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How to Spend a Layover in Paris

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

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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.

 

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 of 5 hours? With a 5-hour layover in Paris, you can’t do much. However, a short Paris layover can be a great opportunity to tick off the first item on your Paris Bucket List.

 

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.

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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.

 

SHERATON CDG AIRPORT

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

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OCEANIA PARIS ROISSY CHARLES DE GAULLE

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

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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:

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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?

Click here to read more Paris Travel Inspiration posts

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  • Laura Lynch
    02/04/2017 at 2:13 pm

    Last year we did an 18-hour layover in Paris and though it as quick, it was really fun. You don’t have to have a lot of time to really experience something unique in Paris. Montmartre is one of my favorite neighborhoods.

    • WorldInParis
      02/10/2017 at 10:30 pm

      A little bit too touristy, in my opinion, but definitely worth the visit. Good that you had fun in Paris 🙂

  • Nancy
    01/28/2017 at 8:35 pm

    My favorite thing to do in Paris is to walk along the Seine. Once I decided to walk from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower. It was way further than I expected! When you take the Metro all the time you don’t really realize the distance. But it was one of the best walks I’ve taken there. You see so much and get a feel of how the local Parisian’s live.

    • WorldInParis
      02/25/2017 at 8:11 pm

      Nancy, this is also my favourite walk 😉

  • Louiela
    01/20/2017 at 3:57 pm

    I am such a slow wanderer and walking along Seine during a short layover would only make me feel bad. Or I have the choice to cancel my flight and stay for a few more days… 🙂

    • WorldInParis
      02/26/2017 at 11:13 pm

      Or even better, instead of a layover make Paris your final destination 😉

  • Revathi
    01/20/2017 at 2:05 pm

    This is exactly what I was looking for. I usually get only a short time to explore places on my travels. Your unique collection is so inspiring me to get to Paris right away. All the pics are simply goegeous.

    • WorldInParis
      02/26/2017 at 11:14 pm

      Thanks Revathi! Now you know what to do if you have a short time in Paris 😉

  • neha
    01/19/2017 at 2:28 pm

    I am headed in April, and I am super excited to have stumbled upon your post. I have nearly two full days and an evening for my stay in Paris. And most of the places that you mention here are on my radar. I am planning for a 2 days hop on hop off bus ticket and then covering as many sites as possible. Can you guide me on the route to take? I am put up at ibis styles paris

  • Gokul Raj
    01/10/2017 at 6:03 am

    Also you have to take care that you do not get lost in the beautiful city or else you are gonna miss your flight.

    • WorldInParis
      01/10/2017 at 8:35 pm

      I would not mind to miss a flight in Paris! 🙂

  • Michelle
    01/09/2017 at 4:40 pm

    Such a beautiful city and so many memories. I really need to go back and explore again 😉

  • Emily
    01/09/2017 at 4:11 pm

    A perfect walking itinerary along the Seine! I like the sound of the bars too; you can’t visit Paris without sampling the nightlife. Will save this for the next time I get to Paris.

    • WorldInParis
      01/10/2017 at 8:36 pm

      It depends on the time of the layover. If it is during the day or in summer time I prefer the walking 😉

  • Tara
    01/09/2017 at 2:25 pm

    What a tease to spend such a short time in Paris! I would definitely plan for a long layover, but I guess that even if I had a short time to spend, I would have to get out of the airport and enjoy it. I would probably find myself just walking the streets, soaking it all in – such a gorgeous city.

    • WorldInParis
      01/10/2017 at 8:37 pm

      Wow, it is like if you were already here! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  • Castaway with Crystal
    01/09/2017 at 11:43 am

    YESSSS I can’t wait to visit France and you just got me even more excited! Thanks for the post 🙂

    • WorldInParis
      01/10/2017 at 8:38 pm

      Any coming trip here? 🙂

  • Kerri
    01/09/2017 at 10:47 am

    As always, the more time I spend in Paris the more I find more little tricks like this. The rooftop bars will be on my list next time.

    • WorldInParis
      01/10/2017 at 8:38 pm

      Oh, there are plenty, for every taste! Especially in summer time

  • Matilda
    01/09/2017 at 10:35 am

    Great guide. Makes me want to go back to Paris to do some of the things I missed.

  • Lyssie
    01/09/2017 at 5:24 am

    I lived in Spain and never made it to France! It was right next door and I never got there. Next time I go to Europe, I’m going to try to book a layover in Paris and hit up everything you mentioned here!

    • WorldInParis
      02/02/2017 at 9:49 pm

      Europe is small but there are soooo many interesting things concentrated that I can understand you never wanted to cross the Pyrennées 😉

  • Juliette @ Snorkels to Snow
    01/09/2017 at 1:27 am

    Paris is a playground! I’ve never been in shortage of things to do in Paris, I don’t know how I’d get around everything I wanted to see with just a layover! But great post for those short on time.

  • Damien McGuigan
    01/08/2017 at 9:44 pm

    Paris is one of the few large cities which I actually enjoy. I much prefer it over London for example

  • Lillian Small
    01/08/2017 at 4:08 pm

    Great list! I lived in Paris for 3.5 years and you covered it pretty well considering the short time Even after that long, I still have so much more to discover and appreciate. God I love that city 🙂 [Under 1000 club]

  • Kaylene
    01/08/2017 at 4:05 pm

    There’s so much to experience in Paris. I’ve only been once but hope to be visit again. I love walking around the city so I’d really enjoy strolling along the Seine and taking in all the views.

  • Nathan
    01/08/2017 at 3:21 am

    I’ve never been to Paris but I’ll have to keep this around for when I finally get there. I don’t usually drink Bloody Mary’s but I wouldn’t be able to pass up a chance to try one at the very bar where they were invented!

  • Lyssie
    01/08/2017 at 12:56 am

    I’ve always wanted to go to Paris! Now I know I can hit up all the main sights in Paris on a layover. Thanks for this!

    • WorldInParis
      02/20/2017 at 10:50 pm

      You are welcome, Lyssie 🙂

  • Justine Cross
    01/07/2017 at 8:25 pm

    I adore Paris and this post is just making me want to go back there again. Such a beautiful city!

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