Paris Panorama

Ahhhh Paris… she is seductive, sophisticated, stylish and simply sensational. I have been to Paris three times and the love affair continues. The last visit was in October 2012, when the city sights went under the getting-about-with-a-disability microscope.

paris tour eiffelWheelchairs are available for hire in Paris but I took my own to explore places like the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower.

We decided to stay at the Novotel Eiffel Tower and take taxis to the other attractions. The hotel was wheelchair friendly and they upgraded us to a corner suite so we had more turning room.  There was lift access via the concierge to avoid the one escalator from Reception to ground floor and ramp access was fine eslewhere.

On the list of ‘must do’ thinks in Paris may include:

  • Pyramid Louvre Museum ParisThe Eiffel Tower (Le Tour Eiffel)
  • The Seine River (La Seine)
  • Champs Elysees
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathédrale de Notre-Dame)
  • Place de la Concorde
  • The Louvre (Le musée du Louvre)
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art (Le Musée d’Art Moderne)
  • The Latin Quarter (Le Quartier Latin)
  • Cathedral de Sacre Coeur
  • MontmartreMontmartre
  • Jardin des Tuileries
  • Hôtel des Invalides
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Montparnasse
  • The Orsay Museum (Le Musée d’Orsay)
  • Paris Opera House (Opéra de Paris)
  • The Palace of Versailles (Château de Versailles)

The al fresco dining, the coffee, the fresh bâtardes, the crazy traffic, the brilliant Metro, the French food, the French wine and the ‘je ne sais quoi!

I was pleasantly surprised at how disabled-friendly Paris was – the public restrooms were high-tech and wheelchair friendly as were the restrooms at some of the attractions.  The Eiffel Tower has an accessible bathroom at the base (take a life down one floor).  You can’t go to the top of the tower with a wheelchair but you can to the other levels.  I decided to explore around the base as I had been up before while Annie and Laura went to the top.  Laura (aged 16) was allowed her first glass of French campagne there – can’t think of a better location!

The Notre Dame’s bathroom is NOT disabled-friendly… nor is it abled-friendly… it simply doesn’t exist.  If in that area, head to the corner past the Nortre Dame to the Cafe Esmerelda. the bathroom is down a flight of stairs but the owner is friendly and the prices reasonable – Laura has a crepe au sucre et citron and Annie and I had a glass of very acceptable vin blanc – think it was about 15 euro – not bad for a street cafe with a great view and atmosphere.

One restaurant ‘find’ was a walk from our accommodation in Avenue Emile Zola, Montparnasse. Called L’Epopee it served up a sensational set menu at a reasonable price – excellent veal, seafood, dessert – the waiter was delightful and spoke perfect English – and the bathroom was on the dining level! From memory the three-course set menu was 37 euro – Laura had champagne oysters natural, a superb duck dish and a perfect creme brulee with a wee caviar ‘shot’ – around AUD$48 for a wonderful meal at the time one one that will be a lifetime memory.  Bargain!

The best disabilty access surprise was Le Louvre – no queues for folk in wheelchairs, down a very posh lift, free access for the companion/carer, wheelchair-friendly bathrooms and here’s the most amazing bit – they have a passage right in front of the Mona Lisa with a barrier keeping the crowds back behind where you can sit in your chair and enjoy an uninterrupted view of the famous lady a couple of metres away. I always considered her small and overrated – this time she was magnificent.  And I felt that more then her eyes followed me as I left the room. Venus de Milo was also just a couple of metres away and she is still pretty damn sexy for a broad with no arms.

Lunch on the collonade opposite the Louvre entrance was also pretty special.

Another highlight was going to Pont de l’Archeveche, the ‘Love Lock’ bridge. It is behind Notre Dame and Annie and I had a lock engraved and follwed the lovers tradition or attaching the lock to the bridge and throwing the ket into the Seine. 33 years married and we are still silly romantics at heart.