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.
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.
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.
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This website has a downloadable map showing what’s accessible, but it’s out of date.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.
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.
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.