Paris Le Bourget (LBG/LFPB) is THE business and general aviation airport in greater Paris. It handles everything from Cessna, via Gulfstream up to B737 BBJ and even the famous B777 BBJ VP-CAL is a regular guest here. Apart from tons of general aviation traffic, also smaller military and governmental aircraft use LBG airfield when heading for Paris. That’s why foreign governmental Falcons, Gulfstreams or Hercules’ are no rarity here. Furthermore Le Bourget is also home to the Paris Air show, which takes place every two years/the odd years (2019, 2021, …) in June, and is among the largest and most important exhibiton events in the aviation industry worldwide. During the air show, which was founded 1909 and moved to LBG in 1953, new aircraft types fly breathtaking shows and the apron is crowded by displayed pieces.
However, the airfield was originally opened as Paris’ only airport in 1919 till the construction of Orly began in 1932, but Air France only moved all flights to ORY in 1952. In the meantime the airfield hosted Lindbergh’s first solo transatlantic flights in the 1920s and was the stage of a handful of other historic moments in aviation. In 1975, the “Musée de l’air et de l’espace” moved to Le Bourget and is today displaying some nice aircraft such as a Concorde, Air France 747 or Airbus house colors A380. Due to the limited space and rising traffic, LBG closed for international passenger traffic in 1977, following regional traffic closure in 1980. Since then, the airport is only used for business and some governmental/military flights, but thanks to the free space since the passenger traffic closure, some storage/museum parts were established.
Written by Severin Hackenberger in cooperation with Maxime Thibert. Thanks to Mathias Düber and Maël Robin for providing pictures. Last Update: June 2022
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|03/21||2665m – Bituminous concrete|
|07/25||3000m – Bituminous concrete|
|09/27||1845m – Bituminous concrete|
|–||As there is no scheduled passenger traffic at LBG, there is no normal passenger terminal – of course, LBG is full of smaller business jet and general aviation terminal facilities.|
|Ladder||Needed at some spots along the runway for example, but also at some spots for the apron. However, we ask you to use and display the ladder as little as possible because LBG authorities don’t like journalists/photographers that much, so try to avoid attention with a ladder!|
|Car/Public Transport||Car recommended as Public transport mostly just serves the terminal/hangar area well, so for arrival spots we recommend a car. However some spots can be reached by bus.|
|Restrooms||Closest ones are located in Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace.|
|Drinks/Food||There are some supermarkets, shops and hotels close to LBG.|
|Hotels||Southeast of the airfield you’ll find plenty. However, there are even two nice spotting hotels:
1. AC Mariott directly east of the aprons offering a nice rooftop terrace (spot #9).
2. Ibis Gonesse northeast of the airport just between the runways thus you can shoot from out of the hotelrooms and the windows even open completely.
|Season||Summer attracts more visitors thus LBG has more VIP tourists, winter therefore offers relatively more business flights.
Keep in mind that summer also hosts the Paris Air Show regularly following some rare and big visitors as well as displays.
|Security||This is an airfield used mostly by VIP and business flights, which prefer not to be photographed, so keep a LOW PROFILE. We don’t want any problems with authorities, so stow your camera as long as possible.
++++ UPDATE FEBRUARY 2022 ++++
A PHOTO PERMIT IS MANDATORY AT CHARLES DE GAULLE, ORLY AND LE BOURGET BUT ACTUALLY – ALL THREE AIRPORTS NOW. SINCE AUG 2021 THE AUTHORITY WORKS AGAIN AND SENDS OUT PERMITS.
