Cycling in to Paris From Charles de Gaulle Airport
If you're visiting Paris then a bicycle is really useful. It's generally a fairly flat city with famous wide boulevards which make it easy to get around between places of interest. There are a lot of good quality, wide cycle lanes as well, often shared with buses but with plenty of room for both.

You can easily hire bikes in Paris, and there are a few cycle tour companies, but if you want to be free to do what you want and not worry about returning a hired bicycle or using public transport then it's quite easy to take your own bike with you.

These pages suggest a route for cycling from Charles de Gaulle airport in to Paris and back out again.
Taking A Bike On A Plane
Different airlines have different regulations and surcharges for carrying bicycles, but they basically follow these rules:
  1. Remove the pedals
  2. Deflate the tyres
  3. Remove the front wheel
  4. Turn the handlebars so the bike is as narrow as possible
  5. Lower the seat so the bike is as short as possible
  6. Put the whole lot in a plastic bag
If you're flying from a smaller airport, like Manchester, then you might get away without the plastic bag or even taking the front wheel off and deflating the tyres. Some airlines charge a small surcharge for taking your bike, regardless of the weight of your other luggage. Air France recently charged me 14 pounds, but that did include a gigantic cardboard box which they put the bike in.

Bike packed for plane... and reassembled
Getting out of the airport
There are a few options for getting out of the airport and the route described here may need to be adapted for different arrival terminals. One easy option is to leave your bike packed up and take it on one of the free shuttle buses to the RER and bus station at Roissypole. This is a good start point for getting out of the airport and there's plenty of space to unpack and assemble the bike without being trampled by crowds. Other than that, just follow the map. Drivers in France seem to be consistently more considerate to cyclists than in the UK which makes everything a lot easier.

It might be a good idea to buy a couple of croissants while you're still at the airport as there are no convenient food shops all the way in to Paris on this route, unless you start taking diversions of course.
The Route
This is a route I've used quite a few times, but there are other alternatives. I find leaving the airport to the West is quite uncomfortable, with lots of junctions and motorway access slip roads etc, but it is certainly possible to go that way round and may even be a slightly shorter route actually. I just prefer the quieter option to the East myself.

From the airport in to Paris is about 22 miles with no hills worth mentioning, just a couple of gentle slopes here and there. On some stretches of the canal you can get up to speed, but other places are a bit bumpy and up and down. The trip should take about two hours at a leisurely pace anyway.
Somewhere To Stay
There is a Youth Hostel at Porte de Pantin which is very convenient for the canal and for getting in to and out of Paris easily. Directions are on the map below (the blue line). The hostel has the advantages of being very cheap, having a proper lock-up garage for the bike, and big showers with room to sort out all your stuff and get cleaned up. It has the disadvantages of being pretty basic, with shared rooms and no real privacy and possibly being noisy, depending on how many gigantic groups are staying at the time.

If you're travelling on your own it's fine for a few days (you can only stay 6 nights anyway). There are large coin operated lockers where you can leave all your stuff while you go out. They cost 2 euros for 24hrs. There is also a launderette just round the corner which is really easy to use. You should be a member of the YHA (or your own country's Youth Hostelling Association), but non-members can still stay there for a small extra cost.

If you don't fancy the Youth Hostel then there are several large hotels around Porte de Pantin (Libertel, Holiday Inn, Mercure etc), and millions of other places in Paris itself.
This site uses Google Maps to display routes. You can zoom in and out and switch between map and satellite views while following the route. There are also some pictures taken on the ground to help illustrate the route. Either click on the green camera icons on the map, or on the numbered links below the maps. This will display a bit of text attached to the icon, and a photo taken at the marked location.

Maps on separate pages:
  1. The Route In To Paris From The Airport
  2. The Route Out To The Airport From Paris
Map on this page:
  1. Directions to the Youth Hostel from the canal (follow blue line on map)
  2. A couple of bonus spare pictures not used elsewhere!

Tremblay-en-France is clearly labelled
Click on map markers or the numbered links above to view images
Links And Credits
I first tried this route after reading this very useful site. I've simply updated and clarified the route suggested on there. That site also has a cycling option for Orly Airport, which I've never been to myself.

I got the Google Maps interface working by using existing sites to plot the route (gmap-pedometer) and markers (gmaplive) and by reading this excellent tutorial and the Google Maps documentation. The marker icons came from here (Douglas Karr's set).

So, thanks very much to all those people.

All text and photographs by Dan Smith (

October 2006.