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How to Spend a Layover in Paris

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Layover in Paris, Paris Layover Tour, overnight layover in Paris, things to do in Paris during a layover, hotels near paris airport, 5 hour layover in paris, 7 hour layover in paris, 10 hour layover in paris #paris #moveablefeast

Day and Overnight Layover in Paris – What to Do

Planning a flight with a long layover in Paris? The City of Light has so much to offer that Paris is always a good idea, even if you can only spend a day or less.

Although Paris is the biggest city in France, the city is compact and easy to navigate on foot, by metro or by bike. So if your next flight includes a Charles de Gaulle airport layover, don’t hesitate to go to the city and experience some of its unique things to do in Paris.

It’s very unusual to have a layover at Orly Airport, as most long-haul flights are via Charles de Gaulle, so this article covers mainly airport CDG layovers.

Layover Flight Meaning – Layover vs Stopover

A layover is a stop in an intermediate airport to change from one plane to another to reach your final destination.

A stopover is a long break in a flight itinerary (ie. to refuel), but it does not imply any change of plane.

Normally layovers are short (a few hours) but sometimes layovers are longer or even overnight layovers. Some people like to find flights with long layovers, especially if it’s during the day. Long layover flights allow passengers to exit at the intermediate airport and visit the city.

READ: Need some travel inspiration? Check out these 75 Travel Quotes to fuel your wanderlust

Paris Outfits - Long Flight to Paris


Layover in Paris – Things to Do


Do you have enough time?

Getting from CDG Paris airport to city center usually takes between 40 min to 1.5 hours (depending on the means of transportation). Considering these transportation times, we don’t suggest going into Paris unless you had a minimum of a five-hour layover, and even then your time in Paris would be very brief.

Don’t attempt a trip to Paris if you have less than 5 hours.


Is there a Paris Layover Tour starting from the Airport? YES, finally! Welcome Pickups is proposing Paris Airport Layover Tours with pickup & dropoff from both Paris airports (Orly or DDG Airport). You can find the details of this tour below, under the chapter 5-hour Layover in Paris.


How to spend a layover in Paris? Here’s a list of things to do on a layover in Paris of 5 hours or more. Our proposals are for day layovers in Paris, and overnight layovers in Paris. For an overnight layover in Paris, we have also included a list of hotels close to CDG airport so you are sure not to miss your second flight.

Our suggestions below do not include transportation times.

Transportation from Paris Airports


5 Hour Layover in Paris

What to do on a layover in Paris for 5 hours? A short Paris layover can be a great opportunity to tick off the first items on your Paris Bucket List.


Book Your Paris Layover Tour

Get out in the fresh air and enjoy Paris’ top sights of Paris with this Paris Layover Tour proposed by Welcome Pickups.

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 in order to immerse you into the Parisian lifestyle.

This Paris Airport Layover Tour lasts 4 hours and includes stops at the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, Grand Palais, Moulin Rouge Cabaret, Montmartre, Opéra Garnier, Place Vendôme, the Louvre Museum, Orsay Museum, and Jardin du Luxembourg. Also, you will be able to see Notre Dame de Paris from the distance (currently closed to the public).

During the tour, you will have wi-fi on board so you can catch up with your emails and messages before the next flight or share some cool snaps of your Paris layover tour. The price is for 4 people maximum so if you are a family of 4 or a group of friends this tour is a great deal.

Click here to book your Paris Airport Layover Tour



Visit the Eiffel Tower (Duration: 2 hours)

Eiffel Tower Paris

Many people dream of visiting the Eiffel Tower so why not using a five-hour layover in Paris so see the Iron Lady with your own eyes?

The distance from CDG to Eiffel Tower is 31.5 km via highway A1, around 37 minutes by car.

With a 5 hour layover in Paris, you want to move as fast as you can. We recommend Welcome, a private transfer service with a professional driver who meets you after the customs so you don’t waste time with public transportation or looking for the taxi terminal.