As the known email address of the police is still valid, we recommend you to send them a message with your intention, ID/Passport copy and the dates when you will be at the airport(s). It can take months to receive a permit but be aware that you don’t even get an answer! In this case keep this email with you in the case of a check (which is very very unlikely)
Send email in french (recommended, use google translate) to the following address:
Every airport employee (even security staff) who has got an airport badge is allowed to check your spotting permit. The only exception if you are not willing to comply is the person fails to show you his/her airport badge, which proves he/she works at LBG.
|General Info||The runway usage at LBG is allows easy to identify although the airport has only a few movements, but as it is close the paths for some runways even cross CDG, it is always the adjusted to CDG’s traffic/usage.|
|03/21||Barely used in the normal times, only during extreme southern/northern winds (which are very rare). However, this runway is the main strip for display flights during the Paris Air shows.|
|07/25||Major runway for arrivals during easterly winds (07), but during westerly winds (25), only bigger aircrafts are landing here. The arrival path is too dangerous in combination with CDG’s air traffic, that’s why you’ll mostly see 07 Arrivals and 25 Departures here. Note that when bigger aircrafts are landing runway 25, you can see them making a strong turn just before the runway threshold in order to align with runway axis.|
|09/27||During easterly winds (09), only a few aircraft depart here and very rarely one lands here, however during westerly winds (27), this is the main runway due to CDG’s nearby air traffic, which blocks 25 approaches then, so most aircraft land and start here then – as long as the aircraft size allows it.|
|WHERE||This spot can be found in the northeast of the airfield. Take the D370 to the “ibis Gonesse” hotel, so leave the D370’s big roundabout to the southwest in front of the hotel and then at the next smaller roundabout on “Avenue du XXI Siecle” take the first exit to the west into a small unnamed street. However, now don’t turn off right to the hotel afterwards, therefore continue on this street till you reach its end in the northwest – a turnpike. Park your car by the roadside here and make some steps to the west so you should reach the D317’s roadside. Now walk along the roadside on the mound and place wherever you wanna stand along here.
By bus, take bus 152 and step down at Z.A. Tulipes and walk the few hundreds meters left to the spot.
|WHAT||From here you have a nice view onto line-ups and arrivals onto runway 25. You may also have nice views onto heavy 07 outbounds.|
|TIME||Runway: later morning till afternoon
Line-Up: Sunrise till later noon (depending at which moment and from where exactly you shoot it)
|MISC.||Haze and passing big vehicles may disturb your view onto line-ups. Nothing needed and nothing around, but keep a low profile.
There are ongoing constructions in this area, so watch out that you don’t block their entrances with your car while parking.
|FOCAL LENGTH||Depends on where you exactly stand on the mound, but 70-200mm covers everything.
A346 departure = 145mm / B727 arrival = 135mm
|WHERE||This spot north of the airfield is a bit tricky to reach. Make your way to the village of “Bonneuil-en-France” first on one of the various ways and then head to “Rue du Pont Yblon”. Park your car by the roadside there and continue by foot then on the same street to the east for a few meters. Pass some nicely cut trees on your left on the way and leave the village as well as you should arrive in a fencekink after 800m. Once you are there, search your favourite position along the fencefront here.|
|WHAT||All 07/25 movements as well as rare 03 departures and 21 arrivals just pass over your head here.|
|TIME||07/25: Only on late summer evenings.
03/21: you can walk around here and thereby switch sides, so this spot area would be good all day.
|MISC.||Take all you need with you as at the spot is nothing. Haze may occur on very hot summer days.|
B727 touchdown = 140mm / B732 departure from behind = 280mm
|WHERE||North of the airfield, there is a big roundabout on highway D84a, just west of the village of “Bonneuil-en-France”. Take the southern exit here, where there is a gate closed at all times (except during PAS), thus it is a dead end exit. Just park in the exist of the roundabout, but don’t park too close to it as it is an emergency gate for emergency services! Then just shoot from here directly.|
|WHAT||Good for heavy runway 25 departures.|
|TIME||On late summer evenings or early mornings only.|
|MISC.||Nothing around, nothing needed. There are no WCs and nothing else around here.
No ladder needed, however it is possible to climb on the wood barrier if your balance is good to get a bit better view, but from the ground it is fine enough. You are way below the runway so don’t get surprised by the planes!
