Traveling with a Wheelchair

We are a family of 4 planning a trip this June to London and Paris. Our 15 year old son is confined to a wheelchair (Cerebral Palsy). Does anyone have any experiences with the accessibility of these 2 cities? How is bus and train service. Any other help/suggestions are most welcome! Thanks, Dave

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

My "experience" is limited to seeing quite a lot of wheelchair users commuting on the Tube in London, mostly on the Jubilee line, which is relatively new and which probably has better disabled access than some of the really old lines. Accessibility is taken seriously, and Transport for London has a webpage about it, which you may have seen: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/transportaccessibility/1167.aspx On the TFL journey planner you can specify your exact requirements for access. They say that if you arrive at a station and the lift is out of order, they will help you find an alternative route, and if there is no alternative route they will arrange and pay for a taxi to a station that does have disabled access. By no means all Tube stations have lifts, but almost all of the buses can be lowered on their suspension to allow wheelchair users to get on and off more easily. Both Tube trains and buses have spaces for wheelchair users.

Posted by Dave
Hudson, OH, USA
8 posts

Kevin: Thanks for the quick reply. I had not yet found that web site, so I will check it out. Thanks again!

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2848 posts

For Paris, I can say that the Metro will be off limits. Most stations have only stairs. Of the few elevators I've encountered, some needed special cards and so would not be accessible to you. And even in the deeper RER stations, there often is an escalator up, but not down, and no elevator. I don't know about buses in Paris, but searching (here or on other forums) should turn this up. Try looking for "accessible Paris." BTW, Rick used to have a book called Accessible Europe. It's out of print, but you may be able to get a used copy on Amazon or elsewhere. I know it has a whole Paris chapter.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2892 posts

For London, I'd suggest you plan to use the bus; the vast majority of tube stations do not offer step-free access. The buses have ramps and space for a wheelchair. Another (but more expensive) option is taxi as the licensed black cabs are also wheelchair accessible. When you book your hotel make sure to tell them you need an accessible room.

Posted by Sharon
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
892 posts

I was in a wheelchair for a short period of time while we were on vacation in Paris (recovering from surgery). We found that the metro did not work for us - we took the bus (but I was able to get out of the chair and walk onto the bus). We had a lightweight portable wheelchair with large wheels that folded up easily. We also found that the museums we went to had wheelchair access. We did take a taxi a number of times too - all worked fine. People in Paris were very helpful in making this work for us.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
774 posts

You haven't mentioned anywhere specific you are interested in regarding London, so I can only suggest you look at Accessible London and Inclusive London: http://www.visitlondon.com/traveller-information/essential-information/accessible-london http://www.inclusivelondon.com/defaultIL.aspx Note that many paid-for attractions offer free or discounted admission to the person with a disability and / or a carer. TfL have a subsite (already mentioned above): http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/transportaccessibility/1167.aspx and a series of video introductions http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQH5vxe2Qvo&list=PLtnlusA0ZoghqKE5HEMC6m4KLnGjkJkks

Posted by Dave
Hudson, OH, USA
8 posts

WOW! Thanks again for all the sites and insight. To answer your question Marco: We are doing the tourist thing for 4 days in each city. Looking to stay around the Hyde Park Area, and take in all the sights of London. Thanks again!

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3580 posts

Line 14 in Paris is known for its accessibility; here's a link to some good info from About.com.