***This post is created by Charlotte Baker, a member of our travel community***
Ah, Paris! (say that loud in French), the city of light, berets, and baguettes. Sure, there is more to it, and you are just about to discover what Paris is all about. From cruising down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, going up the iconic Eiffel Tower, admiring the glorious Arc de Triomphe, and visiting the Louvre Museum, your trip to Paris doesn't have to be uncomfortable. There are tons of things to do in Paris that are accessible, regardless of the challenges you may face.
Paris, especially Paris-Charles de Gaulle, is one of Europe's most disability-friendly airports.
But don't forget to drop off your luggage in a safe storage location before setting on your adventure, as carrying your luggage around Paris is the last thing you need. When you decide it's time to explore, there is a wonderful array of things to see and do.
Keep this guide handy, it will tell you where you can eat, have fun, how to get, which top attractions are accessible, and much more.
Getting around Paris
First, find the easiest way to get around Paris in a wheelchair. You will need to get from one site to another; in that case, you should know whether to take the metro, ride the bus, or get in a taxi. Furthermore, prepare and plan in advance to avoid cobblestones and hills.
Most public transportation in Paris is made easily accessible for seniors, children, persons with reduced mobility, including the sight impaired, hearing impaired, and mentally impaired.
Over 4,500 buses operate in Paris and the suburbs, and all bus lines are accessible for wheelchair users. In addition, most bus stops are wheelchair friendly, with raised sidewalks and obstacle-free boarding areas. All buses have an automatic ramp; 98% provide audio announcements, while 96% show visual announcements.
One of the best ways to accessible travel in Paris is by bus, followed by accessible taxis. Some Metro lines are accessible, but only one line takes you to tourist sites, which is not very convenient if you need to go elsewhere. Paris railway, or the RER, is another accessible option, but is not as frequent as buses. However, most train stations have elevators and motorized, wide-access ticket gates. The staff is also trained for accompanying people with reduced mobility.
The RER is one of the best accessible travel options to visit places outside Paris, like Versaille and Disneyland. If you prefer to keep your adventures within a short distance, there are tons of must-see places in Paris that are easily accessible with a wheelchair.
Centre Pompidou Center Accessible Tour
The Centre Pompidou is a 20th-century museum boasting marvelous modern architecture. It is home to many modern and contemporary art but also a place for shows, debates, activities for children, and more. It is also the most accessible building in Paris. There are no steps are cobblestone to navigate at entry. Getting there is easy: either use the Metro lines 11 for Rambuteau, lines 1 and 11 for Hotel de Ville, and lines 1,4,7,11, and 14 for Chatelet. Or, if you are traveling with a taxi or car, the closest drop-off place is on the South side of the building, at the corner of Rue du Renard and Rue St Merri.
People with reduced mobility can see 100% of the museum, as there are no steps. The hallways are spacious and easy to maneuver with a wheelchair, and grab bars are available throughout the premises. There is disabled parking on site without having to give notice in advance. There are accessible bathrooms and guided English tours on Sundays at 3 pm and French tours on Sundays at 4 pm (except the first Sunday of the month).
Besides its 100% accessibility, the Pompidou Museum and Centre offers free entrance to people with disabilities and their companions.
Wheelchair-accessible guide tour of the Louvre Museum
Luckily, there are wheelchair-accessible guided tours that will allow you to see most of the highlights in just a few hours. The guides take you through tour routes specifically designed for wheelchair users, and you get to ride up and down the many hidden elevators. To make your tour even better, tour guides provide expert commentary on the highlights you see, and most assist in pushing manual wheelchairs. The Louvre has long waiting lines year-round. However, you can skip the long lines by booking a wheelchair-accessible guided tour.
Accessible cruise down the Seine
The best way to see most of the tourist attractions and sights in Paris is to take an accessible cruise on the river Seine. Most of these tours last 1-2 hours, and they are easy to get on and off the boat due to the wheelchair ramp access. During the boat tour, you can get a good view of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d'Orsay, Pont Neuf, Place de la Concorde, and many more sights lined up along the banks of the Seine River.
In addition, there is a commentary about each of the historical sites you pass on your boat tour. There are accessible tables from where you can enjoy the view of the sights too. The accessible Paris dinner cruise will surely fit the bill if you are a hopeless romantic. The boats used for this tour are spacious and have a designated area for wheelchair users. The romantic costs about €120 per person, but some agencies give you discounts if you book as part of an accessible Paris travel package.
Paris has a lot to offer travelers with disabilities, and this guide is exactly what you need to make your trip to Paris a wonderful experience.
Keep in mind that, unless you are on a booked tour with a tour guide, it's best to contact the place you want to visit (be it restaurants, cinemas, theatres, cabarets, leisure parks, zoos, swimming pools, shopping centers) before visiting, to check they offer services that best fit your needs.
For more Paris accessible travel options, visit Wheel the World as they have many accessible tour and multi-day trip offerings in Paris.