Wheelchair Accessible Travel In Paris - 2003

By Howard L. Chabner and Michele E. DeSha

 © Howard L. Chabner and Michele E. DeSha 2003




A passerelle is a pedestrian bridge, of which central Paris has two (see II. Wheeling Around, below).  It seems appropriate for an article about being a pedestrian in a city bisected by a vibrant river, centered on a beautiful riverfront and connected by grand, functional and varied bridges.  We hope this article will bridge any gaps in access information and inspire disabled travelers to establish connections with this magnificent city.  This article is the fruit of our September 2003 trip to Paris with Howard’s mother, Joyce Chabner.  It is subjective, selective and impressionistic, not comprehensive or systematic.  This article is intended as an introduction, a starting point for your research and a way to convey realistic expectations.  We hope it will help you plan an access strategy based on your interests, budget and mobility capabilities and limitations.  This article covers only access and assumes a basic familiarity with Paris. 


We also visited Paris in 2000.  On our recent trip we found excellent, and vastly improved, bus access and some significant bridge access improvements.  Accurate access information is easy to find on the Internet.  Access to the major museums is very good.  However, and despite our finding an excellent hotel with very good access, barriers in hotels and public bathrooms are still widespread.  We strolled extensively through the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 15th Arrondissements and, as in 2000, saw few people in wheelchairs or blind people.  Most wheelchair users we saw were at the major museums, so it was impossible to determine whether they use wheelchairs all the time or are slow walkers who use them only in large spaces such as museums.  We were in Rome and Florence earlier this year and saw many more people in wheelchairs there than in Paris.  This article includes rough spots along with smooth ones, but Paris is magnificent and irresistible.  We eagerly hope to return. 


In planning our trip we used the Internet and other information sources but not a travel agent.   We traveled on our own, not with a group. 


We have tried to be as accurate as possible, but of course accuracy is not guaranteed.  The reader should confirm all information, especially access details, directly with hotels, museums, transportation providers and other facilities.  As in all research, primary sources are much better than secondary ones.  Also, things change.  It is essential to re-confirm information shortly before acting on it. 


Because one’s physical capabilities, limitations and equipment affect the access achievable under a given set of environmental and design conditions, and one’s point of reference colors one’s perception of access, we’ll tell you about ourselves.  Howard has muscular dystrophy and uses an electric wheelchair.  On this trip Howard used a Quickie P110 folding electric wheelchair that is 25” (63.5 cm) wide, weighs approximately 100 pounds and has gel cell batteries.  Howard is six feet tall, cannot walk and can transfer to an inaccessible automobile only with great difficulty.  Michele is able-bodied.  We are fortunate to live in San Francisco, where access is generally excellent. 


In planning our trip we sent questionnaires to approximately 60 hotels inquiring about access.  A form of hotel access questionnaire is Appendix A.  You are welcome to adapt it for your own use.  A metric conversion guide is Appendix B.  The results of the access survey and of our visits to several hotels are attached as Appendix C.  This article (including the appendices) may not be reproduced or used for profit without our written permission, but readers are welcome to reproduce or use it for any other purpose. 


Phone numbers are given with the single digit “1” area code used for calling Paris from outside France.  To call within France, dial “01”.






Passerelle des Arts, a pedestrian-only bridge immediately west of the Pont Neuf, was renovated in 2000 and a moderately sloped ramp added at each end.  This wide, wooden planked structure is a popular gathering place for chatting with friends, picnicking and listening to street musicians.  Passerelle Solferino, a new pedestrian-only bridge farther west linking the Musee d’Orsay with the Jardin des Tuileries, also is wheelchair accessible.


The built-in semicircular balcony seats on the Pont Neuf that cantilever over the Seine have been rebuilt since 2000, the high step has been eliminated and you can roll your wheelchair into the cantilevered areas for an even closer view of the grand riverfront.


            Stores and Restaurants


Stores and restaurants typically are up one stair.  The proprietors are very willing to lift your wheelchair into the store or restaurant.  Cafes, of course, have small outdoor tables.  The major department stores have level access. 


            Pay Phones 


Most pay phones we saw are inaccessible, either because there is a high edge or the phone is too high.  Some newer phones are accessible, but with difficulty.




Michele used ATM’s at a variety of banks in various locations.  All were too high for a wheelchair. 






            In 2000 there were almost no accessible bus lines.  We were very pleasantly surprised to find many accessible buses this time.  (Because we researched the buses in planning the trip, actually we weren’t surprised that accessible buses exist, but at how well they work.)  Not all lines are accessible, perhaps 50%.  Our impression is that the number is increasing quickly.  The most important lines – those that traverse the city from train station to train station - are being made accessible first.  There are four accessible lines – 92, 94, 95 and 96 - within two blocks of our hotel.  All buses on an accessible line are accessible, which isn’t the case in some other European cities.  The buses have large windows, no graffiti and minimal advertisements.  The buses are lower than the typical American bus and, consequently, the ride is smooth.


The accessible buses have a retractable ramp on the side, midway between the front and the rear.  The ramps always worked, except for two buses in a row on one line one day.  The ramps are wide – almost as wide as the double door, which reduces the chances of falling, and, because they are deployed with the bottom edge on the sidewalk, are not too steep.  We never waited more than 10 minutes for a bus.  Every driver we encountered was courteous, skilled and well trained in dealing with wheelchair passengers, always deploying the ramp safely at our desired stop.  There is a call button in the wheelchair seating area.  The passengers were almost always polite and helpful.  They were patient with Howard’s broken French and many were eager to speak English.  The wheelchair area of the bus is narrow and it was difficult to maneuver to face the correct direction, so Howard generally remained perpendicular to the length of the bus, with the wheelchair protruding into the aisle, but passengers were not upset and were careful to go around.  The wheelchair area lacks any securement devices, but because the drivers drove so well and the routes were mostly flat, the ride was smooth and the absence of tie-downs wasn’t as dangerous as it might seem. 


