12hrs in Paris

We recently took a trip to South Africa for a week to visit my sister and meet my nephew. It was a lovely trip as we stayed at a game reserve called Mabula. A good time for us to relax, disconnect and charge our batteries. If you’re looking for a place to stay and see some wildlife and would like to stay away from Kruger National Park, give Mabula a try! A short drive from O.R. Tambo International.

When booking our flights, we had a few options in terms of flight plans. Part of that was deciding whether we wanted to get to SA as quick as possible with short layovers. The other was picking a country to spend a few hours in. After a few hours looking at flights, deciding on countries we could visit, we ended up picking a layover in Paris. We’ve been to Paris so there was no need for us to do much sight seeing. With 12 hours on the way there, and 10 hours on the way back, here are some things to take note of when you have a short layover in Paris!

Getting to and from CDG → Paris

This is actually the easy part! If you are on an international flight, you’re likely to land at Terminal 2E. Follow the “Sortie” (Exit) signs. Depending on which gate you landed, you may have to take a tramway. You’ll soon see signs for “RER Train”, keep following. If you have large carry on luggage that you don’t want to slug with you around Paris, you can store it at Left Luggage (opposite the Sheraton and above the RER station) for a small fee.

Downstairs in this area you’ll find kiosks to buy your RER tickets. A round trip fee is about €40. You can then take the train to any of the Paris stops depending on what you’d like to do. Paris du Nord or Châtelet – Les Halles are two great stops with lots to do in the surrounding area. If there are certain shops you’d like to hit, be sure to see which RER station is the closest. Note: Make sure you use the same ticket to exit that you used to enter. I made the mistake of not remembering and had to buy another one way ticket to get back to CDG.

RER screens at the airport

What to do in Paris?

This is totally up to you of course. 12 hours will give you a comfortable 6-7 hours in Paris depending on how quickly you get through immigration and catch the RER. We mostly walked everywhere from the RER station, but you can also take the subway if you’re wanting to go further. My wife picked a lovely lunch spot called GrandCœur (41 Rue du Temple), the weather was lovely and the area it’s in had some dance classes happening. We each had a glass of wine with our meal and it was lovely! If you haven’t been to Paris before, you should know that they are very relaxed with their service. So for a short layover, it might feel forever for you to get your order in and to actually start eating. Be sure to actively ask for the check when you’re ready to leave.

If you are in Paris super early I’d also recommend you hit up Café Méricourt (22 Rue de la Folie Méricourt) for breakfast, their breakfast roll is delicious. You can even make a reservation in case they have a busy day.

Café Méricourt (22 Rue de la Folie Méricourt)

The lounges at CDG

After long day of wandering through Paris, especially in summer, getting on a plane all sweaty isn’t the funnest thing in the world. If you are part of the Priority Pass you can take a quick shower at Yotel. You can enter Yotel after passport control but before security. Take the RER to Terminal 2E and get through passport control. Take a sharp left and follow the signs to Gates K, you’ll have to take a short tram ride. It’s a bit of a walk to get to Yotel, but it’s worth it to take a quick refreshing shower before jumping on your next flight.

Don’t stress too much

Give yourself enough time to get to the airport from Paris. The RER takes about an hour depending which station you take it from. On our way back we only had a 10 hour layover, but we were able to take a leisurely stroll from Paris du Nord to Café Méricourt to meet a friend for breakfast. After that we took the RER back, had a quick shower and bought some gifts for friends back home at the airport.

What is your favorite place to have a layover? Would love to hear your stories!

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