Click here to book your private transfer service with Welcome


Of course, there are other transportation options from Paris airport to Eiffel Tower. We have a specific article with the best ways to go from CDG to Eiffel Tower.

READ MORE – How to get from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Eiffel Tower


Can you climb the Eiffel Tower with 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.

Click here to buy your Eiffel Tower Skip the Line Tickets to the Second Floor with Standard Summit Access


Visit the Louvre Museum – We tell you How to Do it in 2 hours!

Best Way to See the Louvre in 2 hours

Other people may be interested in visiting the Louvre Museum. Being one of the biggest museums in the world, the Louvre may be very time-consuming unless you have a plan and decide to spend no more than 2 hours or so.

With the Smart Louvre Kit, we tell you our best tips to get the most out of the Louvre in 2 hours or less. We also help you to create a custom-made Louvre itinerary so you are only focused on visiting the Louvre artworks which interest you most.

Get the Smart Louvre Kit, and get the most out of the Louvre in 2 hours


Needless to say, if you want to visit the Louvre Museum during your Paris layover you need to buy skip the line tickets. These Louvre 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

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.


Take a Unique Stroll along the Seine River (Duration: 3 hours)


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 are on a 6-hour layover in Paris and CDG airport is not the most exciting airport in the world, head out for a unique stroll in the City of Light.

At the airport train station take the RER B (42min) and get out at Saint Michel – Notre Dame. In front of you, there’s Ile de la Cité (Paris 4), the heart of Paris. Take Pont des Coeurs to go to Ile de la Cité.

First of all, admire Notre Dame‘s main facade [from the distance], this cathedral is a jewel of Gothic architecture and one of Paris’ main sights. The cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of Paris (Notre Dame de Paris). You can see her represented on the rose-window.

Walk over to Seine’s right bank and start walking north-west, 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 La Conciergerie (the building with the pointed towers), 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 along the famous Tuileries Gardens, in Paris 1. Designed for Queen Catherine de Medici in 1564, Tuileries Gardens are the oldest public gardens in Paris. If you need some rest, the gardens’ two ponds are perfect for relaxation.

The Tuileries Gardens end at Place de la Concorde with an Egyptian Obelisk. Brought by Napoleon I  directly from Egypt, it was a kind of souvenir for his beloved Josephine.

Finally, cross Pont Alexandre III to Paris 7, on the Seine’s left bank. The golden cupola 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 (or your private transfer) to board on your last flight.


7 Hour Layover in Paris

With a 7 hour layover in Paris, you can take it easier. We suggest combining one of the above proposals for 5 hours in Paris or 6 hours in Paris with a few of these (not all of these!) if they catch your interest.


+ Unique Views of Paris from Unique Sights (Duration: 1-2 hours)

Climb the stairs of Paris’ most iconic monuments, such as Notre Dame Towers, Tour de Montparnasse or Arc de Triomphe for unique views of the City of Light. Currently, Notre Dame Towers are closed to the public so for the views so we recommend Arc de Triomphe, in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris. This is the closest site to our previous proposals.

Again, a skip the line ticket will be your best friend because you don’t want to waste your precious few hours in Paris waiting in a line.

Click here to book your skip the line ticket to Arc de Triomphe Rooftop


+Visit Sainte-Chappelle

This gothic-style royal chapel is home to some of the most intricate stained glass designs in Europe. It’s located close to Notre-Dame on Ile de la Cité.

Click here to book your skip the line ticket to Sainte Chapelle


+ Spend time in a Parisian Cafe

It’s the most Parisian thing to do at all. 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 pastime!


10 Hour Layover in Paris

Paris Layover - Montmartre

If you have a 10-hour layover in Paris you can combine one of the proposals above with a stroll around the quintessential neighborhood of Montmartre.


+ Enjoy Montmartre’s Bohemian Atmosphere (Duration: 3 hours)

Stretch those legs before getting back on your last plane and tour the city’s most famous “quartier” to enjoy its bohemian atmosphere. Montmartre has everything we imagine when we think about Paris: street painters, yummy crêperies, some cute sights, and the enchanting sound of the accordion on the streets.

