Paris is not know for its accessibility, but the city has made an effort to improve not only access, but information about accessibility and navigating public transportation. There are now a number of services in place to help ensure your travel around the city is safe and easy, although some advance planning may be required.
The first place to search about public transportation is InfoMobi, a website that provides current information about trains and buses for those using a wheelchair, visually and hearing impaired travelers and what they call intellectually deficient travelers. You can use InfoMobi to check whether a metro station is wheelchair accessible and if you need to request assistance in advance, or if someone is available at the station. It provides information about bus stations and city trams.
The best way to get around the city is by public bus. The majority of city buses are adapted with retractable ramps and raised pavement at the stops. The newer buses have a speaker outside vehicle near the front door, which announces the bus number and its destination. If you see an upside down yellow triangle, it means the bus stop is not wheelchair accessible. Buses are by far the best way to travel around the city.
While trains are still largely inaccessible or difficult to navigate in a wheelchair they are a possibility. Station accessibility on InfoMobi is labeled by colored circles on the Infomobi site. Green indicates the station is completely accessible, green with a line means there is a gap between the train and platform, yellow requires assistance that is available at the station and yellow with a phone icon means you need to call the number listed — +33 (0)9 70 82 41 42 — by 8 p.m. the day before you travel. There is also an email address, accesplus@ transilien-sncf.fr.
Metro line number 14 is the only completely accessible line in the city. It runs from Gare Saint-Lazare and stops at near some tourist sights, including the Pyramides, near the Louvre and Châtelet, not far from Pompidou and Notre Dame.
You can register on the InfoMobi site to receive current information about whether the elevators at the stations are broken, which occurs often.
There are also maps that were created specifically for the visually impaired that can be downloaded and used as you tour around and there is a number to call if you need assistance while en route.
Additionally, a very useful feature on the site allows you to find the nearest accessible bus and metro stations to an address or destination.
Next Stop Paris is a free mobile phone application available in 10 languages that lists all major tourist attractions and provides maps and information about everything from museum opening hours to the best bus and metro routes around the city. The application can be uploaded to your phone before leaving home and used offline while traveling, which saves on roaming internet use. It also has a translation section which provides guidance on asking for tickets or directions.
Pair this with Vianavigo, which details route changes, station closures and train delays, and you can navigate the city well informed.
For the hearing impaired, most ticket offices are equipped with magnetic loops that enable people with a hearing aid to better hear what the ticket office agents say. The prosthesis needs be set on the “T” (telephone) position for the loop to work. Additionally, tramways T1, T2, T3 and T4 displays the name of the stops. Most metro and RER trains have a line map of stations that light up allowing you to track the stops and boards listing the arriving train and its destinations are on most platforms.
The private Big Bus Tours and Foxity offer a variety of city tours, including hop on and off, that are wheelchair accessible, announce all stops, and hit all the major tourist attractions, making it a good way to quickly visit a lot of sights in a short amount of time.
Taxis and Private Cars
The Paris Tourism website has a comprehensive list of taxi and private car companies in the city.
From the airports, wheelchair accessible Le-Bus stops at several locations in the city center. There is a space for one wheelchair on each bus. Round trip tickets are significantly less expensive than a taxi (around 30 euros round trip) and can be purchased in advance.
Private Adapted Rental Cars
While it is not advisable to drive in Paris, day trips to places like Normandy or Fontainebleau are easier with a car. Through Wheeliz, owners of adapted car privately rent their cars and vans. In and around Paris there are 31 vehicles available, 13 with an accessible driver’s seat.
Rental Car Agencies
The Paris Tourism bureau has a list of companies with accessible cars on its website.