A339 = 200mm
|WHERE||Located west of the airfield just by the roadside of D84a, this spot is easy to find. Just park your car by the roadside of the nearby Chemin de Bonneuil street next to a soccer pitch and then search your favorite spot along the above mentioned highway on the little mound running along the roadside.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runways 07 and 09. You can also hear Line-Ups from the mound, but will only see the aircraft tops as the gears are cut off.|
|TIME||On late summer evenings or early mornings only.|
|MISC.||Nothing around, nothing needed.|
A320 = 190mm / Dornier 228 = 270mm
|WHERE||At the big roundabout junction west of LBG where D84A, D114 and D125 meet, take the exit to the southeast between D84A and D114 to a little street called “Rue de l’Eau des Enfants”. Drive some meters till its end (a gate), leave your car by the roadside nearby and choose your favourite position in the approach around here.|
|WHAT||07 and 09 arrivals are theoretically possible from here.|
|TIME||Both runways have roughly good light from later morning till afternoon.|
|MISC.||The bushes may disturb your view and may also cause heat haze. Nothing directly here, keep a low profile as you are in a residential and industrial area close to the airfield.|
An12 = 160mm
|WHERE||This spot is very special as it is located inside the museum. Enter the museum, which is normally opened from 10 local time to 17 local time (rather check the times prior your visit on their website again). Make your way to the outside part and search your favourite position along the fence boundaries all around their property.|
|WHAT||Depending on where the fence is exactly once you are here and where you stand, but in general this place offers quite nice, easy and unique views onto the apron.|
|TIME||Depends totally where you stand and what you shoot, this spot can be good all day actually, but the GA/business apron north of you is however is best from morning until mid-afternoon.|
|MISC.||Obvioulsy, you have to enter and pay the museum price to get here. Check their prices and opening times on their WEBSITE rather before you come here.
You have everything around you inside the museum. Fence is normally okay for shooting thru or over it at some points even, but ladder is not allowed inside anyway. You may have heat haze at some points though.
Full B747SP taxi = 55mm / E4B parked = 25mm
HERE you can see the scenery and fence nicely – the shots taken from here look like these below:
|WHERE||This spot is not just one location, it is a row of small streets between hangars in the east of LBG, but as they all look very similar, offer the same view and require the same, we summed them up in one spot.
So make your way to “Avenue l’Europe” which runs east of the main apron and then take any of the small streets to the west – any one of these will then lead you between big hangar buildings to a big wall of metallic privacy screens all the time, you have to shoot over then.
However, approaching the front by front is complicated at some points as the streets aren’t all public and sometimes blocked by barriers. So sometimes you have to get rid of your car by the roadside of “Avenue l’Europe” and then walk in by foot.
|WHAT||Literally most the smaller bizzer parked on the apron here in front. Mostly foreign Cessnas and Gulfstreams…
In the far distance you can also see the parking row for big jets, where you can regularly spot A319s or sometimes also military C130s (Egyptian e.g.).
|TIME||Depends on the angle/parking position, but best in the morning till later noon.|
|MISC.||High ladder absolutely needed as since summer 2020 the fence was replaced by big metal privacy protection walls, so you can’t see anything without ladder!
Heat haze is a big problem on the mentioned parking row in the distance. As you are just a few meters away from business movements and between hangars here, it is very important to hide your camera and keep a low profile here.
A319 far parking row = 220mm / Cessna in front = 50mm
UPDATE July 2020: In the past the mentioned abandoned hangar was surrounded by construction fences/walls thus the spot was not reachable/useable.
|WHERE||This spot is located on the hotel’s rooftop terrace of the airport nearby “AC Hotel by Mariott”. Park your car in the hotel parking directly and make your way up to the building’s top to floor no. 9, where you will find the bar and its terrace on the western side. Then just take a seat, order something and start spotting….|
|WHAT||This terrace offers nice views onto the apron just in front as well as the taxiways around here. In addition, you can also see the runway 03/21 behind thus also the movements on this runway.|
|TIME||Actually you have backlit here all day due to the late opening, but you can take nice night shots.|
|MISC.||The terrace is only open from 4pm till shortly after midnight and may be closed once the weather is bad!