RATP, the public transit operator, has an excellent website that includes an English language section.  Before our trip Howard asked RATP detailed questions by email in broken French and received prompt, accurate responses.


RATP access information (includes buses, trains, metro and RER):


To ask questions:


English language information center:  (0)8-92-68-41-14


RATP general website:


Metro; RER


We didn’t use the Metro or RER. 


Van Services


            Several organizations provide accessible van transportation upon advance reservation.  GIHP (Groupement pour L’Insertion des Handicapes Physiques) is affiliated with or funded by the government.  On this trip and in 2000 GIHP transported us from and to the airport at a bit less than the cost of a regular taxi.  We also got rides one evening from ATPAP (Association pour le Transport de Porte a Porte), a for-profit service.  ATPAP was fairly expensive, but gave us a ride at 11 p.m. on a Friday night.  The drivers for GIHP and ATPAP were all on time, skilled, safe and very friendly.  The vehicles were well maintained, clean and spacious.


GIHP.      Phone  1-55-33-56-56 or 1-45-23-85-50.  Fax  1-45-23-16-11.


ATPAP.  Phone/Fax  1-45-60-01-96.

               27 avenue Georges Brassens, 94550 Chevilly Larue


Several other van services are listed at in the section “Transports Specialises” and at the Paris Tourism Office website in the section “Disabled/Specialised Transport Means.”




We didn’t see any accessible taxis or learn of any from our research.




            In 2000 we took an enjoyable boat ride with Vedettes de Pont Neuf, Square du Vert Galant; phone 1-46-33-98-38;  The square is down a long, bumpy, stone ramp.  Boat access was good.  Other accessible boat operators are listed on the Paris Tourism Office website in the section “Disabled/Croisiere Accessibles Aux Handicapes.”





            Although bus access is quite good, we still believe that for hotels, as for real estate, the three most important factors are location, location and location (assuming the hotel has good wheelchair access).  Strolling through a beautiful, interesting neighborhood is what Paris is all about, and it’s best not to depend entirely on transportation to get to museums, monuments, stores and restaurants.


            Where We Stayed


Victoria Palace Hotel                                       

6, rue Blaise Desgoffe

Phone   1-45-49-70-00

Fax       1-45-49-23-75


            In 2003 we stayed at this charming, immaculately maintained 62-room four-star hotel in the 6th Arrondissement north of Boulevard Montparnasse, not far from Place St-Sulpice and Jardin du Luxembourg.  It’s a pleasant one-mile stroll to the Seine, and accessible bus lines 92, 94, 95 and 96 all stop within two blocks of the hotel.  The hotel staff was extremely welcoming, professional and skilled.  Breakfast was abundant, delicious and graciously served. 


            Wheelchair access is very good by Parisian standards.  There is a portable wooden ramp for traversing the one and a half steps at the front entrance.   The elevator is large enough for a wheelchair user and two able-bodied people.  The call buttons are reachable.  We stayed in Room 601, the adapted room.  The room is completely quiet.  The bedroom and bathroom are large, the toilet is high, the sink is excellent, the bed height is very good for transfer, the bed is firm but not too firm, the doorways are wide, and the mirrors are large and well-placed.  There is a large bathtub but, as seems to be universal in Paris hotels, no roll-in-shower.  The handheld shower has a long cord. 


            Transfer to the toilet is not ideal but not bad.  There is sufficient transfer space at one side of the toilet.  The grab bar adjacent to the toilet is removable and attaches to the side of the bathtub.  It is not as sturdy and stable as a wall-mounted, fold down-bar.  A toilet paper holder protrudes from the rear wall and prevents some wheelchairs from being positioned completely against the rear wall.  This toilet, like the typical French toilet, isn’t long, so a complete side-to side transfer isn’t possible for many wheelchairs, but a side transfer at a moderate angle is; the angle between toilet and wheelchair is much closer to parallel than to a right angle. 


            There are some barriers that are minor for someone traveling with a companion but potentially significant for a solo wheelchair traveler.  The door closer on the room door is set too tight and is extremely difficult or impossible for many wheelchair users to open and close.  The closet pole and safe are at normal height and therefore inaccessible.  Howard has written the hotel asking it to fix these items.


            Overall, the Victoria Palace is excellent for wheelchair travelers with a companion and for slow walkers.  It might pose difficulties for a solo wheelchair traveler, depending on one’s abilities and reach.  Considering the age of the building and the typical Parisian constraints, the proprietors have done a very good job providing access.  Although not inexpensive, the price is reasonable considering the room size, elegance, location, condition, quiet, and high quality of service and of breakfast.



            Novotel les Halles                                

            6, place Marguerite de Navarre

            Phone  1-42-21-31-31

            Fax      1-42-21-92-72



            In 2000 we stayed at this three-star hotel in the 1st Arrondissement between the Louvre and the Pompidou Center.  Access was very good, except the bathroom had no roll-in shower.  In response to our inquiries in 2003, we were told that several adapted room types are available, although none has a roll-in shower.  The front entrance is level.  The elevator is easily large enough for a wheelchair. All doorways are wide.  The toilet height is 53 cm (21 inches).  The sink is large and there are well-situated grab bars near the toilet.  There is plenty of space on one side of the toilet to transfer.  The handheld shower on the bathtub wall has a cord long enough to reach the sink, so one can wash one’s hair in the sink.  The staff was gracious.


            Access Survey Results


            In late June and early July 2003 we emailed and faxed access questionnaires to approximately 60 hotels, mostly three- and four-star hotels in the 1st, 5th, 6th and 7th Arrondissements.  Questions and responses are in English.  The results of the survey and of our visits to several hotels are attached as Appendix C.  We visited several hotels (indicated by **), but most entries are based solely on the written responses we received; therefore, we cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information.  Accuracy depends entirely on the respondent, typically a reservationist; we did not specifically ask the hotels’ general managers to respond.  We asked follow-up questions when a response was ambiguous but did not send a second round of surveys to ascertain whether the answers would be the same both times. 


