This was my first big trip with my Whill C2 chair as a solo traveler, so I was nervous about accessibility but yet excited to be able to do more because of the mobility aid.
I had a layover in Dublin via Aer Lingus and landed in Paris CDG airport. Aer Lingus did well with my electric wheelchair and I had no problems with them throughout my travels. Navigating CDG airport coming off an international flight is a bit difficult and there is a LONG journey from plane debarkment to exit, through customs and passport control. I would advise that if you have mobility issues, ask for a wheelchair escort.
Once navigating out of the airport, I was taking the RER train to my AirBnB right outside of Paris in Puteaux. The RER network is a regional rail service connecting Paris to the outlying suburbs, airports and attractions like Disneyland Paris. The network consists of 10 lines, with the common ones being RER A and RER B. RER trains are wheelchair accessible via a removable ramp that is placed manually by the station staff. Reservations for the ramp can be made in advance, however they can also be requested at the information booth at most stations. Unfortunately, there was no one at the information booth as I was exiting CDG and the general information staff did not have access to the ramp. Luckily, the staff were able to help me lift my wheelchair and my luggage over the gap between the platform and train, so that I could board. Other passengers assisted me in lifting the chair out of the train when exiting. Thus, not all of the stations are consistently staffed and not all are accessible or easily accessible. Meanwhile, other stations such as La Defense and Marne la Vallee Chessy (Disneyland stop) were great at assistance for barrier free or accessible travel. I mainly took the RER trains (from the airport, and to and from Disneyland) during my short stay in the Paris area. For more information about accessible and barrier free RER services, you can go here. Prices range from around 2 euros to 12 euros depending on travel distance. I would recommend obtaining a pass to help save money and time.
Going from my AirBnb to Gare du Nord, where I was going to be departing France, was going to be complicated because of locations and timing. I found a taxi service, G7 that has a fleet of accessible taxis. Although the app and website both state that you can get an accessible taxi on demand, I found that any time I wanted to order one, there were none available. However, on the app you are able to book in advance and I had no problem with that. Although more expensive than public transport, it is probably the least frustrating option for transport.
One of my bucket list items was to see the Eiffel Tower at night, so one of the best ways I thought I could do that was stay in a hotel or flat that had a view. I found a relatively inexpensive AirBnB listing outside of Paris that was located on the 41st floor of a towering building near the La Defense RER stop and close to a shopping mall. With an awesome view at night and close to public transport, the location was ideal. However, this listing was not accessible nor was it advertised to be. I know how difficult it can be to find truly accessible Airbnb listings.
As an ambulatory wheelchair user, this listing was perfect for my needs. The building as a lift that was able to fit my wheelchair (lifts/elevators in Europe can be relatively small), as my chair has a width of about 22 inches. The doorway of the actual flat was wide enough to fit through and access to the building does have a ramp, although relatively steep. The flat itself was big enough to turn the wheelchair around. That is about it. The bathroom is very small and not ideally accessible for those who are wheelchair bound, the bed was above waist height (owner provides a step stool) and there is a step to access the shower. Although not 100% for everybody, this Airbnb listing was accessible for me and my needs.
It was the view that made this flat special. You can see the skyline of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower which lights up every hour on the hour in the evening time. Definitely worth a stay if this is accessible for you!
I only spent three days in Paris on this trip and two of them were spent at Disneyland Paris. I have gone to both Disney’s in the United States, so I wanted to see how this one measured up. If you have a recognized disability, you can request a Priority Card up to one month in advance of your visit online. You have to submit proof of disability (there is a list of accessible documents on the website for each country), give information on your level of autonomy (can you transfer to rides yourself, etc.), and supply a passport size photo. Once submitted, take your confirmation to guest services on the day of your trip and they were provide you with a physical priority card with your photo on it for your stay.
Personally, I can transfer to rides and my card would have allowed me to take up to four guests on rides with me and two guests for access to parades. I was able to go through the priority card entrance for each ride, which was usually the exit and has minimal to no wait in lines. For parades and fireworks, there are designated sections for people with reduced mobility and priority cards that allow you to view with minimal barriers. For example, for the castle fireworks, you were able to go right in front of the castle with your priority card with no obstructions.
The Disneyland Paris app and website has an accessibility park map and information about accessibility for each ride. Overall, I found the park and shops to be pretty accessible. Most shops have contactless payment with a moveable reader so it makes it easier to pay. Guests who are blind or low vision are able to use the AudioSpot app to listen to information about attractions and other things around the park. On weekends, some of the shows are accessible in French Sign Language which are indicated on the Disneyland Paris app. There are accessible toilets indicated throughout the park. For child and adult changing tables, guests can go to the park’s first aid centers. While at the park, I needed to charge my wheelchair. There are sometimes plugs or outlets in the restaurants but you aren’t supposed to utilize them. However, I was able to go to the first aid center and charge my wheelchair there with no problem. It was a bit of a relief from the cold weather for me too! Lastly, on the day of your visit and with proper documentation, people with disabilities and a companion may be eligible for a one day one park or one day two park discount of 25% off. You must go to guest relations on the day of visit with your documentation in order to receive this discount.
Although I had some frustrating hiccups with public transportation, I enjoyed my trip to Disneyland Paris!