Fun Things to Do on a Layover in Paris
Planning a flight with a long layover in Paris? Although Paris is the biggest city in France, it is compact and easy to navigate on foot, by metro, or by bike. So if your next flight includes a Paris layover, don’t hesitate to go to the city and experience some of the unique things to do in Paris.
Paris is always a good idea, even if you can only visit for a day or less!
It’s unusual to have a long layover at Paris Orly Airport, as most long-haul flights are via Charles de Gaulle Airport. This article, however, is good for a Charles de Gaulle Airport layover (CDG layover) and a Paris Orly Airport layover (ORY layover).
- Layover Paris FAQ
- Transportation Charles de Gaulle Airport – Paris Overview
- Transportation Orly Airport – Paris Overview
- Layover in Paris – What to Do
- 5-Hour Layover in Paris
- 6-Hour Layover in Paris
- 7-Hour Layover in Paris
- 8-Hour Layover in Paris
- 9-Hour Layover in Paris
- 10-Hour Layover in Paris
- Long Layover in Paris (12-Hour Layover in Paris or more)
- Overnight Layover in Paris
- Hotels near the Airport for your Overnight Layover Paris
- Things to Do at Charles de Gaulle Aiport
- Things to Do at Orly Airport
- Long Distance Flight Tips
Layover Paris FAQ
Layover in Paris, Do I need a Visa?
Depending on your nationality and destination country, you may need to have a Transit Visa.
If you are traveling from an airport in a country located outside the Schengen Area and staying in the international zone of an airport located in metropolitan France while waiting for your connection to your final destination, which is also located outside the Schengen Area, you will need a Transit Visa in some cases (see conditions).
Do I need a Transit Visa for Paris?
See the answer above.
Can You Leave Paris Airport During Layover?
YES, except if you are a national of a non-Schengen country and only have an airport transit visa. An airport transit visa allows you to travel through an airport’s international zone without entering the country’s territory.
Can Lou Leave Paris Airport During a Layover of 5 Hours or Less?
From your landing in Paris until your next flight, these are the things to consider:
- To be on the safe side, add some extra time in case your first flight is delayed.
- Transportation time from the aircraft to the terminal.
- If you want to leave the airport, you will also spend some time going through the border control (if you are coming from a non-Schengen country) when you arrive in France and when you leave France.
- Also, keep in mind that if you booked your flights separately with different flight companies, you would need to pick up the baggage at the Paris airport and do another check-in. Allow extra time to do all this.
- Getting from any of the two Paris airports to the city center usually takes between 40 min to 1.5 hours (depending on the means of transportation).
How much time is left to enjoy Paris?
Considering all the things mentioned above, we don’t suggest going into the city unless you have a minimum of a five-hour layover in Paris (more if you are coming from a non-Schengen country). And even then, your time in Paris would be very brief. Stay at the airport if you have a 4-hour layover in Paris or a shorter layover.
Transportation Charles-de-Gaulle Airport – Paris Overview
Taxi at CDG (without pre-booking)
55€ Right Bank /60€ Left Bank (flat-rate)
The table above only shows the fastest ways to get from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris. Check out all the ways (public and private) to go from CDG Airport to Paris.
Transportation Orly Airport – Paris Overview
Taxi from Orly to Paris
41€ to Right Bank /35€ to Left Bank (flat rate)
The table above only shows the fastest ways to get from Orly Airport to Paris. Check out all the ways (public and private) to go from Orly Airport to Paris.
Layover in Paris – What to Do
How to spend a layover in Paris? Here’s a list of things to do in Paris on a layover of 5 hours or more. Our proposals include sightseeing, strolls around the city, must-attractions, and a Paris layover tour.
Remember to keep 2 hours for the transportation airport to Paris and back, and one extra hour if you are arriving from a non-Schengen Country. Therefore, a 5-hour layover in Paris, for example, will mean 3 hours available to visit Paris or 2 hours available to visit Paris if you are coming from a non-Schengen Country (not recommended).
For an overnight layover in Paris with a second flight early in the morning, we have included a list of hotels close to the airports so you are sure not to miss your second flight.
5-Hour Layover in Paris (Count 3 Hours in Paris)
What to do on a 5-hour layover in Paris? A short Paris layover can be a great opportunity to tick off a few items on your Paris Bucket List. Here are our proposals for Paris in 3 hours.
If you are flying to Paris from a non-Schengen Country, we recommend staying at the airport with a 5-hour layover in Paris.