The questionnaire, with minor improvements and turned into a form, is Appendix A.  You are welcome to adapt it for your own use.  A metric conversion guide is Appendix B. 


We did not initially intend to publish this information.  But accurate, current information in English about more than a handful of hotels in the central neighborhoods is scarce; having spent so much time doing the research in the first place, we decided to publish the results.  We hope the reader will use them as a starting point.  It is clear that there are serious, widespread access barriers in Paris hotels, and we hope this article will be a spur to action to improve access.  In order to give a more complete picture of the poor state of access, we included hotels that are completely inaccessible and those that didn’t even respond to our inquiries. 


In France “accessible” in describing a hotel room means merely that there are no barriers such as stairs and there is sufficient doorway width and other space for a wheelchair to travel to, enter and move around the room - that there is, in effect, what Americans would call an “accessible path of travel” to and within the hotel room.  Hence, an “accessible” room may have a completely unusable bathroom.  Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be a uniform, generally accepted standard for “accessible” - it appears that many hotels consider a room accessible if it is literally, but just barely, physically accessible.  “Adapted” means that the room has been modified to allow a wheelchair user to use the bathroom, although, unfortunately, almost all adapted rooms reported lack roll-in showers.  “Adapted” and “accessible” are terms used in guides such as Paris-Ile de France for Everyone (in English; published by CNFLRH) and a list of accessible hotels in French we obtained from the French disability organization APF Paris (22, rue du Père Guerrin, 75013 Paris;; phone 01-44-16-83-83).    In many websites, the presence of the wheelchair symbol means only that the hotel is “accessible,” not necessarily that there are any “adapted” rooms. 


In organizing and reporting the results, we included rooms that are merely “accessible” although not “adapted.”  We indicate whether the room is “adapted” or merely “accessible” when this information was provided, but in many cases it wasn’t.  So, be aware that many hotels listed in the Accessible and/or Adapted category below are not truly accessible by American standards.  We believe that widespread use of the French “accessible” concept promotes too low a standard of accessibility, but we decided to conform to the French terminology in reporting the specific results.  (In the general discussion, “accessible” has the stricter, but more generic, American meaning.)  In many cases the response was unclear whether the room was adapted or merely accessible and follow-up inquiries didn’t elicit clarification; hopefully, for a reader to know that a hotel she is interested in may at least be “accessible” would be a helpful starting point for her research.  Some readers may be able to use a room that is “accessible” although not “adapted.”  Also, because so few hotels have adapted rooms, if hotels that are accessible but not adapted were excluded, the results would include far fewer hotels.  As our purpose is also to provide a general picture of the state of access and to indicate which hotels have the potential for greatly improved access, we included hotels that are only “accessible.”


In the questionnaire we mentioned the width of Howard’s wheelchair and asked whether all the doorways were at least 75 centimeters (29 ½ inches) wide, because it would be exceedingly difficult to maneuver in any hotel room with narrower doorways.   It is possible that some of the hotels reported as inaccessible may have doorways narrower than 75 centimeters but may be “accessible” to people who use very narrow wheelchairs.


            Almost needless to say, it’s imperative to contact the hotel directly to verify access, as one would in the United States.  Don’t rely on the central reservation systems of hotel chains or, even worse, third party reservation websites.  The information provided by the hotel sometimes contradicted those websites, some of which display the wheelchair symbol irresponsibly and misleadingly.


            It appears from the published guides mentioned above that there are a larger number of accessible hotels in the outer arrondissements than in the central neighborhoods where the hotels we surveyed are located, but the guide entries for many hotels lack meaningful detail and for others indicate only a minimal level of access.  It’s clear that hotel access must be improved everywhere.  There are virtually no roll-in showers.  Many bathrooms lack grab bars.  Many hotels that were renovated in the past few years still have these barriers.  Although we didn’t specifically ask how many rooms are adapted, it’s clear from some of the responses and hotel websites that those hotels that have adapted rooms typically have only a few, certainly fewer than the Americans with Disabilities Act would require in the United States for comparably sized hotels. 


We realize that many hotels in central Paris, especially in the 5th and 6th Arrondissements, are ancient, small and narrow, with few guest rooms and significant architectural barriers.  But we’ve been to hotels or apartments in ancient buildings in Rome, Florence and Toulouse that have excellent access, including roll-in showers, without sacrificing architectural integrity or historical character.   Barriers can often be overcome if the owners are sincerely committed to good access.  Unfortunately, the fact that several recently renovated hotels lack truly accessible rooms indicates that many owners are not.  The survey results indicate either that there are no uniform, generally accepted standards, French disability rights law is weak as applied to hotels, enforcement is spotty, awareness of disability rights is poor, technical expertise is scarce, design is unimaginative, or a combination of these factors. 






            Parisian public bathrooms, whether accessible or not, generally are small and poorly designed and have lower standards of cleanliness than those in California, many other American cities, Rome and Florence.  (For a description of the excellent public bathrooms in Rome, see our article “Rolling in Rome:  Wheelchair Accessible Travel in Rome – 2003.”)  Only a few that we saw are staffed by attendants.  We found almost no progress in bathroom access since 2000, both in terms of the availability of accessible bathrooms and the design elements in those that are accessible.


Wheelchair accessible public bathrooms are extremely difficult to find in Paris except at the major museums.  All museums we visited that are accessible have accessible bathrooms.  The best one is at the Rodin Museum; not only is the configuration excellent, but there is an attendant and the bathroom is spotless.  (It’s in the garden, not the mansion.  The side of the garden nearest the bathroom has a moderately steep dirt path to reach the bathroom; the side of the garden further from the bathroom is level and the bathroom can be reached from there by cutting across the middle of the garden.)  We didn’t find any accessible bathrooms at restaurants or cafes.  Samaritaine department store, just across the Pont Neuf on the Right Bank, has accessible bathrooms.  The public assistance hospital, located in the Hotel Dieu (a large building facing the north side of Place Notre Dame (to the left as one faces Notre Dame)), has an accessible bathroom near the main entrance.  It’s only open until 6:00.  Turn left after entering and be persistent with the desk clerk.   There is an accessible bathroom in the main courtyard of the Palais de Justice (immediately north of Sainte-Chapelle), but it’s only open during business hours and one must pass through the security checkpoint for the Palais de Justice/Sainte-Chapelle complex.


