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Paris with a disability

I would like to go to Paris next June. My wife has a disability and finds walking difficult. My plan is to find an apartment/hotel with an elevator near a bus/metro stop. We have a transport chair, which is a lightweight version of a wheelchair. I thought I would bring that (or possibly rent one in Paris) so she would not have to walk as much. We have been to Paris and I know there are lots of cobbled streets. I know it is crowded. Is this a realistic expectation? Have any of you been in a situation in Paris where walking has been an issue, and if so, how did you solve it?

Posted by
8293 posts

If you google"Paris for the handicapped" there is a wealth of information. Buses will be the answer for transportation, rather than the metro. Many of the buses are the "kneeling" type, making it easier for the disabled to embark, or for the "abled" with a stroller to get on.

Posted by
693 posts

The recently much discussed Grand Hotel Leveque is just a very short block and a half and around the corner from the stop for bus 69 coming from the direction of the Eiffel Tower going towards the Louvre and Notre Dame on rue Saint Dominique and half a block on the way back going towards the Eiffel Tower on rue de Grenelle. These are one-way streets, that's why the bus makes a loop. The Leveque has an elevator. There are probably lots of other hotels but that's the one I know is close to the bus stops (I have trouble walking, too.) I found that even if the metro stops were close, often the metro involved lots of walking.

Posted by
6898 posts

We just returned from Paris. Lots and lots of stairs in the Metros. Some relief with escalators in some RER stations but generally, not the metro. The larger museums are well equipped with nice elevators. You have to find them but they are there. We used them. You can even get to the top of the Eiffel Tower in a wheelchair (we saw such a person up top in a wheel chair. Arch de Triumphe - no way. They have an elevator but it was out of order when we were there. 674 stairs up and down (I counted them).

Posted by
15 posts

Perhaps a dumb question given the name but....are "Hop-on, Hop-off" buses handicapped or disabled friendly? Even though its touristy, maybe another option?

Posted by
4684 posts

Yes, there are many unavoidable stairs on the Paris Metro. Very few stops have elevators, many have escalators but they often run upwards only with only stairs to go down. The vast majority of urban buses in Paris are low floor and some have extendable wheelchair ramps, but buses can be slow and many routes do not operate in the evening or especially on Sunday. There is detailed information on the accessibility of public transport in Paris at http://www.ratp.fr/fr/ratp/c_20618/accessibilite-des-reseaux/ but it is unfortunately not available in English. However, if you click on "bus accessibles" and then "liste des bus de Paris accessibles" you can see a list of bus routes operated by low-floor vehicles. If you click on the route number you get a route map on which stops marked with a yellow triangle do NOT have humps for wheelchair users. If you click on "gares amenagees" you can see a list of accessible Metro (mainly only on the new line 14) and RER stations. "Acenseur" is a lift and "portillon elargi" refers to widened ticket gates.

Posted by
119 posts

I haven't been to Paris (yet!). But when we went to Rome, my parents were with us. My Mom's knees were in really bad shape, but she could walk short distances. What we did was get an apartment near a taxi stand. My folks took taxis everywhere (yes, it was not cheap...) while the rest of the family either walked or took the metro. Then we arranged for wheelchairs at major museums (like the Vatican museum). I don't know if that will work for your situation, but thought I would put it out there as a suggestion.

Posted by
263 posts

Wow....talk about a mental block. I was in Paris in April without wife and forgot about the stairs in the metro. Thanks for the reminder. I also stayed at the Leveque and think that is a reasonable walking distance from the bus stop for her. Thanks for the tips on the accessible paris....will be using that. I was glad to hear the museums have chairs for use by patrons. Thanks for all your suggestions and comments.

Posted by
1014 posts

I am handicapped and I use crutches and an electric scooter to get about in Europe. This summer my wife and I went to Paris, Rennes, Bordeaux, Madrid, Valencia, Edinburgh and Thurso. We walked/rode a lot and some things I did not get to see (to many stairs). In Paris, most buses are handicapped accessible and have a ramp that comes out the back door for wheel chair entrance/exit. The same is true for Madrid and Valencia. If you have particular questions, I would be glad to answer if I can. You can message me.