Option 1. Book a Paris Layover Tour
With 5 hours in Paris, get out in the fresh air and enjoy some of Paris’ top sights with this top-rated Paris Layover Tour proposed by Viator.
At the desired time, an experienced English-speaking professional driver will pick you up from the airport in a private vehicle, ready for a little adventure in Paris. During the trip, he will share the historical facts, the necessary information about the sights, and some anecdotes about Parisians and life in Paris to immerse you into the Parisian lifestyle.
The guide proposes a sample Paris layover tour that includes stops at the Sacré-Coeur, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Tuileries Garden, Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame. Still, the itinerary is completely customizable at no extra charge.
This popular Paris layover tour for a group of up to 9 people lasts from 5 to 7 hours (transportation time airport-Paris- airport included). It includes the pick-up /drop-off at the airport – Click here to book this Paris Layover Tour.
Option 2. Visit the Eiffel Tower (Duration: 2 hrs)
The Eiffel Tower is the most iconic monument in Paris and France. Many people dream of visiting the Eiffel Tower, so why not use your excursion to Paris in 5 hours to see the Iron Lady with your own eyes?
The distance from CDG to Eiffel Tower is 31.5 km via highway A1, around 40 min by car. Click here for all the ways to get from CDG Airport to the Eiffel Tower.
The distance from Orly Airport to the Eiffel Tower is 17.6 Km, around 20 min by car. Click here for all the ways to get from Orly Airport to the Eiffel Tower.
Can you climb up to the Eiffel Tower if you have a 5-hour layover in Paris? In theory, YES, but only if you book skip-the-line tickets online in advance. When you buy a skip-the-line Eiffel Tower ticket online, you will pick a specific date and time slot, so you don’t waste time waiting in line – Click here to buy your Eiffel Tower Skip the Line Tickets.
In case you decide not to climb up to the top, here’s a list of some fun things to do near the Eiffel Tower.
Option 3. Visit the Louvre – We Tell You How to Do it in 2 Hours!
Other people may consider a visit to the famous Louvre Museum. Being one of the world’s biggest museums, the Louvre can be very time-consuming… unless you have a plan.
Check out our best Louvre skip-the-line tips. Louvre skip-the-line tickets are paramount if you want to visit the Louvre Museum during your Paris layover. These skip-the-line tickets have a specific date and time slot, so you are sure to enter the Louvre in 30 minutes or less – Click here to buy your skip-the-line Louvre tickets.
6-Hour Layover in Paris (Count 4 Hours in Paris)
With a 6-hour layover in Paris, things get slightly better. If you concentrate on one small area with several attractions, you can feel like you’ve seen a lot of Paris. Here are our proposals for Paris in 4 hours.
Count 3 hours if you are flying to Paris from a non-Schengen Country and pick one of our suggestions for 3 hours in Paris.
Option 1. Take a Unique Stroll through the Banks of the Seine River (Duration: 3 hrs)
As big as Paris is, it is a surprisingly walkable city. One can spend a day on foot and not tire of the sights. Since you have 6 hours in Paris and Paris has not have the world’s most exciting airports, head out for a unique stroll in the City of Light.
Admire Notre Dame’s main facade; this cathedral is a jewel of Gothic architecture and one of Paris’ main sights.
Walk over to Seine’s right bank and start walking northwest, downstream, always having the river on your left side. Check out the bouquinistes on the right bank of the Seine. They sell books, art, and souvenirs. It feels so Parisian to peruse them!
On your way, admire sights like the Conciergerie, the Pont Neuf, and the river facade of the Louvre Palace. At this point, we recommend leaving the Seine behind to have a look at the Louvre’s Glass Pyramid, located on its inner court.
Enjoy a pleasant walk through the famous Tuileries Gardens. Designed for Queen Catherine de Médicis in 1564, Tuileries Gardens are the oldest public gardens in Paris. If you need some rest, the gardens’ two ponds are perfect for relaxation.
On the other side of the Tuileries Gardens, visit Place de la Concorde, with the Egyptian Obelisk in its center. This is the square where King Louis XVI and later Queen Marie-Antoinette were beheaded during the French Revolution.
Finally, cross Pont Alexandre III to Paris 7, on the Seine’s Left Bank. The golden dome just in front of you belongs to Les Invalides, a military hospital and Napoleon’s final resting place. Walk West, along Quai Branly, to reach the Eiffel Tower for some of the best photo spots in Paris.
By now, it’s probably time to go back to the airport. Take the metro at École Militaire station to board your last flight.
