Accessible Paris

We have now spent the last three months in Paris and will be here for another two, living on our wheelchair accessible barge in the centre of city. Stewart is a person with MS and uses a power wheelchair, a 6 wheel TDXSR. It’s very stable and very manoeuvrable and generally, very reliable. We love being in Paris and find it quite accessible, save we know we can’t get to the top of the Eifel Tower or the towers of Notre Dame, but there’s so much more here we can do and we discover new delights almost every day. Stewart says:

Where possible, I stick to the cycle paths which are very smooth, but most of the curb ramps are pretty good anyway.

Excellent curb ramps on most pavements, even though often cars park on the corner!

Better than say Sydney, London, Leeds, Bruges, or even Lille in northern France which has a very accessible metro as well as its buses.

We have not tried the Metro in Paris because we never see lifts to take you down to it, so it’s not really an option.

Most buses in Paris (and Lille) have perfectly functioning electronically operated ramps.

However we make extensive use of the buses, many of which are fitted with a ramp which comes out to enable boarding in a wheelchair.

Beautifully accessible Metro system in Lille, not accessible in all stations in Paris.

The RER train system is a challenge, but if you get their helper service at the Information counters to guide you and to bring boarding ramps it’s very much easier, provided you have pre-planned and are sure there is an operating lift at stations at both ends of your journey. But the buses, are as I say, very good.

This website has a downloadable map showing what’s accessible, but it’s out of date. For example, there are more accessible bus routes than it shows. If there’s a wheelchair symbol on the number of the bus route at the bus shelter, it means the buses will have retractable ramps on the middle doors. This service, the Infomobi will also answer questions and give advice on accessibility issues. Email: www.infomobi.com/formulaire.php.

Wheelchair taxis in Paris as in the rest of France, is expensive and need pre-booking. Try www.taxisg7.com/choisissez-votre-taxi.

Stewart on our wedding anniversary outing, snow-covered and happy.

We carry or own small ramp to get into restaurants and have found them to be universally friendly, helpful and welcoming. Wheelchair users and their carers do not pay to get into the big museums and galleries and you do not have to queue to get in as everyone else does. The big museums all seem to have accessible toilets though we have not tried them as yet either.

We have not tried staying in Paris hotels but many claim to have accessible (or “disabled”) rooms.   The big museums all seem to have accessible toilets though we have not tried them as yet either.  

Round the back (Stewart's catchcry) and in the goods lift at Grand Palais.

That said, there are few places I have been in the world as a wheelchair user which are as accessible as Paris, save Lille (northern France) or the London Docklands which both have excellent, accessible light rail systems. However do your own research and consider bringing a short portable ramp. Following their trip to Paris, these folks posted a have a very helpful report. http://www.globalaccessnews.com/parisleperbruggesmith09.htm

We hope other wheelchair users find this information helpful.

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About Lesley and Stewart

Loving great waterways of the world.
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4 Responses to Accessible Paris

  1. John Little says:

    Hi again Stewart & Lesley
    As a newcomer to your blog I am so engrossed in it and just the whole nature of your life now, particularly in Paris, that I am reading from the beginning, very slowly so as to savor every morsel.
    Suzanne and I had 7 months in London back in 2007 and part of that time was Christmas and in to January. I have to say I am so in awe of Stewart being able to handle the cold. That is one of the main things putting us off doing anything similar again. In fact I can’t cope with Sydney winters any more and we are thinking of decamping to FNQ for a couple of months each year, after we have gotten over our next 7 week Eurotrek in May/July this year.
    For the love of god please keep writing, I am addicted!!
    John Little
    PS Paris hotels generally are not accessible as they claim. But the one we always stay at has excellent access including roll-in showers, it is the Novotel Les Halles and has brilliant position too.

    • Lesley says:

      Hi again John .. thank you so much for your very positive comments about the blog. And thanks too for the tip about the Novotel hotel that could be usable .. we always struggle with them which is the key reason for our barge. We take our accessible bathroom with us everywhere we go!
      The other indispensable access aid (other than our six wheel TDX-SR) is our short ramp, the Decpac, which is 860mm made by Invacare. Both the ramp and wheelchair are Australian inventions. I’m sure you will have similar.
      Extreme temperature, cold and heat, pose additional problems for Stewart (with MS) like spasms in cold, extreme fatique in heat. We do all we can to be on board, at a manageable temperature on those days! Although cold in general is much preferable for Stewart to heat.

      Our best wishes ..
      Stewart and Lesley

  2. Jason says:

    Do you have any photos that show the accessibility of your “home?” (the boat)
    I’m working on a project about accessibility for my Masters and I’m looking at various blogs for content analysis. Your accommodations are interesting because you probably created/built specifically to suit your needs. Do you rent your boat to other people in wheelchairs to stay in Paris? Hope you have a great spring. Thank you, Jason

    • Lesley says:

      Hi Jason .. thank you for your interest. Stewart has more details on the boat (our home as you say) which was built to our specific needs on this page (link) of our website: http://www.maclennan.com.au/Endellion/Accessibility.htm. We don’t rent our boat as we live on it ourselves and there isn’t space. We have friends to stay from time to time as we have one spare room (very small with bunk beds).
      Stewart is very happy to provide more information if you need it.. you can email him: s.maclennan@bigpond.com.
      Best wishes

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