Accessibility in Paris: Our Full Guide to Getting Around

Last Updated on March 26, 2024

Paris accessibility is improving, in part thanks to the fully automated metro line 14 (pictured here). Cramos/some rights reserved under the Creative Commons 4.0 license

Tips & tricks for people with disabilities or limited mobility

I’ve had a fair number of people write to me over the years asking how accessible Paris is. And I generally have a two-part response: the bad news, and the good.

We may as well start off with the bad news: Paris doesn’t exactly have a stellar record where accessibility is concerned. Wheelchair-intolerant cobblestone streets and sidewalk edges; out-of-order or nonexistent elevators in the metro and other public places; restaurant bathrooms located in basements accessible only by narrow spiral staircases– you name it. For visitors with disabilities or limited mobility, the capital can seem like an exhausting obstacle course.

So what’s the good news, then? Over the past two decades, Paris has been making considerable efforts to improve its accessibility track record. Certain measures, from introducing and extending metro stations with accessible access to adding ramps at numerous popular attractions and trying to address neighborhoods that are particularly tricky to get around in, have made it easier for visitors with limited mobility or disabilities to navigate the city.

There’s still a long way to go, though, and many critics say the city hasn’t risen to the level of their stated ambition to make more areas of the city accessible, especially ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

Keep reading for our full tips on how to navigate different scenarios in the city, from using metros and buses to accessible museums, restaurants and those tricky Parisian sidewalks.

Tips for Using Public Transportation in Paris: Metro & RER Trains

Public transportation in the French capital is remarkably efficient, cheap and extensive, but in terms of accessibility, it’s a very mixed bag. Here’s the lowdown on which options are best and worst in terms of accessible access.

The Paris Metro: Are there any accessible stations?

On the whole, the Paris metro (subway or underground) offers poor accessibility to travelers with disabilities, reduced or no mobility. For the time being, of the Metro’s 16 lines, only line 14 (see map and stations below) is fully equipped with elevators, roll-on/roll off access to trains, ramps and other services for passengers with disabilities. All 13 stations are therefore fully accessible, and the good news is that the city is actively working to expand the line.

Map of Metro Line 14, paris-- the only fully accessible metro line in the city.
(Click on image of map to access more info at RATP)

By mid-2024, the line will extend to 21 stations, including a stop at Orly Airport south of Paris. This is welcome news, including for visitors who wish to travel directly from that airport to and from the city.

There are also a couple of isolated Metro stations on other lines that are equipped with elevators, and these connect to the RER network of commuter-line (suburban trains): Barbès-Rochechouart (Metro Line 2) and Esplanade de la Défense (Line 1).

By the summer 2024, according to France 24, four more metro stations will be rendered accessible, and 21 new and entirely accessible new stations are also slated to be unveiled, thanks to the extension of Metro lines 4, 11, 12 and 14.

Otherwise, roughly two-thirds of Paris metro stations have escalators– but this doesn’t mean that you won’t also encounter stairs in the same station. Part of the problem, the Paris transport authority has been known to say, is that many stations are over 100 years old and making them truly accessible comes with either serious challenges or is impossible.

Our bottom line: If you have limited mobility and cannot handle any number of stairs, it’s probably best to avoid all but Metro Line 14 for the time being.

The RER: far more accessible than the Metro

Meanwhile, the RER system of express suburban and commuter trains is generally much better-equipped for passengers with disabilities or limited mobility.

All 65 stations served by the RER Line A and B and run by the RATP transport authority offer good accessibility. They’re equipped with elevators/lifts, wider access and exit points, and offer assistance from station personnel (RATP staff members) when required (in theory, at least– some have reported/warned that it can be difficult to find an agent to help when you need them).

In some stations, trains are accessed through a portable ramp put into place by RATP staff members; you’ll need to ask someone when you arrive at the station to assist with this.

You can see a map of accessible stations on RER Line A, which runs through central Paris east to west and serves destinations including Disneyland Paris, here.

Also see a map of accessible stations on RER Line B, which runs north to south and serves several key stations in central Paris, including Gare du Nord (access to Eurostar) as well as Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports.

Some additional advice and warnings on taking the Metro or RER

The Paris metro/Dmitriy Nushtaev/Unsplash

Travelers with wheelchairs should keep in mind that only manual wheelchairs can be used comfortably in the RER at the current time, due to the gap between the platform and the train at certain stations.

For passengers with sight disabilities, the Metro and RER are not yet fully accessible. Some stations are equipped with raised warning studs along the edge of train platforms. In addition, Metro line 14 and select trains on a few other lines have automatic vocal announcements indicating each stop. Efforts are underway to include vocal announcements on all lines.

For hearing-impaired passengers, at least one ticketing and information booth in every Metro or RER station is equipped with magnetic inductive loops permitting passengers with hearing-aids to communicate easily with Metro and RER staff. Passengers simply place their hearing aid on the “T” telephone icon at the booth.

