5 hours in Paris!

Old Oct 31st, 2003, 09:52 AM
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5 hours in Paris!

I will have an 8 hour layover at CDG airport at the end of December, and would like to venture out of the airport and into Paris for 4 to 5 hours to feel like I've at least seen this city. Have never been there before and it's not on the radar screen for a trip in the near future, so just want to take advantage of this opportunity - better to have experienced Paris for 5 hours than not at all. Will be traveling with my husband (who I know will be very nervous about missing our connection so I'm going to limit the excursion to 5 hours, tops, and that assumes our flight into CDG arrives on time.)

I'm looking for your recommendations on what is practical to plan for this timeframe, and how we would most efficiently go about it (i.e. using public transportation, etc.) We are due to arrive in Paris at 6:15 a.m. and fly out at 2:15 p.m. Any ideas you have would be incredibly appreciated.
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Old Oct 31st, 2003, 10:03 AM
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I can understand the desire, and it would not be impossible for someone who knew Paris well already. However, you cannot show up at 2 pm for a 2:15 pm flight. If this is a local flight, not long-distance international, I guess you can be at the gate by about 1 pm, so maybe you should get at the airport by 12-12:30 due to all the security checks (assuming you do not have baggage to check). If you plane lands on time, you might be out and at curb for a taxi, etc about 7. You should allow about one hour each way for travel. So I guess you have three hours in Paris, if all goes well.

I would do it myself for 3 hrs outside CDG. I'd take the RER suburban light rail right into the city and back. There is a station at CDG and it goes right near Notre Dame. You could just walk around there, sit in a cafe, whatever suits you. With the RER, you do not have to worry about traffic.
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Old Oct 31st, 2003, 10:14 AM
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Thank you for your response. You're right about probably not having quite 5 hours... Our connecting flight is in fact international, in the US I would allow 2.5 hours for this (i.e. would get back to airport no later than 11:45 for a 2:15 flight) - do you think this is sufficient at CDG?

The other issue I just thought of is going thru customs... since Paris is not our final destination, we normally would not go thru customs there but in this case, wanting to depart and return to the airport, we would have to I guess - do you think this will be problematic?

I really appreciate your response. I haven't had the opportunity to travel abroad as much as those on these forums and appreciate the insights of those who've already been there/done that!
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Old Oct 31st, 2003, 10:58 AM
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Not enough time! Even 5 days is not enough time!
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Old Oct 31st, 2003, 11:42 AM
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Hi Babaldas,

If your luggage is booked through, you will not have difficulty at customs and immigration.

Returning to the plane, leave yourself at least as much time as you would if you were leaving from the US.

Follow Christina's advice. At least you will get a small taste of Paris.
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Old Oct 31st, 2003, 12:35 PM
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Go for it! You're wise to return to CDG early, though. I think arriving back at CDG at 11:45 leaves you plenty of time. I think getting there at noon or 12:30 would be sufficient, but since you're unfamiliar with the area, planning to be back by 11:45 is wise leaving you plenty of time just in case. Follow Christina's advice and take the RER. It's simple and as she said will take you right to ND. See that, and if you have time try a boat tour that will take you right past some of the sights and allow you a good look at the Tour Eiffel. Tours leave frequently from beneath Pont Neuf (the bridge on the western tip of Ile de la Cite where ND is) and make a roundtrip dropping you back where you started. It's just an idea, but you may not feel like you have time. At any rate I would take advantage of your layover and catch a glimpse of the place.
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Old Oct 31st, 2003, 12:38 PM
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Whoops! Just realized you'll be there in December. I don't think there will be boats running then. Scratch that!
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Old Oct 31st, 2003, 01:51 PM
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By all means do it!!! I took a day trip from London and only had four hours in Paris and felt it was worth it. It is a very walkable city, just remember not to wander. I can't remember exactly how we attacked it, but we went into Notre Dame, walked the river alittle, passed the Louve (closed on Tuesday when we were there) Strolled through a great park ( the name escapes me) that had a ferris wheel where we were able to see the whole city from. Jumped onto the metro to the Eiffel tower and walked the entire Champs de Elyesse. Paris in a nutshell!!! Of course I would love to go back, but if I never do at least I got to see the highlights. Get a great map and go. Have fun!!
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Old Oct 31st, 2003, 05:54 PM
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i recommend a bus tour...you will see quite a bit and know what to see next time you go...which i am sure you will want to do once you get out of CDG (horrid airport)...
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Old Oct 31st, 2003, 07:04 PM
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Why not do it? It sounds like fun and a lot better than sitting in an airport. I would hop the train into Paris getting off at Notre Dame. Walk along the Seine to the Louvre, cross the bridge to the Orsay and pop in for an hour. You'll see some beautiful Impressionist art. From there head to the Eiffel Tower, get back on the metro or hail a cab and return to CGD. I was just in Paris, this really is doable.

