Paris Airports – CDG and Orly

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about Choosing an Airport.  I mentioned that my daughter and I would be trying out a new airport – Paris-Orly Airport (ORY). We traveled in October, and I am pleased to tell you that nearly everything went as planned.

A TAP Tail

Although we have known about the Orly airport, we have rarely considered it when flying to Paris. In the past, the best flight prices have been with flights arriving at Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG). For this trip, we got a great deal flying a low-cost carrier (TAP Air Portugal). We flew from Chicago O’Hare to Lisbon, Portugal, and then on to Paris Orly.

The Line at Passport Control

When we arrived in Lisbon for our layover, we were delayed going through immigration. We waited in a long line that moved very slowly. As we waited, we realized the officials were pulling people out of the line for upcoming flights. As the time for our flight approached, we, too, were pulled out of the line. We made it to our gate in plenty of time. Although we were disappointed that we couldn’t visit the airport lounge, that was the only problem with the flight.

Choosing an Airport

The choice between CDG and Orly is usually an easy one. I pick the flight that works in my schedule. Since I usually fly into CDG, I forget to look at other options. This time, my daughter saw the flight deal and when we looked into it, we realized it flew into Orly.

I knew that Orly was also close to Paris, so it would work to fly there. Some alternative airports may not be as convenient. Frankfurt Hahn Airport (Germany) is actually about 75 miles from Frankfurt, requiring an hour or more on public transportation to get to the city. This should be noted if you plan to fly to Frankfurt on Ryanair, which uses Frankfurt Hahn.

Charles de Gaulle International Airport
At Charles de Gaulle Airport

Located about 15 miles northeast of Paris, CDG handles over 70 million passengers a year. It is the principle hub for Air France but also services flights from members of Star Alliance, One World, Sky Team, and several low-cost carriers.

The airport was built in 1974, covering over 12 square miles. Terminal 1, the first built, is a circular building. I have flown into this terminal several times on United Airlines.

Terminal 2 is made up of seven halls. American, Delta, and Air France fly out of this terminal. Although Terminal 3 accepts passengers, there are no gates in the terminal; rather, passengers connecting through Terminal 3 are shuttled from Terminal 1.

A fourth terminal is expected to built with construction starting within the next five to 10 years. The airport is near capacity – a new terminal could increase capacity between 40 and 50%.

A shuttle connects all three terminals, so it is not difficult to get from one to the other. Although I’ve found CDG confusing at times, I’ve always manage to get where I needed to. It’s becoming easier each time I fly to Paris.

Paris-Orly Airport

Orly is located about ten miles straight south of Paris. The airport was built in 1932 and was Paris’ only airport until CDG was built (1974). Although CDG has become the primary airport, Orly still handles over 30 million passengers a year.

Landing in Lisbon, Portugal

Orly handles most domestic flights, but also operates flights to many international destinations including the US. Although our flight originated in the states, the flight my daughter and I arrived on came from Lisbon, Portugal, because of the layover.

Orly has four terminals, the first two from the original building. What is now Terminal 4 was added in 1961. This year (2019) the terminals were renumbered and a third terminal was built that connects both parts of the airport.

My daughter and I had a comfortable flight into Orly. We followed signs to the luggage claim area to pick up our shared bag. We then found the exit for transportation to Paris.

Getting to Paris

Getting to Paris from either airport is not difficult.  Although taxis and Uber are available, I usually use public transportation.

From CDG, I take the RER B (train) which is accessible from Terminal 1 or 2 and takes between 30 and 40 minutes. The current price is €10.30 which is about $12.  Buses range from €6-12, but take over an hour. A taxi or Uber takes about the same time as the RER B, but can cost as much as €60 – maybe more.

Riding the Metro

The RER B brings passengers to one of the larger metro stations in the city. From there, you can take the metro or walk to your destination.

From Orly, my daughter and I took the Orlybus.  There are metro lines that run all the way from Orly to Paris – they are less expensive (about €4) but the route takes over an hour. The bus cost us €8.50 (increased to €9.50 in November), but took just over half an hour. The Orlyval train combined with RER B takes about the same time as the bus, but costs more.

To ride the bus, we took the Orlyval shuttle (free) to Terminal 4. Here we followed signs to exit near the Orlybus pickup. We purchased our tickets at the booth, but there are also vending machines that can be used. Once entering the bus, we validated our tickets (required).  We rode the Orlybus to the Denfert-Rochereau station (near the Paris Catacombs), then took the metro to a station near to where we were staying.

Flying to Paris
Café in the Seventh Arrondissement,
Paris, France

We found our first time flying into Orly much easier than we expected. We will definitely check our options when we fly to Paris in the future.

We had a relaxing trip to Paris. Since we had both been there before, we spent some time people watching in the cafés. We can’t wait to go back again!


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