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Traveling in Europe with a wheelchair-bound spouse. Any advice?

Traveling in Europe with a wheelchair-bound spouse. Any advice?

Old Jan 8th, 2003, 01:39 AM
  #1  
Renee
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Traveling in Europe with a wheelchair-bound spouse. Any advice?

My wheelchair-bound spouse and I are exploring the possibility of visiting Europe this early summer. Although we are leaning towards Germany and France, we would be happy to hear recommendations for places, hotels, books, resources, tips, etc on how to make this venture as hassle-free as possible. Any experiences, recommendations, advice. Many thanks in advance for your kindness.
 
Old Jan 8th, 2003, 04:11 AM
  #2  
Rex
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There are several good message "threads" here on this forum, particularly in reference to wheelchair-bound travel to Paris. A search of "wheelchair and (germany or france)" will readily locate a dozen or more self-evident message headers for you.

And I'll make a plug for the website www.about.com which does a good job coillecting useful links for specialty travel needs like this. There are at least six good links on their "sub-webpage", http://goeurope.about.com/cs/accessible_travel/index.htm

Many of your questions will probably relate to how readily your spouse can transfer in and out of the chair. If standing is an impossibility or nearly so, I think you will find Europe train travel just about of the question. there are few if any stations equipped for easy entry onto/disembarking from trains. And often no connection from one track to another other than steeps that descend steeply below one set of tracks and ascend up the other side.

I can offer advice on automobile travel if self- (or assisted) transfer in/out of an ordinary passenger car is feasible. If a special van or other similar accommodations are required, you'll want to follow up with some of these more specialized resources.

Hope you have a great trip.

Best wishes,

Rex Bickers
Westerville, Ohio
 
Old Jan 8th, 2003, 07:14 AM
  #3  
mimi
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Renee, go to the discussions on www.bonjourparis.com. Lara, one of the moderators is in Paris and in a wheel chair so she may be able to answer questions for you if you decide on Paris.
 
Old Jan 8th, 2003, 11:49 AM
  #4  
up
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topping, for Renee
 
Old Jan 8th, 2003, 02:23 PM
  #5  
Renee
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You all have been tremendously helpful with the websites and references. I am already checking those out.

Does anybody have personal experiences to relate?
 
Old Jan 8th, 2003, 05:10 PM
  #6  
Bill
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You'll want to push your post back up to the top a few times. Traffic is very, very heavy on this board right now, and your message will fall off the front page every few hours.
 
Old Jan 8th, 2003, 05:37 PM
  #7  
ttt
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topping
 
Old Jan 8th, 2003, 05:43 PM
  #8  
David
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Part 1

I was in France late spring of 2001 with my Dad. My Mom who had died a couple of years earlier was confined to a wheelchair due to MS for the last 10 years of her life. Though my Dad & I didn't have a wheelchair with us, we had more than several discussions about handicap access and getting around Europe.

I'd have to advise the rented automobile. Though most of the train stations were handicap accessible, you can still hit a few stairs here and there. Though not a huge obstacle, it can slow you down trying to make train connections. Getting in and out of the trains would also be a problem. Most of them have a few steps up into the train. With short stops at stations, you'd have to get yourself, your spouse, the wheelchair and all your luggage into a train. If you can get the attention of the conductor, he can make sure you have time. However that can be difficult as you're struggling to get everything onboard. All of this would be challenging to say the least, which is why I recommend the rental car.

As I later learned you should take your handicap parking pass, the one that hangs from the rear view mirror. Those are universal.

Curb cuts are not everywhere. You'll have to watch your routing or figure a way around the obstacle. Perhaps you can practice getting your spouse up a curb at home?

You'll also need to look for newer hotels which are mostly in suburban areas. These will have better access to the buildings and more likely to have elevators. The smaller hotels in older buildings in city centers are likely to not have an elevator. Or the elevator starts one floor above ground level. You might try to go with some of the bigger chain hotels. With newer facilities they're usually more handicap accessible. Of course this is general advice. You may be able to find a lovely little French boutique pensionne with a ground floor room in a downtown area. As other examples in Paris the brand new Hyatt at Place Vendome and the newer Marriott on the Champs-Elysee are probably very handicap friendly.
 
