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I’m an American citizen traveling with Air France from Athens to JFK in New York via Paris. Do I need a transit visa to leave the airport and spend the night in Paris? Can I check a bag through or must I retrieve my luggage and go through immigration and customs?

Thank you.

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    You do not need a visa. Assuming you're on a single ticket, you do not need to (and will not be able to) get your bag. For restaurant recommendation better to look at tripadvisor. – George Y. Aug 2 '18 at 3:00
  • The Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysées are on opposite sides of the Seine river. Not sure whether that qualifies as near. They're about a mile apart. – user67108 Aug 2 '18 at 3:06
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Do I need a transit visa to leave the airport and spend the night in Paris?

No, you don't need a special visa for France. Both France and Greece are in the Schengen area.

Can I check a bag through or must I retrieve my luggage and go through immigration and customs?

That's kind of up to the airline/airport. Especially for long, overnight layover you'll often have to claim your luggage. They will of course tell you when you'll drop off your baggage in Athens. But in my experience, there doesn't seem to be a fixed rule on how this is handled. But for a 20h, overnight layover, I would say it's more likely than not that you will have to retrieve it at CDG. However, CDG has storage for luggage (as everything at the airport: it's a bit pricey).

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As an American citizen, you do not need a visa to enter France for short visits.

Your baggage will be checked through to your flight to JFK and you will not need to claim them. If you do choose to enter France, you will cross immigration and hand your passport to the immigration officer just like those heading for baggage claim. Then, you can skip baggage claim and go through customs with your carry-on items only.

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    "Your baggage will be checked through to your flight to JFK and you will not need to claim them." In my experience this is not always true for long lay-overs. – Lucas Aug 2 '18 at 7:44
  • Since the OP is arriving from Athens, which is also in the Schengen area, there will not be any immigration officers to pass on his way to the baggage claim (unless France is still doing irregular "state of emergency" inspections). – Henning Makholm Aug 2 '18 at 9:54
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    @HenningMakholm last time I came back from Athens (about a month ago) there were agents right after exiting the plane with mobile terminals to check IDs. I was second out of the plane so it didn't take long, but there's probably been a queue after that. – jcaron Aug 2 '18 at 11:30

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