Articles and Photos by David "Q." May All rights reserved ©2001-2014
Ride your bike from the Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris or Vice-Versa
Nature of the Ride:
It is easy and pleasurable in good weather, to ride from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the edge of Paris in roughly 28.5 kilometers (17 miles), and to central Paris in another 8 kilometers (5 miles). A reader of this site, Peter Wedd, rides to the airport and back almost every year, most recently in October 2014, and has provided many of the photos on this page and many suggestions. Other photos were taken from recent Google roadside views and Apple and Google aerial views. I rode a slighttly different route in 2002 when I last had an apartment in Paris.
At the airport you follow low traffic roads, sometimes with sidewalks. After the airport you use a bike path or infrequently traveled roads or streets, often with bike paths or lanes, and then the excellent bike path by the Ourcq Canal. Traffic is unlikely to be a problem, but as always, use care. There are no significant hills. Within Paris there are bike lanes.
NOTE: There is at least one other Internet Site giving directions for riding from the airport. I have reviewed that site's directions for leaving the airport, as has Peter Wedd, and we strongly urge you to use our route. It is shorter, has less traffic, is safer, less confusing and without the risk of making a wrong turn onto a superhighway.
Note: Due to security concerns, after unpacking your bike from its carton, rip the carton into pieces and dispose of the pieces in a container or with the airport cleaning staff.
Directions for Cycling from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris or elsewhere:
The pink dots on the photo below indicate the route from Roissypole (accessible by tram from any Terminal) towards the cycling exit from the airport. The red dots indicate the route from Terminal 2(Aérogare 2) Halls A - E if you choose to ride in traffic.
View of Roissypole CDGVal tram stop (building with squares on roof) (pink dots) and Terminal 2(red dots)
From Terminal 1(Aérogare 1) to Roissypole:
The roads of Charles de Gualle Airport were not planned with cyclists or pedestrians in mind, though there are exceptions. From Terminal 1, do not ride! Rather take the free CDGVal, an automated tram at the lower level of Terminal 1. Get off at Roissypole, the second stop.
From Terminal 2 (Aérogare 2) to Roissypole:
If you are uncomfortable riding in traffic, you can take the CDGVal to Roissypole, the second stop. Or you can ride directly, saving time and distance, as described below, but subjecting yourself briefly to heavy traffic.
From Terminal (Aérogare) 3 to Roissypole:
Signs will direct you to Roissypole. You turn right on exiting Tterminal 3 and walk your bike through the tunnel under the highway. Turn right and continue one block. Turn left.
From Roissypole to the beginning of the Cargo Area:
See the dots on the map above. When you come out of the building at Roissypole ride, walk your bike left, to the west, on a wide covered walkway for approximately 150 meters.Turn left and ride south on the the roadway (very little traffic), or on the sidewalk. After eventually passing through a tunnel under some runways, you 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 making a 360 degree loop . (The author experienced very light traffic.) One quarter of the way (90 degrees) through this loop, the route from Terminal 2 comes in from the left. At this point you must immediately bear off to the left, crossing through traffic (if any) to do so. Traffic is unlikely, but use care. Also at this point there is an overhead sign, pictured below. Exit the loop, following the signs for"Zone Cargo". (Contination three paragraphs below).
From Terminal 2 (Aérogare 2) to the beginning of the Cargo Area:
If you are not taking the CDGVal to Roissypole, as suggested above, 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 red dots in the photos above. From the end of Hall B 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). You pass through a tunnel under the runway. When possible, branch right off the busy part of the highway into a descending loop to your right. Another lane joins in from the righ (rarely with any traffic)t. Stay in the left lane. Three-quarters of the way around the loop, branch left, following the signs for "Zone Cargo" and/or "FRET" (freight). You pass under the upper roads of both loops and the road from Terminals 1 and 3 merges in from the right. You stay left. Just after the junction, you will see the sign in the photo below:
The sign you see as you exit the loops. Keep left.
From the Cargo Area of Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport to Airport Exit:
To Paris you will be following the path shown by the pink dots in the photo above. The green dots are for other destinations. The blue dots show a detour necessary when riding to the airport.
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 will lead by various freight depots, numbered 1,2,3 and so on.. The road passes under the runways, then bears left, and then right and passes several parking lots on your left. When I rode here, traffic was light, and aerial and other photos indicate light traffic. Watch for the sign for Cargo 1-2, "Le Poste". You must turn left (POINT A). (The signs you see may be slightly different; they are updated frequently.)
Take the first right turn, now riding west again. The road curves right, then makes a 90º bend to the left (southwest). When lanes branch off to the right and left (see the photo just below, you must stay in the middle lane (straight ahead). POINT B.
Follow the middle lane:
This middle lane curves right and enters a traffic circle. Take the third exit, due south towards cargo areas 5,6 and 7..
(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 through a traffic circle. A new shopping center, Aeroville, will be on your right.
At the next roundabout (POINT C), you bear slightly to the right, following signs for "Tremblay, Fret 6-7, and A104".
When this road ends at a traffic light (POINT D), you turn left, now heading southeast. You enter another large traffic circle (POINT E) (near some high voltage power lines), and take the second exit, due south, signed A1 (Lille), Z.I Paris Nord 2, and Parc des Expositions (see photo below). You are no longer in the airport.
