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Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

Sudbury, Canada
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Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

Hello,

I am a 30 yr old disabled woman who uses a mobility scooter, and I'm looking for some feedback regarding accessibility of public transportation in and around Paris. My husband and I are planning to be in the city for approximately 2 days in May of this year, on our way through to Alsace. He's been to Paris before, as a kid, and I've travelled throughout the UK and in Barcelona without much difficulty, but I've never been to France.

I've tried to do some Googling on the matter and I've mostly ended up frustrated... some sites claim Paris is surprisingly accessible and should pose no problem, while others make it sound like I may struggle significantly trying to get around. I'm not sure what to believe!

To be clear, I am capable of walking in short spurts (I can cross a room, for example, and don't needs mobility aids inside my home) and I can manage some steps into a building or onto a bus, etc.

However, I can't walk for very *far* without significant back pain, and thus I use the scooter to take 'walks' with others, shop, and wander cities when travelling. :) I do not own a wheelchair, as we've found the scooter offers me a little more autonomy, overall, and prevents my husband or other companions from exhausting themselves pushing me around - I love very little more than wandering all around town for hours on end. I've been told that just trying to keep up, walking beside me, can wear a person out! :)

Anyhow... I've heard Paris buses are more accessible than the Metro, but that the buses do not accept scooters! Considering that many of the places we're interested in visiting are scattered around different arrondissements, this could pose an issue.

Does anyone have any personal experience in this area, and/or advice on the best ways to get around? Any tips regarding affordable (and accessible) accommodations in good areas would be much appreciated, as well.

And thank you for reading through my rather long-winded post! :)

-Meg

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Tampa, Florida
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1. Re: Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

I think the reality lies somewhere in between. Paris is nowhere near as accessible as North American cities -- it's simply not always possible to retrofit a 400-year-old building.

I see very few scooters in the city...I don't know what that you should interpret that to mean -- only that it's pretty rare to see one out and about at the tourist sites.

There's quite a lot of information here: …parisinfo.com/paris-map/…

and TripAdvisor has a whole forum for those traveling with disabilities here: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12336-Travelin…

You're at an advantage, having traveled in the UK and Spain, so you are already familiar with airline requirements for transporting a scooter, etc....but I cannot in good faith tell you that it won't be challenging (which I'm pretty sure you know, anyway). I'll even add that it might not be a bad idea to bring a standard chair (or arrange to rent one here) -- only because their scarcity makes me think that there's some difficulty in having or using them in Paris.

Good luck to you - hope you have a fabulous trip.

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2. Re: Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

I, too, have noticed only the rare scooter in Paris or at any of the tourist sights and would agree that you may want to rent a wheelchair. I don't think I've ever seen a scooter inside any sort of building. And, it's defintely true that they are not allowed on the city buses.

I've read/heard plans are underway to install elevators in all the RER stations, but not yet all the metro stations, through elevators have been installed in a few more in recent years.

Unfortunately, the RATP has not even updated their stations accessible map for several years.

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3. Re: Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

All RER and tram lines are wheelchair accessible as well as métro line 14. You can download the updated map here (click on 'téléchargez le nouveau plan'): http://infomobi.com/page3.php

The infomobi.com site is the most comprehensive site for disabled people but it is in French only.

All bus lines are wheelchair accessible too (meaning 70% of the stops at least are adapted). However since it is true that you don't see mobility scooters in France I don't know what the policy is on the Paris buses but I don't think there is any restriction. One traveler said he had no issue on the bus with his mobility scooter: http://tinyurl.com/6m5xf2g

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4. Re: Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

I'm also trying to picture if the sidewalks have the 'slopes' cut into them at corners to be able to 'drive' your scooter across the street and back onto the sidewalk....

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5. Re: Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

ratp.fr/fr/…

says specifically that electric wheelchairs and scooters are allowed, as long as the brakes are engaged when the bus is underway.

It's all in French, but that link has a lot of information about moving around in Paris via mass transit.

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6. Re: Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

<<I'm also trying to picture if the sidewalks have the 'slopes' cut into them at corners to be able to 'drive' your scooter across the street and back onto the sidewalk....>> Definitely, that's not an issue at all. Of course, some streets don't have large sidewalks and are less manageable than others but the sidewalk is always lower at crosswalks.

Sunshine, I don't see anything about scooters on the ratp link, only about wheelchairs (manual or electric) but I also think it would apply to scooters as long as they are not oversized. The thing is since they are extremely rare in France it is logical that there is no regulation addressing them. At least two travelers on the link I provided earlier said they had no problem boarding Parisian buses with North American mobility scooters.

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7. Re: Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

we have spent months in Paris and I have never seen a scooter in use -- no doubt someone has one somewhere but the city is not well designed for their use -- the buses are fitted for wheelchairs and so should work for a scooter but again, while I have seen a few wheelchairs, I have never seen anyone using a scooter

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8. Re: Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

Looking at what mobility scooters look like, I'd guess it'd have to be one of the really lighter / more compact ones for you to be able to get on a bus.

Most of those I see would only allow you to get around on the sidewalks, but not inside some buildings or in public transports, as they are much bigger than a wheelchair.

Remember that lots of buildings are old, and not sized up to modern standards, that there often are steps to get in, and when there are wheelchair-accessible ramps or doors, they're designed for wheelchair mobility, but only just that size.

Moreover, I'm afraid you also may have to face some amount of ignorance : while a wheelchair clearly indicates you're disabled, the mobility scooter could look to some people like a comfort indulgence rather than a necessity. I know it's stupid, but it seems to me a wheelchair triggers some sympathy that a scooter wouldn't.

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9. Re: Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

Most motorized scooters are no wider than a standard wheelchair, and weigh less than an average person -- and they're only a little wider front-to-back than a standard wheelchair.

A mobility scooter has absolutely nothing to do with comfort or indulgence...They are much faster, easier to use, and considerably more comfortable than rolling yourself around on a conventional wheelchair, which gets darned difficult to maneuver on ramps or hills. For those who have mobility issues, it's a way to move at the same speed as their friends and family, as a scooter rolls at a comfortable walking pace.

(and why *shouldn't* a mobility impaired person have a motorized scooter if that's what makes their life easier and more comfortable for those who want and can afford one? Last time I checked, having a disability didn't mean you're obligated to make your life any *more* difficult)

Edited: 25 February 2012, 17:22
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10. Re: Mobility Scooter Accessibility in Paris

"A mobility scooter has absolutely nothing to do with comfort or indulgence..." Now *I* know that. What I meant is that for people unused to see them, and who don't stop to think about it, they may not induce the same automatic favorable thoughts than a wheelchair - when of course they should.