Accessible Travel Tips For Paris

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If you’re coming to Paris and have special needs, such as access for a wheelchair, here’s a list of resources that will help you plan your trip. Please note that I haven’t used many of these services, especially the tour outfits, so ask as many questions of them in advance as you need to get the most information about the services they offer before you sign on.

Paris is a very old city and although new construction includes accessibility for wheelchairs, the older buildings and narrow sidewalks aren’t always easy to navigate. However over the past few years, there’s been a heightened sensitivity to people with various abilities and services to assist them. Below I’ve put together this list of websites and services that I hope will help. If you have limited time and want to make the most of your trip, hiring a guide or at least a van for the day may allow you to see and do more, and the additional expense might be mitigated by the convenience.

assistance voyageur

A few things to remember:

  • In many instances, if there is an elevator, it may not be functional. Give yourself plenty of extra time when moving about Paris.

  • All stops on the métro line 14 are accessible. However in my experience, the elevators may not be operable, forcing you to go to another station. None of the other métro lines are accessible and there are a number of stairs in the underground stations to contend with.


  • Most of the bus lines listed below are accessible, although every bus may not have a lift. But the buses do run frequently in Paris and are a great way to get around. And you’ll find people helpful if using the buses, as Parisians do yield to wheelchairs and people of various physical abilities.

  • Because Paris is old, many of the buildings aren’t easily accessible, which is changing as buildings are restored. Still, neighborhoods like the Marais are tight and may pose a challenge. Don’t be discouraged: Parisians are reserved but are quite helpful when called into duty. And people who are frail, elderly, or have special needs, are usually treated with extra respect.

  • Spaces in restaurants and shops may be tighter than what you’re used to, but bear in mind that if you go during busy hours, you may not be as comfortable as if you dine at other hours than the main crush. When you make a reservation, let them know in advance you might need special assistance. Have the desk person at your hotel call first, to avoid surprises. And in the summer, you may wish to dine en terrasse (outside), which is more spacious.

  • For foodies, an excellent area to explore is the Place de la Madeleine which is flat and the sidewalks are wide. There you’ll find fine foods shops clustered around the place like Fauchon, Hédiard, Ladurée, Maille, and La Maison du Chocolat easy to explore. Most of the shops have access and the nearby Lavinia wine store has an elevator and a rest room. The rue Montogueil is also excellent for exploration and is less-upscale.

    Sites & Resources for Accessible Travel In Paris

    Please note that a few of these websites are in French. In France, information and services are subject to change without notice so even if an official site says something is available, it’s best to confirm beforehand if you can. Some of the official French sites have an English-language version. You can also use a website translator, such as Google Translate.

    - Tourist-Services is a city-operated site that offers assistance in arranging accessible hotels, taxi services, theatre tickets, and more. Their office is located at 31 rue de Pont Neuf (1st.) Visit their website for more information.

    - Tourism et Handicap (in French)

    - Access Plus: This SNCF official service will assist people in wheelchairs, and you’ll be met at the train station by a representative who will assist you with all your arrangements. (The SNCF has a more complete site with information about accessibility, in French.)

    Disneyland Access Guide: Guide to getting around the Magic Kingdom, just outside of Paris.

    J’accede: List of accessible restaurants, sporting facilities, attractions, and museums across France.

    Disabled Access in Paris: Personal website with accessibility information.

    City of Paris: Information from Paris Tourism Office including lists of accessible monuments museums, and services. Use the search engine to find the most up-to-date information.

    Château de Versailles: Offers special tours and golf cart rentals. Site has excellent map of Versailles.

    G7 Taxi: Call in advance to arrange wheelchair access taxi. They have an English-Speaking number and take reservations online, too.

    Ptitcar: Offers transport for people in wheelchairs.

    Paris Private Guides: Accessible tours of Paris and wheelchair rentals.

    Paris On Wheels: Accessible tours of Paris.

    Wheel Adventures
    Personal website offering budget travel tips for wheelchair travelers.

    Access Tourism: Accessible tours of Paris.

    Access Project Paris: Lots of tips about traveling to and from, and within Paris

    Rick Steve’s Easy Access Europe Guide: The travel guru’s guide to European accessible travel.

