The Louvre at dusk

The Louvre at dusk
Photo by: Jan Jelnek (Stock Exchange)

Hello, hello!

Today on the Disabled Travelers blog, we continue our journey through the beautiful city of Paris.

There’s so much to experience here in the capital of France that I’ve decided to break things down a bit more than usual for our Paris access guides.

This time, we’ll be focused on accessibility in transportation; how to get around easily so you can take it all in and enjoy your visit.

If you’re like me, then mobility impaired access in public transportation is important to you, and I’m here to give you the inside scoop.

As astute readers have probably realized by now, I have, indeed, been to Paris. Much of the city is designed to be walkable, and that’s good news for wheelchair users. The tricky part is, with so much of the city retaining Old World-style cobblestones, pavement can be uneven and inhospitable in the less-modern sections. Though it’s a wonderful city to walk or roll, and you definitely get more of the local flavor that way, sooner or later you’ll want to know about your other options. Let’s take a look at some of them now.

The Paris Metro: Paris’ citywide train system is the second-most used of its kind, just behind its Moscow counterpart. Most trips through the city will require at least a few short hops on the Metro, which can slash your travel time. But how is it on accessibility? The official page on the topic isn’t much, and extended visits to the Metro should be avoided for most passengers who cannot stand. Users of automatic wheelchairs should also take a “pass” on the Metro. That said, many Metro stations throughout Paris are extensively equipped with accessibility features. Consult the Paris Metro map, available in both full- and wallet-size, to figure out the best route for you before you go.

At the time of this writing, only Metro Line 14 is fully accessible.

Buses: Many of Paris’ bus lines are accessible, and you’ll definitely want to choose one of these over the Metro where possible. More and more buses are being equipped with ramps and have ample space for a wheelchair user to be situated near the door for easy exit, though in most cases, you will have to face backwards and back into the space. For an excellent source, try this local transportation guide. From there, you can see routes and schedules, and plan your journey from end to end.

Taxis: Unlike the selection above, taxis are not administered by RATP, Paris’ transportation authority. For that reason, they can seem like the “lost” option, but no more! There are wheelchair accessible taxis in Paris, and they’re convenient and easy to use. There’s only one dilemma: to the best of my knowledge, the company behind it all, G7 Taxis, doesn’t offer any information in English on their website. You can, however, contact them by email to find out more about pre-reserving taxi service throughout the city. As is often the way in Paris, English-language assistance may be provided on contact or by arrangement.

Passerelles: Something should be said about the pedestrian bridges that crisscross Paris over the Seine. There are two in central Paris, both quite extensive. Though they present some challenges, they’re not as daunting as they might seem at first. Global Access News has two articles focusing on accessibility around the passerelles: one from 2003 and an update written in 2005. Merchants and others who spend their time on the passerelles are often more than happy to help you get around.

For our next go-around, we’ll be looking at places to stay in Paris. Our tour de France will continue on from there when we discuss accessible places to eat. Finally, we’ll discuss all the handicapped travel resources in the city that don’t quite fit anywhere else before we bid the city a fond adieu. Once again, au revoir and adventure on!


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