Lucky you, where is your final destination anyway?
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Old Oct 31st, 2003, 10:59 PM
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You might try the Batobus. It is a boat route with 7 stops, obviously along the Seine. They are all near major attractions.
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Old Nov 1st, 2003, 03:26 AM
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as suggested take the train into the city, and do one of 2 things, either a bus tour, or pick one site (Notre Dame??), see it and then sit, relax in a cafe and people watch. Then back to that awful CDG....
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Old Nov 2nd, 2003, 03:02 PM
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Go for it. What do you like to do and see. If you are art lovers, you might pick one museum - depending on what kind of art you like most: the Louvre, the Rodin, the D'Orsay, Pompadoux Center, the Picasso museum.... you get the idea. So pick one, that is all you will have time for. On the other hand if you want an overall view of the city a bus tour would be appropriate - but you will miss the feel of Paris. If you want to get a feel for the city then you must walk. Pick an area of interest: St. Germain, Fouburgh St. Honore, Latin Quarter, the Marais, along the Seine, etc. Have breakfast in a cafe. Just a cafe au lait and a croissant is heaven. You will probably get to Paris around 8am and much will be closed then. But you will see the city awaken and just walking the streets of Paris is a treat.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2003, 06:33 PM
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Babaldas,

We just got back from France from and from CDG. Due to a few minor mishaps, we actually missed our plane, so keep this in mind as a very recent experience.

It takes a pretty long time to get from the center of Paris to CDG. You need to arrive 2 hours before your flight as CDG is a pretty crazy and not well organized airport. Do to our mishaps, we got there for an international flight 50 minutes early, and the flight was closed, 2 hours is realistic... not a goal. You will also need to reserve about 45 minutes to an hour to get there, depending on the type of transportation you will use. That being said, if you take an hour off of the front end to get to Paris, you will only have a realistic 4 hours to do what you want to do. Not much time. I would go down and go inside Notre Dame, grab a quick bite to eat in the Latin Quarter, take the metro or a cab to the Arc de Triumph, walk to see the Eiffel Tower and head back to the airport.

Have fun!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 05:24 AM
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I wanted to thank you all so much for your responses! After mulling this over further with my husband (who is the decidedly more practical one between us), we decided it would be best to try to schedule a true stop-over so that we could actually enjoy our time in Paris rather than rushing through with constant fear of missing our connection. I never thought he would agree to this, which is why I proposed the 5 hour tour in the first place! But he surprised me and I'm thrilled... we are now going to have 3 days and nights in Paris, including new year's eve (dec. 29-jan 1) !!! - and somehow our tickets only went up by $30. (Thank God for SideStep.com is all I have to say...) I'm so excited and will be reviewing past posts about hotels and tours to get some ideas... but may be coming back to you for more words of wisdom! Thanks again!!!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 05:37 AM
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You and your husband have made a wise decision to schedule a vacation in Paris instead of rushing for 5 hours. I am always wary of what could happen such as what occurred with thonnyboy. Others feel that 5 hours is doable here but personally I always take into consideration the possibility of delays and the result of missing the flight.
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