If you are traveling on a budget, you have enough time to use public transportation. From Paris airport to Montmartre, take the RER B and Metro and get out at Anvers metro station (42min). From there, rue de Steinkerque takes you directly to Sacré Coeur Basilica, on the top of the hill.

Our suggestion for Montmartre is to forget maps and itineraries and wander Montmartre’s winding alleys, without any direction, and soak up its bohemian atmosphere.


12 Hour Layover in Paris

Covered Walkways of Paris

During a 12 hour layover in Paris, you can combine many of the previous proposals with a lunch or dinner in a typical Parisian bistro or brasserie to get a taste of Paris local food.

You can also think about using 2-3 hours to visit a small museum or walk the covered passages of Paris is the weather is not good.

There are so many interesting things to do in Paris that we recommend writing a short Paris checklist and calculate the time you need to do each of the activities plus the time to go from one place to the following one. Check our post about the Parisian Metro to learn how to move through the city faster.

TIP: When planning your Paris layover tour, have a look at the best time to visit Paris tourist attractions to avoid the longest lines.


Overnight Layover in Paris

What do you do in Paris when you have an overnight layover?  Well, simple – you find a hotel near the airport, get on the train, the metro, and go to get the most out of Paris at night.


Unique dinner & drinks in Paris

Eiffel Tower Paris

A CDG airport Paris layover during dinner time? If you found a great deal on a connecting flight through Paris, skip the Paris airport restaurants and head into the city.

For a unique meal on your layover in Paris, head to Les Ombres, a restaurant located on the rooftop terrace of Musée du Quai Branly in Paris 7. Apart from its good French cuisine, 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 is the locals’ place to be. Try Le Perchoir du Marais (37 rue de la Verrerie, Paris 4), the most fashionable terrace of Paris with breathtaking views. Or Up on the Roof (4 rue Danton, Paris 6), at the heart of the Latin Quarter and with a view on Notre-Dame, the Palais de Justice and the Seine.


Cabaret Shows in Paris

Paradis Latin can can girls

Photo Courtesy: Paradis Latin Paris ©

Another oh-so-Parisian option for your overnight layover in Paris is a Cabaret Show. Cabarets are a popular tourist attraction in Paris at night. Because, YES! bars and nightclubs exist everywhere in the world but where else than in Paris can 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 you don’t know which one to choose, check our post below with the best cabarets in Paris. Book online in advance.

READ MORE –   Lido Cabaret, Crazy Horse or Moulin Rouge: what is the Best Cabaret in Paris?


Take a unique Seine River Night Cruise

Best Seine Cruises in Paris

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 night out on the river. Have a look at the Best Seine River Cruises 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 pack.

TIP: This bistro-style Seine River dinner cruise has always great reviews!


Hotels near Charles de Gaulle Airport

Hotels in Paris

If you have an overnight layover in Paris consider booking a night in one of the hotels near Charles de Gaulle airport, especially if the next day flight is very early in the morning. Sleeping in a hotel close to Charles de Gaulle Airport eliminates the stress of having to wake up early in the morning and getting a taxi during the rush hour.

Another advantage of the hotels near Charles de Gaulle airport is their competitive pricing because most tourists opt for an ‘in the city’ located hotel. In addition, most of these hotels also provide a free pick and drop from the airport if you book in advance.



The Sheraton Charles de Gaulle is the “Paris Airport Hotel”, is amongst all the CDG hotels the only CDG hotel inside the airport. Sheraton CDG Airport is located at Terminal 2 of Charles de Gaulle Airport which means you are within walking distance of the boarding gates. Despite its proximity to the airport, the rooms are very comfortable and quiet.

