A 2005 French law requires that public accommodations be accesssible to the disabled within 10 years. Line 14 of the metro is fully accessible and all buses in Paris are now equipped with ramps and special mechanisms to allow those in wheelchair residents to ride safely and comfortably. Many crosswalks have sound signals at the crosswalk to indicate to the blind that the light has changed. And public toilet facilities are also designed for wheelchair accessibility. But other signs of progress are less obvious.
Since full access still seems to be a long way away, here are a few sites to help negotiate the streets and institutions of Paris. In addition, we’re told that if you’re planning to have visitors who are disabled, it’s a good idea to do a dry run in advance of major tourist sites. If you need to rent a wheelchair, check in at your neighborhood pharmacie.
Access in Paris: a guidebook mostly geared for tourists, you can download chapters one at a time. Includes information on hotels, tourist sites, public transportation, and signage.
Disabled Access in Paris from Sage Traveling: a helpful online guide with sections on transport, hotels and tourist attractions. While the site is designed to get you to use the company’s services, there is quite a bit of information posted here for all comers.
Tourisme et Handicap: a downloadable brochure on 200 sites (lodging, tourist sites) in Ile de France noting their level of accessibility.
Infomobi: Information on public transport for the disabled (those in wheelchairs, the blind, deaf, and with mental disabilities) throughout Ile de France (in French).
Les Compagnons du Voyage: organization providing personalized assistance to elderly and disabled persons travelling on the SNCF and RATP. There is a fee for this service (in French.)
Medias Sous Titres: a site focused on closed captioning of television, film, and cultural events for the hearing impaired (in French).
And here’s an article from the Boston Globe (2013) commenting on the experience of a disabled American tourist in Paris.