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Robespierre May 13th, 2005 02:40 PM

How did you get from CDG to Paris the first time?
What I would like to see here is a cross-section of inexperienced travelers' stories about getting from the airport to town. My hope is that others choosing among the various modes might use this information to make an informed decision based on how others may have fared. I'll start:

The first time I went into Paris from CDG, I took the RER. I'm the kind of person who figures things out pretty readily, plus I had been studying French since 8th grade, so I probably had a head start on most newbies. I just got off the plane and on the train because it was right there, went where I was going, and the price was right. I did notice that all the signage was in French and English, though, and the train car I was in was about evenly divided between Americans and Europeans of every stripe. So it occurred to me at the time that even if I hadn't known any French at all it would have been a no-brainer. The place I was staying was right down the street from the Montparnasse Cemetery, so I rode to Denfert Rocherau and walked the rest of the way.

The next morning, I ventured into the Métro system without giving it a second thought. It all made sense to me immediately, even though I had never seen a subway before (the RER didn't count, because that was like getting on the Santa Fe to go to college). I had read somewhere how to know which train was going in the right direction, and in 40 years of Métro-ing, I can remember only one time I wound up somewhere I didn't want to go, and that was because I hadn't paid enough attention to the distinction between Levallois Perret and Pereire-Levallois.

How about you?

tedgale May 13th, 2005 03:00 PM

By the airport bus (autocar)-- so restful and easy!

Probably went to Etoile, though I had in earlier years flown to Orly and taken the bus to the beautiful old Beaux-Arts airport pavilion around -- where was it, Champs de Mars?

What about those great old flights from Le Bourget? -- yes, I flew through there (Paris to London, $13) in 1971.

111op May 13th, 2005 03:01 PM

I don't have as a clear a recollection as you, R.

My very first trip to Paris was a super-quick jaunt from London (so I took the Eurostar).

For my next trip to Paris, I went with my mom. It was just a few months later. I'm sure that we took the RER, as I had distinct memories of emerging from the Metro station at St-Germain-des-Pres (I think that this was the only time I've ever stayed in the Left Bank). Obviously I don't remember how we switched trains. (This was about 10 years ago.)

I didn't speak any French then. I speak a tiny bit of French now.

I've only taken a cab from CDG once (that I can remember). I've taken cabs to CDG a couple of times probably. Apart from that I use RER and I've never used the bus.

Somehow I've vague memories of long corridors at Chatelet-Les Halles (which I hate). That's about it.

On a recent trip I think that I had a little epiphany as to how I could avoid that stop, but I'll have to reconstruct my trick on my next trip. :-)

111op May 13th, 2005 03:03 PM

I've to admit that I've a strong bias towards the train and Metro. In NYC I tend to take the subway or the cab. But in recent years I've succumbed to buses in NYC (but they're very slow here).

So I think that's why I've never considered the bus from CDG as a viable option.

Madison May 13th, 2005 03:04 PM

Cab - but I will say this after paying what I had to pay for this most recent trip, I am going to take an alternate form of transportation from CDG to my hotel. I travel with only one 22" bag so I have no excuses.

francophile03 May 13th, 2005 03:08 PM

Always by taxi and it sure is expensive. Maybe going into Paris next time we should take the RER to save euro, but departing for CDG I would probably end up taking the taxi again.

allisonm May 13th, 2005 03:13 PM

Our first time to Paris (only a year ago) we booked a package through a travel agent and Paris Shuttle was part of the package. This year, we used Paris Shuttle again. We are not light packers so schlepping our bags through the trains is not an option. I like the shuttle service because it has been dependable and I pay in advance. No surprises with fares, like Madison.

Underhill May 13th, 2005 03:27 PM

A taxi the first time, but shuttles since then.

StCirq May 13th, 2005 03:31 PM

In a tour bus, chaperoning 27 14-year-olds....I'm so sorry you reminded me.

Grasshopper May 13th, 2005 03:31 PM

I took the RER the first two or three times. I've taken shuttles a couple of times since and I've arrived at Gar de Nord several times.

Travelnut May 13th, 2005 03:36 PM

First time, the tourbus picked us up.

Second time, the tourbus was late so I convinced others to follow me to the Air France bus to Etoile, then metro.

Third,fourth and fifth time, used the shuttle.

Sixth time, drawing a blank...

Seventh time, came in to Gare du Nord - taxi to hotel.

Eighth and ninth time, came in to Gare du Nord, metro to hotel. But returned to CDG via RER.

Tenth time in 2005 - we WILL USE THE RER FROM CDG !!! :)

cls2paris May 13th, 2005 03:38 PM

RER and for being so inexperienced, I'm surprised I made it! Now, depending on how far from a Metro stop, I either RER or shuttle.

