not going to be out the door the minute the plane lands, on large airplanes, that can take 15 minutes or more. Security shouldn't be too bad returning if it's only you and not your bags -- at least quicker than if you had to checkin. But that still can take a while.

No way in the world would I risk this myself. YOu have too much to lose.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 10:17 AM
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I recently had a longer stopover en route to Athens.

My flight got in around 11. I returned to the airport around 5:30. My flight to Athens left around 7:25.

This was when the strike was occurring so I took the Roissy Bus. I arrived in the city around 1:20. I left a little past 4. So I had about three hours.

I think with good planning you should have at least one hour in the city -- probably more if the RER-B is running.

In three hours I spent about 20 minutes at Laduree to buy macarons. I went to Jeu de Paume to catch a Steichen exhibition. Walked to the Left Bank to see the Arcimboldo show. Bought three mini-macarons at Pierre Herme. Went inside agnes and tried on some shirts and pants (but didn't buy anything). Bought chocolates at Pierre Marcolini.

In other words, yes I'd give it a try! Just be prepared to move very quickly.

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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 10:25 AM
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Well I guess I was optimistic. It may not be doable if you had to rely on the Roissy bus. However seems like the strike is over. The ratp.fr website is back to normal.

If the RER-B is running I think you should be able to squeeze out at least one hour. You still need to move very quickly.

If I were you though I think that I'd still try to head into the city. The cab is always an option if the traffic looks smooth. It just may not be cost-effective.


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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 10:39 AM
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Let's get practical here, shall we?

"If the RER-B is running I think you should be able to squeeze out at least one hour."

And what IF the RER stops for 20 mins on the track? I've started to buy RER tix only to have a shut down due to a security alert. All trains were halted where they were at the time and it took more than 2 hours to get things back to normal. By then the plane is on its way to Egypt.

"The cab is always an option if the traffic looks smooth"

And just how does one assess if the traffic is smooth on that long a journey?? It may be smooth as silk where you get in the cab, and stopped dead 5 miles down the road.

Now some will say - you can play "what if" for ever - those are just worst case scenarios. But when talking about CDG - "worst" case is much more likely than "best" case.


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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 11:05 AM
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Well janis, what can I say?

Based on your advice, I'm guessing that you must be a pretty unlucky person. So I hope the original poster isn't quite so unlucky.

I've had a lot of close calls. But so far I've missed a flight only once -- and I did have to buy a new ticket.

Every other time I've managed to get on -- even a few weeks ago in Tel Aviv when I arrived at the airport about 85 minutes before departure for a very lengthy security check.

Once actually we hired a car and went to JFK with my mom. The car broke down after the toll booth. Did she make her flight? Yes. We got down and started pushing the car.

Lots of things can go wrong. Of course the stars can aline totally the wrong way. But people do adapt and come up with solutions, and most of the time, they do work.

If you adopt the worst case scenario, then almost certainly you'd never want to leave the airport even with longer layovers.

Personally I think that 5 hours is enough. Of course the original poster can get unlucky, but I hope not.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 11:05 AM
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thanks for everyone's suggestions. i think i'm just going to play it by ear that day. if, miraculously, i arrive in CDG early, the passport control lines are short, etc...leaving me a good amount of time before my next flight, i might step outside and enjoy the city. although this seems pretty unlikely as you all have pointed out...i realize that CDG can be a zoo. oh well, guess i will have to save paris for another trip!
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 11:12 AM
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I should say -- I've missed more than one flight -- and more than once it was my own fault or stupidity. But I only had to pay for a new ticket once. Granted, I've gotten better since.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 11:15 AM
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Ever the contrarian, I say go for it as long as you are not significantly delayed on arrival. Five hours in an airport can be excruciating.
If you have less than four hours after you clear passport control or if there is a transit strike on the day you arrive it may be dicey but otherwise it's doable.
I also agree that you'd be better off going with a quick visit to Notre Dame (and maybe Saint Chapelle) then a stop to see the ET.
Depending on the crowd that day you may or may not have enough time to ascend.
Routing: RER B to St Michel Notre Dame (~45 min transit time)- walk around grounds and through inside of ND. Back to the RER stop, take RER C to Champs de Mars / Tour Eiffel station (~10 min ride) walk to ET (5 min). If time allows, ascend, or walk across to Trocadero for some great views.
You will not have a lot of time to wander, but you will get a great sample of the beauty of Paris.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 11:29 AM
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111op: My comments were about CDG. Not JFK or SFO or TLV or any other airport since they have no bearing on the OP. CDG can be a total mess - and can turn from relatively sane to a total mess in a matter of 30 mins.

There is just too much out of one's control IMHO

rampup: If you DO decide to chance it - I totally agree w/ the others that Notre Dame is "doable", the Eiffel Tower less so.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 12:12 PM
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And, of course, you're assuming your first flight will land on time.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 12:47 PM
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I think it also depends on your personality type. For me it would be WAY too stressed to enjoy being in Paris for an hour or two. I'd rather be back at the airport, having a drink in the bar, and knowing for sure I would be on my connecting flight.
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