7-Hour Layover in Paris (Count 5 Hours in Paris)
With a 7-hour layover in Paris, you can take it easier. If you have 5 hours in Paris, we suggest combining one of the above proposals for a 5-hour or 6-hour layover in Paris with a few of these (but not all of these!) proposals below if they catch your interest.
Count 4 hours if you are flying to Paris from a non-Schengen Country, and pick one of our suggestions for 4 hours in Paris.
Option 1. One of our 5-Hour Layover Proposals + Unique Views of Paris (Duration: 5+ 1-2 hrs)
The access to the Panthéon’s cupula is seasonal, only from April to October.
Again, a skip-the-line ticket will be your best ally; you don’t want to waste your precious few hours in Paris waiting in line!
Option 2. One of our 5-Hour or 6-Hour Layover Proposals + Sainte-Chapelle (Duration: 5-6 +1 hrs)
This royal chapel, built in Gothic style, is home to some of the most intricate stained glass designs in Europe. Sainte Chapelle’s stained glass windows depict scenes from the Bible, and they are amazing! The Sainte-Chapelle is located close to Notre Dame of Paris on Ile de la Cité – Click here to book your skip-the-line ticket to Sainte Chapelle
Option 3. One of our 5-Hour or 6-Hour Layover Proposals + Spend Time in a Parisian Café (Duration: 5-6 +1 hrs)
Order your favorite drink and have a rest in a café-terrasse reading a book, or people-watching; it’s one of the locals’ favorite pastimes!
8-Hour Layover in Paris (Count 6 Hours in Paris)
If you have an 8-hour layover in Paris, you can also use the chapter above for inspiration on what to do in Paris in 6 hours. Pick one of our suggestions for a 5-hour layover in Paris or a 6-hour layover in Paris, plus two of the suggestions for a 7-hour layover in Paris.
Count 5 hours if you are flying to Paris from a non-Schengen Country, and pick one of our suggestions for 5 hours in Paris.
9-Hour Layover in Paris (Count 7 Hours in Paris)
If you have a 9-hour layover in Paris, you can use our suggestion for a 10-hour layover in Paris (see chapter below), with a shorter visit to Montmartre.
Count 6 hours if you are flying to Paris from a non-Schengen Country, and pick one of our suggestions for 6 hours in Paris.
10-Hour Layover in Paris (Count 8 Hours in Paris)
If you have a 10-hour layover in Paris, you can combine one of the proposals for a 5-hour or 6-hour layover in Paris above with a stroll around the quintessential neighborhood of Montmartre for a total of 8 hours in Paris.
Count 7 hours if you are flying to Paris from a non-Schengen Country, and pick one of our suggestions for 7 hours in Paris.
Option 1. One of our 5-Hour or 6-Hour Layover Proposals + Enjoy Montmartre’s Bohemian Atmosphere (Duration: 5-6 + 3 hrs)
Stretch those legs before getting back on your last plane and visit the city’s most famous ‘quartier’ with this self-guided Montmartre Walking Tour.
Enjoy Montmartre’s bohemian atmosphere; the neighborhood has everything we imagine when we think about Paris: street painters, yummy crêperies, some picturesque corners, and the enchanting sound of the accordion on the streets.
The proposed self-guided walking tour covers Montmartre’s main sights and tells you the stories behind these places. For something more off the beaten path, check out our secret map of Montmartre. At lunchtime, stop at one of the restaurants in Montmartre for a quick meal.
Long Layover in Paris (12-Hour Layover in Paris or More)
During a 12-hour layover in Paris or a longer layover, you can follow this one-day in Paris itinerary or combine some of the previous proposals with a lunch or dinner in a typical Parisian bistro or brasserie to taste delicious Paris food.
With 10 hours in Paris or more, you can also think about using 1-2 hours to visit a small museum or walk the covered passages in Paris if the weather is not good.
Overnight Layover in Paris
What do you do during an overnight layover in Paris? Overnight layovers are a great opportunity to get a taste of the nightlife in Paris.
For your overnight layover in Paris, we recommend checking in at a hotel near the airport and taking a train or private transportation to the city center to enjoy Paris at night.
Option 1. Unique Dinner & Drinks in Paris
Do you have an Orly or CDG layover during dinner time? If you found a great deal on a connecting flight through Paris, skip the airport restaurants and head into the city.
For a unique meal on your long layover, Paris won’t disappoint. Head to Les Ombres, a restaurant located on the rooftop terrace of Musée du Quai Branly in Paris 7. Apart from tasting some famous foods in Paris, the unique view over the sparkling Eiffel Tower will delight you.
