Paris Wheelchair Travel

February 18, 2014 in France, Wheelchair Walks

Eurostar Wheelchair Access

To get in the mood we had a croque mademoiselle (french style vegetarian toasted sandwich) in the departure area at London St Pancras International. The Eurostar info desk has free Paris tourist maps and they also sell a carnet of 10 metro/bus tickets for Paris. Boarding onto the train was smooth, they have very large ramps and platform assistance. The bonus with the wheelchair user and companion tickets is that you get to travel in standard premier class. The tickets include a light breakfast or meal. There is a detachable table at wheelchair height for dining.

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Upon arrival at Gare du Nord Station in Paris there was a large ramp and platform assistance. Once off the platform and in the main station we did a lot of running around trying to find the disabled toilet. There were no signs for it and no-one seemed to know where it was.  However the mystery is now solved thanks to Sarah from Eurostar.

- From Eurostar arrivals you turn left towards the Metro/RER side of the station.
- Cross over the wooden bridge
- Continue straight ahead to toilets with disabled access (in French Toilettes PMR – Personne de mobilité réduite).

 

Please see the map below:

Disabled toilets in Gare du Nord Station Paris

On the way back you have to go through security at Hall Londres. It’s upstairs in Gare du Nord Station and there are 2 lifts at the west side of the station.  In Gare du Nord there is step access to the bus station. Wheelchair users need to go out of the station to the left and walk around the block to reach the bus station.

www.eurostar.com

Wheelchair Accessible Hotel In Paris

We stayed at the lovely Hotel Relais Bosquet, 19 Rue Champ de Mars. Our accessible room was on the ground floor, it has step free access (there was a step but they had it removed in 2009) and wide doors. The room is stylish, modern and a lovely place to relax after a busy day in the city. I slept really well in the fabulously comfy queen size bed.  Paris rooms can tend to be small but there was ample space to move around in the wheelchair and the bathroom was very generous. There is an accessible sink, roll in shower, shower stool, a grab bar by the toilet and a heated towel rail. Other feature in the room are TV, trouser press, tea and coffee making facilities, desk, wardrobe, ironing board & iron, hairdryer, electronic safe, fridge, mini bar and FREE WIFI! Oh and a radio which we had permanently tuned to FIP, my favourite french radio station.

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The breakfast buffet has fantastic fresh bread and pastries from the famous bakery of Mr Menardin, there is also an array of juice, jam, cakes, pancakes, cheeses, cold meats, sausage and eggs etc. Teas and coffee are served in charming crockery.  www.hotel-relaisbosquet-paris.com

There are some wonderful photos and Paris suggestions on their Facebook page which I wish I had discovered before the trip. You can also access a Facebook fan preferential rate if you like their page.

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Paris Food

Rue Cler


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The Hotel Relais Bosquet is just off Rue Cler, a pedestrianised street that buzzes with french cafe bars and french foodie shops.  Pattiseries, ice cream shop, fromagerie, fresh produce grocers etc. We had melt in the mouth quiches from the patisserie  and beautiful goats cheese from the fromagerie. Rue Cler is a cobbled street, however they are not the severe kind. Let’s call them mild cobbles. The pavements and the wide gutters are smooth, so you only have to go on the cobbles here and there.

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Cafe Constant

wheelchair travel, paris, wheelchair access, rue cler, cafe constantThis place has a good reputation and was not far from the Hotel. It has 1 step to enter, is quite small, has no disabled toilet and sometimes you have to queue, but it’s worth it. The staff are charming and helpful and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. The food is very satisfying simple french comfort food. They are especially famous for their desserts, we had a delicious meringue floating in a sauce with almonds.  www.maisonconstant.com/cafe-constant

 

Carette

For a special treat we had tea and tiny cakes at Carette. They serve beautiful artisan cakes and macarrons. It’s a bit pricey at 20 euros for a coffee, an orange blossom infusion and 5 petit fours, although it is served in a lovely tea set and the cakes are adorable. Atmosphere is nice, excellent service, accessible step free entrance and a disabled toilet. We were trying to see the view from the top of Trocadero Gardens which is not accessible from the Eiffel Tower side. A friendly gardener took us up around the side of Palais de Chaillot to reach the fab view. Then it poured down, Carette was a great place to escape the heavy rain!  www.carette-paris.com/uk

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Paris Accessible Attractions On A Rainy Day

The Louvre

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Enter via the Pyramid. No need to queue, as a wheelchair user you are given priority at the entrance. There is an attendant operated lift that takes you down to the reception hall. When you are in the lift between ground floor and the main hall don’t forget to look up and see the spiral.

Wheelchair users and their companion can enter the Louvre free of charge. Pick up a free plan specifically for those on wheels. This shows which lifts to use and where the secret doors are.

