Paris Charles De Gaulle Vs Orly Airport – Which Airport Is Better?

Paris – it’s the capital of France and one of the biggest cities in Europe. Every year it welcomes over 30 million visitors, more than any other city in the world. If you’re flying to Paris, you have two main airports to choose from – Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly. But which airport is better? We’ll run through some of the positives and negatives of each.

Paris from the air
A view of Paris, France’s capital, from the air. Photo: Mortimer62 via Flickr

As with all big cities, Paris’s main airports are quite some distance from its centre. Land comes at a premium when you’re building in a city with millions of inhabitants, so airports are often placed in outer zones (an exception being London City Airport).

Like rival sports teams, Paris’s two main airports sit at opposite ends of the city – Charles de Gaulle in the northeast, and Orly in the south.

In fact, the city does have a third airport, Paris Beauvais, but it is more than 50 miles from the centre of the city.

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

Paris Charles de Gaulle is Paris’s most well-known airport, and it’s also the city’s busiest. Last year the airport served almost 70 million passengers, making it the second busiest in Europe behind London Heathrow.

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Charles de Gaulle is the second busiest airport in Europe. Photo: Citizen59 via Flickr

Charles de Gaulle has three big terminals, including seven sub-terminals within the terminal two complex. They are all within easy reach of the main airport, except 2G which is connected by a shuttle bus service.

One of the main advantages Charles de Gaulle holds over Orly is the number of flights coming into and out of the airport. More of the major international airlines fly there, and the lounge options are better.

If you’re looking for convenience when it comes to route options and flight frequency, Charles de Gaulle is probably your best bet.

This does unfortunately come at a cost. Ticket prices for flights into and out of Paris Charles de Gaulle are higher than Paris Orly, and its hotels are also more expensive.

Paris Orly

In comparison to Charles de Gaulle, Paris Orly is smaller. It only has two terminals, but this is actually a blessing in disguise for passengers. Paris Orly is generally much less crowded than Paris Charles de Gaulle, and average delays for flights and security checks are shorter.

It is also closer to the center of the city, which means that public transport connection times are slightly shorter. However, it is outdone by Paris Charles de Gaulle when it comes to the frequency of transport connections throughout the day and night.

If you’re staying in the south of the city then Orly should definitely be your first choice. Likewise, if you are staying in the North, Paris Charles de Gaulle is your best bet simply for convenience.


When you combine its less busy terminals, the slightly faster connections and, probably most importantly, the cheaper tickets, Orly makes a compelling case for itself over its rival in the north.

When it comes to Paris’s two main airports, it seems bigger isn’t always better. But, at the end of the day, which airport is better for you will probably come down to ticket prices and your end destination in the city.