Today on Disabled Travelers, we’ll be visiting one of the most iconic cities in Europe, Paris. Home of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and over two million Parisians, it’s one of the most visited cities anywhere in the world.
Some parts of the city look almost as they did hundreds of years ago, yet Paris is, according to The Economist, the most expensive city on Earth to live in!
Perhaps luckily, we at Disabled Travelers will only be visiting; join us on the banks of the Seine as we investigate mobility impaired access in this princely city and start on a series of helpful access guides for France.
Today, we focus on the legendary attractions that just about everyone will want to see.
Paris is served by two airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly. Information is centralized in the Aeroports de Paris website, which includes this factsheet on Accessibility Of The Terminals. In terms of sheer size, Charles de Gaulle is staggering, and many terminals are separated by long journeys by shuttle. Though normal security and customs checks do not tend to take long in France, it’s definitely a good idea to show up early and be prepared for delays.
This advice holds true for many of Paris’ attractions, especially if you visit during peak tourist season. Paris makes many of its attractions accessible, but there may be hundreds or thousands of others who hope to enjoy them, too. At the Eiffel Tower, handicapped travelers enjoy a reduced ticket rate, and all of the elevators that service the Tower do accommodate wheelchairs. The issue to be aware of is for caregivers or those who are ambulatory but have limited capacity to stand for long periods of time: to imagine the wait for the Eiffel Tower, think of Disney World at its busiest. Also, seating is fairly limited inside the Tower, even for those getting off at the second floor, so you may not be able to rest and regroup as easily as in some attractions.
The Louvre has an extensive FAQ for disabled travelers. Guide dogs, canes, and wheelchairs are permitted in the museum, with manual wheelchairs available in the lobby. There are also roll-in restroom facilities located through the wings of the museum and in the central Hall Napoleon.
You may also wish to visit the Carnavalet Museum, devoted to the history of Paris, which offers some useful accessibility info. Carnavalet includes tactile exhibits and offers assistance in Braille. Brochures are available in several languages.
Don’t miss Notre Dame Cathedral, a truly awe-inspiring sight. Some parts of the Cathedral do not offer much in the way of mobility impaired access, but it is certainly possible to have the Notre Dame experience, and getting inside the Cathedral is fairly easy for those with mobility issues. See the official FAQ for a basic overview of access, and this third-party map to get a clearer picture of each portion of the cathedral and where it fits into the accessibility scheme.
We’ve really only scratched the surface with Paris. Future posts will give more in-depth information about getting around, as well as even more things to see and do, restaurants and eateries, and places to stay that are a little bit off the beaten track. Our wanderings will continue next time, but until then, au revoir — and adventure on!