Six Tips to Maximize Your Layover in Paris

Visit to the Eiffel Tower during a layover in Paris

Visit to the Eiffel Tower during a layover in Paris

A layover in Paris at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport is quite likely when traveling to Europe, especially from Atlanta on Delta. When booking award travel from Atlanta to Lisbon, the best itinerary available included a 9 hour layover in Charles de Gaulle. The easy answer would have been to spend 9 hours shopping or in the Delta SkyClub sipping mixed drinks and indulging in Nutella drenched snacks, but I decided to venture out and see some of the sights.

Nine hours may seem like a lot of time, but when dealing with airports and navigating a foreign city, the time can fly by fast. The next time you find yourself on a long layover in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, consider these six tips to maximize your time outside of the airport walls.

Six Tips for Maximizing your layover in Paris

1. Determine if you have time – Trying to get out and about on a 3 hour layover is seriously pushing it. I personally wouldn’t advise leaving the airport with under 5 hours of layover time, but do what makes you comfortable.

2. Store your luggage – Lugging suitcases and bags around a city, especially while using public transportation is not my idea fun.  So before you exit the airport doors, store your luggage with Baggages Du Monde. Six euro per bag buys you 6 hours of secured luggage storage.  They will even watch your pet and ship items for you as well.  Contact them for a quote.  They have locations in both terminal 1 and 2A.

3. Getting Around — CDG is about 15 miles from Paris’ city center by express train. Use to map out your route to many popular Paris destinations. The public transportation is easy to navigate and because of all of the beautiful architecture and sights, you will definitely want to do some walking as well.  If your budget allows you can get a city tour by car. If traffic complies, you will definitely maximize your time and keep warm if the weather is a bit chilly.

4. Give Yourself Time – Nine hours of layover time does not mean 8 hours gallivanting around Paris. You have to be realistic. I gave myself a total of 5 hours including transit time to peruse the city, which proved to be perfect. I wasn’t watching the clock and had more than enough time to go through TSA and make my connecting flight on to Lisbon.

5. Have a Plan – My Paris layover itinerary was simple: Visit Notre Dame, have a nice lunch and visit the Eiffel Tower  You can’t see and do it all, so don’t kill yourself or miss your flight trying. I ended being able to accomplish this with a nice leisurely stroll down the Seine and friendly conversation with a nice Parisian gentleman. And last,

6. Be flexible – Good, bad or indifferent, stuff happens and you might need to adjust your plans accordingly so you don’t miss your flight.  My initial plan was to the take the tour or Notre Dame and go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but the lines and excessive wait times did not allow. But  it all worked out and gave me plenty of extra time to do some more exploring by foot and grab another waffle and Nutella.

The next you find yourself on an extended layover in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle, get out of the airport and enjoy a small piece of the city of lights.



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  • […] 2. SIX TIPS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR LAYOVER IN PARIS by April of Absolute Travel Addict […]

  • Jen says...

    GREAT article. My husband & I will have a 9 hour layover in Paris in October. We will have a simple itinerary just as you did (probably the exact same! hahaha). Thanks for the advice!

    • Dwayne says...

      How did your Short Visit turn out? Any additional tips? Does anyone know if I have an American passport, do I need a Visa and what kind of Visa? What about if a traveler has a green card do they need a Visa? Looking forward to your replies.

  • jan says...

    we are traveling from LA to Nairobi and looking at flights. We are 8 to 10 people with kids. We would love to have a layover in Paris. My husband and I have been to Paris twice but not the others. So not to concerned about navigating the city. However is a 7 hour layover doable or don’t even try?
    The kids are 11 yrs.

  • Supraja says...

    Hey! I loved this post though I have a few questions. I am an Indian passport holder and am travelling to India from Chicago with a nine hour layover in Paris. Do I need the schengen visa to travel outside the airport? I’m assuming I do but I just required clarification. Do you think it would be worth it?

  • Eli says...

    Delta said that you cannot leave the airport on a 9-hour connection. But it seems from this post that this is not true.