Many of the bathrooms that are accessible are poorly designed and have problems including insufficient turning space, small toilets, inaccessible sinks, inaccessible toilet flush buttons or buttons that require too much pressure, toilet paper dispensers that are too high and poorly designed so the paper is difficult to reach or gets stuck inside the dispenser, a lack of paper towels, inaccessible door locks, inaccessible hand dryers and poorly positioned mirrors.  Don’t be too discouraged, though.  No accessible bathroom has all these barriers, and it’s possible to work around most of these barriers.


Because museum bathrooms are accessible and museum entrance is free for disabled people at many museums, it’s a good idea to use the bathroom at museums when you are nearby even if you don’t want to view the collection. 





Access at most major museums is quite good.  Disabled people and one companion are entitled to free admission at all government-operated museums.  We encourage you to try to tour all major museums that interest you - they are likely to be at least partially accessible.


Eiffel Tower.  The first two levels are accessible.  The second has an even better view than the first – it’s high enough for a broad sweeping view but still low enough that people and things on the ground can be identified.


Brancusi Atelier.  Access to this fascinating re-creation of Brancusi’s studios, located near the Pompidou Center, is via a large platform lift. 


Carnavalet Museum.  During our trip in 2000, this fascinating museum of the history of Paris, located in an ancient hotel particular, was accessible via an old lift down a steep flight of stairs.  Most but not all the galleries were accessible.  Among the highlights for us was an 18th century wheelchair, which is essentially a large plushly upholstered wooden armchair on a wooden platform with large, geared metal wheels.  The person sitting in the chair could propel it by turning a crank mounted on each arm.  We didn’t visit this museum in 2003.


Cluny Museum.  Understandably, this medieval castle is inaccessible.


Louvre.  I. M. Pei is a genius.  Access is A or A+.  Pei has connected three ancient palaces in as seamless, understandable, efficient, user-friendly and elegant a manner as is humanly possible.  Wheelchair access to the pyramid is via an open, round, space-age lift that retracts into the floor when at the lower level and is surrounded by a spiral staircase.  It’s delightful just to ride up and down it.  The Louvre’s superb access proves either that “where there's a will, there's a way” when it comes to retrofitting ancient buildings for access, or that if a world-class architect is hired to renovate a national treasure and allocated an almost unlimited budget, great access can be achieved. 


Museum of Jewish Art and History. Access to this relatively new museum in a beautifully restored hotel particular is excellent.  The front entrance is accessible via a long portable ramp and a large, modern elevator serves all gallery floors.  The superb collection of ritual objects, paintings and historical artifacts is broad, deep and well displayed, with informative, detailed explanations in French and English; it’s of interest to Jews and non-Jews alike. 


Musee d'Orsay.  Gae Aulenti is no I. M. Pei.  Wheelchair access is confusing, as are the museum’s gallery plan and traffic pattern in general.  Be careful - the numerous elevators are in small vestibules with dangerous automatic doors that can trap you if you don’t react quickly and position yourself in exactly the right spot.  But all, or almost all, the galleries are accessible. 


  Pompidou Center.  Access is good, though the building in general is a bit difficult to figure out.  Don’t miss the panoramic view of the rooftops of Paris from the café and restaurant on the upper floor. 


Rodin Museum.  There is excellent access to the garden and the ground floor of the mansion (the latter via a wooden ramp).  The upper floor isn’t accessible, but most of the masterpieces are in the garden and on the ground floor.  The garden, a lush, serene oasis from the urban intensity of the surrounding area, is especially delightful on a sunny day.





Notre Dame.  There is a level entrance in front.  The nave is accessible but beyond the crossing there are two or three stairs up to the apse.


Pantheon.  There are many stairs at the front, no lift or ramp, and no accessible side entrance.  However, it is currently undergoing a major renovation that may include wheelchair access.


Sainte-Chapelle.  There is access to the magnificent upper chapel of Louis IX via the first floor of the adjacent Palais de Justice during business hours, when the latter is open.  The doorway was actually the king's private entrance from the palace to the chapel.  Ask the employees at the main church entrance at the ground floor to accompany you and unlock the door, then take the tiny elevator in the Palais de Justice one flight up to the first floor.  Howard’s wheelchair just barely fit in the elevator.  It’s well worth the trouble to reach the light-filled upper chapel, with its exquisite rose window and side walls comprised almost entirely of stained-glass windows.


St-Germain-des-Pres. There are many stairs at the front, no lift or ramp, and no accessible side entrance.


St-Sulpice.  An excellent, moderately sloped ramp with a good railing has been installed on the south side since 2000.




Electricity and Charging Your Wheelchair


France uses 220-volt AC power.  The standard plug has two prongs and a hole for the ground pin (the ground pin protrudes from the wall outlet).  Plug adapters are available at any travel store.


If you use an electric wheelchair, we recommend obtaining a wheelchair battery charger with settings for 110 and 220 volts.  It eliminates the need for a separate converter.  A surprisingly small, lightweight and inexpensive charger with dual settings is available from MK Battery.


We highly recommend gel cell batteries, which are non-spillable, safer and more acceptable to airlines than wet batteries.


We experienced no problems charging Howard’s wheelchair in our hotel room.


Wheelchair Repair


Sunrise Medical – France.  Phone 2-47-88-58-10 or 2-47-88-58-36 or

ZI route de Meslay 37210 Parcay-Meslay
Chanceaux sur Choisille 37390
Phone 2-47-55-44-00;  Fax  2-47-88-58-03


On the website the section “Travel/Destinations/Paris Resources” has good information about repair and rental of wheelchairs and other medical equipment.


Fortunately, we didn’t need wheelchair repair, so we have no experience with these resources.


