Guide Tour of Paris Orly Airport, France

Aéroport de Paris-Orly is an international airport located partially in Orly and partially in Villeneuve-le-Roi, 13 km (8.1 mi) south of Paris, France. The airport, its terminals and its runways are spread across the departments of Essonne and Val-de-Marne. It is placed under the authority of the Prefect of Police of Paris. Orly Airport is the second major airport in France and the 10th in Europe.

It serves as a secondary hub for domestic and overseas territories flights of Air France and as the homebase for Transavia France. Flights operate to destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and North America. Many companies such as Air Algérie, Air Caraïbes, Air Corsica, Air France, Corsair, EasyJet, French Bee, Iberia, Royal Air Maroc, TAP, Transavia, Tunisair or Vueling operate at Orly airport.

Before the opening of Charles de Gaulle Airport in 1974, Orly was the main airport of Paris. Even with the shift of most international traffic to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Orly remains the busiest French airport for domestic traffic and the second busiest French airport overall in passenger traffic, with 33,120,685 passengers in 2018.

The airport was historically divided into two main terminals: the South terminal (2 boarding halls) and the West terminal (4 boarding halls) and has three runways. In March 2019, the name of the terminals was changed to include the liaison building, which was commissioned on April 16. It is on the side of the runways, in the reserved area, the history and operation of Paris-Orly airport: the ramp agents, aircraft processing phases (placement, unloading, loading, refueling, catering, etc.) …

The airport today is made up of four terminals also called “sectors”: Orly 1-2-3-4, used mainly for national and European flights to the Maghreb, the Middle East and the overseas territories. Orly Ouest is divided into Orly 1 and Orly 2, the new junction building takes the name of Orly 3 and Orly Sud becomes Orly 4. It also has a cargo terminal and a maintenance area.

There are 8 car parks, including some dedicated to long stays. A drop-off zone is available at each terminal. Numerous public transport connections make the journey between Paris or the suburbs and Orly airport easy: RER C, RER B, tramline T7, Orlybus, buses 183 and 91-10 as well as the VEA shuttle leaving from Disneyland® Paris. Free shuttles run between the terminals roughly every 8 minutes. A multimodal station will also be located at the heart of the airport with a Grand Paris Express station to reach Gare de Lyon in 23 minutes.

Services available include shops (jeweller’s, delicatessens, luxury luggage, fashion, books, alcohol, tobacconist’s …) bars, restaurants (classic and fast food), and a tourist information point in each terminal.

The airport is operated by Groupe ADP under the brand Paris Aéroport. The objective of the airport is to offer an ever higher quality of welcome to its passengers. Since February 2018, the CEO of the airport has been Régis Lacote.

As the 2024 Olympic Games approach, Orly airport is being modernized to become a new high-tech platform. Between new technologies and ultra-modern buildings, the challenges are enormous: starting with the renovation of the 2 main runways and its control tower, while the airport must continue to operate.

A vast project called “Coeur d’Orly” began in 2010. Aéroports de Paris’ objective is to create an international business district on 15 hectares by 2020, which will notably include offices, a international congress, a four-star hotel and a commercial and service center around the former N7 road, to the east of the current N7. The district is accessible by the current services (RER, VAL, Tramway T7 ) and by 2024 by the future multimodal station (lines 14 and 18 of the Grand Paris Express, TGV). In the long term, Aéroports de Paris has more than 100 hectares of land to develop the entire “Coeur d’Orly”.

Control tower
The control tower was built in 1966, right next to the South terminal and in the same style as the latter, forming a harmonious whole with it. It is 54 meters high. It includes a lookout, as well as an IFR room. This is where air traffic is managed on the tarmac at Orly and in the approach airspace. Orly air traffic control also manages the approach to Toussus-le-Noble and Vélizy-Villacoublay aerodromes.

Terminals 1 and 2
Known as the West Terminal until March 2019, these two terminals consist of two floors and a gate area of four “fingers” rather than a brick-style layout. The ground level 0 features the arrivals facilities including eight baggage reclaim belts as well as several service facilities and shops. On the first floor, a globe called the “Astrolabe”, installed since 1970, supposed to represent the solar system, has become an emblem of Orly Ouest.

