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TravelShould you fly into Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport or Paris-Orly Airport?

Should you fly into Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport or Paris-Orly Airport?

Thanks to its rich cultural heritage, storied history and vibrant culinary scene, Paris is one of the most-visited destinations in the world. The French capital is popular with business and leisure travelers alike, and this year, it will be even busier during the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Paris has two major airports — Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Paris-Orly Airport (ORY) — each with its own positives and negatives. Here’s everything you need to know about both options so you can choose the best airport to fly to during your visit to the City of Light.

Distance to downtown and transportation options

Paris’ 20 arrondissements (municipal districts) are laid out in a spiral pattern, similar to a snail shell. The 1st arrondissement (home to the Louvre Museum) is considered to be the city’s center, and arrondissement numbers increase as you work your way outward, clockwise.

One of the most-visited and central locations in downtown Paris is the Notre-Dame Cathedral. This landmark is a great choice for this comparison since it sits on the Paris Metro RER B direct rail link that serves Charles de Gaulle and Orly.

(Note that the Notre-Dame Cathedral was badly damaged in a fire in 2019 and will be closed until Dec. 16, when it will reopen to individual visitors. Group bookings are expected to resume around late February 2025.)


Here’s how the two airports stack up:

Getting downtown Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Orly (ORY)
Distance (by car) 28 miles 11 miles
Time (by car) 50-65 minutes 30-45 minutes
Average taxi cost 55-65 euros ($60-$70) 27-35 euros ($29-$38)
Public transit RER B (about 1 hour) OrlyVal to RER B (40 minutes)

Charles de Gaulle is located to the northeast, on Paris’ outskirts, while Orly is located to the city’s south. Paris has one of the world’s most comprehensive and easy-to-navigate metro systems, making it a cinch to get from either airport to just about any point in the city.

The RER B is a very long train (both in terms of the number of cars and the length of the line) that runs north to south through the city and can be used to connect via both airports — though it’s slightly easier if you’re traveling from CDG.

The RER B doesn’t run directly from Orly. Instead, you’ll need to transfer at Antony station to get to the center of the city — at Antony, switch to the OrlyVal metro line.

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If you’re in a rush to get to Charles de Gaulle from the center of Paris, you can board an express train that skips most stops in the downtown area. However, make sure you board a train that is actually bound for the airport and not headed to Mitry-Claye station in the north.

If you opt to drive or take a taxi, the trip from Charles de Gaulle is about twice the distance from Orly, and (on a good day) takes twice as much time — with poor traffic conditions, the journey could be significantly longer.

Winner: Charles de Gaulle is farther from downtown and Notre-Dame, but it’s actually easier to get to than Orly. While it takes around the same number of stops to get to each airport, there are express trains to Charles de Gaulle that allow you to stay on the same line to get to the city’s center more quickly — so Paris’ larger airport has the upper hand in terms of convenience and connectivity.

Airlines and flight options

Charles de Gaulle is ranked as the third-busiest airport in Europe and welcomed around 67.4 million passengers in 2023.

If you’re flying from the United States to Paris, you’ll almost certainly be flying into Charles de Gaulle. Air France alone connects Charles de Gaulle to more than 20 North American destinations.

The heavy demand for travel to and from Paris is also reflected in the jumbo jets that make their way to the airport: Qatar Airways and Emirates regularly fly Airbus A380s (the world’s largest passenger airliner) there, while Etihad Airways recently announced that it will also begin flying A380s to CDG this November.

The following popular and highly-rated airlines also fly to Charles de Gaulle:

  • Cathay Pacific flies from Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) using a Boeing 777-300ER.
  • Singapore Airlines flies from Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) using a Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A350-900.
  • Japan Airlines flies from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND) using a Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 787-9 and Boeing 787-8.
  • All Nippon Airways flies from Haneda Airport using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
  • EVA Airways flies from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) using a Boeing 777-300ER.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and of course, it doesn’t even begin to cover the many short-haul regional flights to and from Charles de Gaulle. Many airlines also hop between the U.K. and CDG, including British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa and EasyJet. However, if you’re traveling from the U.K. to Paris (and especially if you live in London), it often is much easier to simply ride the international Eurostar train line.

On any given day, there are 10-plus flights from Charles de Gaulle to other major European airports, like Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) and Frankfurt Airport (FRA), giving travelers plenty of flexibility in their choice of airline and the time of day that they wish to travel.


Paris-Orly Airport, by comparison, is primarily used for shorter flights and secondary markets. Additionally, you’ll find that about 50% of the flights to and from Orly on any given day are operated by budget carriers, as gate space and departure slots are much more plentiful and affordable than at Charles de Gaulle.

Still, Orly does have a few long-haul flights worth mentioning.

Low-cost carrier French Bee operates flights to popular American airports like Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and its prices are often quite reasonable.

Winner: Orly is great for regional flights around Europe, but Charles de Gaulle is better for long-haul, international flights. Plus, when you take into account the multiple Airbus A380 flights that the Gulf airlines operate, many global destinations are just a one-stop routing away, leaving Charles de Gaulle as the clear winner.

Related: From basic economy to first class — here are 3 ways to do Paris on points

Airport amenities and perks

If you look at a map of Charles de Gaulle, you might assume that with only three terminals, the airport is relatively orderly. However, what you don’t explicitly see is that 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E and 2F all function as independent terminals, meaning you will have to deal with the pandemonium of eight different terminals when arriving or departing.

Terminal 1 is home to most Star Alliance airlines and is a TPG favorite since you avoid the chaos of the multiple Terminal 2s.

Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Scandinavian Airlines and Star Alliance all have lounges in Terminal 1. (The Star Alliance lounge is accessible through Priority Pass.)

Moving into Terminal 2, you’ll find lounges for Air Canada, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways and more, with a few Priority Pass contract lounges available in terminals 2A, 2D and 2E. However, all of these lounges are temporarily closed due to renovations and aren’t expected to reopen until at least summer 2025. In the meantime, travelers with these carriers are advised to use the Extime Lounge located just before immigration at terminals 2B and 2D.

The best lounge on the premises by far is the Air France La Premiere Lounge in Terminal 2E. Air France offers arguably the best ground experience for first-class passengers in the world.

Orly, on the other hand, is a much more modest affair, as you might expect from a primarily regional airport. Terminal 1 hosts the Premium Traveller Lounge (formerly the Iberia Lounge), which is accessible to Priority Pass and DragonPass members.

Terminals 2 and 3 both have Air France lounges, which are accessible to eligible SkyTeam travelers. Terminal 4 hosts Royal Air Maroc’s Zenith VIP Lounge and the Primeclass lounge, which you can pay to enter.

Winner: Charles de Gaulle can be an infuriating airport to navigate depending on what terminal you’re departing from, but once you clear security, you’ll have many more options than at Orly when it comes to shopping, eating or finding a lounge.

Bottom line

While Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport can sometimes be frustrating to navigate when you’re on the ground, it’s generally more convenient for international travelers. Plus, the Paris Metro RER B will get you to the airport quickly from almost anywhere in the city. Flight options, both for cheap, short hops and longer intercontinental trips, simply can’t be matched by Orly.


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