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 ParisbyTrain.com 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.