Make the Most of Your 7 Hour Layover in Paris

So, you find yourself with a 7 hour layover in Paris? Well, lucky you! Although it may not be enough time to explore every nook and cranny, fear not, because I’m here to ensure that you make every minute count.

While it may seem like a short window of time, with a little planning and a dash of adventure you can still make time to soak up the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

In this layover guide, I’ll take you on a whirlwind tour of Paris flexing from less than 7 hours to more than 7 hours in Paris.
I’ll cover the must-see attractions, the best places to indulge in delicious French cuisine, and some practical tips to help you navigate the city swiftly and seamlessly.

Factors to Consider Before Leaving the Airport on a Layover

plane on tarmack with sunset during a 7 hour layover in paris

Although I have not experienced a Paris layover, I know the city extremely well having taken 8 international trips.

I know the Charles de Gaulle airport like the back of my hand. With my experience of getting to and from the airport to the city centre and the joys of getting through customs, I know exactly how much time you can plan on enjoying the city for your layover.

Before leaving the Paris airport during a layover of 7 hours or less, here are some important things to keep in mind:

  1. Time Constraints: Remember that time is of the essence during a short layover. Ensure that you have enough time to go through border control, travel to the city centre, explore, and return to the airport well before your next flight. Factor in traffic, queues, and any unexpected delays.
  2. Visa Requirements: Check if you require a visa to exit the airport and enter France. Different nationalities have different visa requirements, so make sure you have the necessary documentation in advance. For those coming from the US or Canada, you don’t have to worry about this.
  3. Luggage Storage: If you have checked luggage, find out if you’re required to collect it or if the airline will transfer it to the next flight. If you have to collect it, consider the time required and then leave your bags in a storage locker at the airport so you can be free to explore.
  4. Transportation Options: Research the most efficient and time-effective transportation options to reach the city center. Consider taking the RER train, which connects the airport to Gare Nord in the 10th arrondissement. Or a taxi if you prefer a more direct route to the activity you want to do. I don’t recommend taking the bus as this public transportation mode will take too long to get to/from the city centre.
  5. Traffic and Peak Hours: Be aware of traffic conditions and peak hours in Paris, especially during weekdays. Rush hour can significantly impact travel time, so plan your itinerary accordingly.
Screenshot 2023 07 16 124041

Keep in mind, that transit time in the airport (aka walking briskly) will be needed to get from your arrival gate to border control and then to the taxi or train stand in the airport. And, to do it all again to catch your connecting flight, will require transit time to get to customs and then to your boarding gate.

So, the time needed to get from the plane, through border control, and taxi to the city centre will be 80 minutes (at minimum). To return to the airport, the time needed by taxi, customs, and transit time to get to your boarding gate will be 80 minutes (at minimum). That means you will need 2.5-3 hours (at minimum) for your round-trip of getting to/from the airport.

If you are coming from a Schengen country, the total time you will need is 1 hour each way (at minimum), or 2 hours total.

So, can you leave the Paris airport during a layover of 7 hours or less?

The decision to leave the airport during a short layover Paris ultimately depends on your personal preference and the factors mentioned above. Consider the time you have, your energy level, and your willingness to handle the logistics involved. If you’re uncertain or uncomfortable with the risks, it might be best to enjoy the amenities and services within the airport itself.

My recommendation is, that if you are flying from a non-Schengen country, you will have to go through border control to leave the airport and customs to get back into the airport. For that reason, do not leave the airport if your layover is less than 7 hours.

5 Hour Layover in Paris

boat on river seine during a 7 hours layover in paris

5 hours in Paris is only possible for those who are flying from a Schengen country. It will leave you 2-3 hours to enjoy one of these Paris in 5 hours things to do.

  • Sample French Cuisine at a Local Café or Restuarant: indulge in classic French cuisine during your layover by grabbing a bite at one of Paris’ charming local cafés or brasseries. Treat yourself to some freshly baked croissants or pastries paired with aromatic coffee or hot chocolate – simply blissful! Bon appétit!
  • Quick Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour: a hop-on hop-off bus tour is an excellent choice to get a glimpse of these sights within a limited timeframe. These tours allow you to see famous attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Champs-Élysées from the comfort of an open-top bus while providing insightful commentary along the way.

🚌One of the best ways to see and hear about Paris- check availability!

  • Take a Leisurely Seine River Cruise: immerse yourself in the romantic ambiance of Paris by embarking on a leisurely Seine River cruise. See the amazing landmarks while gliding along Europe’s most famous river. It’s an excellent way to relax, soak up the city’s beauty, and snap some Insta-worthy photos!

6 Hour Layover in Paris

eiffel tower on 6 hour layover in paris

6 hours in Paris is possible only for those who are flying from a Schengen country. It will leave you 3-4 hours to enjoy 1 or 2 of these Paris in 6 hours things to do.