The departures area is located on level 1 with more stores and restaurants located here. This central departures area is connected to three gate areas split between Orly 1 (A and B gates) and Orly 2 (C gates). 23 stands at this terminal are equipped with jet-bridges, with several of them also able to handle wide-body aircraft.

The construction of Orly Ouest was launched in 1967. The terminal was inaugurated on February 24, 1971. Hall 2 (renovated in 2006 to accommodate Air France “La Navette” flights) and hall 3 were inaugurated that day. It was designed by architects Vicariot, Coutant, Vigouroux and Laroche. Its architecture is also metallic. But above all, the design is innovative. The terminal is designed to facilitate the rapid and efficient boarding of passengers.

First of all, the levels are separated, the first floor being used for boarding, and the ground floor for arrivals. Then, the distribution in the hall allows the passenger to quickly find his boarding counter. On November 16, 2011, the first automatic baggage drop-off system in France, allowing passengers to check in their baggage themselves in thirty seconds, was tested there. Finally, the deployment of footbridges, the first in France, allows passengers to board quickly, directly from the terminal to the plane.

Terminal 3
Inaugurated in April 2019, Terminal 3 is a junction building between Terminals 1, 2 and 4. The terminal allows customers to travel between all areas of the airport under one roof. With a length of 250 m and a ceiling height of 9.5 m, this building is distinguished by the presence of a wall of water located between the control area and the commercial area.

It includes around 5,000 sqm of Duty Free shopping along with several restaurants and lounges. It houses gates D and E, with direct access to Orly 4 departure gates. The boarding lounge allows four wide-body or eight medium-sized aircraft to be handled in contact at four mixed aircraft stands. Half of the boarding lounge can also be used in bi-status mode: Schengen or international depending on operating needs.

Terminal 4
Formerly known as the South Terminal this innovative 1961 steel-and-glass terminal building consists of six floors. While the smaller basement level −1 as well as the upper levels 2, 3 and 4 contain only some service facilities, restaurants and office space, level 0 features the arrivals facilities as well as several shops and service counters. The airside area and departure gates are located on the upper level 1. The waiting area, which features several shops as well, houses gates E and F. 15 of the terminal’s departure gates are equipped with jet-bridges, some of them are able to handle wide-body aircraft.

Construction of the Orly Sud terminal began in February 1957 and was completed in February 1961. After the completion in 1962 of the side piers, the terminal building was enlarged. The terminal unfolds facing the runways in a bar more than 700 meters long, consisting of a main building of 200 meters and two side piers. It is 70 meters deep. This provision makes it possible to limit the journey on foot for passengers to 300 meters, which is significantly less than the distance to reach the head of a train on a station platform.

The large hall on the first floor is, at the time, of a size unknown in a public building, and gives the visitor a remarkable impression of space, thanks to its light and airy atmosphere. The curtain walls offer an unobstructed view of the tarmac and make it possible to observe the activity around the planes, which appear within easy reach. Luxury shops, cinema, access to terraces, bars, restaurants will make it a major tourist attraction. In the 1960s and 1970s, this terminal would be a real showcase for France. The success is such that the terminal will become the most visited monument in France in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The sound atmosphere has also been carefully thought out, to give a calmer feeling than that prevailing in the stations of the time. More than 3,000 low -noise loudspeakers are distributed throughout the terminal. A sweet female voice recites the most exotic destinations. Service messages are not sent by loudspeaker, but by radio to each agent, thus relieving the visitor of information that is not useful to him.

In July 2014, a mosaic of 7,000 portraits covered the entire facade of the terminal. It measures 202 meters in length by 17 meters in height and includes self-portraits of anonymous people and a few celebrities around the word “Welcome”. The photographs were taken by passengers, staff and residents of the airport. Since November 2015, a work by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac has colored the terminal. The artist was inspired by the stories of passengers, staff and local residents to create the fresco that adorns the 3,200 m2 of the north facade of the South terminal.

Three tracks are available, the characteristics of which are indicated in the table below. (it is best to refer to aeronautical publications to be informed of updates). A fourth runway parallel to runway 02/20 (located to the south of it) 1,850 m long has been converted into a taxiway.

Orly airport mainly operates runways 06/24 and 07/25. Runway 02/20 is only used exceptionally during emergency procedures, works on runway 06/24 or very strong winds coming from the north/south sector. In addition, it crosses runway 07/25 in the middle, making it impossible to use the two runways simultaneously. Runways 06/24 and 07/25 are not strictly parallel (there is an angle of 12° between them); the trajectories they extend intersect to the southwest. The possible combinations of use of the tracks are thereby limited.

