Flying in to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport offers a gateway to exploring the rest of Europe. For me, train is always the transportation of choice if possible, and the Paris airport train station connects the Paris airport to a stunning number of locations across Europe. Knowing how to get from your incoming flight to the CDG train station, and on your train and gone, opens up a wealth of travel options.
For me, for a long time, fear of the unknown kept me from doing something I really love: traveling on my own. Just the logistics of getting from my flight to the CDG train station would have really intimidated me, and I would have kept telling myself I had to have someone else there because “two sets of eyes are better than one” and “just in case something happens.” Really, what I was doing though was taking the easy way out, and letting myself be intimidated by the fact I didn’t know exactly what to expect (and contrary to many of the stories I share, I really do like knowing what to expect when I travel!
SO, here is my contribution to take away some of that fear of the unknown. A step by step, photos included, guide to how to take the train from Paris airport train station. I arrived on an international flight, so I start from that arrival. Included is both how to get to the train station, and all the monitor deciphering and navigating it will take to actually get on your train.
Step 1: Get Your Baggage & Exit Customs
When you get off your flight, you will be herded deliberately toward passport control – assuming you are arriving internationally. As you come through passport check, there will be a series of monitors mounted on the wall directly in front of you. Check these for your flight, and it will list which baggage carousel the luggage from your flight is being delivered to. If you come through passport control strictly focused on the bathroom and miss looking at these monitors, you can wind up heading down into the wrong baggage claim. Not that that happened to me. No…
If that happens, you can come back up the escalator from one baggage claim section, back to these monitors, and the head in the right direction. Just don’t exit through customs before getting your baggage!
Once you have your baggage, look for the exit, which will take you through French customs. When we came through there was nothing going on and we walked straight through. I’m sure at other times bags are being scanned and checked. Either way, once you pass through the doors exiting customs, you will come to the line up of people standing with signs to pick up travelers.
Step 2: Follow Signs to Paris CDG Train Station
Now that you are through that, begin looking for signs like the ones just below, and follow to the train station, (Gare=Train Station). If you landed in Terminal 2, thinking the train station is in Terminal 2 – yes, it is. Terminal 2 is also about 5-6 terminals (2A through 2F) rolled into one, so that doesn’t mean it will be a short walk. However, just follow the signs, you will get there. If you’re unsure or misplace the signs, ask someone behind a desk or in uniform. Nothing they haven’t heard before.
Click on This Link to go to a good explanation of Terminal 2, along with diagrams and downloadable PDFs that show the CDG Train Station in relation to the rest of the terminal.
When you reach a three story set of escalators with a central landing-hall on the middle level with this beast of a flight announcement board, you are in the right place:
Take the escalators to the ground floor, under that lovely announcement board. This is the CDG train station main court where everyone is waiting for their trains. There is seating, charging stations (some where you can self-power your electronics through pedaling!), restaurants, a Starbucks (whoo-hoo!), pay toilets (€.70 at last check, and there is an attendant who will give you change on your Euro, and watch your bags while you go in. This really is ok.), and lots of people milling around.
At the Paris CDG Train Station
Step 3: Locate Your Train on the Departure Board
Look for these overhead monitors that list arriving (in green) and departing (in blue) trains (photo below). Anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour-ish before your train (depending on train volume at that time and space on the screen) your train will appear at the bottom of the screen and work it’s way up as departure time nears.
Step 4: Determine Where to Exit to Your Platform
There will also be a letter/number combination that eventually appears on the right side of your train listing, such as 6N or 3S. The “N” stands for North, the “S” stands for South, and indicates which side of the waiting hall you need to exit to get to your platform.
The doors leaving the waiting hall are clearly marked as “Porte N” on one side and “Porte S” on the other (see sign above the doors below). Once you are the correct side of the waiting hall, the number indicates which platform on that side of the hall. Follow the signs through the doors, and have your ticket ready. An attendant will be there to scan it.
Then go down the escalators, and to the correct platform.
Step 5: Find Your Waiting Spot on the Platform
Once on the platform, again, look for your monitors. They will list the coach numbers (from your ticket) and a corresponding letter. That letter indicates a clearly marked section of the platform where your coach will pull in. You want to wait in this area for your train arrive to be near your actual train car.
NOTE: When my train pulled up, my coach was actually nearly in the next letter-designated spot. So even with this system, double check the number of your coach before you get on.
Step 6: Welcome Aboard Your CDG Train!
If your train is listed on the sign over the platform, and a train comes into the station and stops at your platform, THAT IS YOUR TRAIN. The destination listed on the LCD sign on the side of the train may have a final destination of the train showing, and not your stop. If you are doubtful, ask a conductor on the platform, or a ticket agent nearby. You’re not asking them anything they haven’t been asked plenty of times before.
Two Tips for the Paris Airport Train Station:
I hope that takes some of the mystery and worry out of the whole process of arriving at, and taking the train from Charles de Gaulle airport. My two parting tips to make this work as well as possible, is to:
Tip#1 Give yourself plenty of time between your flight arrival and train departure.
It can easily take an hour to get through passport check, get your luggage, and make your way to the train station. And that doesn’t count possible flight delays. Don’t stress yourself unnecessarily, factor in extra time.
Tip#2 When in doubt, ask.
There are information desks and airport and train station employees in uniform throughout the area. While I’ve heard others give the French a bad reputation as far as helpfulness goes, I’ve not experienced that. Just ask.
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