Access is free to anybody, not just hotel guests, but you need to consume anything when spotting here. Heat haze and some disturbing foreground clutter may destroy your pictures.
|WHERE||Turn off “Avenue de l’Europe” in the northern part of the airfield into “Rue de Prague” to the west. Take this small road between Dassault factory site on your left/south and Hotel Campanile on your right/north to its western end. Just next to a gate, you will find some parking spaces on your right there, where you can leave your car. Then just shoot from the fence directly next to you.|
|WHAT||Dassault factory apron to the south and regular GA apron to the north. You can also see nearby taxiways from here nicely as well as 09 departures.|
|TIME||Dassault apron south of you: best in the early morning or late evening
GA apron north of you + runways: best around noon, may also work at other daytimes, but depends on the aircraft’s position
|MISC.||Ladder may be useful, but a longer usage is absolutely not recommended. Keep a very low profile here, security often passes and may send oyu away as VIP wanna stay unphotographed. Everything you need is inside the nearby hotel.|
A320 09 departure = 130mm
|WHERE||This spot is located by the fence next to a parking in the northeast of the airfield, which can be found west of where “Avenue de l’Europe” merges with D317 highway. There are two roundabouts next to each other, take the exit to the north at the smaller northern roundabout on “Avenue de l’Europe”.
Parking however is not possible for us spotters directly here normally, so either park at spot #8, in front of Campanile hotel or at spot #10 and come back here by foot. Then just search your favourite position along the fence as mentioned around the parking site…
|WHAT||From here you have a nice view onto 27 arrivals. Ramp not visible anymore due to a newly installed view protection fence, now the apron is double fenced.|
|TIME||Runway 27 arrivals: later morning till afternoon|
|MISC.||Ladder may be useful, but a longer usage is absolutely not recommended. Keep a very low profile here, security often passes and may send you away as VIP wanna stay unphotographed. There are often problems with the security and spotters are being sent away sometimes. So for runway movements, we recommend spot #10.
Everything you need is inside the nearby hotel. Haze can be a problem for runway shots.
Cessna 525 directly in front on the apron = 60mm / Falcon 7X in the distance on the apron = 180mm / Gulfstream arrival = 150mm
|WHERE||Take D317 highway and leave it to the east where the highway merges in a roundabout with “Avenue de l’Europe” – so turn off into “Rue de la Ferme Saint-Simon”. Park somewhere by the roadside on this street (wherever it is allowed) and then continue by foot to a small kind of mound, which runs along the eastern roadside of D317. It is full of bushes and trees, so climbing may be hard, but you can freely choose your position on this mound, so also where you access/climb it.|
|WHAT||From here you have a nice view onto 27 arrivals as well as line-ups. In addition, you can also see the taxiway, which leads to the Line-Up for runway 25.|
|TIME||Later morning till afternoon.|
|MISC.||Haze and passing big vehicles may disturb your view onto line-ups. Nothing needed and nothing around, but keep a low profile.|
B737-700 = 105mm
|WHERE||From the roundabout at spot 11 continue northwards on the small road west of the big highway. There you are not allowed to stop but after you have paassed the runway axis, there is a small gravel area on the left where you can park. Then walk northwestwards and climb the dirt mound.|
|WHAT||27 arrivals (and maybe also aircraft taxiing to 25).|
|TIME||Only late summer evenings/early mornings.|
|MISC.||Taxiways often not visible due to high grass, but may work in winter – never tried yet.
You are not allowed to stop along the road leading here, but on the gravel area next to it (we marked as parking) it should be ok. Police may come to visit you anyway.
Long pants and closed shoes needed as the mound is full of high grass and insects!
E145 = 270mm