Articles and Photos by David "Q." May All rights reserved ©2001-2014
By Bicycle directly from the Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris or elsewhere, and Vice-Versa
Nature of the Ride:
It is not difficult or unpleasant to ride to central Paris from Orly or from Charles de Gaulle. In April, 2002, I rode from central Paris to Terminal 1 at De Gaulle Airport, and to within 300 yards of Terminal 2and 100 yards from Terminal 3. Afterwards, I rode back to Paris. At the airport, I saw only three persons walking along the road, and no other bicycle riders. Rreaders of this site have subsequently visited the airport by bicycle, most recently in 2014, and have provided photos and minor updates.
Most of the trip into Paris takes place on a bicycle path along the Ourcq Canal with no automobile traffic. Before arriving at the canal it follows less-frequently used roads and town streets. During my trip, traffic (Please follow this link for an explanation of the author's traffic ratings) on the route was mainly "very light" to "light", but there were roughly 3 kilometers with "light to moderate" traffic near the Airport exit. Traveling during rush hours would surely increase the traffic you experience. I also drove out to the Charles De Gaulle airport by car on a weekend morning in the summer of 2002. Traffic was non-existent near the freight terminals, light at Roissypole, and light to moderate on the Terminal 2 ramps. A cyclist visiting on a Saturday in 2014 reported light traffic.
From Terminal 2 it is 29 kilometers (18 miles) by the route suggested to the northeast edge of Paris, and 8 kilometers (5 miles) more to the Bastille in the middle of Paris' center. From Terminals 1 or 3 you must ride 1 kilometer more. The route described here passes, initially, through 12 kilometers (7 miles) of relatively quiet roads, and then joins and follows the traffic-free Bike Path of the Ourcq Canal for 17 kilometers (11 miles) to the edge of Paris. Within Paris, if going to the Bastille, the 8 kilometers you'll ride are either on bike path or specific bike lanes. If you find the traffic in Paris daunting, you can walk your bicycle on the sidewalks (pavements).
If you wish to buy them , ISGN 1:100,000 map Number 9 and Michelin sububrban Paris map #19 will be helpful. Or you can trace and print the route from an Internet site such as maps.google.com..
Directions for Cycling from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris or elsewhere:
The pink dots indicate the route from Terminal 1 towards the cycling exit from the airport. The green dots indicate the route from Terminal 3. The red dots indicate the route from Terminal 2 Halls A - F.
View of the Terminals at Roissy (Charles de Gaulle Airport)
From Terminal (Aérogare) 1 to Roissypole:
On the photos, the route is marked in pink dots. Exit with your bike on the lowest level. There was very little traffic here during my ride. Ride in the road or take the sidewalk. After circling the building, the road heads south. Don't get on the road on the right exiting west towards the expressway. Bear left at the intersection with the sign "Terminal 1", which loops back towards where you came from. When in only 100 yards this intersects the road leading to Terminal 1, dismount, and cross to the far side of this road, where there is a sidewalk. Turn right, against the direction of the traffic. Stay on the sidewalk, soon , rather, a grassy area for a short distance, walking your bike . You curve left, to the east. When the sidewalk starts up again, walk or ride on it against the direction of the traffic on the road. Don't turn right or left.
Before the big underpass beneath the highway and the runways, at the crosswalk, cross to the sidewalk on the right (south) side of the road, and continue in the same direction. This sidewalk passes in its own separated area through several underpasses (over which planes roll). At the next intersection, near the Hilton Hotel, turn right (south) on the sidewalk or the street. This area is called "Roissypole". (Important Note: By instead staying straight at the intersection, and in one more blockturning right , you would come to the RER train station for Terminals 1 and 3;or by turning left and walking through the pedestrian tunnel, you would come to the Terminal 3. ) (The directions continue two paragraphs below.)
From Terminal (Aérogare) 3 to Roissypole:
Turn right on exiting the terminal and walk through the tunnel under the highway (green dots, then pink dots). Turn right and continue one block. Turn left (near the Hilton Hotel). You are at Roissypole.
From Roissypole to the Freight Area (Terminals 1 and 3):
To leave the airport, continue to the freight area (Zone Fret). From Roissypole ride south on the the roadway (very little traffic) or on the right sidewalk. After passing under the runways, you are near Terminal 2 and come to what I call The Loops.
The Loops: The red dots indicate the route from Terminal 2 et the pink dots indicate the route from Terminals 1 and 3.
If you are riding on the sidewalk, it runs onto the road and you ride on the right in a sort of wide breakdown lane of the road, as it rises(eventually to an upper level while eventuallymaking a 360 degree loop) . (The author experienced very light traffic.) One quarter of the way (90 degrees) through this loop, you must bear to the left, crossing through traffic (if any) to do so. Use care. Exit the loop, following the signs for "FRET" (freight). (Contination three paragraphs below).
