Written by Alexis Goldberg,
7th September 2023

The French government has finally launched a brand-new guide to accessible places in France, particularly for wheelchairs and those with disabilities. 

The French government is doing everything it can currently to make life easier for people with any disabilities. They have done this by introducing a new online guide to establishments which have invested time and money to try and make life easier for anyone with accessibility requirements.

Wheelchair ramps still aren’t considered essential in many countries

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Why is this needed?

Back in 2015, there was a campaign to get all public buildings to take a good long view at accessible places in France and to submit plans as to how they were going to improve this. Although many establishments did take it upon themselves to improve their buildings, it seems that up to half of them did not, or did some work but not enough to improve accessibility.

According to a survey conducted by APF France Handicap in 2018, mainly concentrated on the Pays de la Loire region, almost 75% of places where improvements had been made, were still lacking in some areas. The situation may be slightly better than this in some other areas of France, but since it is estimated that roughly 11% of the French population has some type of disability, this is a hugely important subject. It is something which undoubtedly should be at the forefront of any plans for future public buildings.

What else is the government doing to improve the lives of anyone with a disability?

As recently as July this year, it was reported widely in the French press that the government has now agreed a budget of €300 million to aid any public establishments who want to start works to make their places more accessible: a real incentive. The Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games are set to take place next year and this has meant that several organisations have made it their business to look at the situation for all disabled people in Paris generally.

With under a year to go until the start of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, the need for far greater accessibility across the country has become at the forefront of many disability rights groups.

Not all disabilities are physical

Where can I find the guide and how does it work?

Following on from this, and due to some pressure from various sources lobbying for greater help for anyone with any disability and of course with a keen eye on the forthcoming Games, the French government has now introduced a website named “Accès Libre” or free access. This covers the whole of the country. acceslibre, la plateforme collaborative de l’accessibilité (beta.gouv.fr)

Accès Libre” essentially is aimed at helping people search any area of France with the aid of an interactive map in order to find establishments which offer total ease of access for disabled people. This includes any disability, not just mobility. Further, it allows the reader to check certain establishments themselves and even to recommend ones he or she has found directly on the website.

The website is available in both French and English although there are still some parts which have not as yet been translated. The great thing about it is that the information is completely open at source which means, as stated above that any person can add an establishment they would like to promote.

Access Libre is aimed at being user friendly

The best way to start is to click on the “explore” button on the home page. This brings up an interactive map of France. You can then specify the type of establishment you want to see and the town or village you want to visit. Once you have found the place you are looking for, you should be able to see its profile and information regarding accessibility.

It is important to scroll right down so that you can see all the information provided. Each establishment has its own listing and not all of them may be suitable for all disabilities. However, this is an excellent idea, particularly since anyone accessing the site can add in any establishment they think should be worthy of being flagged up.

Ideally, this new website should mean far greater awareness of every disability. If everyone uses it, it is set to be a great success and will make a huge difference to the lives of many either living in France or simply visiting.

Visit Accès Libre today

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