Paris is an iconic city packed full of important cultural monuments, world-famous art galleries and fascinating museums. With so much on offer, planning an accessible Paris holiday can be overwhelming. It is difficult to know which attractions to prioritise, and, as a wheelchair user, which to avoid. This article will help you create the perfect itinerary with insider knowledge of the accessibility of Parisâ€™s must-see sights and the best ways to get from A to B.
This or That? Creating an Itinerary
Itineraries do not only cover what to do and see but when. As many tourist attractions are far apart in Paris, knowing which activities should be done on the same day will give you more time to spend exploring the city.
Here are my top tips for a fully accessible Paris holiday.
â€¢Sainte-Chapelle: The beautiful Sainte-Chapelle is certainly worth a visit. The main entrance does have steps; however, there is an alternative entrance just around the corner on Boulevard Saint-Michel.
â€¢Rodin Museum and Hotel des Invalides: Visit these two attractions on the same day as the entrances are just a few hundred metres apart. The route between the buildings is flat and easy to navigate.
â€¢Bus Tour: The bus tour makes a great addition to an accessible Paris holiday and, as it starts and stops in front of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, it makes sense to visit Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle on the same day as you take the tour.
â€¢Eiffel Tower not Arc de Triomphe: If youâ€™re looking for somewhere to get a great snap of Paris, choose the Eiffel Tower rather than the Arc de Triomphe. Not only is the Eiffel Tower a must-see, it is far more accessible. The interior of the Arc de Triomphe can only be reached through a long tunnel with lots of steps.
â€¢Louvre: Hours can be spent in the Louvre museum but, unless you know this tip, hours can also be spent waiting in line to get inside. Wheelchair users can head straight to the front of the queue and use the sleek elevator to reach the lobby below.
Learn the Lingo
A great way to help your trip go smoothly is to learn a few French phrases. These will come in handy when you are searching for accessible entrances as they are not always immediately obvious.
â€¢Is there an entrance without steps? Y a-t-il une entrÃ©e sans des marches?
â€¢Can you help me? Pouvez-vous mâ€™aider?
â€¢Where is the lift? OÃ¹ est lâ€™ascenseur?
â€¢My friend is outside in a wheelchair. Mon ami est dehors en un fauteuil roulant.
With these handy phrases, youâ€™ll be able to communicate your needs and might even get a smile from the locals!
If your French isnâ€™t quite up to scratch why not seek the help of a specialist disabled travel tour operator? A specialist tour company will have unparalleled experience of the city and will be able to advise on every topic, from which hotel to stay in, to when to visit the Louvre. Calling in the travel experts is a great way to make the most of your accessible Paris holiday.
Philip Scott is the owner and founder of Can be Done, a fully licensed UK tour operator specialising in worldwide holidays for handicapped individuals and groups. With over 31 years’ experience organising long and short breaks to France for disabled travellers, Philip has built a reputation for helping his clients select hotels and accommodation that offer high standards of accessibility, to ensure that those with special needs can experience a truly relaxing and carefree accessible Paris holiday.
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