This detailed analysis and photographs of the wheelchair accessibility at Palais Garnier, Galeries Lafayette, Montmartre/Sacre-Coeur, and Moulin Rouge was from Summer 2022.
Our day trip included showstoppers including:
- Palais Garnier (Paris Opera)
- Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
- Moulin Rouge
- Montmartre/Sacre-Coeur Basilica via funicular
- Ritz Carlton
Overview of Route
This route was very ambitious due to distance and hills, so we split it between walking/scooting, bus, and funicular:
- We walked/scooted to the Palais Garnier to Galeries Lafayette.
- We bussed from Galeries Lafayette to Moulin Rouge.
- We walked/scooted from Moulin Rouge to the funicular leading up to Sacre-Coeur.
- We took the funicular up the hill to the stairs leading to Sacre-Coeur.
- We walked/scooted up to Sacre-Coeur.
- We reversed our route — walking down to the funicular, taking the funicular, and then walking to Moulin Rouge
- We bussed then again from Moulin Rouge back to our Palais Garnier.
- We walked to the Ritz Carlton (and charged my scooter batteries).
- We walked back to the hotel.
Wheelchair Accessibility at Palais Garnier
The wheelchair accessibility at Palais Garnier was quite good. Palais Garnier is free to people with disabilities and one companion. We walked/scooted all the way around Palais Garnier to find the entrance, which turned out to be a great way to see all of the amazing architecture around the building. The main entrance was through the only open gate, by the main driveway/drop-off area for the opera. There was a small step up into the ticket office, but there was a temporary metal ramp down for the step.
Once inside the opera house, a staff member took us through the entry level to a back room with a relatively large elevator–two adults plus my scooter/me could easily fit. The elevator opened to another back room, and the staff member took us through a small hallway to the main floor area. The staff member locked the door to the elevator, and told us to find another staff member when we wanted to access the elevator to leave.
Tip: Ask for a phone number or way to get in touch with a staff member when you are ready to leave. When we wanted to leave, we could not find a staff member to help us access the elevator. My wife walked downstairs to find help and I stayed by the elevator. A staff member arrived by the elevator (which I assumed was sent by my wife), but it turns out another bystander had asked on our behalf and sent the staff member to me. Long story short, my wife and I were unable to find each other for a while–she was forced to exit, I had no cell service where I was waiting for her, and she was not permitted to re-enter where I was without buying a new ticket. Comedy of errors aside, staying together and having a plan would have worked better.
The opera was opulent and grandeur–a palace in its own right. I could feel the Phantom hiding in the corridors, and the ghosts of countless masquerades of the past. The main staircase is one to behold, and can be accessed by a public elevator (which goes to the staircase landing, but not the ground floor). The hallways around the main staircase are dripping in artwork and gold. And the opera hall itself was magnificent–we could access a private booth to view the stage and inside the hall.
There was a wheelchair accessible bathroom by the private box to view the opera hall.
Wheelchair Accessibility at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is a gorgeous shopping mall across the street from Palais Garnier. It is a beautiful building, and has an amazing dome with stained glass in the atrium. We stopped to enjoy expresso and a tart under the dome before venturing on to Moulin Rouge.
Wheelchair Accessibility near Moulin Rouge
The bus stop was immediately outside Galeries Lafayette. The first bus had a faulty ramp, and so we had to wait for the second bus–was only a 10-minute wait or so. The second bus was crowded, but people moved to let us on. There was a designated area for me to park my scooter, with a board to pull up against and railings to hold. There was also a call button to signal the driver that I wanted to get off. The ride was smooth and safe. We also could have called for a taxi.
The bus stop was a few blocks from Moulin Rouge, so we just walked the distance. We were able to see the outside of Moulin Rouge. The sidewalk outside of Moulin Rouge was wide and easy to navigate. There was also a large pedestrian greenway that ran the length of the road in front of Moulin Rouge. It was a great place to get a photo and to walk in the shade for a bit of the way to the funicular at Sacre-Coeur.
Note: The staff informed me that my scooter was too large for their elevator. The staff was responsive to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I strongly recommend confirming accessibility before
Wheelchair accessible at Montmartre and Sacre-Coeur Basilica
Montmartre is a hilly area, and so it was no surprise that there were some steep hills even from Moulin Rouge to the funicular that leads up to Sacre-Coeur. The hills stretched for several blocks, and I had to go slowly and make sure my scooter did not go at too much of a side angle to the hill (e.g., turn sideways to access a curb cut, thereby potentially tipping scooter sideways).
The funicular is part of the transit system, and thus requires a physical ticket to ride.
Tip: Purchase paper transit tickets in advance. We had to use the pay machine at the funicular, which was hard to understand and had a long line.
We bought tickets, and then tried to discuss accessibility with the worker. Language was a barrier, but we worked out where to go via gestures. There are two tracks that run side by side, with a small landing connecting the two funiculars at the top and bottom of the hill. The entrance to each funicular is through a set of turn styles that lead to the small landing between the two tracks. People already riding the funiculars exit on the other side of the funiculars–they exit on the outside edges of the two tracks. But the accessible path is to go through the exit (i.e., outside edge of the track), wait for the funicular to arrive and for people to exit, and then we could board prior to everyone else being let in (i.e., from between the two tracks).
The ride is only a few minutes long. It is is smooth, level, and very easy. But the funicular is packed with people, so it can be a little claustrophic…and smelly.
Tip: The packed funicular is also a target for pickpockets, especially with everyone packed in so close together. Watch your belongings, and keep all important documents/wallets in pickpocket-proof bags (e.g., money pouches worn under shirt or connected to belt loops).
The funicular stops at the top of a huge, steep hill. It has a great view of Paris and of Sacre-Coeur.
But there are still a lot of steps to get up to the Sacre-Coeur. The accessible route was to take the sidewalk and road to the left of Sacre-Coeur, and up to the main entrance level. Both the sidewalks and road were cobblestone, and were extremely bumpy and slow going. The road had smaller pavers, and was a little smoother. And the road was even smoother where car tires had worn down the cobblestone roads…a little. But driving down an active road has its own safety concerns.
Tip: There is a nice overlook view of the Eiffel Tower about halfway up the road to the Sacre-Coeur.
The accessible entrance to Sacre-Coeur is behind the basilica. I had had enough of the hills and pavers, so we just opted to see the outside and enjoy the surrounding area. It was gorgeous.
Wheelchair Accessibility at Ritz Carlton
We took the funicular back down the hill, walked to Moulin Rouge, and caught a city bus to a stop by the Palais Garnier. From there, we walked to the Ritz Carlton and the Place Vendôme. It was an easy walk, made complicated by construction. Place Vendôme was beautiful, and a fun place to explore.
The Ritz Carlton had an elevator to get into the main entrance from the Place Vendôme, and then a staff member showed us through the hotel, up another elevator, until we reached the stairs that led down to the Hemingway Bar. My wife went down the stairs and spoke with the bartender, who advised that there was an elevator to access the bar but that security had the key for it. He also said there was a long wait, and so he recommended we go to the Ritz Bar, which was immediately behind us (same level as us, up steps from the Hemingway Bar).
The Ritz Bar was a great place to people watch, as well as re-charge my scooter–they had ample outlets and power strips, and were accommodating about me plugging in for an hour.
Note: The tables were about knee height on my scooter, so I had to sit sideways to the table. Not the most comfortable, but it worked for our purposes. I would have suggested sitting elsewhere if we were going to order food.