Paris is my favourite favourite favourite wheelchair accessible city in Europe.
And three factors should make it your accessible destination of choice too:
1. Wheelchair accessible Eurostar trains directly to central Paris from central London;
2. 4,500 wheelchair accessible buses in Paris. All fitted with automatic wheelchair ramps (and the buses go to just about everywhere in central Paris);
3. Plus over 400 wheelchair accessible public toilets in central Paris alone!
The Official Paris Tourism website has an excellent Visiting Paris with a Disability guide.
To reach Paris from the UK by train, there really is only one option:
Eurostar to central Paris from central London.
And when I first researched the wheelchair accessibility of Eurostar trains from London to Paris, initially my heart sank.
You see, there ARE wheelchair accessible spaces on all Eurostar services to Paris. But these spaces are ONLY available in the Standard Premier or Business Premier Class carriages. So my initial thought was that it would indeed be possible – BUT it would be extra expensive (and wheelchair accessible travel is expensive enough as it is).
But the more I read up on the wheelchair accessibility of Eurostar trains, the wider my smile became:
Yes, these spaces are only available in the Standard Premier or Business Premier Class carriages. But they are sold to wheelchair using passengers at a set Standard Class rate.
And, although your companion/assistant also has to buy a ticket (no free companion tickets here I’m afraid), they also travel for this same reduced rate.
So even though there’s an additional expense for needing to use a wheelchair – Eurostar make up for this by letting you both travel in Standard Premier or Business Premier Class, at a seriously discounted rate.
So Eurostar does indeed treat its wheelchair using passengers extraordinarily well after all.
So just getting to Paris was the first of the three treats. But actually getting around Paris is where the other two treats come in:
You see, just about every one of the 4,500 public buses in Paris is fitted with an automatic, and driver-operated, wheelchair ramp.
Not all bus stops are wheelchair accessible too though (the automatic ramp is unable to be extended at a few still). But MOST Paris bus stops ARE wheelchair accessible – and if your choice of Paris bus stop just happens to be one of the few stops that isn’t wheelchair accessible yet, you just trundle along to the next stop which more than likely will be (which is about as spontaneous as wheelchair travel can be I suppose). The official RATP website (the public transport authority in Paris) has an excellent online map of accessible bus lines in central Paris (simply select the number of the bus line you want, and it then shows you which bus stops are indeed wheelchair accessible – by default all are – the maps actually just show which bus stops are not accessible, as these are by far the exception).
And as the older Paris Metro is not really that accessible or step-free, then wheelchair using visitors to Paris will be using buses a lot (but the public buses do go almost everywhere in central Paris – a change of bus might be required sometimes though).
And the final Paris accessible travel treat also makes your visit as “spontaneous” as it can be: the widespread availability of wheelchair accessible public toilets in central Paris (“sanisettes”). All 400 automatic public toilets are fully wheelchair accessible (and all have been FREE since 2006 – so no worrying if you have the necessary coin).
The official Paris visitors website has an excellent online map of the location of these too:
“Access PMR” is what you are looking for (PMR = “personnes à mobilité réduite”, literally “People with Reduced Mobility”).
Wheelchair Accessible Taxis in Paris?
G7 is one of the biggest taxi companies in France, and have over 200 wheelchair accessible taxis in Paris.
They have a dedicated telephone number for their “G7 Access” service: +33(0)1 47 39 00 91. Your hotel reception will only be too happy to call them from your hotel – or you can order a taxi on their website (at www.g7.fr), or via their free app.
#1. Accessible Eiffel Tower Paris
- Floors 1 & 2 Are Wheelchair Accessible
- The Top is NOT Wheelchair Accessible
The Eiffel Tower in Paris is the busiest pay-to-enter monument on the planet (hosting almost 7 million visitors each year).
Which means it’s busy!
And it’s just a myth that you can’t go to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower. As the world’s most-visited tourist attraction – is also the world’s biggest tourist trap!
Only the first and second levels of Tour Eiffel are wheelchair accessible anyway. The top is not.
So, unless you are really keen on getting a wheel on the Eiffel Tower, I would just view it from the ground (which means you avoid the queues too – a great saving on your limited Paris time).
And the view from the ground is good (especially from the Champ de Mars).
However, the best view of the Eiffel Tower is from the Palais de Chaillot on the opposite side of the Seine.
And the best way to reach the Palais de Chaillot is by bus or taxi to Trocadéro. The main platform of the Palais de Chaillot is wheelchair accessible (there is a ramp on the right of the steps leading on to the platform).
However, the direct route down to Pont d’Iena from Place du Trocadéro, where you cross the Seine to the Eiffel Tower, involves steps. There is a longer way round though – via Av. Albert de Mun and the gardens outside the Aquarium de Paris.
Trocadéro can also be reached by simply walking/rolling down Av. Kléber after seeing the Arc de Triomphe.
#2. Accessible Louvre Museum Paris
- Wheelchair Accessible
- Free entry (+1 companion)
- Accessible Toilets
- Accessible Cafés
- Closed Tuesdays
The Louvre museum in Paris is HUGE.
To see all 380,000 exhibits, on the 4 floors, of the 3 different wings – you would need to roll/your companion would need to push for 12 kilometres! You don’t need to cover all 12 kilometeres though, but make sure that your companion is wearing comfortable shoes.
Most importantly though, pick up a Museum Map from the Information Desk.