Click here for the Latest Prices



From all the hotels close to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Oceania Paris Roissy Cdg Airport is one of our favorites. The hotel, with a 24-hour service desk and FREE Wi-fi, is really beautiful and it features a fantastic spa, perfect for a moment of relaxation after a long flight. This hotel is located at 1.5km from Terminal 1 and it proposes an airport shuttle at no extra charge.

Click here for the Latest Prices


Apart from the two hotels above, there are other good Charles de Gaulle airport hotels, here’s the list of the most popular hotels near Charles de Gaulle:


Didn’t you find your CDG airport hotel you in the list above? Click here to view all the hotels near Charles de Gaulle Airport


Things to Do at Charles de Gaulle 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 in 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. You can check this link with 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 its exact location.

CDG Luggage Storage: for those visiting Paris,  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 proposes passengers a wide range of relaxing services like massages, manicures pedicures. etc. Check their 7 available Spas located in Terminal 2, their proposals and pricing.

Kids Entertainment: all around the airport.


Paris Layover – F.A.Q

What is around Charles de Gaulle airport?

Nothing! Your best option to have fun, if you have enough time, is to travel to Paris.

Can you leave the airport during a layover in Paris?

If you have a long layover in Paris (at least 5-6 hours), YES,  you should be visiting Paris! However, you need to consider eventual delays of your first flight, transportation time from the plane to the terminal, and border control lines.

Also, keep in mind that if you booked your flights separately with different flight companies, you will need to pick up the baggage at Paris airport and do another check-in. Allow extra time to do all this.

Border Control

When you enter France & Schengen Area from non-Schengen Countries you must clear passport control at Paris-CDG.

There are two lines at passport control: one for European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), British and Swiss nationals, and a second line for all other nationalities. A third queue “Fast Lane” is available for premium passengers and select non-premium passengers. It is difficult for us to tell you how long you will spend doing the passport control. In any case, allow extra time to do all this.

Paris Transit Visa (France Transit Visa)

Depending on your nationality and destination country, you may need to have a Transit Visa to make a connection in a foreign airport or cross through a foreign country. For passengers coming from non-Schengen countries, a Transit Visa (in this case a France Transit Visa) is necessary for transiting through two Schengen Countries. Also, note that a Schengen visa is needed for all connections between Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly Airport.

Can you leave the airport during a layover with a Transit Visa? In France, there are 2 types of  France Transit Visas:

  • An Airport Transit Visa allows a passenger to pass through the international zone of an airport, without entering the country’s territory.
  • A Short Stay Visa is granted to a passenger who intends to go from one non-Schengen country to another non-Schengen country by crossing through the territory of France or any other Schengen member country. This kind of visa can be used for 1 crossing or many crossings, with a duration of up to 5 days per crossing.

If you are from a non-Schengen member country, we suggest checking the entry and travel regulations for your country in France before your departure. You may find useful Air France’s Transit Visa page, that you can check here

Shower facilities at CDG airport

There are no shower facilities at CDG Airport unless you have access to 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.

If you are not eligible to enter one of the Airport Lounges, TransitYOTELAIR (inside the airport) proposes also 1-hour shower-only packages (15 euros) for people who only want to freshen up.

Long-distance flight tips

After some hours enjoying Paris, it is time to go back to the airport and get ready for your second flight. If long-distance flights are a bit of pain for you, check Arzo’s tips or Megan’s air travel tips to survive long-haul flights. Also, check out this list of Travel Essentials for long-haul flights. Bon voyage!

READ MORE – Best airport hacks to help you Travel Like a Pro


Have you been to Paris? What would you recommend doing on a short layover?

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Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission if you make a purchase through our links. It costs you nothing more (in fact, if anything, you’ll get a nice discount) but helps us to go on creating incredible Paris content for you. We trust all products promoted here and would never recommend a product that isn’t of value.
World in Paris is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases at no expense to you.

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  • Sreekar
    10/22/2017 at 9:12 am

    As you rightly point our, walking along the Siene is enough to while away a few hours as you wait for your next flight. It a pleasure with so many things to do along the banks!

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