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Paris in a wheelchair

Melbourne, Australia
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423 posts
14 reviews
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Paris in a wheelchair

My wife has recently been diagnosed with motor neuron disease and is now confined to a wheelchair. She has always wanted to visit Paris so we are hoping to go in the next few weeks.

I have being reading old posts on wheelchair accessibility etc but would like to clarify/confirm a few details if possible.

Most people say that it is best to travel by bus with a wheelchair. If so what is the best area to stay for catching buses to the main sights? Also what is the best area to stay for just walking around pushing a wheelchair, ie smooth paving?

Do most train stations have wheelchair access and if not do you know of a site that details which do?

I have read that people in a wheelchair and their carer get free admission to some museums etc and can go straight to the front of the line. Is there somewhere I can get a list of these to assist with my planning? Our daughter may come with us as well. Would she be able to enter with us or would she have to queue?

Are there any main attractions that don't have wheelchair access?

What do we do beside the main attractions to just get the feel of Paris?

We don't speak any French, is this going to be a great problem?

What type of weather should we expect in late March/early April? I am hoping to have as little luggage as possible.

We plan to have two weeks in France. If we have 5-7 days in Paris what other areas do you suggest we visit that won't provide difficulties with a wheelchair?

Should I hire a car once we leave Paris or take public transport?

Sorry for all the questions and I am sure there are more things I need to know but I really want to make this a memorable trip so any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

New Hampshire
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for Paris
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21,261 posts
25 reviews
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11. Re: Paris in a wheelchair

While many of the online booking engines do filter for handicapped categories, it's still essential to contact the hotels directly, primarily because your cannot book specific rooms online. Those sites are a good place to start. It's probably best to use a site with "roll in shower" as a choice, as those hotels are likely to be the best suited for your overall needs. Then, you can also filter by rates and locations.

It is far better to rely on buses for getting around than the RER. While most RER stations do have elevators, it is not uncommon for them to be out of order.

All buses are handicapped accessible - but NOT all bus stops. You can easily identify those which are not using the RATP website route maps and interactive bus map.

Recommend choosing a hotel within steps of a major bus route (even better, where several intersect) with convenient transfer points to other routes. Take care, though, not to select a hotel on a one-way street - as buses going the other direction will be several blocks away.

There is an elevator in the Arc de Triomphe, but it does not go all the way to the top. There are several flight of stairs after that.

The first and second levels of the Eiffel Tower are accessible, but not the top level. Most, including myself, agree that the views and photo ops are best from the second level, and going to the top, except for bragging rights, is not really necessary nor worthwhile.

Yes, major museums, such as Musee du Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, do have handicapped entrances, but those venues are enormous, so you'd want to know the location of that entrance, not necessarily anywhere near the main entrance, ahead of going there so you can ride as close as possible to the proper spot.

Beware, as mentioned, of many handicapped accessible places not being fully accessible, particularly with regard to rest rooms.

TheFork is an excellent resource for restaurants accessible with a wheelchair and space for seating

http://www.thefork.com/restaurant+handicap-accessible+paris

But, again, in many, the restrooms are up or down a flight of stairs.

New York City, New...
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12. Re: Paris in a wheelchair

I was in Paris with my mom last year and she was in a wheelchair. A rickety old manual one on loan from our hotel.

We had a GREAT time. Nothing was free but we never had to wait on line. Got in ahead of others at the Louvre , Orsay and Versailles. Got acess to short cuts and private elevators in all 3 museums. Private tour on the way out of versailles by a nice guard. We saw the non-public areas.

Never had to wait at a restaurant. Front of the line each time. And the French were so nice to my mom.

Now, she was hurt so is not normally in a wheelchair so I can't compare to other cities.

Sydney, Australia
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25,315 posts
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13. Re: Paris in a wheelchair

You have seen the word used here a lot, but your search word is "accessible". It will throw up a few sites that are not much use but many that are. For example

davidlebovitz.com/2008/02/accessible-trav/

…about.com/od/…Paris_accesible.htm

www.sagetraveling.com/Paris-Accessible-Travel

www.sagetraveling.com/accessible-paris-hotels

Good luck. Paris is beautiful

As to other places, you might consider Dijon which is relatively flat. While you can travel there by train not all platforms have an elevator so you would need to check with SNCF.

Phoenix, AZ
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389 posts
16 reviews
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14. Re: Paris in a wheelchair

Thanks 3CanadianBears for posting my report - I am a little behind on reading the forum.

Doby47 - most museums (not all) are free for handicapped people AND one assistant. My husband and I were able to visit the Orsay and L'Orangerie for free. The Louvre also would have been free but we had already visited that 2 years ago when he was still mobile. You can usually find the information on the websites.

I made myself familiar with the Bus system and we loved it - I wrote down the stops and made sure they were accessible (as someone mentioned the busses are all accessible but some of the stops are not) usually easy to work around. We were close to all the different Hotel de Ville stops and found it very convenient.

I had to get used to some of the rickety side walks and at times needed to go backwards over the ramps (that most sidewalks have but some are still a little uneven). It wasn't an issue for me.

Agree though on the bathroom issues in Cafes - we didn't eat out much because of the space issue for the wheel chair or the Bathroom issue (even though my husband is still able to walk for a very short period of time)

Overall I would absolutely do it again - everybody was so kind and helpful at all times!!!

I know this doesn't answer all of your questions, but I hope it's still helpful!

Austin, Texas
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61 posts
11 reviews
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15. Re: Paris in a wheelchair

My Mom had to be pushed around in a wheelchair during her last day in Paris after fracturing her foot on some cobblestones. Buses are definitely the way to go as the metro stops often do not have elevators, and they sometimes are out of order even if they do. Most bus stops are accessible, just look for the ones with a yellow triangle which are not accessible. Also the bus driver will ask which stop you want to get off on so they know when to extend the ramp, so it helps to know ahead of time where you're going.

We didn't do too much on the one day they had left to visit, but people were very nice with her. It was troublesome eating though because a lot of cafes have a large step up to get inside (smokers make it way too disguising to sit outside, plus it's winter and cold outside) and even inside, the tables and chairs are often very cramped which makes it troublesome. As someone pointed out above, restrooms are also difficult in cafes because of the stairs often required to reach them.

Also make sure whichever hotel you stay in is wheelchair accessible. French elevators are VERY tiny and will not fit a wheelchair usually unless explicitly made to do so. So the fact that there is an elevator in a hotel is not guarantee enough that it would be OK for a wheelchair.

I wrote about it on my Paris expat blog: …karaandanthony.com/2014/02/paris-in-wheelch…

Other useful links:

Bus Routes: parisbytrain.com/wp-content/…bus_paris.pdf

Specific Bus Route with non-accessible stops: ratp.fr/informer/…96.pdf (replace the number with the route you're interested in)

www.sagetraveling.com/Paris-Accessible-Travel

Essex
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27,767 posts
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16. Re: Paris in a wheelchair

The TA Travelling With Disabilities forum has a sticky with a checklist to help you with questions to ask and things to be sure of, when booking accomodations, this will ensure you don't miss out on something that might prove vital.

There's also a lot of good general travel info, so have a look there......

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowForum-g1-i12336-Travel…

17. Re: Paris in a wheelchair

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