Paris attracts millions of tourists from all over the world: after all, it offers so many attractions that it couldn’t be otherwise! Nevertheless, when I visited it, a few years ago, I must confess I wasn’t positively impressed by the city, most of all as regards the accessibility of transports (particularly, the subway stations) and public places in general: even though I don’t need to use a wheelchair, I experienced some issues visiting the city, which contributed to dampen my enthusiasm towards the very well-known “Ville Lumière”.
Nevertheless, since I always try to give a second chance, after having watched once again one of my favourite movies, “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain”, I searched again and, very surprisingly, I discovered that, under many points of view, in these years, Paris accessibility has improved a lot.
TRAnSPORTs: ARRIVing and moving in paris
If you want to go to Paris from North-Western Italy, it can be extremely comfortable using the famous TGV to reach the French capital city. Of course, this train provides disabled passengers with dedicated assistance services, that can be requested directly from the French website. Should you have special needs, you can also send an e-mail (in French or English) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Moreover, on TGVs, disabled people can travel first class buying a second-class ticket, while their companion (if any) travels for free. Instead, if you prefer the airplane, both the city airports (Charles De Gaulle and Orly) offer both the standard assistance services and various accessible solutions, to meet everyone’s need. And, once in the city, how are things going?
The very extensive Paris subway network, unfortunately, is still mainly inaccessible to people with movement issues, since elevators and escalators are available only in a few stations (and often not working…), there are gaps among platforms and trains, etc. Today, only the 14 “Météor” Line (Gare Saint-Lazare-Olympiades), which is the newest one, is totally accessible (since it has been designed without architectonical barriers). So, if you have particular movement issues (or large and heavy luggage), my advice is to choose surface transit: buses and trams are, mostly, accessible both to people with motoric and sensory disabilities. To make sure avoiding unpleasant surprises, you’d better plan your transfers all over the city visiting the website of the company managing the public transport in Paris. An unmissable experience (and suitable for all) is the touristic tour on the famous Bateau-Mouche, the boat that allows seeing the most important attractions of the city, while doing a suggestive tour on the Seine.
“must see” in paris
I’m not going to make a list of the movements and attractions of the French capital city, since everybody knows them. I’ll only tell you that, luckily, the growing awareness towards accessibility doesn’t reflect only on transports and on the appearance of most part of the city streets, now equipped with joints among sidewalks and street levels near crossroads and crosswalks. As it still happens too often here in Italy, even in Paris coffees and restaurants are well far from being totally accessible, but things are improving also under this perspective. Monuments and museums are increasingly accessible to people with motoric disabilities, thanks to the installation elevators and ramps. In many cases, disabled visitors and their companions can benefit from free access or, as it happens for the Eiffel tower or in Disneyland Paris, from a discount and reserved entrances. Do you want to make sure that the museum or the attraction you’re going to visit satisfies your mobility needs? Check it on Jaccede.com, a website that’s also available as an app for smartphones. And what about hotels? The accessible ones are identified by the logo of Tourisme & Handicaps, an association whose website offers a very useful search engine of accommodation facilities, restaurants and public places that are accessible to everyone.
Maybe I’d better get back visiting Paris: hopefully, this time I’ll have a better experience! Would you like joining me?