Trip Report: Of French Public Transportation, and Flying Air France from Montpellier to Paris-Orly

Air France Flt 7551  Montpellier MPL to Paris-Orly ORY
A321, Economy
Dep. 5:20pm Arr. 6:40pm

From Montpellier, we planned to fly back up to Paris, as the train would be quite long, and quite expensive. We were able to get tickets on Air France for about $65 each, which was pretty reasonable.

MPL Airport

MPL Airport

The Montpellier airport is a bit out of town, but only about 5 miles.  Though the hotel offered a 25 Euro black car service to the airport, we decided to be thrifty and take public transport, since it seemed easy and we had plenty of time on a weekday afternoon. The first part of the trip — a 3 stop, 7 minute journey on the tram for 1,40 EUR — was easy. Once we got to the transfer point of the Place de l’Europe, though, we discovered that we had just missed a “Navette” (or shuttle) bus to the airport, and the next one wouldn’t be for 55 minutes. We would still have been fine for our flight, but there wasn’t any cafe or anything nearby, and sitting outside with our luggage for an hour wasn’t appealing. There weren’t any taxi stands in sight, though, so no readily apparent alternative existed.

A Spanish tourist then came by and asked us if we knew where she could find a taxi. We didn’t, but there were stickers at the bus stops with the numbers for taxis. She called one and we agreed to share it. Even though we were significantly closer to the airport than the Crowne Plaza was, the metered fare on the taxi came out to 23 Euro. And then there was a 6 Euro supplement for luggage – as our small backpacks each counted as a piece, even though they were on our laps. Since we split the base fare with our new friend, who was taking Ryanair to Charleroi, it came out to be about the same as if we had gone directly from the hotel. Oh well.

We were flying on Air France, which has introduced “Mini” fares on its domestic routes, which do not include any luggage, are completely nonchangeable, and do not accrue Flying Blue miles.  (This was *not* one of Air France’s “Hop!” domestic routes.)  They do, however, earn miles on Delta (though no Medallion Qualifying Dollars).  And as a Delta Silver Medallion (4 days after I dropped from Gold), I got a free bag anyway. Even though my boyfriend was on the same reservation as me, though, he did not get that benefit, so we had paid for one piece of checked baggage online for $15. (Oddly, the price is $15 if booked on Airfrance.com, and 15 euros if using the French side. Yeah America!) When we went to check-in online the day before our flight, we also discovered that, while I was entitled to exit row seating for free, my boyfriend wasn’t (even though we were on the same reservation). Since the flight was short, about 80 minutes, we just stuck with our two seats next to each other in the back.

MPL Airport Check-In

MPL Airport Check-In

The Montpellier Airport is pretty small, with mostly domestic service within France, as well as to Morocco, Rome, and Munich, as well as a number of other seasonal (summer) destinations to other parts of Europe.  There is pretty frequent service to both of Paris’s airports.  Air France does all of its check-in via kiosks, which also print out self-serve baggage labels. We got our boarding passes, one with SkyPriority and one without, and then headed to the empty counter and dropped off our bags. We asked what kind of services were available past security, as I knew there weren’t any sort of lounges, and were told it was the same as outside security, which was one restaurant, one coffee shop/takeout, and a Relay newspaper stand. So we grabbed some coffee and took a seat at the pretty pleasant and calm coffee shop. Wifi wasn’t free, but 1.90 for 30 minutes, 4.50 for 90 minutes, which isn’t that expensive. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the payment to work on either my laptop or my phone so gave up and edited pictures.

With plenty of time to go, we went through what was the friendliest security ever — probably helped  by the fact that we seemed to be the only passengers in sight.  When I presented my boarding pass and passport, the agent made a joke that I was going to be “An American in Paris.”  Yuk, yuk.

Security led us through a duty free shop and into a small restaurant/news stand, with cold sandwiches and salads. We knew that by the time we would get to Paris and have dinner it would be late, so we had some acceptable sandwiches that were only slightly overpriced.

Boarding started a bit earlier than scheduled, and to our surprise, the gate area had filled up quite a bit.  The flight was on an A321 with one class and new super-slim seats. I was pretty surprised to see quite how many seats were on board– and was shocked to see how many passengers came to fill them, given how empty the airport had felt.  Air France was really packing them in!IMG_0756

So. Many. Seats

So. Many. Seats.

The seats had no recline at all, unfortunate since there was no one behind me.  Between that and the slimness, it was not the most comfortable flight, but workable for 80 minutes. Despite the budgetesque feel and short flight time, there was a complimentary drink service, along with a choice of “sweet” or “savory” snack, which was just a bag of crostini.

Snack time

Snack time

Despite the flight being short and barebones, it did feel very different than our series of Ethiopian flights on ancient cabins, with a much more “European” color scheme and fresher feel.

Somewhere over France....

Somewhere over France….

Although I’ve been to and through Paris before, I’d never been to Orly Airport, the more “leisure”-oriented airport of Paris.  There was a lot of walking to get to baggage claim, but our bags were there shortly thereafter, and we easily bought tickets for the RATP-run Orlybus for our trip into the city to the Radisson Blu le Dokhan’s Trocadero.  Though the bus was crowded and at times nauseating, it took about 30 minutes to reach the Denfert-Rochereau station, where we transferred to the Metro for another 30 minute ride to the Right Bank.   For only 7,20 EUR for the bus, it was pretty easy.

The line-up at Orly

The line-up at Orly

 

I’ll be posting reviews of the two hotels we stayed at in Paris (the Radisson and the Park Hyatt), but I won’t be doing a standard trip report on the City itself.  Part of it is that I have been to Paris multiple times before, and my boyfriend lived there, so we didn’t do a ton of touristy things.  Second, although I could come up with suggestions, I’m hesitant to give many tips on a city like Paris, where there are millions of things one can do, see, and eat, and still come back for more.  Finally, my favorite thing to do in Paris is walk and sit, and that’s not a very exciting blog post.

Flying into the City of Light

Flying into the City of Light

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