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Walking Up the Stairs at the Arc De Triomphe

My wife is "suffering" from an arthritic knee and is getting tri-monthly steroid shots to help with it. She is by no means crippled, but I fear that climbing the stairs to the top of the Arc (and then down again) will have a pretty negative impact on the remainder of our trip to Paris and subsequent stay in London. So...the question is: Is getting an elevator ride up (and down) difficult? Will she need a note from Mommy (LOL) or a doctor? I will gladly skip the elevator and climb both up and down.

Posted by
1178 posts

There is an elevator. Now it has been a few years since I went but I walked up and then I took the elevator down. It is a long way up doing the stairs so I strongly don't recommend it. I have ashma so it was a bit diffiult for me and had nothing to do with age or my knees which were fine. There are landings to rest but even then, it can be difficult. So I would go and ask if you can take the elevator up and down. Taking the elevator up and down is not a problem at all. But if you can't go up to see the view, it is still amazing to see the Arc de Triomphe close up and walk around and see the Eternal flame. You don't need a note to take the doctor or mommy, I promise.

Posted by
2349 posts

Three or four of us in our 50s/60s went up without question. I was prepared to argue my dodgy knees and my sil's balance problems but there was no need. (Or kneed.) The 20 somethings walked it all. Do be aware that there is still a staircase at the top that would be difficult for some. It's steep and narrow, maybe 20 steps or so. And walking on top can also be hazardous. Lots to trip over and uneven surfaces. Be especially cautious at night as lighting was poor. This is not the ADA compliant like we're used to. I'm not complaining, just making you aware.

Posted by
2626 posts

The very last thing I would do is risk her being unable to walk without pain for the rest of your trip to get this view. Just not worth it. If you can’t get an elevator skip it and enjoy your trip. And do have her time the steroid shot so it’s at it’s peak while you are traveling.

Posted by
5697 posts

Arc staff offered me an elevator for seniors when I was mid-fifties, but I opted to climb ... last trip at about 70 I asked, and was pointed toward the elevator for handicapped (shared it with a young couple who had a baby in a stroller.)

As noted above, the last set of stairs is steep and narrow -- but the view is superb. Note that the view from the top floor of Galleries Lafayette (free, escalator all the way) is pretty good as well.

Posted by
15328 posts

If you don't see the elevator attendant, ask at the stair entrance. Or wait - s/he may be taking someone up or down. They are generally accommodating and I can't imagine them taking your wife and making you go up the stairs.

Posted by
164 posts

I went up on Sept. 4. Used the elevator both ways. It's not obvious that it is there but once you ask we were quickly accomodated. Of course there are the last number of stairs to the top so you will have to determine that on your own but it was a great option for us. Had we arrived a few days previous we likely would have just done the stairs but by that point our feet were suffering and decided to ask.

Posted by
1932 posts

A couple of years ago...after meniscus surgery I pointed to my knee and before I could try to explain I was politely ushered into the elevator along with my partner and the two friends we were traveling with.
As I recall we passed a very long line with our museum pass, but I’m not sure if that is still how it works.

Posted by
1834 posts

My friend and I visited Paris in April. We had a Paris Museum Pass, bypassed a line of about 300 people, and went directly to the ticket window. The clerk welcomed us and automatically pointed to the elevator. We were shocked and pleasantly surprised, having already walked over 15,000 steps that day. I think it’s mostly luck but a nice ‘bonjour’ doesn’t hurt! As long as the elevator is working that day I don’t think you’ll have a problem. Have a great trip!

Posted by
7002 posts

Another spot for a nice birds eye view free and with elevator is the Institute Monde Arab which has a nice view of Notre Dame

Posted by
777 posts

In 2015, before my knees were too terrible I was able to go up and down those stairs OK, but by then I was very slow coming down. A group of 20-somethings were vaulting down the stairs three or four at a time and landing directly behind me. It was unnerving and I finally stopped and told them to go ahead, also making clear gestures for them to pass. They pretended not to understand me (they did. They spoke English) and were just messing with me. Damn kids.

And stay off my lawn. 😉

Long way of saying take the elevator if you need it.

Posted by
509 posts

As we finished the security check at the Arc a few years ago, one of the guards/attendants noticed that I was using a cane (an inexpensive, collapsible drug store type that I only carried as a precaution on days when we expected to do a good bit of walking). Before I could even think to ask, he escorted us to the elevator. As noted by others above, you should have no difficulty if you explain your situation. If it doesn't work out for some reason, grab a table at a nearby sidewalk cafe and enjoy the view with a suitable beverage from ground level.

Posted by
21 posts

We used the elevator in July. When we got to the window & the start of the stairs, I asked about the elevator and pointed to my 15yo son's leg braces, and we were directed to a spot to wait. The people waiting included a woman with a foot cast, a couple with a tiny baby, and an elderly couple. We were led around the structure (a little too quickly, but we managed) to the elevator.

There are a few steps to the very top, and then to get the elevator down, we asked in the gift shop and someone came to meet us.

My husband and my older son took the stairs up, and then we swapped kids so I could do the stairs down.

It was easy, and I'm sure it'll work for you!