Accessible Travel Tips For Paris
If you’re coming to Paris and have special needs, such as access for a wheelchair, here is 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 operators, 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 access 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 increase in services to assist those with mobility issues. 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 more than trying to use public transit, and the additional expense might be mitigated by the convenience.
A few things to remember:
- In many instances, if there is an elevator in a métro or train station, it may not be functional. Give yourself plenty of extra time when moving about Paris.
- All stops on the métro line 14 are accessible. (Each station has an elevator but as mentioned above, give yourself extra time in case they aren’t in service.) None of the other métro lines are accessible and there are a number of stairs in the underground stations to contend with.
- All of the Paris bus lines are accessible. Buses run frequently in Paris and are a great way to get around. You’ll find people helpful, 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. 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 off-hours. When you make a reservation, let them know in advance you might need special assistance. Have the desk person at your hotel call first so they can reserve a table or space that’s easier to navigate. And in the summer, you may wish to dine en terrasse (outside), which is more spacious.
- For foodies, one interesting 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 ParisPlease 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.
Ptitcar: Offers transport for people in wheelchairs.
Paris Private Guides: Accessible tours of Paris and wheelchair rentals.
Paris On Wheels: Accessible tours of Paris.
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.
Accessible France: Lists of some of the major tourist attractions.
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
Some favorite Paris Dining & Travel Guides
Recommended Travel Gear
My Paris page