Paris with Elderly Parents

Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 03:30 AM
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Paris with Elderly Parents

My sister and I are thinking of taking our parents to Paris. We have been several times, so generally know our way around, they have not, and would like to go.

Our only concern is that our father, who is 84, is only able to walk short distances due to loss of strength in his leg from spinal stinosis. I know the sights require a great deal of walking, but was unsure how handicapped friendly the city and museums are. (i.e. are wheelchairs available in the Louvre/Musee d'Orsay?)

Am interested in the input of others on this topic, if we do the trip, it will be late spring or early summer.

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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 03:44 AM
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Hi rich

Go to and enter "wheelchairs paris museums". Yu will get lots of information on travelling in Paris for the disabled.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 03:55 AM
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Plan on using taxis or the bus system so he doesn't have to walk the long distances in the Metro plus steps. Taxis are not expensive. Using the hop on-hop off Opentour bus as a mode of transport between the various sightseeing sites for 2 days might be very economical and comfortable.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 05:34 AM
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Hi richb1 - my sister and I took Mom (age 85) to Paris last year. She also has trouble walking and so she sat a lot. We didn't do a lot of "sightseeing." We took a half day tour with a van to "view" the sights. We also used taxis to everything. Went to a concert at St Chapelle (lots of steps - but there is music at Notre Dame w/o steps); went to gardens near sights and had picnic lunches or short strolls. I located interesting cafes where we dined and watched the Paris of old movies walk by. What we found in Paris, to my mother's delight, was an incredible amount of respect for her. At St Chapelle, two young men came over to her, unasked, to escort her to her seat. Two young, handsome, charming men with porcelain skin, firm jaws and dark lashes. My sister and I looked at each other and said, in unison, "I'm getting a cane!" The maitre d' at Angelina's came rushing forward with a chair for Mom to sit while we waited for a table. She was also treated like royalty by British Air (we went into England first). All in all it was a great experience and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It just takes advance detailed planning. Unfortunately, Mom has fallen twice this year and probably won't be going anywhere again. Do it while your parents are still able; it will be most memorable for them - and you.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 05:43 AM
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some of these websites might be helpful many links to traveling with disabilities

messages about traveling in Paris in a wheelchair:
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 07:05 AM
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Shanna: Your post was so informative and so very touching. How lucky your mother is to have had two such thoughtful daughters, and how lucky all three of you are to have had this memory.
Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 09:44 AM
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The Musee d'Orsay and Louvre are wheelchair accessible and they have them available. Those are the only ones I know about, but I think those two are probably the top in accessibility of Parisian museums.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 05:37 PM
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Thanks for the thoughtful responses, all most helpful.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 06:09 PM
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The last couple years before my Mom passed on we traveled to Paris a couple times on what we (semi-)jokingly called the Prodigal Son Tours. She, too, had limited mobility but we did fine. Our strategies included:
-plan activities at a pace reasonable for her; break up the day into chunks of an hour or two each and plan schedules that way
-avoid large, heavy meals and go for more frequent, lighter dining
-pay attention to hydration; we carried a bottle of water just about always
-scope out the location of rest rooms wherever you visit, and offer a pit stop every couple hours (Dixie Carter says one of the rules of successful living is "never pass up a clean restroom")
-use the bus more than the Metro because of the significant amount of walking and stairs with Metro connections; as a bonus we saw a lot more than we would have rumbling around underground. And with our passes we were able to use the whole system as a hop-on, hop-off tour.
- agree that it's OK to call for a rest stop at any time
-started out with a half-day van tour to make the rounds of the highlights then decide which ones to go back to have a closer look
-at museums I politely inquired about wheelchairs to use, found the response overwhelmingly accommodating and warm
-assure an adequate supply of whatever pain reliever is used, and take a dose before the pain gets bad, carry adose with you on outings. (Some folks are reluctant to take pain meds and wait until pain is excruciating; this is counterproductive. If taken early in the pain cycle the meds work better, faster and relief lasts longer, resulting in less overall medication needed and less side effects.)
All in all, these were not the same trips I would have done on my own, but I treasure the memories and would strongly encourage anyone considering a similar trip to go for it.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 06:11 PM
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The Centre Pompidou is also accessible, and in addition to the modern art museum, it provides a beautiful view of Paris from the top floor. The entrance to the building on the corner of the Rue Saint-Merri and the Rue du Renard enables direct access to level 1 for wheelchair visitors. It's open from 11:00 am until 10 pm (closed on Tuesdays) and there is a little cafe - not gourmet dining but it's nice a place for a for coffee, people watching etc. There is elevator access to all levels and you can e-mail or call them before you go to see if there are wheel chairs available. The exhibit space is open and airy and would be easy to navigate. Have a wonderful time on your trip!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 07:29 PM
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I have nothing Earth shattering to offer. I loved Shanna's post and also wanted to comment on the bus system. It is really easy to use. It will take longer, but you'll really see Paris! The stops clearly mark where the bus is going and then all of the stops are listed on the side of the bus as well. I started using the buses more, especially at the end of the day; a nice leisurly bus ride through a wonderful city. I noticed early on that this is the primary way the ederly of Paris get around. And finally, I want to re-iterate what Shanna said; the aged are revered not only in France but in all of Europe, a lesson all Americans could use. Enjoy your trip!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2003, 08:31 PM
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Each of my parents has had walking difficulty at some time, although my 85 year old dad plays tennis three times a week after surgery for spinal stenosis, two hip replacements and rotator cuff surgery.

They each carry a light weight cane that easily turns into a seat so they can sit down whenever they want. it makes waiting in lines much easier.
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