Around France

A Photo Guide to the SNCF/TGV Trains at Paris’ CDG Airport

If you’re like me, finding my way around airports and train stations is sometimes tricky. Since I often take a train from Avignon to Charles de Gaulle in Paris, I jotted down directions and took a few photos to create a CDG Airport Photo Guide to help me learn and remember where to go.

This is a beginner’s level CDG train/airport guide that may help you navigate. As they say in France, “bonne chance.”

CDG Airport Photo Guide

“Gare” = Train

The first thing for non-French speakers to know when looking for a train station is the word for “train station” in French. It’s “GARE. “If you plant that into your brain, you can read the signs.

Next, you should know that SNCF and  TGV  train lines run out of the same station at the CDG airport. They go from there to almost anywhere in Europe. Those acronyms should also go on file in your head because you must watch for them on the signs along the way.

International arrivals

CDG train/airport guide

A better map of CDG airport from the Internet

The most important thing for you to remember is that the train station (GARE) is between Terminal 2 (A)(B)(C)(D)  and Terminal 2 (E)(F) 

CDG train/airport guide

GARE at CDG airport

Arriving at Terminal 2  A-F

You have it made. Head for GARE on “Niveau 2”.

CDG train/airport guide

CDG Terminal 2 and SCNF/TGV

Arriving at Terminal 1 or Terminal 3

If you arrive at Terminal 1 or Terminal 3,  you have to take the shuttle from “Aeroport CDG 1” at Terminal 3 to “Aeroport CDG 2-TGV (see below)

CDG train/airport guide

Shuttle from Terminal 1 and 3 to Terminal 2 and TGV at CDG Airport

Terminal 3 is one of the entrances to the shuttle. The sign is near a rack of baggage carts.

You have to go down an escalator here. (I hope you don’t have too many bags. I have no idea where there’s an elevator.)

CDG train/airport guide

Entrance to the GARE shuttle from inside Terminal 2B

CDG Airport Photo Guide

After the Shuttle

When you exit the shuttle, signs for “Gare SNCF” will show you the way to the train station. This is a multi-level building. The station and trains are on the lower levels. See the map of CDG Terminal 2 and SCNF/TGV above.

CDG train/airport guide

Take a left when you pass Paul’s 
If you have plenty of time and are hungry, stop and eat. There aren’t many choices for food beyond here.

CDG train/airport guide

Around the corner from Paul’s, you’ll see this huge board. Never mind it. Look for the nearest “down” elevator.

CDG train/airport guide

Downstairs looks like this.

CDG train/airport guide1

If you’ve made it here, you’re almost there!

Look for the Departure and Arrival signs that list destinations in France and Europe. (Trains leave this station for your destination inside Paris, so be sure you’re looking at the correct sign.)

Have a seat and wait for 20 minutes until it’s time for your train. That’s when they post the platform where you board. If you don’t see the name of your destination right away, don’t worry. The train must appear on the board within 20 minutes from the terminal. 

If you miss your train, like I did, you must look for the SNCF information office. It’s on this floor, and the entrance is well-marked. The information agents help with TGV, too. Be sure to grab a ticket when you walk in the door, or you’ll never be served. The line moves quicker than you think, so don’t take a ticket and walk out. 

BUY INSURANCE – It’s really cheap to purchase trip insurance when you make your original purchase, especially when coming in from an international flight.

If you miss your train, you’ll get a full refund deposited into your bank. Unless you have lots of time at the station, don’t worry about getting a refund on the spot. The attendant at the information office will help you buy a new ticket, and you can get a refund for the missed train from the insurance company later. Ask for a duplicate of your new ticket so you can send it to the insurance company if they request it. You have five business days to file for a refund.

CDG train/airport guide

SNCF Information at CDDG

CDG Airport Photo Guide

How to find the right train car. 

Since I make every mistake possible, I will assume you’re as uninformed as I am about trains and how to board them.

I’ve circled the train car and seat numbers on the ticket pictured below. VOITURE = CAR #         PLACE ASSISE =  SEAT #

“Depart” and “Arriv” are self-explanatory — except remember you’re on a 24-hour clock!