    Paris Public Transit: Official site for RATP, Paris Public Transit. (In French)

    Infomobi: Comprehensive list of Paris bus lines that are accessible. (In French)

    Mobile en Ville
    Tips for getting around Paris. (In French)

    Association des Paralysés de France: Association for those paralyzed. (In French)

    More Suggestions and Paris Travel Tips

    My Paris Travel Tips

    Some favorite Paris Dining & Travel Guides

    Recommended Travel Gear

    My Paris page

  • 17 comments

    • this is such a thoughtful and useful post. I don’t have any accessibility challenges at the moment, but travel must pose so many more difficulties than usual for those who do.

    • We were in Paris about a year ago, visiting David. Mom had sprained her ankle on an earlier trip that we took her on to Washington DC a month before going to Paris and had to use wheelchairs in the US. Then we got to Paris. She could walk a limited amount (she had just turned 83), but for museums, wheelchairs were the way to go.

      In the Louvre, we took the lift down in the pyramid and went to the information booth and inquired there. No problem, just completed a minor form and handed over her passport (which made her a bit nervous) and they got the chair for her. Getting around the Louvre was fairly easy and elevators were fairly easy to find. We returned the chair to the booth and got the passport back.

      But getting out of the museum was a bit challenging and tiring as there is a healthy walk to exits. However, the next day we went to the Musee D’Orsay. Not such an easy place to navigate with a wheelchair and elevators were small and hard to find. I would not recommend that museum to anyone with a wheelchair. She found getting around Paris with her cane okay and we took taxis most times as it made the most sense.

      Air France was very gracious and helpful. They made her stay put and got the wheelchair and they took her through CDG Airport with amazing speed, especially security, we literally breezed through. They also took us to the plane in a specially equipped truck ( like a catering truck) and she could just walk from this right onto the plane. They had had a problem with a previous passenger and they weren’t going to be in any embarassing or potential legal positions. After seeing how they handled that, Air France is spectacular for someone needing this kind of assistance. They should be advised in advance though.

    • David–My partner and I visited Paris in October 2007 and had a hard time travelling throughout the city due to accessibility issues(mine). This
      post is most helpful! We have debated whether or not we would visit Paris again,but this list gives me hope.(Besides the fact that Paris is one of MY favorite places on the planet)
      On another note, we looked at your posts before we went and tried many of your recommendations.Wow! You totally rock!
      After Paris we went to Barcelona and went to Cacao
      Sampaka which is one of your links. Amazing!Wonderful!Delicioso!!
      Thanks for your blog, your knowledge and your love of all things wonderful!

    • Yes, getting around Paris can be a challenge. But I think it’s also a good reminder that no matter what your abilities are, it’s fine to whittle away the afternoon sitting in a cafe and not trying to run around and see all that much.

      Perhaps it’s a good idea to hire a qualified driver and/or guide for one day to tick off all the sights. Then spend the other days leisurely seeing Paris.

      Some other good things to do:

      - The Champs-Elysées, which is open on Sundays.

      - An outdoor market: there’s many every day in various neighborhoods in Paris. List in English here.

      - The Galeries Lafayette Department Store, which includes their interesting Gourmet Lafayette food basement, and the Grand Épicerie at the Bon Marché

    • Thanks for the wonderful post. You never know when you might need that information. Most people never even think of those issues.

      I love your blog, your writing, your recipes…the whole package. I just did a sidebar review of it on my blog, which will be up for a couple of days.

    • what a thoughtful post! thank you.
      my brother is in a wheelchair, and he spent a year in paris a few years ago, and i know he had a difficult time getting around. this post is so helpful, i wish i would have seen it then, I’m sure he would have really appreciated it. now he’s in LA- probably one of the most accessible places on the planet… i’m sure this post will help many people get the most out of their visit to paris :)

    • Hi David,

      I guess this post is very helpful for people with special needs.
      I wish you could do just the same for traveling with kids. Kids have special needs too, you know :) Few ideas may help: children-friendly restaurants, fun places, special discounts, etc.
      Thank you for this great blog – I have been twice in Paris, and will be there again this summer. Many great ideas, tips… Thank you.
      Best regards,
      Igal

    • Hi Igal: Because everyone’s kids are different (some are quiet, some are impatient…some will eat anything, and some are very picky) it’s hard to point to places that are specifically kid-friendly. Compounding that is the fact that kids in Paris are very disciplined and tend to be more “controlled”.