Airport Security


At Charles de Gaulle Airport on our flight home, the head of airport security was unwilling to permit Howard to remain in his wheelchair until the boarding gate, insisting that he transfer to an (extremely uncomfortable, unpadded, narrow) airport wheelchair at the check-in area in the front of the airport, pass through the security checkpoint in it and remain in it at the boarding gate.  Although the batteries are gel cells, the head of security didn’t want to allow an electric wheelchair to pass through the security checkpoint, even with the batteries disconnected.  After extensive negotiations, he agreed that Howard could remain in his wheelchair if the batteries were removed and checked as baggage.  This required getting someone to push Howard through the airport.  This problem didn’t arise in 2000, in the pre-9-11 world.




As in 2000, we saw very few blind or visually impaired people and almost no Braille signs or textured markings.




            Access Information


Access-Able Travel Source, has useful general information about traveling in a wheelchair, and articles and links about travel to a variety of destinations. 


APF Paris (Association des Paralyses de France – Paris)  website contains useful information in French about access and disability rights.  They will answer specific questions by email.  or


The European Union has produced country-specific disability travel guides in English, including one about France.  Finding it may require some searching.


            The English language website contains a list of French disability organizations under “Travel/Practical Information/Welcoming Disabled Persons.”


The website has a useful section entitled “Travel/Destinations/Paris Resources.”


The Paris Tourism Office website has a superb, comprehensive section in the English language version entitled “Practical Information/Disabled.”


            The website of the Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH) contains articles, links and resources about accessible travel in general and traveling with a disability.  Phone 212-447-7284.


A Few Good Books About Paris


Paris to the Moon. By Adam Gopnik.  An insightful, witty account of the New Yorker writer’s life in Paris with his family for five years in the 1990's.


            Paris in Mind.  Edited by Jennifer Lee.  An excellent new anthology of American writing about Paris, it includes short excerpts from James Baldwin, Saul Bellow, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Jefferson, Gertrude Stein, Mark Twain and contemporary writers. 


Paris: An Architectural History.  By Anthony Sutcliffe.  It isn't a guide to particular buildings, but a chronological discussion of the development of Paris architecture, including factors such as rational, well-designed building codes that remained remarkably uniform over time and the influence of the Beaux-Arts school on Paris architects.  This large paperback is serious but not too technical and has good pictures.


            The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris.  By Patricia Wells.  This well-written guide by the American maven of French cuisine includes restaurants, bakeries, food stores, wine bars, tea salons, cooking stores and even recipes.  We followed many of her restaurant recommendations and were almost always delighted, and never disappointed.  Her website,, is more current than the book, although less comprehensive.


            The Guide to the Architecture of Paris.  By Norval White.  This comprehensive, meticulously researched, opinionated and dry guide describes hundreds of buildings, block by block.


Hotel Wheelchair Access Questionnaire



Dear Sir/Madam:


My wife and I will arrive in Paris on [            ] and depart on [           ]. We will stay for [       ] nights.


I use an electric wheelchair that is [[  ] centimeters ([  ] inches)] wide.  I am unable to walk at all.   My wife is not disabled.  We would like a non-smoking room with one large bed.  We have the following questions about your hotel:


1.      Do you have any specially equipped (adapted) wheelchair accessible guest rooms?  If not, please disregard the other questions.  Thank you and we would appreciate a recommendation of hotel in the area that does have specially equipped (adapted) wheelchair accessible guest rooms.


If you do have specially equipped (adapted) wheelchair accessible guest rooms, we have the following questions.  Please answer even if you are fully booked for the requested time, because we are interested in your hotel for the future.


1.      Is it necessary to go up or down any stairs in order to get from the street entrance to the guest room?  Does the building have an elevator?  If so, how wide is the elevator door and what are the interior dimensions of the elevator? 

2.      In the bathroom, is there space for a [   ] cm wide wheelchair on one side of the toilet? What is the width of the doorway into the bathroom?  What is the height of the toilet?  What is the size of the shower?  Can a wheelchair roll into the shower?  Are there grab bars near the toilet and shower?

3.      Are all the doorways in the room at least 75 cm wide?

4.      What is the size of the room?  Does this include the bathroom?

5.      Was the building renovated recently?



            If you do have specially equipped (adapted) wheelchair accessible guest rooms, is the room available on the nights mentioned above?  If yes, please quote a price. 


Thank you very much.  We can be reached at [                    ].   We really appreciate any help you can provide.


Very Truly Yours


 Metric Conversion Guide


One inch = 2.54 centimeters. 

One centimeter = 0.3937 inches

One meter = 39.4 inches

One square meter = 10.76 square feet

One kilometer = 0.62 miles

One mile = 1.61 kilometers

One kilogram = 2.2 pounds

One pound = 0.454 kilograms  (454 grams)





 Hotel Wheelchair Access Survey Results



            Accessible and/or Adapted


            The following hotels told us either that they have adapted rooms or are accessible.  The hotels we visited are marked with **.  Room size and other details are provided when available.  Many hotels have very small rooms that would be extremely cramped for most wheelchair users although literally “accessible” per the French definition.


            Castille Sofitel Demeure Hotel               Four star          1st Arrondissement

            33-37, rue Cambon

            Phone 1-44-58-45-00

            Fax     1-44-58-44-50


There are adapted rooms, but they are very small.  Exact size was not provided.


            Hotel du Louvre  **                                         Four star          1st Arrondissement

            Place Andre Malraux

            Phone  1-44-58-38-38

            Fax      1-44-58-38-01



            We visited this hotel of approximately 180 rooms, which we were informed had been renovated in 2001 or 2002.  The main entrance has two high stairs, but there is an alternate entrance without stairs a few steps away.  The staff was very gracious.  We were told there are three adapted rooms, but the hotel was fully occupied so we were unable to see any rooms.  We were told that the deluxe room size is 20 square meters, including bathroom.  The information we were told in person contradicted the questionnaire response regarding whether there are roll-in showers or just regular inaccessible showers.  We were told the following:  elevator door width is 155 cm (61 inches); toilet height is 41 cm (16 inches); bedroom door width is 85 cm (33.5 inches); and bathroom door width is 75 cm (29.5 inches). 


