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When taking the train to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, we were confronted with two airport stations.

Paris Metro Map RER B

It was not clear to us what the difference between these two stations might be, and at which one we should alight to catch an international flight. Unfortunately our flight bookings neglected to include a terminal number.

With my "petit peu de Francais" I bravely attempted to ask fellow passengers which seemed to yield an indication of Terminal 2 for international flights. Although this contradicted the very little reliable information we could scrape together via frantic internetting, we passed through 1, and alighted at 2, but it just didn't look right.

Ok, don't panic we said, without going through the barriers, we got back on the train and returned to Terminal 1... still not sure. We found an information booth on the platform of "Aeroport 1", but the attendant seemed to be insisting that she was on her break and could not answer questions right now, but maybe my French was so bad I misunderstood. She didn't seem to have any English, German, Spanish, or Italian either. I didn't bother attempting to converse in Indonesian or Latin; she was clearly not interested in helping right now and it was rude of me to keep trying.

By following the crowd, we discovered that there is another rail line, I think, which connects the two CDG terminals and some parking stations. We got on that one and went a few more stations alighting at another, but different to the RER B, platform "Terminal 1", which ultimately took us where we needed to be.

It was confusing and stressful.

  1. What is the difference between the two "RER B" Aeroport stations?
  2. Is it necessary to switch off the RER B train, and onto a separate rail line which serves only the airport, to get to the International gates?
  3. What is the most efficient way to get oneself from a downtown Paris Metro station to the Charles De Gaulle International Airport luggage check-ins, passport control, and gates, etc?
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    Your ticket should have mentioned which terminal you were expected to fly from. parisaeroport.fr/passagers/acces/paris-charles-de-gaulle/… and the RER is one of the most efficient way to go to T1 or T2.
    – audionuma
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 6:20
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    Did you by any chance try asking "where do international flights depart" ? Then I can understand the other passengers confusion. But an airport having multiple stops is quite common (Heathrow has 3) and I have never seen an airline that will not tell you the terminal in advance. Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 14:48
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    Every single large-world airport I can think of has multiple train stops. Knowing "which terminal" is as basic to flight for decades now as knowing "which airport".
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 17:38
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    Note that while some airports have a notion of international v. domestic terminals (notably in Australia), this is in my experience not the most common pattern. Nowadays the split is often by alliance or airline.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 19:29
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    There is something missing in the question and it would (probably) be helpful to get to the bottom of it. Being unable to determine the correct stop after asking multiple people and the internet means something else has gone wrong. Also, I don't find people in Paris any more or less friendly/helpful than in London (where I live) and I am an average looking, female presenting, middle aged woman whose French is rustic to the point of being unusable (so I don't). I'm polite and that's it. You get the odd grump, but you get that everywhere. Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 10:47

2 Answers 2

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RER B stations at Paris-CDG airport:

Terminals 1 and 3: "Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 1" station
• Terminal 1 is available by the free CDGVAL rail shuttle (journey time: 6 minutes).
• Terminal 3 is available by pedestrian walkway.

Terminal 2: "Aéroport Charles de Gaulle 2 TGV" station
• Terminals 2C, 2D, 2E et 2F are availables by foot and by moving walkway.
• Terminal 2A is available by foot or by free N1 shuttle from RER station, level 5.
• Terminal 2G is available by free N2 shuttle, from Terminal 2F, exit 2.10.

RER B stations in Paris:

  • Paris : Paris-Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame, Luxembourg, Palais-Royal, Denfert-Rochereau, Cité Universitaire
  • Link with Paris-Orly airport by connecting with OrlyVal at station "Antony"

Frequency: Every 10-15 minutes on weekdays

Credit: https://www.parisaeroport.fr/en/passengers/access/paris-charles-de-gaulle/public-transport/rer-b:

Map from https://parisbytrain.com/charles-de-gaulle-airport-cdg-to-paris-by-train/?amp:

enter image description here

Regarding your comment:

our flight bookings neglected to include a terminal number.

Search the flight number on Google. It'll typically indicate the terminal number. Or one can look at the airport departure page (https://www.airport-charles-de-gaulle.com/cdg-departures for CDG) to see the terminal number.