Old Jan 8th, 2003, 05:44 PM
  #9  
David
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Part 2

The Paris metro is pathetic when it comes to handicap access. Very few stops have handicap access. And the ones that do, like Les Halles/ Chatelet, will have very few exit points for wheelchairs where you have to wait for an employee to operate the elevator. The brand new Meteor Line (number 14) is supposed to be completely accessible, but I've not ridden it to know for certain. It does parallel Line 1 which covers a lot of sites on the right bank as it runs along the Seine river.

I did upon occasion see wait staff help a person in a wheelchair up a few stairs into a restaurant. It seemed like restaurants were willing to at least try to assist. Be careful though, 'cause if the staff had to go through that to get you into the restaurant, there's no way you'll ever get your spouse into the restaurant's bathroom. Many places have the bathroom up or down a flight of stairs.

You'll want to be prepared for a little bit of indignity. That's an odd way of phrasing it, but my Mom was used to getting around on her scooter and in her wheelchair in the US. I'm not sure she would have been so keen on having a couple of burly waiters lift her up three steps into a restaurant. She really tried to keep her sense of independence as best and as long as she could.

It can be done, but you will have to do a little extra work. And you will need to keep your sense of humor with you as you travel.

If you do a search for “wheelchair and stultzdw” on this forum, you'll find a thread about “Lemans, France in a wheelchair.” This lady took her brother to the LeMans race this past summer. It looks like a real e-mail address. You might try e-mailing her directly with a request for tips. She seemed like a pleasant lady and the worst she can do is say no.

Good Luck!
 
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 07:02 AM
  #10  
Rex
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Although off the subject of the original post, here is another example - - fresh off the (cyber)press of the kinds of useful information that gets compiled from time to time on www.about.com

http://goeurope.about.com/library/weekly/aa010703a.htm

"Visiting the French Wine Regions"

a great overview - - whether you're a newbie to French wine regions or even an experienced oenophile (which I am not).
 
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 05:27 PM
  #11  
topper
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again
 
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 08:07 PM
  #12  
David
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Renee, I took my uncle who was in a wheelchair, to Italy, but he could walk a little. A lot depends on if they can walk at all or not. Stairs are the biggest problem, but if they can do stairs then its not so bad. If they can't you can just about forget trains, just about any kind of public transport, many museums or parts of them, and many hotels. My uncle had always wanted to see Rome so thats why we went to Italy. But from my other travels I would suggest Germany over France. I would also consider a trip to the British Isles. More things seemed to be more handicap freindly and not having the language and culture barrier would leave you more able to deal with the physical barriers. Just some thoughts, let me know if I can help.
 
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 08:46 PM
  #13  
mimi
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first map of Paris adapted to all people, who get around on wheels (wheelchairs, prams...); it details 3,500km of pavements, indicating their width, height, the gradient of streets, the type of surface (paving stones, bitumen...) drinking water points, coin-operated public toilets and accessible telephone boxes. In addition, it provides information on the law, insurance, security, equipment linked to getting around (wheelchairs) and gives useful addresses. Finally, it suggests theme outings."

Here is the address of this organization where you can find the brochure :

MOBILE EN VILLE

Disabled Organizations
1, rue de l'Internationale
B.P. 59
91002 EVRY CEDEX
+33 (6).82.91.72.16

Address web
www.mobile-en-ville.asso.fr

E-mail
[email protected]



GUIDE DES MUSEES,CINEMAS,THEATRES,SALLES DE PARIS
Category: Disabled

Description
Proposed by the "Association des Paralysés de France" [Association for the Paralysed in France], it is an inventory of all establishments accessible to the disabled. A key with a pictogram indicates establishments that conform to the present legislation

You will find a lot of organizations, addresses of sites accessible to handicapped people in the following links/vous trouveres de nombreuses organisations, adresses de sites pour des personnes handicapées dans les liens suivants :

