Paris Access

Helen and I recently took a trip to Paris. Getting there from London is a very pleasant two hour fifteen minute train ride on the Eurostar from St Pancras International, to Gare du Norde. Eurostar personnel are always very friendly and efficient (it helps if you remind them throughout check-in that you’ll need a ramp) and train travel means I don’t have to transfer in and out of my chair and I am able to roll around the carriage and use the loo if I want. I prefer this over plane travel by far.

Access in Paris is very good. Most of the sidewalks/pavements are easy and free of cobbles, or even seams, as they tend to be made of one solid paving of concrete. The metro system is not accessible, but the buses are, and the #38 takes us straight from Gare du Norde to Place St Michel on the Left Bank (our favorite part of the city).

A good portion of the shops are on the ground level, with an easy ramp. Here’s a photo of the entrance to a “Carrefour” (a chain of convenience and supermarkets found throughout France)…

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The curbs are very well ramped at most intersections. here is an example…

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and another one…

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Outdoor seating is a wonderful way to avoid the dilemma of finding a restaurant with step-free access (although most have an accessible entrance if one wants to eat indoors), and there are few of Life’s Great Pleasures that can beat sitting in an outdoor cafe and having a plate of bread and cheese and a bottle of French wine, watching Paris walk by.

There are also several places where access to the banks of the Seine can be had down ramped roads, although they can be a little steep, and there are cobbles at the bottom. I just took it slow, and it went well, and we had a lovely picnic of (you guessed it), bread and cheese and wine in the sun, near Notre Dame. This is what the cobbled bit looks like…
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Looking the other way, you get a view of Notre Dame.

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Cafe with outdoor seating, at night.

le st andrecropped
W
e had a wonderful time. We’ll be back.


4 responses to “Paris Access

  • Alex Squire

    When I went to Paris I thought the wheelchair access was lacking. I thought that there were too many cobbles (especially in the sacre coer area), but I guess we probably went to different places to each other. I also found that the Metro was mostly inaccessible but on one line (line 14) the access was good, as it is the newest line to be built. There was step free access and lifts at every station (although at some stations the lifts weren’t working). I never tried the buses but it’s good to know that they are accessible.

    • straywheel

      Thank you, Alex. Your comment is appreciated, and helpful. We invite all feedback, as that makes this site more complete in its presentation of information for wheelchair travellers.

      I agree, Mont Marte and the Sacre Coer area is a bit difficult due to the cobbles (and it’s an expensive cab ride, as getting there is up roads far to steep to go manually), and the Sacre Coer itself is not at all accessible (many steps), BUT,…

      I can get around on cobbles if I go slow, and the whole area has a wonderful art-vibe, and several outdoor cafes for a pint, a glass of wine, or a meal, if one so chooses.

      And it has an incredible view.

      Thank you very much for the metro info. I will have to check it out next time that we are in Paris.

      • Alex Squire

        By the way there is a good book which I stumbled across called “Access in Paris” which is written by a group of disabled people and has lots of information regarding access to many different attractions. it’s got a lot of useful information in it, but I think it was last published in 2008 and some bits of it might be a bit out of date.

  • photorollerfinn

    We’re just back from Paris. Blog post to come this week. We didn’t bother with Montmartre at all. Besides the weather was so good it was just great rolling by the river!

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