Other buildings

The House of the Environment
The Environment center at Orly airport is a place of information and documentation for the general public. This place allows you to discover the history of the airport, air traffic procedures and stopover activities at the airport. Exhibitions on the environment and on the prevention and control of pollution caused by air traffic are frequently organized there. Former Orly air traffic controllers spend time there to provide all the necessary explanations to visitors.

This contemporary building, built in 1995, is similar to the Maison de l’Environnement built in Roissy by ADP, to plans by architect Pierre-Michel Delpeuch assisted by architect Graciela Torre. Very bright and giving a panoramic view of Orly airport, it is surrounded by charming plantations designed by the landscape architects of the Signes agency. The building is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free.

The flag of honor
A flag of honor exists at Orly. Until 2017, it was located right next to the West terminal. It was surrounded by masts on which were hung the flags of the host country. Its nickname was “the izba” because its first host was Nikita Khrushchev, Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Government) of the former USSR. There was an old wooden pavilion transferred as an air terminal at Toussus-le-Noble airport where it accidentally burned down.

The control center en route
Near Paris-Orly airport, on the territory of the municipality of Athis-Mons, is the En-Route Control Center (CCR), also called the Air Navigation En-Route Center (CRNA). This center is used for air traffic control of planes when they are cruising, handling them for overflights of the Paris region as well as for regulating departures and approaches to airports in the sector, in particular Orly and Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle..

The central power plant
The power plant is a building that often intrigues passengers and visitors. It is from there that all the water from the airport is distributed, whether for drinking water or for air conditioning. This is also where all the electricity in the airport is received, transformed and redistributed.

Delta Museum
The airport hosts an air museum, called the Delta museum, within the airport grounds, but on the territory of the municipality of Athis-Mons. It is especially devoted to the history of the delta wing, because it was there that one of the first delta wing aircraft in the world was developed. You can still see the Concorde there. The Caravelle, the Dassault Mercure, as well as the two Mirage III fighter planes have been moved.

Airport experience
The airport tells its story before your very eyes. Take a stroll around our central square, teeming with lots of trendy brands. Hunt for a bargain, chill out or do a bit of both. Whether you’re an enthusiastic shopaholic or more cool-headed, discover our beauty, accessories and fashion ranges, as well as our multimedia signs. The latest PS4 games are waiting for you for a game or two. A white grand piano at the end of the departure lounge, facing the runways. Music right at your fingertips.

An unlimited make-up area, a BuY Paris Collection to shake up your wardrobe from head to toe, or even a Candy Box for those with a sweet tooth. Take time before you take off to assert your individuality in the expert hands of our professional barber. Located in the heart of Orly 3’s shopping area, the barber corner is sure to treat you to a moment of well-being far from your hectic daily life – and for free.

Take a moment to pause in front of the flying saucer look-a-like artwork, topped with Paris vous aime [Paris loves you] in neon red and blue, and take in the frenetic atmosphere that surrounds you. 9 m tall, 3.5 m diameter, 150 different-size cubes. Made from stainless steel and mirrored aluminium, Vertigo takes over the shape and design of the central square. A unique work of art by Arnaud Lapierre, this installation offers you – in the words of its creator – an “immersive experience to discover an aerial sensation.” The sculpture in fact evokes “the control tower, turbine, projection, take-off and ascent”. A contemplative and enigmatic totem and a pause for thought that creates the feeling of floating mid-air.

Head to the universe dedicated to world cuisines and let your imagination and wanderlust run wild. Take to the heights of the mezzanine in the central square where the restaurant area will transport you to another location. Japanese, Italian, coffee shop or burgers, not to mention something for veggies… Cosmopolitan and quality street food. Whether you’re in a rush or want to take it easy, there’s a pace and dining experience to suit everyone and all tastes.

With a sprinkling of the south of France, old and new flavours, take a seat at Comptoir André, Bistro Cocorico and enjoy a bounty of food. Made by Anne-Sophie Pic, the most starred chef in the world. At the Pic’s, cooking is a family affair. A cosy and woody atmosphere, where you can watch the chefs show off their skills and create signature dishes with a daring twist. A unique moment to savour that’s not to be missed.