Paris (Le Havre), France
The disabled cruiser visiting Paris will discover that most of the popular attractions (the Musée du Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and the Notre Dame Cathedral) are generally wheelchair accessible. Accessible entrance to the Louvre is possible by taking the elevator located at the Pyramid down to the ticket booth. The north leg of the Eiffel Tower has an elevator that wheelchair tourists can use.
Nearly all of the Paris buses feature wheelchair ramps; and wheelchair users will enjoy that Paris is fairly flat. The biggest exceptions are the area around the Sacre Cœur Basilica and near the Panthéon. Most sidewalks in Paris are smooth and without cobblestones near the Louvre as well as on the Champs-Elysées. The largest concentration of cobblestones is found in the Left Bank near the Panthéon and the Latin Quarter. Although most pathways down to the Seine river involve steps, there are ramps near some of the boat docks that wheelchair users can utilize for those wanting to take an accessible boat tour.
The Disabled Cruiser will soon learn that accessibility at Paris tourist attractions falls short when compared to other cities in Europe. Several of the museums and churches have not been fully modified to meet basic accessibility standards. Some elevators are too small to accommodate a wheelchair and wheelchair users need to transfer to a portable chair to use the elevator. Tourist attractions that are not wheelchair accessible or require using an alternative accessible entrance include Sacre Cœur Basilica, Sainte-Chapelle church, the Arc de Triomphe, the Panthéon, the Carnavalet Museum, and the Cluny Museum. Parts of the Louvre, such as the area around the Winged Victory statue have steps to reach them.
Many of the tourist attractions in Paris are not within walking distance of each other. At least 3 km separates Sacre Cœur in the north, Notre Dame in the east, and the Eiffel Tower in the West. There are only a few accessible metro (subway) stations in Paris. The ones that are accessible are not very helpful for getting between the tourist sights. Disabled tourists should use the accessible bus system instead. Parisians take pride in the appearance of their city and have preserved their 19th century buildings in both the Left Bank and Right Bank. The historical buildings in Paris, including many of the hotels and restaurants, often have a step or two at the entrance.
Paris (Le Havre), France
Le Havre is situated in north western France.
Paris can be visited from here although it is around a 2½ hours journey each way.
Normandy is also a popular destination to explore, taxis are available at the pier, ensure a price is negotiated beforehand.
Places to visit in Le Havre include the Granville Abbey and St Adresse Fort. Further away is the pretty harbor of Honfleur and Rouen.
Where You’re Docked
The Cruise Terminal is at Florida Tip, ships can dock at either the Roger Meunier or Pierre Callet piers. Facilities here include car hire, taxis, shops and internet access. The center of town is around 1½ miles away and shuttles are typically provided (sometimes for a charge).
Le Havre may often be billed by cruise lines as the port for Paris, but please note: The commute between port and Paris is a solid 2.5 hours each way. Travelers who have already visited Paris might want to consider touring Normandy, fascinating in its own right, not to mention beautiful.
Good to Know
Beware of “whirlwind syndrome.” With just one day in Paris, strategize, and select two or three (at most) sightseeing destinations. Don’t forget to allow time for a leisurely lunch. Also beware of pick pocketing and bag-snatching.
As well, if you opt for visiting places in Normandy, note that they’re fairly spread out and also involve some commuting time. Your best bet is to rent a car (and possibly a tour guide/driver), and plan your itinerary carefully.
From the ship’s dock to the city of Le Havre, it’s about a 20-minute walk. (Often, passengers aren’t permitted to stroll through the port facility.) Shuttles are typically provided to transport passengers from ship to center of town; some cruise lines levy a surcharge for the service.
Taxis line up at the pier, and you’ll find a list of fares in the cruise terminal. It costs 8 EUR to get into town.
Getting To Paris: Le Havre’s train station is about a mile from the port. In most cases, passengers will take the shuttle from the ship to the center of Le Havre and then a taxi to the station (or take a taxi directly from the port to the station). Trains run to Gare St-Lazare (Paris) roughly every hour, more often before 8 a.m. It’s more than a two-hour train ride home, so leave plenty of time to return to the pier.
Points of Interest
Eiffel Tower – The Eiffel Tower is one of the tallest structures in Paris, located on the Champ de Mars. Named for its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair. The Disabled Cruiser will enjoy wheelchair access at the Eiffel Tower up to the 1st and 2nd landing via an elevator. Wheelchair users should use the elevator in the north leg of the tower. Go to the booth for visitors with reservations and a staff member will escort you to the elevator. You will actually enter the small building with the elevator through the exit where people are leaving after they visit. After you take the elevator to the 2nd level, you can move step-free around the entire circumference of the tower. Wheelchair access is not possible to the top (3rd) landing.
- Champs-Élysées & Arc de Triomphe – Known as “La plus belle avenue du monde” (“The most beautiful avenue in the world”), the Champs-Élysées boasts luxury specialty shops, cafés and the Arc de Triomphe, the world’s largest triumphal arch. The Disabled Cruiser will be disappointed to learn that visiting the interior of the Arc de Triomphe is only possible via a long tunnel with many steps that runs under the Charles de Gaulle Etoile traffic circle. There is no elevator to reach the tunnel. Cars are allowed to quickly drop off disable visitors at the Arc but they ask for advance notice. There are 2 steps then an elevator to get up to the museum level. There are 40 steps to go to the top.