    • Hi Eli,

      It’s been a while since I did this. I would definitely ask a representative at Delta what the policy is and why. It may just be a suggestion because they don’t want a bunch of people missing their flights and don’t want anyone saying they said it was OK to leave. It’s up to you to use your best judgement and do what you’re comfortable with.

  • Jennifer says...

    I do not speak ANY French, do you think it a good idea to explore during a 7 hour layover? Do many speak English to where if we got lost we would be able to find our way back?

    • Hi Jennifer. You should be fine without speaking French. Make sure you get a map and from the train station at the airport and know which train you need to take to get back. It wouldn’t hurt to learn a few French phrases like hi, please, thanks, which way to. You can use Google Translate or a myriad of other tools to get the basics.

  • praveen says...

    Hii,, I am an indian passport holder. on my way to india i have a layover of close to 9 hrs in paris CDG airport. what kind of visa do i need to take if i wish to go out and explore the city for 4-5 hrs. can i get an on arrival visa?

  • molyka says...


    I love your article. There is not many that i can find that talks about layovers and what to do and how to make the best of it. I was wondering i have a layover in Paris for about 5 1/2 hours would this just be enough to see the Eiffel tower and Notre Dam? Would a taxi ride be the most beneficial with my time to each place? and also Is a VISA required to enter Paris? I just have a US Passport since i’m coming from LA.

  • Rene says...

    Hi, Thanks for the tips! I am traveling from the U.S. to Johannesburg and have a long layover at CDG (14 hrs). Do I need a Visa to leave the airport?

    • Hi Rene,

      Glad you found this helpful. I just returned from South Africa (one of my fave countries!!!). You do not need a visa to exit the airport if you are a US citizen with a US passport. Enjoy your trip!


  • Greg says...

    Do I need a visa to leave the airport during a layover? I’m going to Dubai in May from the US, and have about 7 hours and want to go into the city for a short while.

    • Hi Greg, You get a visa on arrival in Paris. No application or anything else required if you are a US passport holder. You can leave the airport and come back for your next flight to Dubai with no problem.

  • Michele says...

    We have a group of 9 and 14 hours can you recommend a tour company? And will they keep the luggage a bit longer?

  • Mia says...

    Hi! I am planning to book a flight with a 10 hour layover stop to Paris. We are a party of 4. How do we get to public transportation and what city do we stop? Could you please specify the details of how you got to Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower? Thanks

    • The RER B (blue) will take you into Paris. You can get off at the St-Michel Notre Dame stop. I would recommend you get a map when you arrive to map out your stops. I didn’t take direct routes. I walked around and just hopped on the metro when I wanted to go somewhere else.

  • kelkun says...


    Thank you for the tips. I had some questions, do you need a short-term transit visa to leave the airport (I’m a Canadian citizen)? Also, how long does the process of exiting the airport building take?

    Thanks again

  • Camille says...

    Thanks so much for the tips!! I have an 18-hr layover while coming back from India so I am determined to make the most of it! :D I actually booked my flight according to the layover time just so I could have plenty of time to see the sights of Paris!

    • Awesome, glad this has been helpful! Enjoy Paris and India!! You can’t see it all, but you can get a little bit in. Enough to make you want to come back for more!!

  • Sonya says...

    Thanks for the tips! I’ll be in a 23hr layover in Paris going to India & your tips were a perfect place for me to start:)

  • Katy says...

    Thanks for your tips! My sister and I have a 10 hour layover in Paris on our way to Mali…you’ve given us the confidence to break free of CDG and explore.

    • Awesome! Glad I was able to help. Please do get out and enjoy a bit of the city, especially if you’ve never been before. Safe travels and enjoy Mali! (jealous!)

  • The great thing about Paris and others like it in Europe, is that these one day whirlwinds are possible thanks to public transport. I once had a 10 hour layover in LA and thought it would be a good idea to see the city…not so much…

    • Exactly! And I always seem to live in cities with not so great public transportation, i.e. Los Angeles and Atlanta. You can easily spend half of your layover time in traffic in LA. Hope you do get a chance to come back for a few days to explore. It is a really cool city!

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