            Hotel Louvre Sainte Anne                                 Three star         1st Arrondissement

            32, rue Sainte Anne

            Phone  1-40-20-02-35

            Fax      1-40-15-91-13


There is one accessible room located on the ground floor.  Room size is 10 or 12 square meters.  Bedroom door width is 80 cm (31.5 inches).  We were told there is a roll-in shower with bench.


            Hotel Louvre Saint Honore                               Three star         1st Arrondissement

            141, rue Saint Honore

            Phone  1-42-96-23-23

            Fax      1-42-96-21-61


            There is one small stair at the entrance.  There is one accessible but not adapted room located on the ground floor.  Room size is 16 square meters; bathroom size is 5-6 square meters.  There is a shower, but it is unclear whether it is a roll-in shower.  There are no grab bars.  There is at least 70 cm (27.5 inches) of space at one side of the toilet.


            Hotel Washington Opera **                             Four star          1st Arrondissement

            50, rue de Richelieu

            Phone   1-42-96-68-06

            Fax       1-40-15-01-12



            We visited this 36-room hotel, which we were told had been renovated in 1998.  There is a small step at the entrance, and automatic sliding doors.  The staff was extremely gracious, both on our visit and in response to our email inquiries.  The elevator was large enough for Howard’s wheelchair and two able-bodied people, though it was too narrow to turn around in.  There are two or three adapted rooms, all of which were occupied when we visited the hotel.  We saw a standard room; it was far too small for a wheelchair.  We were told that the adapted rooms are deluxe rooms and junior suites, and that there are no roll-in showers but the sinks are large.        


            Hotel Daunou Opera                                        Three star         2nd Arrondissement

            6, rue Daunou

            Phone  1-42-61-57-82

            Fax      1-49-27-08-25


            The elevator is large enough for a wheelchair.  There is a bathtub only, no roll-in shower.


            Hotel des Arenes                                              Three star         5th Arrondissement

            51, rue Monge

            Phone  1-43-25-09-26

            Fax      1-43-25-79-56


            There are two adapted rooms on the ground floor.  We were told that one has a roll-in shower but is small, and the other is larger but has a bathtub only.


            Villa Pantheon                                                  Four star          5th Arrondissement

            41, rue des Ecoles

            Phone  1-53-10-95-95

            Fax      1-53-10-95-96


            This hotel opened in 2000.  The entrance has no stairs.  There is an accessible room on the ground floor.  Room size is approximately 20 square meters.  There is a bathtub only, no roll-in shower.  There are no grab bars. 


            Artus Hotel (formerly Buci Latin)                      Unknown         6th Arrondissement

            34, rue de Buci

            Phone  1-43-29-07-20

            Fax      1-43-29-67-44



            The building was renovated in 2000.  There are adapted rooms on the ground floor, accessible via a side entrance to the hotel.  There is a roll-in shower but no grab bars.  Bathroom size is 5 square meters. 


            Hotel Bel Ami                                                   Four star          6th Arrondissement

            7-11, rue Saint Benoit

            Phone  1-42-61-53-53

            Fax      1-49-27-09-33


            This hotel opened in 2000.  There are no stairs at the main entrance.  Accessible room size is 24 square meters, including bathroom.  Elevator door width is 80 cm (31.5 inches).  Elevator size is 107 cm (42 inches) by 139 cm (54.5 inches).  Bedroom door width is 90 cm (35.5 inches).  Bathroom door width is 80 cm (31.5 inches).  Toilet height is 48.5 cm (19 inches).  There is a bathtub only, no roll-in shower. 


            Best Western Left Bank Saint Germain Three star         6th Arrondissement

            9, rue de l’Ancienne Comedie

            Phone  1-43-54-01-70

            Fax      1-43-26-17-14


            There is one adapted room on the ground floor.  We were quoted rack rate for a triple room even though there were only two of us; perhaps the only accessible room is a triple.  There are a shower and bathtub, but the shower is inaccessible.  There are grab bars. 


            Citidines St. Germain-des-Pres             Three star         6th Arrondissement

            53 ter, quai des Grands Augustins

            Phone  1-44-07-70-00

            Fax      1-44-07-29-50


            This “apartment-hotel” with cooking facilities opened in 2000.  Studios have foldout beds and are 25 square meters; apartments are 38 square meters, in both cases including the bathroom.  13 apartments are “equipped for people with reduced mobility” and have larger bathrooms than standard apartments, with grab bars near the toilet and bathtub.  There are no roll-in showers. 


            Hotel Le Clos Medicis                          Three star         6th Arrondissement

            56, rue Monsieur-Le-Prince

            Phone  1-43-2-10-80

            Fax      1-43-54-26-90


            A triple room, located on the ground floor, is accessible and has wider doors and a larger bathroom than in the standard rooms.  There are no grab bars.  The building was renovated in 1994. 


            Holiday Inn Saint Germain des Pres                  Three star         6th Arrondissement

            92, rue de Vaugirard

            Phone  1-49-54-87-00

            Fax      1-49-54-87-01


            There is a small stair at the entrance.  There are four adapted rooms; the size is 22 square meters including bathroom.  Elevator door width is 78 cm (30.5 inches).  Bathroom door width is 78 cm (30.5 inches).  There are bathtubs only, no roll-in showers.  There is transfer space adjacent to the toilet.  There are grab bars near the toilet and bathtub.  The building was renovated in 1999.