Accommodation
VOIR BASE HÉBERGEMENT
Disabled Accommodation


Gardens
PARCS ET JARDINS
Disabled Gardens
Direction des Parcs, Jardins et Espaces verts
+33 (8) 2000 75 75

Guided visits
LA PATTE AGILE
Disabled Guided visits
41bis, rue vadrezanne
75013 PARIS
+33 (1).45.65.07.51

MARCHEPIED
Disabled Guided visits
133, rue Falguière
75015 PARIS
+33 (1).42.73.34.42

POUR PERSONNES NON-VOYANTES
Disabled Guided visits
Direction des Parcs, Jardins et Espaces verts
+33 (1).40.71.75.60

POUR PERSONNES SOURDES OU MALENTENDANTES
Disabled Guided visits
Direction des Parcs, Jardins et Espaces verts
+33 (1).40.71.75.60

Guides
GUIDE ACCUEIL ET ACCESSIBILITE
Disabled Guides
CNRH 236bis, rue de Tolbiac
75013 PARIS
+33 (1).53.80.66.85 Fax : +33 (1).53.80.66.67

GUIDE DES MUSEES,CINEMAS,THEATRES,SALLES DE PARIS
Disabled Guides


PARIS COMME SUR DES ROULETTES
Disabled Guides


PARIS ILE DE FRANCE POUR TOUS/FOR EVERY ONE
Disabled Guides


PERSONNES HANDICAPEES
Disabled Guides


Museums and monuments
CENTRE DES MONUMENTS NATIONAUX
Disabled Museums and monuments
Hotel de Sully
62, rue Saint-Antoine
75004 PARIS


VOIR BASE MUSÉES ET SITES CULTURELS
Disabled Museums and monuments


Organizations
ACCES CULTURE
Disabled Organizations
16, rue Beautreillis
75004 PARIS
+33 (1) 53 65 30 73

A.P.F./Conseil technique Tourisme et vacances
Disabled Organizations
17, boulevard Blanqui
75013 PARIS
+33 (1).40.78.69.52 Fax : +33 (1).40.78.69.75

ASSOCIATION VALENTIN HAUY
Disabled Organizations
5 rue Duroc
75007 PARIS
+33 (1).44.49.27.27 Fax : +33 (1).47.34.61.98

COMITÉ NATIONAL FRANÇAIS DE LIAISON POUR LA RÉADAPTATION DES HANDICAPÉS
Disabled Organizations
236bis, rue de Tobiac
75013 PARIS
+33 (1).53.80.66.66 Fax : +33 (1).53.80.66.67

GROUPEMENT INSERTION PERSONNES HANDICAPEES PHYSIQUES
Disabled Organizations
10, rue Georges de Porto Riche
75014 PARIS
+33 (1).43.95.66.36 Fax : +33 (1).45.40.40.26








 
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 08:51 PM
  #14  
mimi
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P.S.

www.mobile-en-ville.asso.fr
 
Old Jan 10th, 2003, 05:00 AM
  #15  
ttt
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ttt
 
Old Jan 11th, 2003, 03:44 AM
  #16  
Renee
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No words to thank you all for the words of advice received so far. I am dissecting each and every one (Mimi, you are an angel!, David, thanks so much for sharing your experience).
 
Old Jan 11th, 2003, 06:59 AM
  #17  
Moira
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A thanks from me also,mimi
 
Old Jan 22nd, 2003, 08:26 PM
  #18  
Barb
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Renee--I took my wheelchair-bound brother to Paris last June; I learned a lot and would be happy to share info if you want to e-mail me.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 03:17 AM
  #19  
Tom
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Barb,

Unless the info you have to share is EXTREMELY personal, why don't you invite Renee to compose her letter to you and post it here. Then you answer it HERE. Isn't that the point of this board, to build a repository of information so that all who need it can access it anytime, anywhere?
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 05:10 AM
  #20  
yyy
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Barb may not want to share here and for a very good reason. You never know what posting is going to start a vicious attack. She may tell it like it is and get slammed for not understanding the “European” way and unrealistically expecting things to be “just like it is at home,” or any other kind of harsh assessment for doing nothing more than trying to help. Why should she open herself up to potential abuse?
 

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