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May 8, 2011 10:50 AM

7 hour layover in Paris

We have a 7 hr layover this Saturday in CDG, arriving early at 8:30 and departing at 3:30 in the afternoon. We want to head in Paris to stretch our legs, have a good meal and still make it back in time to go through immigration. What restaurants open that early? Ah, I'd love a good duck confit but if not possible, how about croque Madame somewhere central and easy to get to from CDG? Appreciate any suggestion!

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  1. Not central (métro Dupleix), but Au Dernier Métro is a place where you can have confit de canard at 10am. Even places that are open 24h a day are likely to only serve breakfast at that time.

    1. are you arriving *from* the US, or departing *to* the US?

      Makes a big difference as to the timing of your layover.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        Souphie, thanks for the suggestions.

        Sunshine, we will be arriving from the US and leaving for Budapest.

        1. re: vistayueh

          Since you are taking an international flight, you really should return to the airport 3 hours before takeoff, which makes all lunch options iffy.

          1. re: Parigi

            You could technically cut it a little - Hungary is EU, so the security isn't *quite* as tight as North America-bound flights, but you still need to remember all of this:

            * it will take you at least an hour to get out of the airport (getting off the plane, passport control, baggage claim, and customs tend to go slow, *especially* in the morning, as all of the long-haul international flights from around the world land during a fairly narrow window...and 8h30 sits right in the middle of that window).

            *it will take you at least an hour to get into the city -- a little more if you catch a cab (rush hour even affects the taxi/bus lanes)

            *it will take you at least an hour to get BACK to the airport -- see above.

            *You need to be at the airport at least 2 hours before departure -- they close the check-in an hour before departure, so you have to be there well in advance.

            And assuming that your flight will be on time can be a pretty big assumption.

            So...we've accounted for 4 of your 7 hours, and you haven't even seen the light of day yet. (you actually haven't even left Gare du Nord yet -- add another 15-20 minutes to get to anywhere in the city to have lunch...and another 15-20 minutes to get back to Gare du Nord (daaaaang, there's another hour gone). Make sure you have NO carryons (lugging them around is no fun, and you don't have time to find a place to store them) and you've studied the terminal maps and the RER maps to make sure you know EXACTLY where to go and which train to catch. Be prepared to deep-six the whole thing and bolt for the airport if *anything* goes wrong.

            You're now down to about 2 hours for lunch (assuming nobody has had to pee or tie their shoes by now)...and if you leave it the 3 hours that Parigi suggested (which is pretty sound advice) -- you have all of an hour for lunch in Paris...which isn't enough time for a sit-down lunch like you're describing.

            and oh, by the way -- if you leave the airport of your own accord, you also by default relieve the airport of any responsibility for getting you to your final destination. Not only can you then end up having to buy last-minute, one-way walkup fares (a nightmare for both security and bank accounts) but they can and might cancel the rest of your trip -- yes, that means your return ticket home. Not many people would risk the cost of a walk-up one-way transatlantic fare to get a plate of confit.

            Better to stay at the airport -- freshen up, brush your teeth, change clothes (you'll feel so much better), and get a decent meal at the airport (because that wet, flabby thing they try to pass off as a croissant, and that watery mess they called coffee on the airplane is NOT decent anyting) -- you'll need some caffeine at this point, you'll probably be hungry, and there are quite a few shops in the terminal where you can buy some confit to take home and make yourself.

      2. Asking for trouble. That isn't much time,all things considered re CDG.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gfweb1

          Thanks for the detailed replies. Good point about the morning rush. I thought it would be tight but was hoping I was wrong. Alas! That is not to be. Perhaps some good ducks await in Budapest.

        2. Reading all of these terrifically on-point responses, I recall a recent article by David Libovitz in which he wondered why someone, lots of someones, hadn't established outposts at CDG offering the best of Paris and France: wine bars, cheese and wine shops, bistro fare, foie, confit, cassoulet, et al.

          Extrapolating, what is really needed is a reasonably priced decent quality restaurant for those not infrequent travelers who need a place to "hang out" and sample the stuffs that make Paris famous. What about a revolving chef/bistro concept: "name your favorite bistro" sets up for 3 or 6 months to be replaced by another hot name.

          2 Replies
            1. re: mangeur

              absolutely -- it's so frustrating to have a long layover at CDG and know the city is right there, just out of your reach.

            2. Didn't people at one point suggested going to a close by "village" instead of going all the way to Paris ?

              (can't find the thread)

              6 Replies
              1. re: Maximilien

                There's no "village" near the airport. The airport is near suburbs with massive malls, which is the anthropological opposite of a village.
                The nearest nice village that I can think of is Senlis, not reachable by public transport. You need to rent a car and drive 30 minuts there and back, or take a taxi.

                1. re: Parigi

                  I would give it a try. That's seven hours, right.
                  Half an hour, at most 45 minutes to get out of the airport. Take the RER train which takes you directly into Paris in about 20 minutes. That's an hour and 10 minutes. You've got almost 6 hours left.
                  You can get off at Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles (go to Beaubourg and watch the view from the top floor), Saint-Michel, Luxembourg.
                  At that time I would get off at Luxembourg and take a stroll through the Luxembourg gardens for a little while, then have a drink and a snack at beautiful Café Le Rostand. Or at Le Petit Suisse, smaller but nice.
                  If you decide not to do that, don't fret, there'll be good food in Budapest.
                  Around noon take the RER back to Charles-de-Gaulle. For a Paris-Budapest you don't need to be there 3 hours ahead, 2 hours should suffice.

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      I love sitting at Le Petit Suisse and having a drink.

                        1. re: Ptipois

                          I agree, if your flight is on time it should be fine. The RER is fastest and regular and drops you in the centre (St Michel may be best as it is closest to good places to eat - the 5eme). Do check the timetable for trains back as they are not every 5 mins and aim for a specific train. A good bet is "Balzar" it should be open as it is a brasserie.

                          Check in for Budapest isn't that bad (I used to travel there a lot) and security checks within Europe are quite fast compared to transatlantic flights - is it really a two hour check in? I thought it was only an hour for most flights within Europe (the Air France site says check-in closes 30 mins for European medium haul and 60 mins for long haul - not certain where Budapest fits in as it isn't too far). It does depend who you fly with obviously Air France is best as they have the best facilities and thus faster security (BA to London is a nightmare).

                          And to state the obvious, check the bags through (and yourself), travel light, and have euros in cash.