From the Airport Exit to the Ourcq Canal:
Following is the first of two overal views of the route to the Ourcq Canal Bike Path:
(Only if you are heading to destinations northeast of the airport, at the traffice circle (E)take the third exit rather than the second, D88 to the east and in 600 meters turn left at the sign for Mesnil Amelot, Soissons, etc, and continue to Juilly in 14 kilometers (crossing highway N2 on highway D12 and taking the Route des Trois-Villes). From Juilly you can plot an itinerary eastward or northward, for example to Chantilly or Senlis, using very light-traffic back roads.)
Having taken the second exit from the traffic circle (at E), ride south on a very quiet but narrow divided road for about 500 meters. Since this will take less than two minutes to ride, if by chance there is traffic behind you, I would strongly consider blocking it by riding in the middle of the road. At a traffic circle, go under the bridge (D40) and immediately encounter a bicycle path (Point F)(see the photo below). Follow this to the left. (The Parc des Expositions is a huge trade show center with over two million square feet of exhibition space.)
Continue along this cycle path eastward, besides D40.
At a small traffic circle continue straight ahead along D40. You gradually curve to the right, heading mainly south. Near a large traffic circle, after 3 kilometers, the cycle path turns right. In a short distance you turn left and cross over the A104 autoroute on a metal bridge for bicycles (Point G). After the bridge you turn left and right, descending to a road, where you go right and then left before emerging at a stoplight at D115, 4 kilometers from the start of the bike path (Point F).
At this point you should ride straight across, following the route shown in the aerial photo below, which is pleasant, avoids the many stoplights and sometimes heavy traffic on D40, and also is almost entirely on bike paths or in bike lanes. Details of the route are described after the photo.
To continue from D115 after the bike bridge (Point H), ride straight across D115 into the traffic-free Avenue Paul Satre. This bears slightly right, then, at a small circle, bears left. At theT (Point I) turn left onto Ave. Charles de Gaulle (low traffi)c. If desired ride on the bike path on the right side of the street. At the light at D40, continue straight across (east), still on Ave. Charlles de Gaulle, riding on the street-side bike path or in the street (low traffic). The street curves right and becomes Chemin du Loup, which has bike lanes.
At the bend the name of the street changes to Avenue du Parc and here there is no bike lane for 300 meters, but there is very little traffic and an available sidewalk. At the Y bear lef,t still on Ave. du Park. Ael bike path starts on the left; however there is almost no traffic. At a little traffic circle (Point J) turn right following Avenue du Parc.
This bears left and becomes Avenue. Gilbert Berger. From Point J on there is a separated bike path, then bike lanes. If you are riding to the airport, there is another lane and bike path to the left of the trees in the photos.
At the large traffic circle where Avenue Gilbert Berger ends at D40, crossto the left in the bike lane and continue around the circle on the bikeway in the same direction (Point K). Dismount and cross under the two bridges of the RER train line, and over the Canal de l'Ourcq.
Turn left at the bicycle path sign to descend to the canal bike path. You will, of course, want to ride in the opposite direction, west, to reach Paris. (See the **footnote to ride in the opposite direction to points in the east and southeast.)
The Ourcq Canal Bike Path back to Paris:
It is a 15 kilometer (9 mile) ride to the Villette Park on the edge of Paris, and 6 more kilometers (3.6 miles) to the Bastille. For photos, please see this Site's page about the Ourcq Canal (Route 1). The bike path is well marked, and it is almost impossible to go wrong. Ride on the paved bicycle path, not the canalside footpath.
Almost immediately after you get on the Ourcq path, it appears to make a complete U-turn to the left, but 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. Soon the bike path veers to the right, away from the canal, and runs 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 soon pass under the Paris circumferential highway and enter the Villette Park.
In Paris, in the Villette Park, after riding past the beautiful Géode ball across the canal, stay close to the water, keeping straight along the canal. When 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. See the following aerial photo:
Here you will be picking up the separated bike lane along the street on the west (right) side of the Canal Saint Martin; it is located more or less directly opposite (lower-left of photo). To do so you will have to walk or ride your bike across three or four intersections, as per the dots. (Several other bike routes branch out from this intersectin.) 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 (riding out of Paris) and photos, and connections with it in Paris, see, on this Site, the pages for "Biking out of Paris", Route 1.
**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 back and walk your bike up to the bridge and across it to the north. Follow the sidewalk to the right to the first street, running east parallel to the canal, Avenue Gilbert Berger. Look at the photos and maps above, and follow the directions given above in reverse. In the cargo area of the airport, 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. Be careful, 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 left of the photot (west). Terminal 2 is south,Roissypole, for Terminals 1 and 3 , is north.
For location of Rossypole and Terminal 2, see the aerial photo at very 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 from your left, so use care. You must ride up the ramp for about one-quarter of a mile.
To accessTerminal 1or Terminal 3 via Roissypole, 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 which 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.
You must turn right on a wide sidewalk opposite the mural of the new CitizenM Hotel, shown in photos above. After about 150 meters you come to the Roissypole, which has both the RER and CDGVal. You can reach either Terminal 1 or Terminal 2 on the CDGVal tram. To reach Terminal 3, you turn leftat the canopy in the photo and follow the sidewalk northward to T3.