Maybe you are just looking for a unique place to have a drink and wash down that terrible airplane food. With only a layover in Paris, it can’t just be any bar.
In the summertime, the rooftop bars of Paris are the locals’ place to be. Try Le Perchoir du Marais (37 rue de la Verrerie, Paris 4), Paris’s most fashionable terrace with breathtaking views. Or Up on the Roof in the heart of the Latin Quarter (4 rue Danton, Paris 6), with a view of Notre-Dame, the Palais de Justice, and the Seine.
Option 2. Can-Can Dance & Bubbles in a Parisian Cabaret
Another oh-so-Parisian option for your overnight layover in Paris is a Parisian cabaret. Cabarets are a popular tourist attraction in Paris at night, and nowhere else in Paris will you find such a choice of quality cabarets.
A cabaret show in Paris usually lasts around 90 min, but it can be longer if you book it with a dining option. If you are interested in a cabaret in Paris but don’t know which one to choose, check out our guide with the best cabarets in Paris. With 12 hours in Paris or less, we recommend the full cabaret + dinner experience for an unforgettable night in Paris.
Option 3. Take a Unique Seine River Night Cruise
A Seine River dinner cruise can be the perfect way to spend a unique overnight layover in Paris. As the sun sets and the city lights up, step on board and get ready for an awesome soirée out on the river.
Have a look at the best Seine River Cruises in Paris to find the perfect boat tour for you. Night river cruises come with or without dinner. For an unforgettable night in Paris, we recommend the full experience.
Hotels Near the Airport for Your Overnight Layover Paris
If you have an overnight layover in Paris with an early flight the day after, consider sleeping in one of the hotels near the airport. Sleeping in a hotel close to the airport eliminates the stress of waking up early in the morning and getting a taxi during rush hour.
BEST HOTELS NEAR CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT
- Sheraton Paris Roissy Airport
- Oceania Paris Roissy CDG
- Hilton Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
- Ibis Styles Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
- Novotel Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Paris Layover – Things to Do at Charles de Gaulle Airport
There are no things to do near CDG Airport, so for short Paris layovers, it is better to stay at the Airport.
In general, your experience will vary based on what terminal you will be spending your time in, but basically, this is the list of things to do at Charles de Gaulle Airport:
Shopping: CDG airport has many shops, from duty-free shopping to gastronomy or exclusive fashion stores. If you want to know what to buy at Charles de Gaulle Airport during your layover in Paris, check this link with the list of all the Charles de Gaulle Airport Shops.
Eating: unfortunately, CDG airport does not have a big choice of restaurants for lunch or dinner, plus the prices are high. If you have enough time to travel to the city, you will have a better culinary experience than at the airport. For short layovers with no time to go to Paris, here’s the list of restaurants in Paris CDG.
Arts: Espace Musées proposes regular art exhibitions in Paris Charles de Gaulle, Terminal E. Check this link to see the current exhibitions and their location in the airport.
CDG Luggage Storage: for passengers visiting Paris on a CDG layover, the CDG luggage storage in Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2 can keep your carry-on for a few euros. For more information, exact location, and prices, check their website here.
Massages: Be Relax offers passengers various relaxing services like massages, manicures, pedicures, etc. Check their seven available Spas in Terminal 2, their proposals, and their pricing.
Kids Entertainment: there are games and spaces for kids all around the airport.
Shower facilities at CDG airport: There are no shower facilities at CDG Airport unless you can access one of its Airport Lounges. Not all the Airport Lounges at CDG have shower facilities, so we recommend checking the Airport’s Lounge Review for more information.
Paris Layover – Things to Do at Orly Airport
There are no things to do near Orly Airport, so for short Paris layovers, it is better to stay at the Airport.
Don’t expect too much from a layover at Orly Airport. The good news is that if you can’t use any of the suggestions above, it means your time in Orly will be short. This is the list of things to do at Orly Airport:
Shopping: Orly airport has many shops, from duty-free shopping to gastronomy or exclusive fashion stores.
Eating: you will find many places to drink coffee and eat snacks or sandwiches. There are also a couple of restaurants for a quick lunch or a chef’s meal.
Entertainment: depending on the time available, you can go to the hairdresser or play the latest PS4 games. At the end of the departure lounge, there’s also a piano to play.
And there you have it, what to do in a layover in Paris. Depending on the time available, a Paris layover can be fun!
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