            Millesime Hotel **                                            Three star         6th Arrondissement

            15, rue Jacob

            Phone  1-44-07-97-97

            Fax      1-46-34-55-97



            We visited this 22-room hotel, which we were told had been renovated in 2002.  The lobby is small but there is a gradually sloped front entrance without any stairs.  The elevator is too small for a wheelchair.  There are two rooms on the ground floor through a charming courtyard, one of which is the designated adapted room.  It is quite small; we were told it is 12 square meters.  The bathroom is fairly large; we were told it is 6 square meters. There is sufficient transfer space adjacent to the toilet.  There is no roll-in shower.  The other ground floor room has a larger bedroom but a smaller bathroom, and the bathroom doorway is too narrow for a wheelchair.  Both rooms have 5 cm (2 inch) high thresholds at the entrance.


            Hotel Prince de Conde                         Three star         6th Arrondissement

            39, rue de Seine

            Phone  1-43-26-71-56

            Fax      1-46-34-27-95


            Accessible room size is 20 square meters including bathroom.  There are grab bars.  There is a bathtub only, no roll-in shower.


            Hotel Prince de Conti   **                                Three star         6th Arrondissement

            8, rue Guenegaud

            Phone  1-44-07-30-40

            Fax      1-44-07-36-34


            There is one accessible room, located on the ground floor.  We inspected this room in 2000 and found it to be quite small.  Stated room size is 15 square meters; stated bathroom size is 5 square meters.  Stated bedroom door width is 80 cm (31.5 inches).  Stated bathroom door width is 70 cm (27.5 inches).  There is a bathtub only, no roll-in shower.  There are no grab bars.  The toilet may be in a tight corner with inadequate side transfer space. 


            Relais Christine                                     Four star          6th Arrondissement

            3, rue Christine            

            Phone  1-40-51-60-80

            Fax      1-40-51-60-81


            There is one accessible but not adapted room, located on the ground floor.  There is a bathtub and shower, but the shower has a step.  There are no grab bars.


            Best Western Premier Eiffel Park Hotel **        Three star         7th Arrondissement

            17 bis, rue Amelie

            Phone  1-45-55-10-01

            Fax      1-47-05-28-68



We visited this 36-room hotel, which we were told had been renovated in 2001.  The entrance is level.  The hallways are extremely narrow, and Howard was just barely able to fit into the elevator.  We were shown two designated accessible rooms; one is very small and the other tiny.  There are grab bars.  There are bathtubs and no roll-in showers.


            Hotel Pont Royal  **                                        Four star          7th Arrondissement

            7, rue de Montalembert

            Phone   1-42-84-70-00

            Fax       1-42-84-71-00



            We visited this 75-room hotel, which we were told had been renovated in 1999.  The entrance is level.  The elevator was easily large enough for Howard’s wheelchair and two able-bodied people, although it wasn’t wide enough to turn around in.  We were shown Room 601, one of two designated adapted rooms.  The bedroom is well appointed but small.  The bathroom is fairly large but lacks sufficient transfer space adjacent to the toilet; the sink is too close.  There is a bathtub, not a roll-in shower.  The bathroom is large enough to be reconfigured for better access, including replacing the bathtub with a roll-in shower.  We were told that the other adapted room in the hotel is the same size and also doesn’t have a roll-in shower. 






The following hotels told us, either in response to our questionnaire or on our site visit or both, that they have no adapted rooms, and either affirmatively mentioned that they are inaccessible or didn’t state that they are accessible notwithstanding the absence of adapted rooms.  The hotels we visited are marked with **. 


Hotel Brighton                                      Three star         1st Arrondissement

218, rue de Rivoli

Phone 1-47-03-61-61

Fax     1-42-60-41-78

This hotel may be undergoing renovation in 2003.


Hotel Duminy Vendome                                    Three star         1st Arrondissement

3-5, rue du Mont-Thabor

Phone  1-42-60-32-80

Fax      1-42-96-07-83

There are three stairs at the entrance.


Hotel Mansart                                                  Three star         1st Arrondissement

5, rue des Capucines

Phone 1-42-61-50-28

Fax     1-49-27-97-44


Hotel le Relais du Louvre                                  Three star         1st Arrondissement

19, rue des Pretres-Saint-Germain-l’Axerrois

Phone  1-40-41-96-42

            Fax      1-40-41-96-44



Hotel des Tuileries                                            Three star         1st Arrondissement

10, rue Saint Hyacinthe

Phone  1-42-61-04-17

Fax      1-49-27-91-56

The bathrooms are very small.


Hotel Violet                                                      Three star         1st Arrondissement

7, rue Jean Lantier

Phone  1-42-33-45-38

Fax      1-40-28-03-56


Hotel Favart                                                     Three star         2nd Arrondissement

5, rue Marivaux

Phone  1-42-97-59-83

Fax      1-40-15-95-58


Pavillon de la Reine                                           Four star          3rd Arrondissement

28, Place des Vosges

Phone  1-40-29-19-19

Fax      1-40-29-19-20


Hotel California Saint-Germain              Three star         5th Arrondissement

32, rue des Ecoles

Phone  1-46-34-12-90

Fax       1-46-34-75-52


Hotel Sully Saint-Germain                                 Three star         5th Arrondissement

31, rue des Ecoles

Phone  1-43-26—56-02

Fax      1-43-29-74-42


Hotel de l’Abbaye                                            Three star         6th Arrondissement

10, rue Cassette

Phone  1-45-44-38-11

Fax      1-45-48-07-86


Hotel d’Angleterre **                                       Three star         6th Arrondissement

44, rue Jacob

Phone  1-42-60-34-72

Fax      1-42-60-16-93

We visited this hotel.  There are two stairs at the entrance.  The elevator is too small for a wheelchair and there are no guest rooms on the ground floor.  There are no wheelchair accessible rooms.  Be aware that there is a hotel in the 8th Arrondissement with the same name.


            Hotel d’ Aubusson  **                          Four star          6th Arrondissement

            33, rue Dauphine

            Phone   1-43-29-43-43

            Fax       1-43-29-12-62



            We visited this 50-room hotel, which we were told had been renovated in 1996.  There are two moderate height stairs at the front entrance.  The elevator appears large enough for a wheelchair but Howard didn’t try it.  There are no wheelchair accessible rooms. 


