We’re now expanding our accessible travel guides to Europe, and so in this first post of the new series we’re taking you to Paris, the ‘City of Light’. It is one of the most famous cities in the world as well as one of the most beautiful, and we’re pleased to say that many of its most fascinating attractions are accessible to those of us with different mobility needs. So, with that in mind, here is Quingo Scooters’ guide to some of the best accessible sights in Paris.
Soak up the atmosphere of the Musée d’Orsay
While most people head to the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay gallery is well worth a visit too. Even if you’re not wowed by the art (which you will be), the building itself is spectacular. It was the former d’Orsay railway station, but today it has been transformed into a beautiful, light filled space. It is also filled with one of the most spectacular collections of art on the planet: everything from works by Van Gogh and Monet to Degas, Gaugin and countless photographs and sculptures. Thankfully, much of it is also accessible, with lifts and ramps to take you up and down the different levels. If you are looking for a view of Paris, you can also head up in the lift to the roof terrace. The great news is that wheelchair and mobility scooter users get in free, with one guest. There are 17 accessible parking spaces on nearby streets if you’re coming by car.
An artistic tour of Montmartre
Paris is a city famed for its artists, and Montmartre is the quintessential place to find them: its cobbled streets and old cafes create a wonderful atmosphere. It is also famous for its many clubs and bars, including the Moulin Rouge cabaret which has been at the heart of the area for over 120 years. For those of us visiting this historic area with our mobility scooters and wheelchairs, there are a couple of serious obstacles to getting around however: the cobbles and the hills. Because of this you might be thinking it is an area to avoid, but with a bit of planning it is possible to get around, see some of the most important artistic sights in the area and even get a fantastic view over the city from the Sacré-Cœur church. We really recommend this accessible route as a great way to explore the area. For the Sacré-Cœur itself, there is an accessible entrance at the rear.
Explore the vast Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles could almost have been planned with wheelchair and mobility scooter users in mind: broad, level step-free pathways outside and flat corridors, wide rooms and entrances inside. First built in the seventeenth century, it is also absolutely vast and you will need a day at least to explore it fully. There are three main buildings (the palace itself, the Grand Trianon, and the Petit Trianon), and inside the palace there is ramped access and lift is available to the upper floors. The other two buildings and the gardens are also straightforward to explore: in fact, those of us using a mobility scooter will enjoy the big advantage that having a powered vehicle gives us to travel easily across the huge estate. To get there, we recommend you use the fully accessible train that runs regularly from the Gare St Lazare in the city centre.
Take a tour of the Left Bank
This is another part of Paris that is synonymous with generations of artists and free thinkers, and it is an area where everyone from Pablo Picasso to F. Scott Fitzgerald strolled the streets, drank coffee (and absinth) in the cafés and let their imaginations run wild. A guided accessible tour of the Left Bank and the Latin Quarter is a great way to explore this fascinating place: this one starts outside Notre Dame Cathedral and in around two and a half hours takes you around the key sites of the area (including the Ile de la Cité island in the River Seine). It is completely accessible and step free, so it’s perfect for those of us using mobility scooters.
The Luxembourg Gardens
Paris might seem like a city of buzzing cafés, busy streets and crazy traffic (especially around the Arc de Triomphe!) but it is also somewhere that does peaceful parks and gardens very well. So, if you need a break from the sights and sounds of the City of Light then we thoroughly recommend you head to the Luxembourg Gardens (Jardon du Luxembourg). They were first laid out in the early 1600s and today they are vast, 50 acre public space surrounding the French Senate building. The great news is that all of the paths are level and accessible, so you can explore as much of the gardens as you want. There is accessible parking at the nearby Parking Soufflot-Panthéon.
Getting there and getting around
Traveling by train is one of the simplest ways to get to Paris. If you’re coming from London then it is a short hop on the Eurostar through the tunnel. The Eurostar Assist team will help you and your bags onto the train at St Pancras and off the train at Paris Gare du Nord. You’ll need to be at your departure point 75 minutes before your departure time. Just give the team a call on 03432 186 186 (option four) to arrange your trip. The Gare du Nord is central, but if you have flown in to Charles de Gaulle or Paris-Orly airports then there are a few options to get you into town quickly:
General accessibility advice
With the exception of the Paris Metro (which has lots of steps), France’s capital is generally very accessible. If you’re looking for more information on getting around the city with a mobility scooter or wheelchair, a great starting point is the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website. You’ll find plenty of links there to more information on getting around the city on public transport, as well as a downloadable Accessible Paris Guide here.
Do you have any accessible abroad recommendations? If you do, we’d love to hear from you, so just drop us a line and we’ll feature them.
About Quingo Scooters
The Quingo Scooter range features six models to suit your needs and budget. New models are now available from just £22/week on our new contract hire scheme which includes all servicing and maintenance, Insurance, Roadside Recovery, Call Outs and Consumables including Batteries and Tyres. For more information on this or the latest Quingo Scooter range, please visit our website. Alternatively, if you have any Service questions you can always contact us or call customer services on 01582 430 900.
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All Quingo Personal Mobility Vehicles are provided by Forever Active, the UK’s exclusive distributor. Forever Active is a trading name of Advantage Marketing Corporation Limited (AMC). AMC Limited is an appointed representative of First Senior Insurance Services Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. First Senior Insurance Services FSA Register number is 30847