- Musée d’Orsay/Louvre – The Musée d’Orsay houses the most comprehensive collection of Impressionists in the world. Across the Seine is the Louvre with such works as the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. The Disabled Cruiser visiting the Louvre will discover The vast majority of it is handicapped accessible, but it is a maze to navigate with 18 elevators and 20 wheelchair lifts. Although there are 4 main floors, there are several levels in between the main floors. There is not an elevator or wheelchair lift at every staircase, so you may have to back-track to get to the exhibit you want to see. Be sure to use the Louvre accessibility map to figure out your way through the exhibits. The Musee d’Orsay access for wheelchair patrons is very good. It is much more wheelchair friendly than some of the other museums in Paris.
- D-Day Beaches/American Cemetery – The Normandy American Cemetery honors the soldiers who lost their lives in WWII, most of whom died in the D-Day landings on five beaches on the coast of Normandy. The Disabled Cruiser will enjoy wheelchair access. You may encounter steps and gravel walkways in some areas.
- Rouen & Cathedral – The capital of Upper Normandy is home to the highest spire in France, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen, a Roman Catholic Gothic cathedral immortalized by Claude Monet in his paintings. The city of Rouen is fairly level, but many of the streets in the historic center are cobbled, giving a rather uneven surface for the Disabled Cruiser. The area around the Cathedral is rough cobbled, but entrance into the cathedral is wheelchair accessible.
- Honfleur – The small town of Honfleur surrounds a little 17th-century harbor in Normandy, and is known for its old, picturesque port, houses with slate-covered frontages, historic buildings and churches.
Versailles Palace & Gardens – Versailles was designed as a palatial center of government for Louis XIV. Its garden is the most famous in the world featuring huge parterres, an orangery, and grand fountains. For the Disabled Cruiser visiting Versailles wheelchair access at Paris Versailles Palace is at least partly possible in all three of the buildings: the palace, the Grand Trianon, and the Petit Trianon. The French Gardens and English Gardens are step-free, relatively flat, and have a firm surface which make visits possible for wheelchair users. The approach to the Versailles Palace is over some medium cobblestones. They are a little bumpy but should not present a big problem for wheelchair visitors to Versailles. The interior of the Versailles Palace is wheelchair accessible via ramps and an elevator.
Paris Accessible Excursions
Le Havre is the gateway for optional tours to Paris, the “City of Light.” See the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Champs Elysees. In Le Havre itself, cruise visitors can explore at leisure and visit fish and vegetable markets, public parks, modern architecture, a long seaside promenade and a vast beach.
Panoramic Paris Wheelchair Accessible Driving Tour
This 3 hour accessible driving tour in Paris utilizes Accessible private transportation with a wheelchair ramp visits many of the highlights plus a few less-visited gems.
In addition to well-known places like Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Left Bank, you’ll also see some more difficult to reach sites like the Sacre Coeur church on top of the Montmartre Hill, the famous Moulin Rouge, and the Place de la Bastille (site of the French Revolution). You will enjoy great photo opportunities and memorable sightseeing in Paris.
The Panoramic Paris Wheelchair Accessible Driving Tour includes a vehicle with a wheelchair ramp and no long distances to walk/roll. Your transportation on this wheelchair accessible Paris driving tour will be in a clean, modern accessible black taxi. The car has a built-in wheelchair ramp. Manual wheelchair users and electric wheelchair users can roll into the car.
Accessible Paris Boat Tour on the Seine River
Many of Paris’ top tourist sights are located along the Seine River including Notre Dame, the Musée d’Orsay, Pont Neuf, Place de la Concorde, and the Eiffel Tower. This 1 hour 15 min accessible Paris boat tour is an easy, comfortable, and unique way to see all of these sights and more.
The Accessible Paris Boat Tour on the Seine River has a sloping driveway wheelchair ramp access down to the boat dock and a wheelchair ramp onto the boat. The lower level of the boat used on this accessible Paris boat cruise has plenty of space between the aisles and a designate space for wheelchair users. However, there are cobblestones on the ramp down to the dock.
Highlights of Paris Right Bank Accessible Tour
This 2 hour guided walking/rolling tour of the main Right Bank of Paris uses wheelchair accessible routes to connect memorable Paris highlights. As you embark on this enjoyable stroll, you’ll get an historical overview of numerous important historical places and beautiful sights in the unique Right Bank.
Smooth sidewalks and sidewalk ramps are used as much as possible on this Paris accessible walking tour. The tour route avoids stairs in all locations. There are accessible restrooms located along the route.
Essential Left Bank of Paris Accessible Tour
This accessible 3 hour guided walking/rolling tour of Paris’ Left Bank is a perfect way to experience the atmosphere, sites and history of the vibrant and fascinating Latin Quarter. The tour combines a private walking tour with a visit to the famous Shakespeare and Company, and you will also get a chance to see the outside of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral.
The Left Bank of Paris Accessible Guided Tour involves a step-free tour route. The tour route is 1.9 km (approx. 1 mile). The tour route consists of fairly flat ground and has been designed to avoid cobblestones as much as possible. It avoids all curbs by using sidewalk ramps. There will also be accessible bathrooms available along the tour route.