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Layover in Paris – the ultimate guide 2021

Published by: Bounce13 August, 2021

Having a layover in Paris may sound as romantic as this city is reputed to be, but is it? Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, also called Roissy Airport, is Europe's second busiest passenger airport, so any time you have on a short layover is going to be cut even shorter by battling your way through queue after queue. Even though the airport operates efficient immigration and security systems, a backlog of people waiting to present their documentation is inevitable when hundreds of people from several different flights are being dealt with at once.

Patience, forward planning and not expecting too much are the key to getting the best out of your Paris layover time. Leave major sights for when you have a long layover or can make a unique visit to the French capital, as at any famous landmark you'll encounter lines as long, if not longer, than the ones you've just got through at the airport. 

6 hour layover in Paris

Given the current situations in most European airports, and Charles de Gaulle is no different, the best thing to do on a short layover is cross your fingers and hope you have enough time to get to the check-in for your ongoing Paris connection. It can take anywhere up to two and a half to three hours to get through passport and documentation control in arrivals, and collect your luggage from the baggage hall. That just about leaves you enough time to hot foot it to the check-in desk for your next flight. With that in mind, it’s best to stay close to the airport on a short layover. Shop for duty-free items or grab a meal in one of the airports many restaurants and don’t stress yourself out by trying to do too much.

  • Most airlines are now recommending you're at the check-in desk at least two and a half to three hours prior to take-off because they are required by law to ensure you have the correct paperwork to continue traveling to your next destination and that takes time.

  • Having all the relevant paperwork you need, such as boarding passes, in a printed format helps speed up the check-in process. Many airlines are now insisting on paper formats rather than digital so being prepared will save you a lot of stress.

8 hour layover in Paris

Eight hours may sound like a long time, but it's not where a layover in Paris is concerned. If you're fortunate you may end up with two to three hours free, so don't plan activities for more than that length of time. Although there is a very good public transport system in place, buses and trains both operate frequent services from Charles de Gaulle Airport into Paris, getting to the stops or stations plus the journey time there and back for either will consume whatever free layover time you have. 

A suggestion - Store your bags in a luggage locker in Paris and fill the two hours you'll have free by visiting the Espace Musee, an art gallery with exceptional exhibits on the airport concourse.

  • The average train journey from Charles de Gaulle into Paris takes around thirty minutes.

  • Heading into Paris on the RoissyBus may be cheap but the trip takes an hour.

  • If you consider taking a taxi, think twice. You could end up well out of pocket while stuck in traffic and end up missing your connecting flight completely.

10 hour layover in Paris

With a ten hour layover in Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, you'll find you have approximately four to five hours free to do something enjoyable. You can absorb at least some of the indescribable French je ne sais quoi without going too far from the airport by hopping into a cab and going to the Aeroville Shopping Mall just under four kilometers away in Roissy-de-France. If you don't want to shop or eat, you can catch a movie in one of the ten cinemas there.

  • If you've got nerves of steel, book a four hour private tour of Paris for your layover. The driver-guide will pick you up from the airport and drop you back there, but hope the mayhem of Paris traffic doesn't hold you up or your layover could end up being longer than expected.

  • If you'd rather relax than cause yourself more stress, try a virtual tour of the Louvre rather than a physical one. Put your feet up in one of the airport lounges, take all four of the Louvre's virtual tours one after the other and your layover time will have been restful as well as educational.

12 hour layover in Paris

When you have a twelve hour layover in Paris Charles de Gaulle, you'll be right to get excited about it as you'll have time to do something amazing like go to Disneyland Paris for a few hours. If you're on a Paris layover with kids that's a trip that'll turn a layover into a dream come true. If your kids, or yourself, are no longer of an age to enjoy the magic of Disneyland, you'll be literally thrilled if you head for the Parc Asterix instead.

  • A regular shuttle bus operates between Charles de Gaulle Airport and Disneyland Paris. The shuttle picks up from outside terminals 1 and 2 and takes around forty-five minutes to arrive at the resort

  • There's also a shuttle service from Charles de Gaulle to Parc Asterix which takes about twenty minutes depending on traffic.

24 hour layover in Paris

Organization is the key to making the most of a twenty-four hour Paris layover. Don't waste time queuing at the city's main attractions like the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, but invest in skip-the-line tickets for specific times. They may cost a little more than normal admissions but they're worth their weight in gold because you'll skip the queues and get to see what you went there for rather than the back of someone else's head. You can slow the pace of your visit down by taking a boat cruise along the Seine. It's a beautiful way to see Paris by day or by night.

  • Add a lunch or dinner to your Seine cruise and you'll gain time by not sitting down to eat in a restaurant.

  • Experience some real French ooh la la by catching a cabaret show at the Moulin Rouge and you'll be can-canning all the way back to the airport when you go to catch your Paris connection. Pre-book a table well in advance to guarantee you get one.

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