PJK May 13th, 2005 04:18 PM

My memory is somewhat vague, but I remember on that first trip we had to take some sort of bus to the train station. The bus was crowded and miserble, and it was unclear which bus we needed. Maybe it was because of coming in a certain teminal. Anyway, the RER was a no-brainer once we finally got there. When we were traveling with our two children, though, taking a taxi was not that much more than buying 4 RER and then 4 metro tickets and was so much nicer after a long flight. Having made three more trips to Paris, I still can't figure out how or why it was so complicated for us to get the the train station the first time. We had to wait forever for an elevator. Couldn't find a stairway. Seems strange to me now, but at the time it was a mess when I was weary from the trip. pjk

Margie May 13th, 2005 04:30 PM

Our first time (and every time since) from CDG to Paris was using the RER. I had done a little research and we asked directions at the airport as to where to get the shuttle to the station and we had a Paris Streetwise map with the metro stations on it so I knew whihc metro stop we wanted. My French was so limited that you might as well say I knew none. We had no problems, we were able to purchase tickets from the cashier at the RER in CDG, we did not get lost, and we did not get off at the wrong stop. Personally I thought it was fairly easy. It all sounds very confusing when you read about it, but when you actually are there doing it makes more sense. We travel light, and I wouldn't bother with a shuttle or a cab, but that is just me and others may prefer a different method of transportation.

nytraveler May 13th, 2005 04:33 PM

By taxi - the first time and every time since. IMHO luggage and public transport don;t mix - I am not pack mule woman. (My French is not fluent - but certainly up to dealing with transportation - and we take the Metro while in town - but not with luggage.)

When it;s a business trip the company sends a limo.

Beatchick May 13th, 2005 04:35 PM

Robespierre, I'm like you, I'm independent & adventurous & love the thrill of figuring things out for myself while on the road (although I'm not trying to be smug about how I choose to travel). I took the RER my 1st time from CDG (my 2nd trip - however, my best friend at the time freaked out because someone *tried* to pickpocket her - he didn't succeed - and she insisted on a taxi on the way to CDG).

I did the same in London. I was there one day, solo, and figured out how to use everything. I loved the Tube!

Prior to my 1st trip, I had never been on a subway in my life & found both to be very easy to use & the people in each city to be extremely helpful & kind. There were a few times when I got lost but it was no big deal. It's not like I ended up like Meg Ryan in French Kiss with "no money, no passport", no place to stay wandering around Paris until the American Embassy could open (I always wondered who she asked for directions from at such an early hour in the morning?? hmmm). One snag that initial trip was when I got on the RER to go to the St-Michel stop and went the wrong direction. I ended up getting off at Stade de France. LOL - I couldn't even figure out how to get to the other side of the tracks so that I could go in the opposite direction! A French clochard saw my distress & thru broken French & broken English & hand gestures we communicated, then he led the way to the way to the other side. I'll never forget that.

My 1st trip overseas was just a few years ago, March 2001, it was my 1st trip on a plane, I went solo, I hardly knew any French except for phrases picked up from the back of the Fodor's Gold Guide. People ask how I was able to do it, wasn't I terrified? No, I just did it & it was great!

I will admit to not using the bus system yet in Paris (well, I did use the Montmartrobus but that is particular to Montmartre) but plan to rectify that next trip. I have mapped out all the bus lines I wish to take including the Noctambus! I can't wait!

Interesting thread, R. Well, I'm off to buy <u>The Sun also Rises</u>. Can you believe I haven't read it yet?

I agree that schlepping multiple bags would make a difference to me. I find that even that one 22&quot; roller suitcase takes up a lot of room and sometimes I get a few glares so I definitely wouldn't risk it with more than 1 bag. I think, too, that when I travel with my teens we'll use a taxi to &amp; from the airport - less hassle, less keeping track of everyone, probably about the same cost, too.

jody May 13th, 2005 04:45 PM

20 times or more..I still take a taxi. It's worth it to me but everyone has their own comfort level

Jocelyn_P May 13th, 2005 05:00 PM

On my first trip to Paris, my TC and I took the RER. I had used metros and trains in Italy and my friend had used them in Tokyo, so we weren't terribly intimidated by the whole train system. We may have just been lucky, but it was easier than we expected. It made sense to use the RER as we were on a tight budget trip and our hotel was close to the RER stop (no transfer to the metro). On my next trip with DH, we will try out the Air France shuttle to Etoile, since our apartment is in the 16th. I think the location of your hotel/apartment makes a difference in what mode of transportation makes the most sense. I'd eventually like to try every possible method from CDG to the city and then decide which is many trips do I HAVE to do to accomplish that? Anyone willing to fund my research? ;)

LoveItaly May 13th, 2005 05:21 PM

First flight to Italy we landed at Milpensa (the old small airport). Husband and dear duaghter breezed through customs. Not me. The custom man (note I did not say gentleman) made me open my suitcase and proceeded to hold all my lingerie way up in the air. Good start to Italy!

Meanwhile my husband had seen this ticket counter and so went to investigate. After calming down I joined them. And figured out that there was a bus to Milan. Bingo! That is where we were going. And so took the bus to the Centrale train station. Collected our luggage and my husband got a taxi to get us to the hotel. All is great except the taxi driver only spoke French! Too funny. But he got us to the hotel. That was the day I started smoking again! That and a few cups of espresso got me through the rest of the day. And then we had two beautiful months in Italy all by rental car.

BTilke May 13th, 2005 05:28 PM

The first time was in high school with a tour group, so a chartered bus took us into Paris. I have since used virtually all forms of transportation into the city--RER/metro, Roissy bus, Air France bus, shuttle, our own car, taxi and even a limousine.
I don't believe in making assumptions about people's characters simply because they choose one form of transportation over another. My husband and I now prefer to take a taxi(unless we're driving ourselves), but we don't think we're any less independent or adventurous or what have you because of it. My husband was running around Hong Kong by himself at all hours of the day and night when he was 10 years old; I spent months in equatorial Africa where the only way to get to the beach was by floating across a river in a battered VW bug.

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