Of course, you can do any of the recommended activities I suggested for the 5 hour layover. But with 6 hours layover in Paris, it gives you a bit more time to enjoy perhaps one more.

  • Visit the Iconic Eiffel Tower: this is an absolute must when in Paris, especially for first-timers! You won’t want to miss the view from the observation deck where you will be able to see all of Paris from that soaring height. The Eiffel Tower is an experience you won’t want to miss!

🗼Experience the Eiffel Tower (1.5-hour tour) – book your date and time!

  • Stroll through Jardin du Tuileries: a visit to Jardin du Tuileries is a delightful way to spend a couple of hours. This historic garden offers a serene oasis with its meticulously manicured lawns, elegant fountains, and vibrant flowerbeds. Take a stroll, find a shaded bench, and relax while people-watching.
  • Arc de Triomphe: is another grand monument that first-timers to the city love to visit. Climb to the top for an amazing view of the famous Champs-Élysées Paris street. The Arc de Triomphe is a symbol of French pride and a must-see attraction while on a layover in Paris.

🏟️See the unbelievable view from the Arc de Triomphe Rooftopreserve your spot!

7 Hours Layover in Paris

cobblestone to seine river with people walking on paris layover

Now for those who are travelling from non-Schengen countries who have decided to risk it, I would advise you to choose one thing to do from the list already shared for the 6 hours in Paris what to do and 5 hour layover. Remember you need to give yourself at least 2 hours to catch your next flight.

But, I will add another suggestion for your 7 hours in Paris, and it’s one of my favourite things to do:

  • Walk the River Seine: walking along the banks of the River Seine is a delightful experience that immerses you in the city’s charm. Admire the picturesque bridges and iconic landmarks while enjoying the gentle breeze. Along the way, you’ll encounter the bouquinistes, and the traditional open-air book stalls, it’s the perfect opportunity to browse vintage books and unique treasures while embracing the romantic ambiance of the Seine.

8 Hour Layover in Paris

I have the perfect option timed perfectly for your Paris in 8 hours. Of course, you are welcome to choose any of the above activities, but this one fits so perfectly for a worry-free Paris 8 hour layover.

  • Private Guided Tour and Transfer to Airport: enjoy the convenience of being picked up in an air-conditioned car from a location of your choice. From the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe, Trocadéro Gardens to the Louvre Museum, this tour will take you to all the must-see landmarks. Choose how you want to spend your 3-hour tour before being transferred to CDG Airport. Perhaps even a visit to the Catacombs of Paris might be a way to spend an hour.

🚙Private Guided Tour and Transfer to Airportcheck availability and rates

10 Hour Layover in Paris

glass pyramid on 5 hour layover in paris

A layover of 10 hours in Paris now leaves you with a bit of breathing room. If nothing from the list above caught your eye, let me provide you with a few more experiences you’re not going to want to miss out on.

  • Visit the Louvre: marvel at the world’s most extensive art collection, including the iconic Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. Navigate through its magnificent halls and immerse yourself in centuries of art history. With careful planning, you can explore the highlights of this renowned museum, appreciating its masterpieces and cultural treasures before continuing your journey back to the airport.

🖼️Visit the Louvre with this timed entrance ticket to see the best art!

Hang out in a Paris neighbourhood: is a delightful way to soak up the local atmosphere, explore charming streets, and discover hidden gems. Here are a few of my favourites:

  • Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement is known for its artistic heritage, enchanting streets like Rue de l’Abreuvoir, and the iconic Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Don’t miss the chance to see the charming Place du Tertre, where artists create and display their work.
  • Le Marais spills over the 3rd and 4th arrondissements and is known for its historic architecture, trendy boutiques, and galleries. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the beautiful Place des Vosges, a picturesque square surrounded by elegant buildings.
  • Île Saint-Louis lies on one of two islands in the middle of the Seine and is known for its charming, village-like atmosphere and picturesque streets. This is a quieter side of Paris showcasing 17th-century architecture and incredible views of both the left and right banks.
  • Saint Germain in the 6th arrondissement is known for its vibrant bohemian atmosphere, charming cafes, and historic landmarks like the Saint Germain des Pres church. A visit to the iconic cafes of Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots.

12 Hour Layover in Paris

statue, flowers in park in paris on a 8 hour layover in paris

With 12 hours in Paris, you have ample time to explore the city’s iconic landmarks. Without feeling rushed or panicked, you could choose a couple of activities already mentioned. Paris in 12 hours is a good amount of time, as long as you’re not fighting jet lag, to get a real taste of the city.