CDG train/airport guide

All that’s left to know is the platform where you meet the train. You find that out from the board inside the terminal about 20 minutes before the train’s arrival. (See above.)

Assuming you’ve found the right platform, you’ll find electronic displays on the platform indicating where each train car will be located for boarding. You can use this chart to find the mark on the platform corresponding to the car you would like to board. Don’t hesitate to ask another passenger or railway agent for help. Even if the person doesn’t speak English, you can show them the “car” and “seat” numbers on your ticket, and they’ll point the way.

CDG Airport Photo Guide

First class or second?

I like to pass on budget-conscious tips to others when I can. Having traveled in France by train, both first and second class, there are a few distinct differences: crowds, space, and noise. Every time I’ve traveled first class, I’ve had a place that seats four all to myself. This time, in the second class, all four seats were filled. There were also lots of children and babies.

If you can deal with these differences, the cost of second-class vs. first-class is sometimes as much as half. They both arrived at the same place at the same time. 

CDG train/airport guide

Second class train car Paris to Avignon

Hope this has been helpful.   

For more information, this TGV post has more photos, videos, and explanations.

Here’s a post with tips for safe traveling through CDG for 60+ travelers

Stay tuned for more adventures traveling in France! 


20 replies »

  1. This is really excellent information and much appreciated. What always throws me when getting from my plane to the TGV is that the terminals are not numbered in order! They go terminal 1, 3 and then 2! Thank you for this information.

    • I’m heading back through CDG next week, so I’m refreshing my own memory with these posts. So glad if it helps you. Just remember to take elevators with luggage. Thanks for your note and let me know how it goes. Bon voyage!

  2. Gare = just Station
    Gare Routière = Bus Station

    Many are both, which is good to know if you miss your train.

  3. Thank you ! Merci ! for taking the time to do that ! What a great and helpful post.

    Have a wonderful summer,

    • Hope it does help you. I thought there’d be a lot of folks traveling that way in the next few weeks. If you see anything to add, let me know.

  4. This is excellent information. Even though I lived in France for over 15 years I still find getting a ticket for the train very confusing. If you are ever in a train station on it’s own – say in Paris, you should do the same thing as you did for the airport and post it. Bravo!

    • Ahhh good idea. I have photos of Marseille airport and have meant to write a post about it. Should have done one at Gare de Lyon. Thank you!

  5. We will be traveling to CDG Airport next month. I’m glad I found your post. We’ll be traveling on the RER B to the Metro Line 2 then Line 13 to get to Marie de Clichy. Can we buy tickets for the train as well as the metro in the train station once we arrive?

    • Janice I have never bought Metro tickets at CDG but I understand you can. I’m staying near where you’ll be because I’m on Metro Line 13, too. I used it yesterday to get to my meeting place for the ride to Château de Ville d’Alvrsy. It’s a breeze. I took a taxi when I arrived at CDG because I didn’t want to haul my stuff on a train. Have fun on your visit!

  6. Deborah this is fantastic and should be made available for all travelers!!! I personally thought your first map was great as it defined all the words and signs that it made moving about the airport simple and easy by just following the signs–good job!!!

    • Next time I go back through CDG I’ll take more photos. I know how it feels to be exhausted and then to try to figure out how to get around in airports. Glad you think this might help. Thanks for writing to me and so happy you enjoy the posts.

  7. If anyone is staying in France for a while or will be doing a lot of traveling and you are over 60, get a senior carte, you will save a lot of money and sometimes first class is just a few Euros more than second class

  8. Wonderful, wonderful post! It is VERY confusing to find the TGV trains in the Charles de Gaulle airport and this guide will be very helpful to even the most experienced travelers. I help people plan trips to Paris and Provence and I will use it often. Thank you.

    • I hope not too many people were lost from the previous post. I really researched this one hoping to make up. I’m so glad it will be helpful to you and your guests. Let me know if there are others routes you might need to know. Thanks for writing to me!

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