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  • This last website indicates Non Official, I would use it with caution. Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 11:33
  • During the frantic internet search I did manage to find an association between our carrier (Emirates) and T1, which weighed into our decision to return to "station 1"... didn't help us understand that we needed to exit RER, and change to another train-line, but we did get there in the end.
    – John95
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 4:33
  • @John95 (I've flown many times Emirates in to CDG, hope you had a good flight!) John I know every single person on this page has told you "just use a map" and "no more or less confusing than any airport". Here is my best CDG anecdote to cheer you up. There's a few tgv a day parisbytrain.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/tgv_map.jpg from the south say Lyon which go direct to CDG. I was tired and confused and had a few luggage and as the train was screaming at me GET OFF HERE NOW FOR THE AIRPORT in many languages I screwed up and forgot to get off. Next stop is a WHOLE OTHER COUNTRY
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 16:15
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    I even had to pay the extra fare to and from Lille, for fuck's sake, and I utterly missed that and any later flight that day to Shanghai. Hotel. The next morning I'm literally THE NEXT PERSON about to go through security for that morning's flight and AT THAT MOMENT there's a MASSIVE BOMB SCARE at cdg. I eventually get to Shanghai and they have COMPLETELY LOST MY LUGGAGE. I completely missed whatever I was supposed to do in Shanghai, I get to Sydney, Australia and they have helpfully sent all my luggage to HONG KONG. It's actually my one and only travel disaster ever, but it tops yours! Smile!
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 16:21
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    @Fattie - isn't Lille in the same country as Paris? Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 19:01
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The Charles de Gaulle airport (which locals call “Roissy”) is large. It has three terminals and two suburban train (RER) stations.

As the signs in the trains tell you, as well as the automated announcement when you arrive at the station, alight at “Aéroport Charles-de-Gaulle 1” for terminals 1 and 3, and at “Aéroport Charles-de-Gaulle 2” for terminal 2. Station 1 is actually at terminal 3 and you need to take another short-distance train (“CDGVAL”) to reach terminal 1. Station 2 is in the middle of the gates at terminal 2. Just follow the signs in French and English (and some in other languages).

The separation between terminals is not about domestic vs international flights. There are international flights (both Schengen and non-Schengen) at all terminals (I'm not sure if there are domestic flights at all terminals, it might vary from year to year).

Most if not all airlines only fly from one terminal, and there are signs in the trains that list the airlines and the terminal they fly from. Note that what matters is the operating airline, not the airline that sold your ticket; often airlines that are in an alliance fly from the same terminal but not always.

Your ticket should specify which terminal you fly from. Your boarding pass, if you already have it, definitely specifies which terminal you fly from. If you have Internet access, you can find scheduled flights on the airport website.

If you get off the RER at the wrong station, you can take the CDGVAL train to get to the terminal you want.

What is the most efficient way to get oneself from a downtown Paris Metro station to the Charles De Gaulle International Airport luggage check-ins, passport control, and gates, etc?

Generally RER B is the most convenient unless you want to pay for a taxi. However, you might want to avoid it at peek hours (going into Paris around 8–10 am, and to the airport around 17–19 (5–7 pm)) because it can get overcrowded. A ticket between Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle airport and Paris is valid to any RER station inside the Paris city limits (zone 1) or to any metro station (regardless of zone). (A basic metro ticket or the Navigo Liberté equivalent is not valid on the RER outside Paris.) Also note that at the moment, the line closes early in the evening on weekdays due to construction, and when that happens there might be a replacement bus service (which takes the RER ticket); read and follow the signs.

The main alternative is the Roissybus express bus from Opéra. It's designed to fit luggage, but can get very crowded sometimes too. One ticket (sold on a machine at the bus stop) just gets you onto that bus. (The former “car Air France” a.k.a. “Bus Direct” service shut off during Covid and is not planned to resume.)

There's a separate network of night buses if for late night arrivals and early morning departures. There are also some commuter services, but they aren't really relevant for people traveling from downtown Paris, especially with luggage. See the airport website for more information.

attendant seemed to be insisting that she was on her break and could not answer questions right now (…); she was clearly not interested in helping right now and it was rude of me to keep trying.

Yes, it was rude to keep requiring someone to work from free.

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    As for the last part - this is what also gives a bad first impression of our France when someone stumbles upon such a situation. if she was on her break she should not have attended the booth, or placed a sign or something.
    – WoJ
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 13:22
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    Couple of quick notes for other readers who may see this question. Firstly, it's important to get the right ticket from Paris to CDG: a t+ ticket will let you board the RER within Paris, but you're likely to get a fine when you try to get out at CDG. Secondly, if you get CDG1/CDG2 wrong, CDGVAL is completely free (and possibly more frequent than the RER), whereas going from RER CDG 1 to/from RER CDG 2 would probably require a ticket if you've already exited via the RER gates.
    – Bruno
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 13:30
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    @Relaxed Yes, that's the signs I meant in my 4th paragraph. Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 20:41
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    @John95 Yes, that's correct. Station 1 is actually at terminal 3, not terminal 1. You need to take CDGVAL at station 1 to get to terminal 1. Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 9:16
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    work from free? Do you mean to say work for free? I should delete my little complaint about the attendant since it is not relevant to the question/answer. However, in my defense, it was very strange that someone sitting in uniform at an official "information" booth appearing open for business would be so unhelpful. There was nothing visual to indicate she might be "taking a break". If so, perhaps close the window and/or put up a 'closed--back soon' sign.
    – John95
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 4:28

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