Posted by
69 posts

All I know is that Paris does have curb cuts, reserved parking for people with disabilities, and some public buses that are accessible. Actually, Britain is the only country I've been to where disability access is as good as, or in some cases better than, accessibility in the U.S.

Posted by
3580 posts

Lots of hotels in Paris have elevators. Museums have elevators; you may have to ask where to find them. Rue Cler has cobblestones, so maybe you should avoid that street. The entrance to the Cluny museum is lined with cobblestones that I find challenging even when I'm not having mobility problems. For a relaxed way to get around try the Batobus. It is a boat on the Siene which travels between the major points in a loop along the river. You can see quite a lot of Paris from the boat, then exit wherever you want. Some of the buses cross the city through many neighborhoods. If you can get seats, you can ride across town and enjoy the scenery. For an area you might enjoy walking around in and have easy access to the Metro, try finding a hotel room near the St Paul Metro stop. That whole neighborhood is interesting and walkable.

Posted by
345 posts

My husband and I were in Paris in June and October. I have problems with my feet and knees. We always try the metro and then as I am climbing the stairs, I remember why I don't like them. Then, we start using the buses again. My only problem with the bus is perhaps not being able to get a seat and stepping on and off the bus. We don't actually look for a bus that can lower itself to accomodate riders but that would be nice to use if possible. Both the buses and the metro have seats designated for people with handicaps. Usually, the seats are empty. Even with my foot and knee problems, I always get up if there is an older person who gets on the bus. I don't remember ever using a taxi except to get to and from the airport. Using a transport chair will be more difficult on the streets but it can be done. Good luck!

Posted by
1438 posts

I have the very same problem. We too stayed at the Hotel Levique and took bus 69. I also had a cane with a fold down seat that helped in lines. When we went to Sweden the year before, I had checked to see if we could rent a wheel chair to get between places - came up as not possible. So, we took a portable wheel chair with us (one with larger wheels that was lightweight) - that helped immensely.

Posted by
263 posts

Thanks for your help....I have thought about the portable chair. We are looking at an apartment that is ground floor and near two bus stops. She has been to Paris before, and we have seen Versailles, the Louvre and Notre Dame. But this time we are bringing a friend who has not seen those sights. I think an apartment would be best because then wifey can do her thing while we explore. Being close to the bus means minimal walking before boarding and hopefully the route will lead us to places she can handle. We have a "transport chair" which is like a wheel chair but has to be pushed. I could bring that.....but does it count as luggage? Paris is not the only place we are going, but it is the largest with the most walking. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by
1438 posts

It was a transport chair we had, and it did not count as luggage - United Airlines is what we flew.

Posted by
69 posts

Most airlines don't consider wheelchairs of any kind or crutches to be luggage.

Posted by
123 posts

If you have a disability placard for your car from your State bring that along with paper work. In Paris you go to the front of the line for everything - museums, eiffle tower, etc. The Disabled are allowed in free or at a discount, the same for their companion. I had to show my placard and paperwork and no problem. The metro got real old real fast, as the stairs are just too much. Did not try the buses. We ended up taking taxis most places. Look up where the Disabled entrances are at museums, sites. This saved me a lot of time - I knew which door to enter when I arrived.

Posted by
3 posts

Maureen posts that you can go to the front of the line with a valid US disability placard. That was posted several years ago, does this still work? I don't need a wheelchair (I hope) but have feet issues that means I can't stand long. It would be great if you all could share your experiences with this in Paris and Italy (Rome Florence & Pisa). Thank you!

Posted by
263 posts

Here's a partial answer.....my wife did not go to any museums....have been there before and she was not interested. However, she did go to Disneyland Paris with my daughter. She did bring her handicap placard and requested a wheelchair at guest services. Inside the park they went to the front of every line. She normally does not use a chair, but she can only walk short distances. The museums would have been too much walking. Many of the metro stations, not all, have elevators. I bet you can find that information on the Paris with Disabilities site. I'm glad we went last year, as I fear she has seen the last of Paris. Walking is just too difficult. Funny what can happen in ayear.
Goood luck

Posted by
11450 posts

Terry thanks for coming back and updating us.. I am glad you and wife enjoyed your trip to Paris.. I am sorry it will likely be wifes last trip to Paris.. I understand how time can change things .