      For dining, a place to start might be my post Where to find a great hamburger in Paris. Even if burgers aren’t your thing, most of those places are are on “fun” side of things. Larger restaurants are also good bets, since kids might feel more comfortable with not being so cramped, as some of the smaller restaurants in Paris are.

    • Hi David,
      Thank you for answering so quickly. Yes, I know kids are different (btw, so are people with wheelchairs, I think. I mean, some of them prefer art, others – sports, etc.). Still, it might be a good idea to compose something ultimate for kids, when you might have a little free time, just the way you did here – for a very important reason: many people do travel with kids (there’s just not enough good babysitters, I guess :)).
      I have read the “Where to find a great hamburger in Paris”, of course. This is helpful, thank you. I was wondering if most of Parisian restaurants have baby-chairs, for instance? And how to ask for one in French? :)
      Best regards,
      Igal

    • Thank you for writing this. I am always looking for travel information for my son who is 9 and in a wheelchair/stroller . This is very helpful for this Foodie

    • We just came back from our second trip to Paris so I’ll see if I can dispense some useful information, especially since David has been so gracious to offer such great advice on his website. We’re from Boston and I think compared to other US cities, it’s relatively less accessible. I think Paris may have more accessible public transportation compared to Boston but buildings are less accessible. I would have found it really difficult to have gone without my husband so I would advise traveling with a companion if at all possible.

      Flight: We flew Air France. The only thing I will warn you is that on both occasions, they did not bring my wheelchair to the gate in Paris even though there was a gate tag on it. It got sent directly to baggage claim and once it gets there, they say there is no way to retrieve it. And if you’re not on their wheelchair list, they have trouble mustering one up for you. If you have a manual wheelchair, you may be better off asking to have one of theirs waiting for you at the gate. If you have an electric, you may need to double and triple check to make sure it doesn’t land in baggage claim (and hopefully, they won’t be shipping something like this off to baggage claim anyway).

      Transportation: 1) Metro – I would not bother with the metro line 14. The elevators are very unreliable and overshooting an exit to backtrack later is difficult. 2) Bus – Many bus lines are accessible. We weren’t able to locate a map or website that lists all the accessible lines. When you go to the bus stop, there will be a wheelchair sign next to the accessible lines. The other option is to have the bus driver pull really close to a curb so that your companion can pop a wheelie to scoot you on. You’ll be entering the rear of the bus so have your companion to go to the front of the bus to tell him which stop you’re getting off at so that the ramp gets lowered (he needs to go up front to pay for the ride anyway). There is a wheelchair button at the back of the bus that is supposed to alert the bus driver when you want to get off and that you need the ramp lowered but it rarely functions. 3) Taxis are not accessible. 4) Walking – I would stay on the major streets since the side streets are usually cobblestone roads and some of the stones have wide gaps between them causing a wheel to get suck. It’s also not flat cobblestone so it’s a horribly bumpy ride. There doesn’t seem to be enforced parking regulations so it’s not unusual for cars to block curbs. The good thing is that the ramped portion of the curb is really wide so you can usually find a spot to sneak around. All the sidewalks were ramped.

      Lodging: We rented an apartment each time we were in Paris because we wanted a kitchen. The problem is that most apartments have a step up to get into the building. The other problem is that the elevators are the size of telephone booths and won’t fit a wheelchair. Fortunately, I’m able to stand up and walk a little with my elbow crutch so we collapsed the wheelchair for the lift. I normally use a motorized scooter and we thought about coming to Paris for a month next time but haven’t figured out how to find a place that will accommodate a scooter or have the front entrance ramped.

      Sites: All the museums we have been to had elevators including Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Musee National Picasso, Petit Palais, Grand Palais, l’Orangerie, and Pompidou. The Eiffel Tower also has a lift. All the museums are free for you and your companion if you are handicapped except for special exhibits (Eiffel Tower was discounted). There is a funicular that will take you up to Sacre Coeur. You can get into Notre Dame but there is not a lift to take you up top. We went to Rodin 5 years ago and they were renovating at the time so there may be lifts in it now. Versailles had lifts but there is a huge cobblestoned courtyard that you need to traverse and that was close to impossible. The gaps between the stones swallowed my wheelchair. For the gardens, you can rent a golf cart for 20E to take you around the grounds. This was definitely the way to go since the grounds are expansive and you can’t cover enough on foot while the fountains are on.

