Tourism Abroad - Disabled Accessibility

Paris, the City of Love - April 2014

I was invited by one of my closest friends for her late birthday treat to visit Paris, The City of Love.  Due to my mobility, hearing and visual difficulties, I booked my communicator guide (who can speak fluent French) to support me.

The Eurostar and the Stations

Getting to Paris by Eurostar is an excellent option.  It’s fast, reliable and very smooth and the journey takes just over two hours.

There are three high steps to get onto the train itself, however special assistance can be provided for those in a wheelchair.  In the terminals, St Pancras and Gare du Nord lifts, escalators and disabled toilets are available for all passengers.  Speedy/priority boarding was available for those with a disability. 

For additional information regarding special needs, please check out the link below:

At the Hotel

The Ibis Hotel is a short distance from the heart of Paris located in Bercy Village.  The reception area has a spacious lobby and a nice bar and restaurant with a disabled toilet.  My room was a standard twin which was pretty basic and very compact.  The shower had no handrail, but it wasn’t slippery.  The hotel has three accessible rooms with Italian bathrooms and flat floors

Riviera Travel

This holiday was booked through Riviera Travel, who were rather pleasant and helpful providing a tour guide.

People who need specific assistance should contact Riviera in advance.  Assistance at the train station to get on and off the train can be arranged.  The tour company uses coaches for inner city travel, for example from Gare du Nord to the hotel but they cannot accommodate people who cannot get out of their wheelchair.  If the person is able to transfer, a folding chair can be taken on the coach. The tours are mainly designed for able bodied and require a certain amount of walking in order to make the most of the holiday.

Getting Around

Buses in Paris can all accommodate wheelchair users and metro lines that are accessible are indicated by the disability symbol.  Every stop on Line 14 is wheelchair accessible.  However, the metro is not as accessible especially when making an interchange.  There are so many corridors and steps, it’s like a maze and can be tiring.  I had to walk for roughly fifteen minutes just to change lines.

Please take a look at the link below for more details on the public transport accessibility.


We decided it would be best to start the trip visiting the top attraction, the Eiffel Tower.  This attraction provides concessions for disabled, deaf and visually impaired and support, we all paid half price.  There is a queue skip for disabled people and there is flat access to the lift which is large, can hold 25 – 30 people so there’s lots of space.  Those with physical disabilities are not allowed to the top floor, first and second floors only. This is in case of emergency evacuation.  On the second level there is a disabled toilet.

Eiffel Tower

Versailles Palace

This was a coach tour and we were given three hours to explore the palace, which seemed about enough time.

There were cobbles all around the Palace in the main courtyard, and as it was raining, made it even more challenging.  There was free admission for individuals and Communicator Guide on showing the disabled blue badge.  There was a separate door for access so no queuing was required and there were wheelchairs available for hire.  With our visit being on a Saturday, the Palace was quite busy which was difficult for mobility.

Seating is available in some of the rooms where people can rest.  There is a lift available to avoid large staircases, and it is generally flat inside with adequate lighting.

Notre Dame Cathedral

At this attraction, there was no information provided for disabled people, the queue looked rather long, but it is quite quick; we queued for just ten minutes.  It could be a good idea to go in the separate entrance which is meant for those going to mass.  There is one step to get into the cathedral and is quite dimly lit inside.  It was quite crowded so wasn’t easy to get around; a visit of ten minutes was enough.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Sacre Coeur Monmatre

This beautiful church is located on a rather steep hill. The first section of the hill is on a rather steep street which is cobbled in places and at the top it is all cobbled. There are three options for accessing the church:

  1. Main steps, no disabled access
  2. Side steps-steep uneven with handrail
  3. Cable car, good access for disabled but with a little extra walk to get to the church

The church is not wheelchair accessible; there are firstly five uneven steps with handrail and then another ten good steps with a handrail.  Once inside the church there is adequate lighting.

Sacre Coeur

Louvre Museum

This museum is very open plan with lifts and escalators throughout.  Disabled toilets are located in the main areas but it can be difficult to access as there was a queue in both toilets.  Free admission was provided for the three of us (my friend, my communicator guide and I) and I hired a wheelchair free of charge.

At the Mona Lisa viewing area, there is a section reserved in front of the main barrier to enable disabled people to view Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece.  Some paintings are too high for people, especially in a wheelchair and the reflecting light above some paintings makes it difficult to see.  The signs telling you the name of the painting and artist are at an appropriate level for wheelchair users to read, but not large enough for visually impaired people.

Eating Out

La Terrasse de Bercy (102 rue de Bercy 75012, Paris - is a genuine French restaurant; the food here is delicious so we came back the next evening.  There is one step to enter into the main restaurant though there is a covered terrace with heating beforehand.  Toilets are located on the ground floor though quite large; they are not adapted for wheelchair users.

Bouillon Chartier (7 rue du Faubourg, Montmartre, 75009 Paris - is located quite a walk from the Louvre.  On arrival there was a queue outside as this restaurant is very popular.  There was a revolving door to get in the restaurant which would not have been big enough for a wheelchair user, but there should be a side entrance.  A disabled toilet was available (separate from the mains), but access to it was tight.  The lighting in this restaurant was nice and bright.  This restaurant had some fantastic food and was very reasonable.  A three course meal was in the region of 15 – 20 Euros!

Overall Paris is a spectacular city to visit with reasonable access.  All it takes is a bit of planning to make the accessibility factor easier.

Please check out the link below on Sage Travel for further information on access in Paris.