Best Western Aramis Saint Germain                  Three star         6th Arrondissement

124, rue de Rennes

Phone  1-45-48-03-75

Fax      1-45-44-99-29


Best Western Villa des Artistes             Three star         6th  Arrondissement

9, rue de la Grand Chaumiere

Phone  1-43-26-60-86

Fax      1-43-54-73-70

This hotel was completely renovated in 1997.


Hotel de Buci   **                                            Four star          6th Arrondissement

22, rue de Buci

Phone   1-55-42-74-74

Fax       1-55-42-74-44

We visited this 24-room hotel.  The elevator is too small for a wheelchair and there are no guest rooms on the ground floor.  There are no wheelchair accessible rooms.


Hotel de Fleurie                                                Three star         6th Arrondissement

32-34, rue Gregoire de Tours

Phone 1-53-73-70-00 

Fax     1-53-73-7020

The elevator is too small for a wheelchair.


            Grand Hotel des Balcons                                  Three star         6th Arrondissement

            3, rue Casimir-Delavigne

            Phone  1-46-34-78-50

            Fax      1-46-34-06-27



Hotel Lutetia     **                                            Four or             6th Arrondissement

45, boulevard Raspail                                       Five star

Phone  1-49-54-46-46

Fax      1-49-54-46-00

We visited this 230-room hotel.  There are approximately five stairs between the entrance and the lobby, and there may be additional stairs between the lobby and the elevators.  The only access is via a small, dingy freight elevator through a dirty hallway.  Although all the guest rooms are being renovated in 2003, there appears to be no plan to improve access to the building or to create adapted rooms.  According to the employee who showed us the hotel, some guest rooms have grab bars but the toilets are not raised.  The building is large and the guest floors have wide hallways.  It appears that access to the hotel could be greatly improved and adapted rooms created.


Madison Hotel                                                  Three star         6th Arrondissement

143, boulevard Saint Germain

Phone  1-40-51-60-00

Fax      1-40-51-60-01


            Hotel de l’Odeon                                              Three star         6th Arrondissement

            13, rue Saint-Sulpice

Phone  1-43-25-70-11

Fax      1-43-29-97-34



            Hotel le Regent                                     Three star         6th Arrondissement

            61, rue Dauphine

            Phone   1-46-34-59-80

            Fax       1-40-51-05-07


            This hotel has 25 rooms.


Residence des Arts                                           Unknown         6th Arrondissement

14, rue Git-le-Coeur

Phone  1-55-42-71-11

Fax      1-55-42-71-00


Hotel des Saints-Peres    **                  Three star         6th Arrondissement

65, rue des Saints-Peres

Phone  1-45-44-50-00

Fax      1-45-44-90-83

We visited this 39-room hotel, which we were told had been renovated in 1996.  There are no stairs at the entrance.  The elevator is too small for a wheelchair.  There are two rooms on the ground floor with level entrances and a third up a couple stairs.  All rooms were occupied, so we couldn’t see any.  There are no wheelchair accessible rooms, per the receptionist.  The ground floor hallway and lobby are wide.  It appears that one or both of the ground floor rooms could be made into adapted rooms.



Hotel de Seine  **                                            Three star         6th Arrondissement

52, rue de Seine

Phone   1-46-34-22-80

Fax       1-46-34-04-74

We visited this 30-room hotel.  It has not been recently renovated.  The entrance is ramped.  The elevator is too small for a wheelchair and there are no guest rooms on the ground floor.  There are no wheelchair accessible rooms.


Hotel Relais Saint-Sulpice                                 Three star         6th Arrondissement

            3, rue Garanciere

            Phone  1-46-33-99-00

            Fax      1-46-33-00-10



            Hotel le Senateur                                              Three star         6th Arrondissement

            10, rue Vaugirard

            Phone  1-43-26-08-83

            Fax       1-46-34-04-66



La Villa  **                                                      Four star          6th Arrondissement

            29, rue Jacob

            Phone  1-43-26-60-00

            Fax      1-46-34-63-63


We visited this 31-room hotel, which we were told had been renovated in 2001.  There is a 6” high step at the front entrance; it could have been ramped because the stoop goes inward, it doesn’t protrude onto the sidewalk.  Although Howard didn’t try the elevator, it appears large enough for a wheelchair.  There are no accessible or adapted rooms.  The inaccessible standard room we were shown was quite small.


Hotel Villa d’Estrees                                         Four star          6th Arrondissement

17, rue Git-le-Coeur

Phone  1-55-42-71-11

Fax       1-55-42-71-00


Hotel Duc de Saint-Simon  **              Three star         7th Arrondissement

14, rue de Saint-Simon

Phone  1-44-39-20-20

Fax       1-45-48-68-25

We visited this 34-room hotel.  The entrance is level, although narrow.  The elevator is too small for a wheelchair.  Per the receptionist, there are three rooms and three suites on the ground floor, but none has an accessible bathroom.    All rooms were occupied, so we couldn’t see any rooms.  Given how many rooms there are on the ground floor, it seems likely that at least one could be made into an adapted room.


Saint James Paris                                              Four star          16th Arrondissement

43, avenue Bugeaud

Phone  1-44-05-81-81

Fax      1-44-05-81-82



No Response


The following hotels didn’t respond to two and, in some cases, three or four inquiries.


Pavillon Louvre-Rivoli                            Three star         1st Arrondissement

20, rue Moliere

Phone  1-42-60-31-20

Fax      1-42-60-32-06


Hotel Observatoire Luxembourg             Three star         5th Arrondissement

107, boulevard Saint-Michel

Phone  1-46-34-10-12

Fax      1-46-33-73-86


Hotel Relais Saint-Jacques                                 Four star          5th Arrondissement

3, rue de l’Abbe de l’Epee

Phone  1-53-73-26-00

Fax      1-43-26-17-81


Best Western Premier Derby Alma Hotel            Four star          7th Arrondissement

8, avenue Rapp

Phone   1-44-18-77-77

Fax       1-44-18-77-78

This hotel has 33 rooms.



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