Why? There are steps everywhere, but an alternative route is usually always available. This alternative route can sometimes be rather circuitous though, and might also involve using a lift (and all lifts don’t stop at all floors). So without a map – you are very likely to get very lost.
And the bad news: If you had your heart set on seeing the Winged Victory sculpture (Winged Victory of Samothrace) , you’re going to be disappointed. To be seen up close and personal, Winged Victory requires climbing steps (the Daru staircase). There are also steps on each side too. But the Louvre’s website has a great photograph for you to look at instead.
And now the (three) very good news stories for wheelchair using visitors to the Louvre in Paris:
1. Queueing. The main entrance to the Louvre at the Pyramid has 4 different queues. One queue for visitors without tickets, one for visitors with tickets/Museum Passes, one for Louvre members/supporters – and a priority queue for staff AND disabled visitors (so no waiting in line).
And as the queues at the Paris Louvre are infamously long, this is a major plus;
2. Free entry for wheelchair users and a companion. And as paid tickets at the Louvre are not cheap for most visitors to Paris, again, this is a major plus;
3. The Mona Lisa. The painting itself is a lot smaller than you might think. And, normally, visitors can’t get that close to it (it’s hanging on the opposite wall of a large room).
And the room that the Mona Lisa is located in in the Louvre is always crowded with visitors – just about everyone who comes to Paris and the Louvre wants to see the Mona Lisa (and as wheelchair users view the world from waist-height anyway, under normal circumstances all you would see is the back of a crowd of people).
But there is nothing normal about the wonderful way that wheelchair users are catered for in the Louvre.
When you reach the room that hosts the Mona Lisa, you will be ushered to a special viewing area – in FRONT of the crowd. So you will be able to really enjoy Da Vinci’s masterpiece – rather than be stuck looking at peoples’ backsides.
Your Museum Map will also show you where the many accessible toilets are located too (but my advice is not to wait until the very last minute before seeking one out – as those alternative routes can take a bit of time).
#3. Accessible Arc de Triomphe Paris
- An accessible building – in an INACCESSIBLE location!
Sadly, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is NOT wheelchair accessible.
Yes, the monument itself is (and they have recently installed a new wheelchair accessible lift to get you to the top).
But access TO the monument (which sits in the middle of a crazily-busy roundabout) involves passing through a tunnel under the road – and this tunnel has steps!
And DO NOT try to cross the road at street-level.
#4. Accessible Musée Rodin Paris
- Step-free Access
- Accessible Garden
- Accessible Toilets in All Areas
- Accessible Indoor/Outdoor Café
- Closed Mondays
The fully wheelchair accessible Musée Rodin is an oasis of calm in central Paris!
Lifts and ramps mean that both the house and the gardens (where many of the sculptures can be found too) are fully accessible to wheelchair users.
The wonderful café in the garden is also fully wheelchair accessible too. The café has an outdoor seating area (and also an indoor seating area – for any times that the weather is not playing so nice).
The golden dome of Les Invalides, and the top of the nearby Eiffel Tower can be seen overlooking the sculptures in the garden too.
#5. Accessible Les Invalides Paris
- Accessible Museums
- Tomb of Napoleon I is Inaccessible
- Accessible Toilets
- Accessible Parking Available
Relive the military history of France in the Hôtel des Invalides in central Paris.
The golden dome of Les Invalides (or to give it its full name: the Hôtel National des Invalides – literally “the National House of the Disabled”) houses both the Musée de l’Armée (the Military Museum of France), and the tallest church building in Paris – the 107 metre high Eglise du Dôme (also known as the Dôme des Invalides), which houses the tomb of Napoleon I.
And although the museum is fully accessible to wheelchair using visitors to Paris, the church building, and the tomb of Napoleon it contains, is not accessible (there are steps on both the outside, and on the inside, of the Eglise du Dôme).
This partial accessibility is possibly why entrance to the museum is free for wheelchair users and one carer (evidence must be shown).
Wheelchair accessible toilets are available in the museum areas.
Wheelchair access to Les Invalides is via the side-entrance on Bvd des Invalides (the side of the building nearest to the Musée Rodin).
#6. Accessible Petit Palais Paris
- Fully Wheelchair Accessible
- Closed Mondays
The Petit Palais in Paris houses the Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris (the City of Paris Fine Art Museum).
The main entrance at Le Petit Palais is reached via a flight of stairs. However, there is a wheelchair accessible entrance just to the right of these steps.
Entry is free for wheelchair users and their companion.
#7. Accessible Musée du Quai Branly Paris
- Step-free Access
- Wheelchair Accessible Gardens
- Accessible Toilets
- Accessible Café
- Closed Mondays
Experience a different view of the Eiffel Tower from the Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac. And without the hectic crowds of Paris visitors too.
The Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac, is located right next to the Eiffel Tower in central Paris, and is home to a very diverse collection of indigenous art from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.
Seriously, you could spend a whole day in here (allow for a good two hours at the very minimum if you intend to visit the wheelchair accessible café in the gardens too).
Arc de Triomphe > Eiffel Tower > Les Invalides > Musée Rodin > Pont Alexandre III > Grand Palais > Petit Palais > Champs-Élysées > Place de la Concorde > Jardin des Tuileries > Louvre Museum > Pont des Arts
Eiffel Tower > Les Invalides > Musée Rodin > Pont Alexandre III > Grand Palais > Petit Palais
Arc de Triomphe > Champs-Élysées > Place de la Concorde > Jardin des Tuileries > Louvre Museum > Pont des Arts