See Paris and … "accessible" trip to Paris, Oh la la (part 1)
We – it's me Damir and Talia.
Doughtily passing check-in successfully reached Duty-free and by our tradition we tasted free alcohol and after that we sank into a romantic mood. Locking up myself in a totally accessible bathroom I recorded on tape the first part of my impressions.
I remembered my first flying experience when I was 6 months old. Since then I got in love with the smell of jet fuel and airport atmosphere, with flight attendants and announcer's voices. Here, turning of the vanity, bills, and papers, I felt like suddenly finding myself in intercontinental port and I can fly far far away from problems. This time we are flying low-cost with Transavia France.
Personnel at the airport did their job very professionally and brought me down the jet way into the plane very fast and I was seated on the best places in the third row. Just 5 hours and we are in Paris, oh la la!!!
Orly Airport, taxi and hotel
In Orly airport, despite the rumors that French people don't like foreigners, on the contrary, we were greeted warmly, like home, by joyful French girl, who accompanied us till the baggage claim point and after help to get through the queue and called out the taxi for us.
Here we were met by moody emigrant – a taxi driver from Eastern country, who didn't want to take us, as we got jammed for a minute or two, while we were searching for hotel address. Advice: always print the hotel address, as here the taxi drivers have an old-school GPS, and just with hotel name without its address, you'll be searching forever. We got jammed and our bags again ended up on the pavement. But immediately a Vietnamese guy pulled up, real quick helped me to move on the front seat, although as I understood, in Paris taxi passengers usually are traveling on the back seat, culture, you know. My super light and compact wheelchair easily fit in the trunk. Already on the way, we were figuring out the address. Along the way, the taxi driver was telling us that he lives in France already for 30 years, in his own house, not far from Paris, and that his kids see themselves more as French than Vietnamese. The taxi cost was only 30 euros, as in the hotel they were offering transfer for 65 euros each way. Advice: take a taxi on the street or at the airport, if you don't need specially equipped car like minibus with lift.
At the hotel, we arrived late, around 12 am, as low-cost flies at an inconvenient time. But if you are up to pay for the half day in advance, then this option is perfectly suitable for you, you arrive at the hotel, go to sleep, and in the morning waking up fresh and heading up to explore the surroundings. About the hotel, you can check the link Villa Pantheon, which is located on the intersection of Latin Quarter and Boulevard Saint-Germain.
Many monuments and sculptures in Latin Quarter for some reason were with medical masks and it surprised us, later turned out, it was a protest of the society who's fighting for fresh air and cleanliness in Paris, who staged a protest and equipped sculptures with protective clothing :)
In the hotel we were welcomed, but the room that we booked in Booking.com was not all that accessible, the doors to the room and washroom were pretty wide, but instead of the shower there was quite a large bathtub, although for the turns and maneuvers space was more than enough. At the entrance the doorstep is about 5 cm, but anyone can overcome it on any vehicle. However, the next day (by heavens!) without difficulty we switched for the lux room with accessible shower and toilet. In case rooms number 115.
Our hotel room number
Bathroom in our room
Advice: book hotel using our services, or in advance try to enter into too long correspondence with booking.com and hotel, explaining to them what exact types of accessibility you are looking for. The hotel itself is pretty nice, in old fashion way with leather furniture, beginning of 20th-century style, also very clean and room cleaning is every day. Usually in Paris hotels are not very expensive and not very high standard, that's why we think that we got lucky.
In the morning we went to have breakfast, didn't meet any obstacles in our way, also the elevator to the dining room was operating perfectly. The dining room is located on -1st floor, but with very cozy atmosphere, created by soft and dimming light of lampshades. The walls were upholstered with clothing and were perfectly clean.
Hotel Dining Room
I was sitting at the table, remembering Remark and his characters, hiding like that on the minus first floor, drinking Calvados until German troops entered the city. Romance, all the more, for the breakfasts are served croissant, ham, sausages, tasty potato, fresh orange juice and it feels nice. No big variety of fruits and vegetables, but in general everything is tasty and enjoyable.
Our breakfast in Hotel
We enjoyed our breakfast and in order to explore the city, all we have to do now is to wait for delivery of mobility scooter, which I ordered to be more mobile, fast, less tired and enjoy Paris.
At 11 am, right on time, arrived the person who delivered the scooter to us, and we moved forward. Driving that “Rosinante” turned out to be a piece of cake, one handle pulling on you - you drive, the other handle is reverse gear, letting go of the handle you stop and decreasing the speed, although the first few minutes I was a bit afraid to turn around the curb and was moving with some brakes until didn't get used to it. The company that lease this electronic miracle promised that the battery capacity would be enough for 33 km, but in practice using it on the rough road, it runs out of power in like 15-20 km, but it’s still great, as you can charge your scooter in any coffee shop with the plug that is close.
Advice: take the charger for the scooter with you, don't leave it in the hotel. Further, I learned how to enter the public bus with the scooter, good that in Paris they are accessible, unlike the subway. The bus has an automatic ramp that comes out, for that, bus driver just has to press the button inside the bus.
As I think to subway hallway is inconvenient, although they have few accessible stations.
Public transportation stops with signs
People are very friendly and are giving way, a designated area for persons with impaired mobility. Totally forgot, in a set with the scooter I got a portative ramp, but on the sidewalk didn't have the need in it, as the sidewalks are perfect, driving around half of Paris on my "horse" didn't meet any obstacles. On the contrary, many restaurants and coffee shops aren't really accessible, either there's no ramp or the doorstep is too high, or the ramp is not accessible for a scooter, though if you'll search than maybe one out of three will have an accessible entrance, but usually there are no accessible toilets. Toilets on the streets are grey and unremarkable at first sight, automatic, futuristic boxes. They are accessible, with the self-cleaning system, but there is one No, nowhere to throw out the trash, so there's often hygienic items are thrown on the floor.
With a scooter on the Paris streets I felt like smiling Parismen, with a red scarf wrapped around my neck, and my wife didn't need to push me up the hill, although with this machine it's hard to enter the shop or narrow coffee shop, but still possible, have tried myself. After half an hour of driving your "three-wheel friend", you are becoming an expert. On our own from Latin Quarter we reached Hôtel National des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids) and going in to one more park,