What sort of group do you organise trips for? What sort of group trips do you go on? Travel agents often lump groups together as a single market, but in reality, groups are of course just as diverse as the individuals that make up the group members. Paris is on most group itineraries at some point, so here is an overview of some of the city’s best options arranged according to group type.
BEST FOR groups with disabled members
Hotel: Novotel Les Halles can be easily reached and has suitable parking spaces very close by. The entrance to the hotel is step-free, with a wheelchair adapted toilet just past reception. There are plenty of lifts and six adapted bedrooms; staff are accommodating to any particular requests when informed in advance. Handrails in bathrooms and step-free access to most of the restaurant make this hotel one of the best options in a city that is not yet up to date in providing for the needs of the disabled. W: www.novotelparis.com
Attraction: Thankfully for such an internationally-renowned museum, the Louvre has thought about its disabled visitors and accommodated them wherever possible, even providing specific tours for certain categories of disability. Blind or visually-impaired guests are offered guided tours where works of art are described and can also participate in tactile visits, where they are allowed to touch certain works of art or casts of them.
Deaf or hearing-impaired visitors have the option of guided tours given in French sign language led by deaf museum guides. Appropriate guided group visits are also available for those with developmental disabilities (smaller groups preferred). General accessibility support includes at least two step-free entrances, wheelchair-adapted toilets, a special map and guide and wheelchairs and folding seats are available for loan free of charge. W: firstname.lastname@example.org
Travel: Unlike the Metro, which is generally poorly equipped and set up for disabled passengers, the buses and trams in Paris are accessible. The majority of buses are equipped with ramps, lowering devices, special seats for limited-mobility passengers, and a vocal announcement system. The T1 and T2 tram lines are also both fully wheelchair-accessible.
BEST FOR groups of business travellers
Hotel: Located in the heart of the business district of Paris, Hôtel Sofitel Paris La Défense is a modern, luxury hotel with 151 rooms including 16 suites. Top quality business facilities include four spacious and modular meeting rooms with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, a dedicated concierge to ensure the smooth running of any event or conference, a business centre and free wifi. W: www.sofitel.com
Attraction: The Panthéon, an imposing 19th century building, was first designed as a church replacing a sixth century basilica, but later turned into a civil temple. It houses the remains of many great Frenchmen, sure to both inspire and bring down to earth anyone in Paris for business.
The large crypt accommodates the vaults of Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Jean Monnet, Marie and Pierre Curie and Emile Zola. The Panthéon was also the place where, in 1851, the astronomer Jean Bernard Léon Foucault first held his famous experiment, proving that the world spins around its axis. W: www.pantheonparis.com
Travel: The metro system is the most efficient way to reach any part of the city.
BEST FOR groups of children
Hotel: With a total capacity of 500 beds, and 200 bedrooms capable of accommodating from one to seven persons, the FIAP Jean Monnet was specifically designed to welcome and accommodate groups of young people from abroad. W: www.fiap.asso.fr
Attraction: The Eiffel Tower. It’s the one iconic sight that even children will recognise, and the excitement of travelling up to the top will thrill any young person. W: www.tour-eiffel.fr
Travel: The Paris Visite Pass allows unlimited bus and metro travel. Large groups with younger children are likely to find the metro suitable for simple journeys outside rush hours, but the frenetic pace and crowded stations in peak hours make buses the best choice at these times.
BEST FOR special interest groups
Hotel: Is your group into art? Stay at the Hotel Particulier Montmartre, a luxury hotel with five suites where works of art are an integral part of the rooms, lobbies and salons. Each suite features works from five different artists, so each has its own distinct personality. Or how about music?
Hotel du Triangle d’Or is a boutique hotel near the prestigious Olympia, the historical music hall of Paris. Devoted to music, the hotel’s six floors make reference to six renowned musicians and singers through objects, photographs and instruments. W: www.hoteldutriangledor.com
Like literature? Le Pavillon des Lettres has poets and writers as the themes of each of its rooms and suites, with extracts from their work incorporated in the décor. W: www.pavillondeslettres.com
Attraction: The Pompidou Centre has something for everyone. It houses a vast public library, the largest museum for modern art in Europe, and a centre for music and acoustic research. The famous ‘inside out’ design of the building itself is colourful and iconic, and the Stravinsky Fountain outside features sixteen whimsical moving and water-spraying sculptures. Place Georges Pompidou in front of the museum is always full of street performers, including jugglers, caricaturists and bands. W: www.centrepompidou.fr
Travel: A river trip along the Seine is the very best way to appreciate the architecture and visual glory of Paris. A number of different companies operate various different boat cruises, including options with dinner, music or sightseeing commentary.