From Terminal 2 (Aérogare 2) to the Freight Area:
You must ride down the exit ramp from Terminal 2 in moderate traffic. (If traffic is heavy, to avoid traffic in front of the Terminals, you could walk your bike through the terminals to the exit ramp: If you are coming from Halls 2A or 2C or 2E on the south side of the terminal, walk your bike to the elevator between the halls, go down one level, continue across - through the shopping area or nearby the railroad station, and take your bike back up the elevator on the other side. You are now on the north side in Halls B, D, or F. From Halls B, D or F, walk your bike as far west as possible, inside or outside, to where the road leaves the terminals. Wait for a break in the traffic to enter the exit ramp.)
Study the path of the pink dots in the two photos above. At this point you must ride your bike on the Terminal 2 exit road for about one-quarter mile. At first, as you ride west, you have one quite wide lane, with moderate traffic, but this quickly merges with the upper level roadway from the parking area, and you may encounter moderate to heavy, or even heavy traffic. The roadway slants downward and soon turns right (north). At the bottom of the ramp (i.e., when possible) branch right off the busy part of the highway into a 360 degree descending loop to your right. Another lane joins in from the right. Stay in the left lane. Three-quarters of the way around the loop, branch left, following the sign for "FRET" (freight).
From the freight zones of Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris:
Note: the photo below is now slightly out of date, but a more recent aerial photo is not available at this writing. See the text, small map and photos that follow.
To the airport exit:
For Paris, you will be following the path shown by the pink dots in the photo above. The green dots are for other destinations.
Whichever the terminal you have come from, you have already passed through the loops, and should now be heading west on a road called , "Route du Noyer du Chat" (Route of the Cat's Walnut Tree), which leads by various freight depots, numbered 1,2,3 and so on.. When the author rode here, traffic was light. Watch for the sign for Cargo 3 - 4. You must turn left here.
Take the first right, now riding west again. The road curves left (southwest). When a lane branches off to the right, stay left (straight ahead, due south) and enter a traffic circle. Take the third exit, due south.
(Only if you are going to cycle to the northwest in the countryside, at the next intersection after the traffic circle turn right and follow the sign for Roissy-en-France and D47A. After Fontenay-en-Parisis, and then turn north on back roads. Plot your route to your destination using a good map.)
Continue straight ahead, all the way to the end of the road (near some high voltage power lines. Note that you will pass a new shopping center (Aeroville) and arrive at a new traffic light. Turn leftand ride a short distance to a new trafficcircle not on the map above. Ride alost all the way around the traffic circle. See the photo and little map below (courtesy of James Gilbert).
Take the airport exit road D88 eastward (the author experienced "light to moderate" traffic on this road, and recent riders have also experienced very light traffic). You are heading east. Just after crossing under the power lines, you come to a junction. Staying straight leads eventually to Paris or directions south. (Only if you are heading northeast, turn left along highway D83 (light to moderate traffic) to Juilly in 14 kilometers (crossing highway N2 on highway D12 and taking the Route des Trois-Villes), from which you can plot an itinerary eastward or northward using very light-traffic back roads.)
Continuation — to the Ourcq Canal:
D88 (D88E on maps) curves left and right a few times before veering southward into Tremblay-Vieux-Pays (le petit-Tremblay on some maps)(signs: Vieux Pays). After the village, a pleasant bicycle path (see photo)parallels the road as far as an overpass. You then enter the village of Tremblay-en-France (a few blocks of "light to moderate" traffic).
In the middle of town, about two blocks after a stop light, the road forks. Take the left fork (Avenue du Bois), which dead ends in two blocks (traffic was very light from here on). Turn left (eastward) on Avenue des Écoles, and continue two blocks to the small traffic circle. Turn right on Avenue Louis Dequet, and follow this southward for approximately 16 blocks. Continue straight, passing the automobile barrier, and follow the lane to the left and right. Just across the pedestrian bridge over the canal, turn right on the Ourcq Canal bicycle path.(Turn left here to bike eastward or southward.**)
The Ourcq Canal Bike Path back to Paris:
It is a 16 kilometer (10 mile) ride to the Villette Park on the edge of Paris, and 6 more kilometers (3.6 miles) to the Bastille. Please see this Site's page along the Ourcq Canal (Route 1) which has many pictures. The path is well marked
Ride slowly down the steeper inclines, which may have "slow down" bumps near the bottom. At splits, when riding directly alongside the canal, always choose to ride to the left, up on the hill; the pedestrian path (tow path) goes straight ahead by the canal. When there is a split on the hill, ride to the right back down to the water (to pass under a bridge).
At the point where the path appears to make a complete U-turn to the left, you should rather turn moderately left into the forest. At the end of the forest entrance path, you turn right, parallel to the canal, and at the end of this you turn right again to regain the Canal.
You eventually cross to the right (north) side of the canal. There are some short sections with cobblestones. You should probably walk your bike over these, particularly if you carry panniers, or if you have a racing-type bike.
