13 Wheelchair Accessible Travel Tips for Paris
By John Sage
Wheelchair accessible travel to Paris is more challenging than in many other European cities because of the old buildings in the city center and long distances separating many of the tourist attractions. The 13 Paris Accessible Travel Tips below will help you see more of the City of Light with less effort.
1. Choose Eiffel Tower instead of Arc de Triomphe – Visiting the interior of the Arc de Triomphe is only possible via a long tunnel with many steps that running under the Charles de Gaulle Etoile traffic circle (shown in the photo on the right). There is no elevator to reach the tunnel. If you want to get a good aerial view of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is the better choice.
2. Choose a hotel away from the train stations – Like many cities in Europe, the Paris train stations are surrounded by numerous hotels, and the neighborhoods around the train stations leave a little more to be desired. Unless you are on a very low budget, choose a more charming neighborhood in the Left Bank or near the Louvre. Paris has 7 main train stations that serve different parts of France/Europe: Gare du Nord (to London), Gare Montparnasse (to Loire Valley), Gare de Lyon (to the French Riviera), Gare de Bercy (to Italy), Gare de l’Est (to Switzerland), Gare St. Lazare (to Normandy) and Gare d’Austerlitz (to Spain). View pictures of accessible Paris hotels
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3. RER B from Charles de Gaulle – If you’re looking for the cheapest accessible travel to Paris from Charles de Gaulle airport, look no further than the RER (regional) train (shown in the image on the right). It will take you from the airport directly into the center of Paris. When you get to the airport, ask the staff to help you onto the train and arrange for assistance when you get off. When you arrive at the centrally located Châtelet-Les Halles station take the elevator up to the street level. If you choose an accessible hotel within walking/rolling distance of the Châtelet-Les Halles station, you won’t need to take a bus or taxi once you arrive, which is a bonus.
4. Learn the bus system – The accessible bus lines in Paris are an efficient and cheap way to get around town. You’ll save money using the buses instead of handicapped accessible Paris taxis which means that you’ll have more to spend for treats like restaurants and stores! The buses also come in handy if you are having a difficult time waving down a taxi which becomes problematic around rush hour. In order to use the buses, print out a map of the accessible bus lines as well as the exact locations of the bus stops you’ll be using before you leave on your trip.
5. Take the bus tour on the same day you visit Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle – The accessible bus tours in Paris start and stop in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. A good scheduling idea is to get on the bus tour in front of Notre Dame, ride the entire circuit, then visit Notre Dame and the nearby Saint-Chapelle church.
6. Go to the front of the line at the Louvre pyramid – The lines at the Louvre Museum can be enormous, particularly in peak tourist season. Wheelchair users and mobility scooter users can go to the front of the line to ride the unique piston-like elevator down to the lobby, shown in the lower right.
7. Ride the bus tour the whole way around – Because only a few of the buses on the bus tour have wheelchair ramps, you won’t be able to hop-on, hop-off. You’ll need to ride the full 2 hour loop, and you’ll also need to arrange with the bus company where and when you want to meet one of the accessible buses to get on.
8.Take the boat tour at sunset – An accessible Seine boat tour is one of the best ways to see Paris. The best time is when the sun is tucking itself in for the night. the colors and scenery at sunset make for some of the most optimal photo opportunities.
9. Use the alternate entrance at Sainte-Chapelle – Although Notre Dame is far more famous, the nearby Sainte-Chapelle is equally worth a visit. The only remaining building from the Capetian Palace, Sainte-Chapelle church has magnificent stain glassed windows in the upper chapel. The main entrance at Sainte-Chapelle has steps, so you’ll need to use an alternative entrance 1 block to the north on Boulevard Saint-Michel (500 meter route between Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle shown on the right).
10. Visit the Rodin Museum and Hotel des Invalides on the same day – The entrance to the Hotel des Invalides (housing the Army Museum and Napoleon’s Tomb) and the entrance to the Rodin Museum are separated by 500 meters of flat ground (shown in the map below). Visiting them back to back makes for a great day.
11. Take a taxi to Sacre Coeur – Sacre Coeur is located on top of a large hill in the Montmartre. It’s difficult to reach by accessible bus and pushing up it in a wheelchair would be an exhaustive effort. The easiest handicap accessible travel to Paris‘ Sacre Coeur is by taxi. If you are using a wheelchair accessible taxi to reach Versailles, consider ending your day by having the taxi wait for you for 45 minutes while you visit Sacre Coeur.
12. Know a few French accessibility phrases – At some Paris tourist attractions, you may need to communicate in French to gain access to the accessible entrance. One example is the intercom at the Sacre Couer Basilica where you need to have them buzz you in (shown in the image on the right). Our most useful French accessibility phrases are based on years of traveling with a disability.
13. Use the northern leg of the Eiffel Tower – Disabled visitors to the Eiffel Tower can reach the 2nd highest platform by using the elevator. You don’t need to wait in line. Find one of the staff members near the exit in the northern leg of the tower and they will escort you to the elevator.
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Paris Accessible Travel – main page
Pros and Cons of Paris Disabled Access
13 Wheelchair Accessible Travel Tips for Paris France
11 Keys to Success for Paris Disabled Travel
Paris Accessible Travel Packages
Accessible Walking and Driving Tours in Paris
Accessible Paris Boat Tour on the Seine River
Highlights of Paris Accessible Driving Tour
Classic Paris Accessible Walking Tour
Wheelchair Accessible Tour of Paris Latin Quarter
Wheelchair Accessible Guided Tour of the Louvre Museum
Giverny & Versailles Wheelchair Accessible Tour
Accessible Hotels in Paris
Paris Accessibility Guide by John Sage
Paris Trip Planning by Sage Traveling – Travel with Ease!
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