A couple more of my favourite things to do include:

  • Find the secret covered passages: these enchanting arcades filled with unique boutique shops and cafes are steeped in history. Slowly peruse the charm and elegance of the history and 19th-century architecture.
  • Relax in Jardin du Luxembourg: a picturesque park that’s perfect for a stroll through its fountains and statues. Afterward, indulge in a visit to Angelina, renowned for its decadent hot chocolate.
  • Admire the Opera Garnier: one of the most stunning masterpieces of architecture in Paris, and the largest opera hall in Europe. After exploring its opulent interiors, head to the rooftop of the nearby Galeries Lafayette. From there, admire panoramic views of the city, including the iconic Eiffel Tower.

🏛️Have your camera ready for the Opera Granier, book your ticket!

  • Strolling the Paris streets: one of the best ways to soak up its charm. While the iconic Champs-Élysées and Rue de Rivoli are popular, venture onto lesser-known streets like Rue Montorgueil, known for its vibrant food scene, or Rue des Abbesses in Montmartre, lined with charming boutiques and cafes.

Overnight Layover in Paris

An overnight layover, or often it’s an 18 hour layover in Paris, offers a unique chance to experience the city after dark. Explore iconic landmarks illuminated in a magical glow, indulge in late-night dining at charming bistros, and immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife.

One such activity that is a bit touristy, but fun is seeing a world-renowned cabaret performance at Moulin Rouge.

💃Sip on champagne as you watch the spectacular show “Féerie” – book it!

Hotels near the Airport for your overnight layover Paris trip

Being super close to the airport for your overnight layover will be most important. Here are the hotels that are closest to Paris CDG airport, that I recommend:

But with the airport not close to the city of Paris, I don’t have any recommendations for things to do near Charles de Gaulle Airport.

What to Do in Charles de Gaulle Airport During Layover

Can you leave Charles de Gaulle Airport during a layover? Sure you can.

But if you are one not to risk it then here are some ways you can pass your time at the airport layover. Remember, walking helps to fight travel fatigue.

  • Explore the Airport Shops: discover the variety of duty-free shops, fashion boutiques, perfume counters and souvenir stores within the airport. Indulge in some retail therapy or pick up unique gifts and souvenirs. This is one part of flying I look forward to! For those designer shoppers out there head to Terminal 2A, 2C, 2E for the best shops.
  • Sample French Cuisine: treat yourself to some of the French classics like croissants, macarons, or even a delicious croque-monsieur.
  • Relax in Lounges: If you have access to airport lounges, take advantage of the comfortable seating, complimentary food and beverages, and other amenities such as showers, video games and Wi-Fi. Pro tip: head to Instant Paris (a lesser-known lounge) in the area of 2E (L) features a library and upscale seating.
  • Enjoy Airport Art and Exhibitions: Charles de Gaulle Airport often hosts art installations and exhibitions. These displays are dotted around the terminal. Or visit the Airport Art Museum located in 2E (M).
  • Pamper Yourself with Spa Services: Treat yourself to a rejuvenating spa treatment or massage available at select locations within the airport. Unwind and relax before your next flight.
  • Catch Up on Work or Entertainment: Find a quiet spot, plug in your devices, and catch up on work or indulge in entertainment such as reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to music. Or use your layover time to plan your next travel destination.
  • Get Some Sleep: if you need some rest during your layover, consider booking a room at YOTELAir, a transit hotel located in Terminal 2E. Starting at 75 euros, you can enjoy a comfortable and convenient stay with amenities like private cabins, adjustable beds, and refreshing shower facilities.

FAQs About Paris Layover

How far is the city center from the airports in Paris?

The distance from Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to the city center is approximately 25 km (15 miles), while Orly Airport (ORY) is about 18 km (11 miles). Travel times may vary depending on traffic conditions and mode of transportation.

How can I get from the airport to the city center during a layover?

You can get from the airport to the city center by taxi, bus, or train. Choose the most convenient option for your layover depending on the time of day and how much time you have.

Is it possible to store luggage during a layover in Paris?

Yes, both Charles de Gaulle Airport and Orly Airport offer luggage storage facilities. You can store your luggage at the airport and explore Paris without carrying heavy bags. Check the airport’s website or inquire at the information desk for specific locations and fees.

Are there any visa requirements for leaving the airport during a layover in Paris?

Visa requirements depend on your nationality and destination country. You may need to have a Transit Visa if you are from a country outside of the Schengen area. Check here to understand the visa requirements for your layover.

As a Holidaymaker

Experiencing a layover in Paris is an opportunity like no other. My biggest tip for you is to pre-plan what exactly you’re going to do and don’t try and do too much.

So embrace the magic of the City of Lights, even if just for a few hours, and make the most of every moment. Who knows? It might leave you longing for another visit soon!