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Average time to clear Customs etc at CDG +Montpennase advice

#1
Hi, I think I have solved my TGV timetable problem, and there are 2 trains ex Montpennase station that appear to best suit my arrival. My plane is due to land at CDG at 0655, with the TGV's departing Montpennase at 1010 and 1210.

Based on recent Pilgrim experience, how long would it usually take to clear Customs at CDG and make my way to an Airport shuttle to the TGV station. I need to pre book my train ticket, but obviously don't want to book the first train if the clearance process at CDG will take a couple of hours (i've been caught out like this before) therefore leaving me insufficient time to meet the train. And if anyone has navigated Montpennase station recently, how user friendly (or not) is it for a first time visitor with limited French language skills.
 

Janeh

Active Member
#2
I have travelled through CDG many times - it usually takes about an hour to clear customs and get outside the terminal. HOWEVER, that is my experience and I can't guarantee it will be the same for you. To travel into Paris via train will take about an hour (less but allow that time). I would recommend you catch the later train so that you're not flustered or stressed about meeting deadlines. Montparnasse is easy to negotiate - I speak French but my husband has basic french and seems to manage OK. A tip - when in france, always try and speak the language and somehow include in the first sentence that you are from Austalia - they love us and will always bend over backwards to help. "Excusez moi, je suis australian....etc (excuse me, I'm australian followed by whatever you wanted to ask.) Remember, smile, smile, smile and attempt the language, even if you are reading out of a phrase book. :D :D
Where is your destination? You can often catch a train from CDG to southern cities, and link with a local train to the village/town you want. It is a good idea to book, although the french are notorious for having all kinds of strikes so cross your fingers and hope the line you want to travel is running. You will enjoy the TGV. Let me know if you need any more info as I go to france most years and know it well.
 
#3
Janeh's absolutely right that there's just no way to predict how long it will take you to get your bag and get through customs. Last summer, I was out on the curb in 25 minutes, I felt like I had won the jackpot.

I agree that the later train is probably safer. As far as getting to Montparnasse, I would recommend the Air France bus. It leaves regularly from right outside the terminals (signage is fair, but I got information from someone at an information desk). It is non-stop to Gare de Lyon and Montparnasse and is pretty much hassle-free.

As far as navigating Montparnasse, I waited in the wrong line once or twice, but the clerk was able to help me and put me in the right one. I found that the clerks' English was of a much higher quality than my French. I don't remember the details too well, but I think I remember that if you reserved your train ticket online from the US, you will not be able to use one of the machines to pick it up but will need to stand in line. Also, there are lots of food stores right outside the station in case you need to get food for the start of the walk.
 
#4
Thanks Janeh & Peregrina for the information, and I will end up booking the later train. Jeneh - I will be travelling via TGV to Bayonne, followed by the local train to SJPDP and an overnight stop before starting out on the Wed. I was told at one stage that the south west TGV's went directly from CDG, but all my internet research shows that Montpannase is the central point, so it's just as easy to take the regular shuttle bus from CDG. This initial arrival and rail transit was my only concern, but seems to be navigable for a newcomer. I will be relying on a few 'survival french' phrases taught by a friend and a lonely planet phrasebook, so hopefully patience, a smile and an attempt at the sentence will get me through.

Thanks again four your help. Dave
 

Janeh

Active Member
#5
You definately have the right attitude Davo - patience is a wonderful skill to have when you travel to a forgein country. Be patient, smile and the people will do their best for you. Have a wonderful time - say hello to the noise and smell of Paris for me - I miss it. :(
You will have no problems if you take the bus from CDG directly (more or less) to Montparnasse and yes, if you've booked a ticket from outside France you will need to queue to collect. Remember to validate you ticket when you enter the platform - otherwise they will think you are evading the fare. It is pretty obvious which is the ticket office - look for the words "billet" (ticket).Buen camino - or in French - Bon Chance a la Camino!!!
 
#6
Thanks Janeh for the encouragement and the ticket validation advice - the TGV online booking site I went through advertised that a 'home booked and printed ticket' allowed immediate boarding without going to the ticket office - I'll now bumble my way through the billet office to make sure. All a learning experience for me, but I guess thats the whole Camino experience. I'm not sure how much time I'll spend in Paris on the return trip, but it will be a couple of days at least. I'm trying not to pre book anything as I don't know return dates, but do you have any suggestions for local accomodation ie backpackers etc? I've found a few on the web that look great, but always good to hear from a fellow pilgrim who has actually stayed there.

(and thanks heaps for the lanuage phrase advice - a few more posts from yourself and I'll be able to dispense with the LP phrasebook!!! )

Cheers...Dave
 
#7
aloha mates!

Your posts have been very helpful to me! I am curious, having searched online, I found trains from Paris CDG to Bayonne...will I be able to catch the trains directly from the airport or will I need to take a bus to the station?

Also, I'd appreciate your advice...my flight arrives at such a time that I need to either spend the night near CDG and catch an early (cheaper) train to Bayonne/SJPP or I will take a train to Bayonne immediately after my arrival and spend the night there. What are our thoughts on this?

Mahalo (Thank you),
;-)Kelly :D
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#8
Davo...... I am sure you are doing the right thing taking the later train. You might end up cooling your heels, but I was quite flabbergasted last year at the length of time it took me as a non-EU citizen to get through CDG. They had only two counters open at passport control and huge big long queues. (It reminded me of the two hours you used to expect to take 20 years ago when arriving in New Zealand.)

Another option from CDG for getting to Montparnasse is the RER and Metro. Personally, I don't trust Parisian traffic jams, and this is one way of avoiding them. Probably the most straightforward way is to take the RER B from CDG to Chatelet Les Halles, a major interchange. (Try and take an RER that is not stopping at all the intermediate stops near the airport.) Then you take line 4 on the metro, in the direction of Porte d'Orleans to Montparnasse-Bienvenue. You then need to walk through the station to find the long distance trains at Gare Montparnasse.
 


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