Buses and Tramways: All Equipped With Ramps; Many With Other Features

Thanks to major efforts to create or renew existing surface transport networks, Paris buses and tramways are far more accessible to passengers with limited mobility and sight or hearing disabilities.

According to the RATP (Metro) website, the city of Paris has purchased hundreds of new, fully-accessible buses every year since 1998. As a result, all Paris bus lines are now equipped with ramps, and the vast majority of buses also offer lowering devices, special seats for limited-mobility passengers, and a vocal announcement system.

Line 38, which runs North to South through the center of the city, also has screens located throughout the bus that indicate current location, next stops, and transfer points.

Trams are expanding in Paris, and they’re all fully accessible

Paris tramway Line T3 near the Porte de Gentilly stop/David Monniaux, CC BY-SA 3.0
Paris tramway Line T3 near the Porte de Gentilly stop/David Monniaux, CC BY-SA 3.0

Paris’ five tramway lines, T3a, T3b and T5 are all fully wheelchair-accessible and offer level access. The platforms accessible from the trams are marked with a pictogram (image), allowing travelers in wheelchairs to board and leave trams autonomously.

Airports and Accessibility: Getting Around at Charles de Gaulle or Orly

At Paris’ two main hubs for international air travel, Roissy Charles-de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and Orly International Airport, accessibility is generally quite good. Most areas of both airports offer ramps, elevators/lifts, and assistance from airline or airport staff.

Make sure to call your airline ahead of time to request special assistance such as accompaniment or transport to your gate.

For more information on getting around at the aiport and getting to the city, ADP (Airports of Paris) offers a straightforward guide for limited-mobility and disabled passengers on how to navigate the airport, get help and get to and from the airport.

This page details transportation and access options to and from Paris, while this page offers information on services including priority lanes, self-service wheelchairs and shuttles for passengers with reduced mobility or other disabilities.

Taking a taxi to or from the airport? Avoid some common scams…

Never get in a Paris taxi without a meter and an illuminated rooftop sign.

Opting for a taxi to or from the airport can be a good option for visitors with disabilities or reduced mobility, but it’s important to take precautions and know how to recognize official taxi queues at the airport and around the city.

See our full guide on taking a taxi to and from Paris airports, with tips on avoiding common scams.

Accessible Attractions, Restaurants & Hotels in Paris: How to Find Them?

By Benh LIEU SONG - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10213567
Louvre Museum by Benh LIEU SONG – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

While figuring out transportation is a headache in its own right for visitors with disabilities or reduced mobility, what about the equally pressing question of where to stay, how to eat out in a restaurant, or which museums can accommodate you?

Maintaining a page here that attempts to provide an updated list of accessible attractions and lodgings in the capital wouldn’t be an easy task. Luckily, this frequently-updated page from Paris Je T’aime, operated by the Paris Tourist Office, includes several in-depth guides to accessible restaurants and entertainment venues, museums and monuments, hotels and other accommodations in the capital.

I recommend bookmarking it and using it to plan your trip ahead of time– thus avoiding unnecessary disappointment. You can also download a PDF version of the full guide here (in English).

The “Tourisme et Handicape” Label: Another useful guide for travelers

Tourisme et handicap label for France

In 2001, the French Ministry of Tourism defined an official set of criteria for accessibility, the “Tourism and Handicap” label (Tourisme & Handicap in French). Hundreds of Paris establishments have been accredited with the label, making it easy for passengers with particular needs to quickly identify fully accessible Paris attractions, restaurants, or hotels.

You can look for the label above when reserving a restaurant online, are considering visiting a museum or other attraction, or even before booking a hotel. You can ask the establishment you’re thinking of visiting or booking with to confirm whether their services conform to the label or not.

What About Renting a Car?

If you’re considering getting around by car, read my take on the pros and cons of renting a car in Paris (over at TripSavvy). As I explain in that guide, this might be a good option for anyone with limited mobility, but comes attached with some serious disadvantages. Make sure to fully explore both the pros and cons before booking.

More Information for Travelers With Disabilities Or Limited Mobility

Visitors with disabilities or limited mobility can find updated information at the Paris Tourist Office. Thomas de Luze/Unsplash

If you have any specific questions about accessibility options in Paris or require assistance on a matter not covered here or in other guides, you can contact a dedicated staff member at the Paris Tourist Office by e-mail or telephone, whether during or before your stay. Write to handicap@parisjetaime.com or call the helpline at +33 (0)1 49 52 53 00. Make sure to drop the first “0” in the number if calling from a local telephone.

I can also recommend these in-depth guides from Sage Traveling for more in-depth advice on getting around and enjoying the city. The site, written by a travel writer who uses a wheelchair, is a clear and thorough resource.

It includes detailed pages on wheelchair-accessible attractions, hotels, restaurants, getting around parts of the city with challenging surface streets, and other useful advice.

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