      Food: Most of the restaurants have a step up so the easiest the is to go in the summer when there is outdoor seating. I agree that Rue de la Madeleine and Champs-Elysees are flat and wide but most of the stores including Maison du Chocolat and Laduree still have one step to get into the store. Fauchon had a flat entryway. If you want to get to Laduree and you can’t get up the step, the other option is to go to Printemps. They have a branch inside the department store on the second floor.

      Outdoor markets: Some of the larger ones like Bastille where so crowded that it was hard to navigate with a wheelchair but some of the smaller ones (one by Hotel de Ville) were completely fine.

      Restrooms: This is a bit of a problem. In most restaurants, the bathrooms are located downstairs and do not have a handicap accessible stall. There are public bathrooms in the street (like San Francisco) but I’m actually not sure if the entryway is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. They were scary looking so I didn’t use them. Honestly, I think the best option is McDonald’s and there’s one in every major location (sad but true). They’re all ramped and have a handicap accessible stall. They actually make a decent cappuccino (David probably disagrees :-) so I bought a coffee for courtesy and used their bathroom.

      Overall, the French have been very helpful and wonderful to us. They were always ready to offer their help without us having to solicit for any. At the museums, they had someone personally guide us through the entrances and to the lift. We basically said, “Je m’excuse,” “merci,” and “excuse-moi” a lot (along with my high school French) and that seemed to get us pretty far.

    • Eugenia: Thanks so much for posting your tips and advice. I once escorted someone who was paralyzed from the neck down around Paris and was happy to see how helpful people were to us, although you’re right about the non-accessibility of many places. Like you mentioned, I think if you act polite (instead of being demanding) people are quite gracious in most cases. And for places where there is a step, like La Maison du Chocolat, I would almost bet that a staff member might be able to assist you getting in, if at all possible.

      Tip: The wine store just across the street, Lavinia, has an elevator and restroom on the first floor. And their restaurant is an enjoyable place to eat, too. Although I agree that “McDo”, as they say, does serve a purpose ; )

      (I won’t comment on your experience with Air France, but a friend’s mother had an extremely unpleasant experience exiting the plane, to say the least. I’m sure those things happen with other airlines, but thanks for the heads-up to others.)

      As for apartments, in areas like Bercy (where the sometimes accessible line #14 runs to), most of the apartments are new construction, and accessible, with large elevators and ramps to get in. I haven’t checked, but undoubtably there are apartments for rent around there. There is a hotel called the Kyriad that a friend of mine in a wheelchair stays at, too.

      (There’s also a chain of hotels across Paris, the Citadines, and most rooms are a suite with a kitchenette. Like the hotel above, they’re lacking in charm, but aren’t expensive.)

      And nearby Bercy Village is a new outdoor shopping center, renovated from old wine storage buildings, with restaurants, wine bars, and a big new movie theatre. It’s not the same as walking around the Left Bank or the Place de la Madeleine, but it is a unique neighborhood of Paris with a large park nearby.

      Thanks again for leaving your comments!

    • We went to Lavinia as well and they had a good sized lift that definitely fit the wheelchair. I had already happily stuffed myself at Breizh so didn’t try their restaurant. We ended up renting an apartment near Notre Dame because there is a convergence of many bus lines in that area that made going to other sites in Paris very easy. The lift appeared new but was tiny. The front entrance only had one step with a wide entryway so it was easy to get the wheelchair through, just not up the lift. The last time we rented an apartment, the lift stopped on a half floor so you had to walk up or down after you got off the lift. We didn’t know that until we got there :-(

      Actually, I think the French are SO much more friendly than Americans so I don’t understand where the “bad” reputation comes from. In NYC, I’m much more independent because I have my motorized scooter with me but I can’t imagine the same degree of courtesy they offered us in Paris. Random strangers constantly stopped to ask if we needed help or helped my husband get me onto a bus.

    • Hi David, I tried to find a better place to post this, but this is as close as I got. Do you know whether there are still stores or even banks in Paris that take francs? In Germany some places still take the D-Mark and I thought it might be the same in France. Any help?

    • oops! I’m sorry. I mistook the title to mean something else. Please forgive.

    • The Banque de France in the Bastille used to take them, but don’t know if they still do. That would be the first place to try.

    • David, can you post my webpage under the resources section? I think people will find the parts on accessibility at tourist attractions especially useful. Thanks