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It’s so massive, it can get quite confusing locating the correct lifts etc, but the good thing is that there are plenty of staff throughout the museum who can assist with directions.

As a wheelchair user I was allowed to go behind the barrier of the Mona Lisa (prime position) in front of the massive crowd of tourists.

www.louvre.fr/en/accessibility

Opera Garnier

Belle epoque extravagant architecture. The Opera Garnier is where you can see the ballet or visit this building just to see the grand interior.  Visits are free for wheelchair users and their companion. Initially we did have a problem finding someone who knew where the secret wheelchair lift was. After being passed around 3 different desks, finally assistance showed up with the key to the mystery lift.  The toilets are in the cloakrooms inside the Opera house, there is no separate unisex disabled toilet, you find it inside both the women’s and men’s toilet. My PA was slightly embarrassed having to take me inside the women’s toilets ;)

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Galeries Lafayette

After hiding from the rain in Opera Garnier we rolled across the road to Galeries Lafayette, a huge department store. It’s accessible and has lifts to all floors. I was heading for the Gourmet Food Hall to check out the tasting bars. But we didn’t find it as we were in the wrong building. I didn’t realise that Galeries Lafayette was spread over 3 buildings! So for next time…Lafayette Gourmet is in the Lafayette Homme building on the 1st floor.  www.haussmann.galerieslafayette.com/en/food-shopping-at-lafayette-gourmet/

The Seine

Berges De Seine – Paris Wheelchair Walk

This is an awesome, smooth surfaced, car free, wheelchair walk along the River Seine. There are ramps dotted along this walk. We started at Quay Branly near the Eiffel Tower and rolled and strolled all the way to Pont Royal just across from the Louvre. Berges De Seine used to be a road but they closed it to cars and created a more inviting riverside environment for pedestrians and cyclists. There are floating gardens, bike hire, a giant blackboard with chalks provided, lots of activities are available like ping pong, chess and all kinds of workshops, further on we danced in a disco installation underneath one of the bridges, they call it the sound shower, under Pont de la Concorde. There are also disabled toilets nearby built into the side of the wall under the street level, it has a long ramp for access. www.lesberges.paris.fr/en/

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Paris Wheelchair Accessible Boat Rides

We took a Bateaux Parisian 1 hour cruise as they are nearer to the Eiffel Tower. Wheelchair users have priority boarding, so no queuing. Leaving at twilight, we cruised down the Seine as Paris began to light up in the dark. Fantastic way to see Paris by night, very pretty and relaxing evening activity. A bit further up and across the river is Bateaux Mouche, another large boat company who are also wheelchair accessible. www.bateauxparisiens.com and www.bateaux-mouches.fr/en

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What A View Of Paris

Montparnasse Tower

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Fantastic views of Paris from this skyscraper. The visitor centre on the 56th floor is very spacious and accessible, with stunning views. There is a cafe, disabled toilets inside the male and female toilets and lots of interactive screens that point out the buildings and monuments below. Wheelchair users pay 7 euros and companions full price. This makes sense as there is also a roof terrace but it’s only accessible by stairs. www.tourmontparnasse56.com/en/

Eiffel Tower

Our Hotel was only a 10 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower so we saw it everyday. A great sight, it has a kind of cheerful shape, almost clownish. We didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower, I’m saving that for next time. It is wheelchair accessible up to the 2nd level at 400 feet which apparently has the best views because you are closer to the sights. www.tour-eiffel.fr/en/preparing-your-visit/rates-and-visiting-conditions.html

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How Is Paris For A Wheelchair User?

Paris Wheelchair Travel On The Streets

Let’s be honest the drop kerbs in Paris are not the seamless smooth sailing kind. The pavements slope down sometimes steeply and usually have a lip on them, then the road slopes up to the centre and back down again, back over the lip and up the pavement slope. There are also cobbles in certain areas (I avoided those places) and patchy pavements. It’s all totally doable but if you are self propelling or are the companion pushing a wheelchair then you need to be fit. A bit bumpy but worth it.

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Paris Wheelchair Travel On The Bus

Paris has an excellent bus system. The buses routes are all wheelchair accessible according to infomobi. We used them to get around Paris and they were great!

We did have to wait a bit longer at one stop since the first bus had a broken ramp. Then the next bus went off duty and told everyone to get off half way up Boulevard de Sebastapol. That’s when we learned that it’s probably a good idea to leave extra time when heading back to Gare du Nord for your departing Eurostar. We did make it after racing through the streets, my PA now skilled at Paris drop curbs, but only because our Eurostar was delayed!

For more info about all of the Paris transport network go to www.infomobi.com/en/