The bike path veers to the right, away from the canal, and follows beside a rail yard for a few hundred yards, before swinging left back to waterside. Close to Paris, you cross back to the left (south) bank, and just before Paris you must turn left, and then turn right, right and left to pass around a cement plant. You then pass under the Paris circumferential highway and enter the Villette Park.
In Paris, after passing the beautiful Géode ball across the canal in the Villette Park, stay close to the water, keeping straight, along the canal. After the park ends, follow the bike path beside the street (with one turn left and then right), until it ends, at complicated multi-street intersection with an elevated metro line. Here you need to pick up the separated bike lane on the street on the west (right) side of the Canal Saint Martin that lies more or less directly opposite. You will have to walk your bike across three or four intersections. The best bet to do is to ignore the one way markings for bicycles and to cross to the right, then to the left. The Canal St. Martin bike lane leads to the Bastille. Be careful of cars and other obstacles blocking the bike path, and of pedestrians stepping off the curb. Just before the Bastille, on the Boulevard Richard Lenoir, there is a market Saturdays until 7:30 PM and Sundays until 3PM. The road will be more or less blocked, and you must either walk your bike or detour through back streets.
For further details of the Ourcq Canal bike path and photos, and connections with it in Paris, see, on this Site, the pages for "Biking out of Paris", Route 1 (the Ourcq Canal route in the opposite sense).
**To bike eastward or southward, the author suggests the following route from the study of maps: At the Ourcq canal turn left, away from Paris. At the end of the bike route, in Clay-Souilly, ride through town, and take D 418 southeastwards to Annet-sur-Marne. Cross the Marne and follow D45 and D45A to Esbly.
To continue eastward, follow minor roads shown on a Michelin or other map, using a route that you plot yourself, for example to Quincy-Voisins, Coullombes and Pierre Levée; or to Cressy-la-Cri and Coulommier.
To head southward, ride from Esbly to Montry and St.-Germain-sur-Morin. Follow a minor road (assuming there is no Disneyland traffic thereon) to Montguillon and Bailly-Romainvilliers, then D96 south, plotting your route to your destination. If the traffic is too heavy, continue east along the Morin river to Villiers-sur-Morin, before cutting back west to D96.
Biking From Paris to De Gaulle Airport:
Print out and follow the Ourcq Itinerary, Route 1, out of Paris. After emerging from the section in the Sevran woods back to the canal-side, you will ride down, under a bridge, and back up. Turn left at the next bridge, a pedestrian bridge, about, 22 kilometers from central Paris and about 16 kilometers from end of the Villette Park at the edge of Paris. This road to Tremblay has recently been signposted (see photo).
Follow the road, which curves left and right before entering the town. You follow this street (Avenue Louis Dequet) all the way to its end . Turn left on Rue Claude Debussy, ride to the end in two blocks, and turn right onto the main road of town , D88, which leads to the Airport entrance. (A bike path is available after the underpass.) Look at the photos and maps above, and follow the directions given above in reverse, passing by all the freight terminals (light traffic). Note that at the traffic circle where the blue dots are on the photo of the freight zones, you must turn right on a one-way road tht loops back. Reach and ontinue on the Route du Noyer du Chat to its end (after passing under the runways). Your lane crosses another and you must yield to the crossing traffic; then you enter a loop (see map-photo below; you enter the loops from the left just after this yeild.
The loops on the ride from Paris to the airport. You enter from the freight area on the right (west). Terminal 2 is south, Terminals 1 and 3 are north.
For location of terminals, see airial photo at top of this page.
To reach Terminal 2, ride clockwise around the first loop one-third of a rotation, and branch left at junction show in photo above (red dots). You will be entering moderate to heavy traffic, so use care. You must ride up the ramp for about one-quarter of a mile.
For Terminal 1or Terminal 3, after about one-third of a clockwise rotation, branch right as soon as possible at junction shown in photo above (pink dots), (following the sign for "Livraisons T 2"). This road leads to a gate for service vehicles (you are not permitted to enter) but by curving left before the gate, you reverse directions and head back northward onto the other loop. After a full rotation down the ramp, staying to the right, you will arrive at the at the road for Roissypole (where you may choose the sidewalk if you prefer.
For Terminal 3, (see blue dots on photo at top of page) you must turn right on a wide sidewalk opposite the mural of the new CitizenM Hotel, shown in photo below (about 200 meters past the stop light at the Rue de Paris). After about 150 meters you come to the RER station. You jog left keeping the building on your right for about 40 meters, and then turn left and follow the sidewalk northward to T3.See the three pictures below:
For Terminal 1 (as per the pink dotsin the photo at the top of the page) pass the Hilton Hotel, and and at the T turn left onto the road, or onto the near (left-side) sidewalk.You pass through a tunnel under the runways. If using the sidewalk, after passing under the runways, cross to the right-side sidewalk. From either the road or the sidewalk, bear right following signs to Terminal 1.
(Thanks to Peter Wedd for many of the photos on this page.)