Do you have a long layover in Paris? You can leave the airport and stroll through Paris and hit at least 3 major sites in less than 8 hours.

ParisHow to Tour Paris During a Layover

That’s right, you can stroll through Paris and hit at least 3 major sites in less than 8 hours. I know because I’ve done it during an 8 hour layover in Paris. Charles de Gaulle airport is about 26 km (16 miles) from Central Paris

I flew from Texas to Scotland a few years back and when I realized I had a long layover in Paris, I knew there was no way I was sitting around in the airport. My stepmom, Gloria at WristenCPA, put me in touch with a friend of hers that has traveled to Paris many times. Deb was brilliant helping me plan my limited time in Paris.

If the workers are on strike at Charles de Gaulle it will be important to know what type of security you will have to go through when coming back to the airport. During a strike it can take over three hours to get through security. 

What to do with your luggage

If you are planning to leave the airport during your layover check your bag. That way you will not have to deal with it during the layover. 

If for some reason you cannot check your bag there is luggage storage at Charles de Gaulle Airport. It’s located over in Terminal 2, across from the RER station. It’s open from 6:00 AM until 9:30 PM. Each piece of luggage is six euros for up to six hours and 10 euros for up to 12 hours. 

Notra Dam CathedralNotre Dam Cathedral

From the Charles de Gualle airport get on the north train station, Gard de Nord. Ride it until the St. Michelle station where you will find the Notra Dam Cathedral. The train ride will take around 45 minutes.

  • You will need exact change to buy a train ticket. Be sure to have some Euros before you land to Paris to save you some time.
    • I tried to exchange money in Atlanta and did, but they could not give me smaller amounts I needed. I should have tried trading with someone in the money exchange line! Or I could have bought a little something in Charles de Gaulle airport with cash where I would have been given change. 
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Get in line to get into the Notre Dam Cathedral. You do not have to check a bag and admission is free.

  • Do not get overwhelmed if the line is super long. It is always super long, but it moves faster than expected. 

University District

Once you are done touring the cathedral, head into the university district. Here you will find lively shops and fun places to grab a bit of French food. If you immediately end up walking along the Seine river where there are no shops you have walked the wrong way.


Louvre MuseumLouvre Museum

Once you are done shopping through the university district you will want to cross over the river and walk to the Louvre museum. Keep in mind that you may or may not have time to actually go inside, because the line gets pretty long.

  • There should be someone along the line letting people know how long the wait is.
  • Look around for an American to take your photo and then take theirs. Fellow Americans are easy to spot. (Look for Nike shoes!)

Eiffel Tower

After you are done at the Louvre, catch a taxi to the Eiffel Tower. DO NOT WALK! It may appear close, but it is not. I know because I walked it. 

When you are done walking around the Eiffel Tower you can get on another train and go back to the Charles de Gualle airport. Give yourself an entire hour to get back to the airport. And obviously, you need to be back at the airport no less than an hour and a half before your next flight. 

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Now obviously I did not stay in a hotel since I was only here a day, but there are lots of cool hotels in Paris.

Should I Take a Layover Tour?

If this seems overwhelming to do on your own you could always take a tour. There are a handful of layover tours that will pick you up at the airport and show you around. 

Private 8 hour layover tour with 8 stops

See all the layover tour options!

More Paris Info:

11 Things to do in Paris with Kids

3 Fantastic Children’s Attractions In Paris, France

2 Days in Paris

25 Best Day Trips from Paris

What to see in Paris during an 8 hour layover How to spend an 8 Hour Layover in Paris How to spend an 8 hour layover in Paris, France

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Book Flights

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Book a Place to Stay

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If you prefer staying in a vacation rental instead, I recommend VRBO.

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Choose Activities and Tours

To find great activities in any area I use Get Your Guide and Viator. If we are visiting a city with lots of popular attractions I always check CityPass and GoCard to see if they have discount cards available. Groupon also tends to have a lot of local travel deals.

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When I want to book a full-on multi-day tour I use TourRadar. They’ve got fantastic weekly deals. If I am going somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean I use Apple Vacations.

Rent a Car or Take a Lyft

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