Thomas, his parents and grandparents, and his brother Tyler, who is a wheelchair user, took a short vacation to Paris. During the few days they were there, the family managed to visit much of the must-see attractions in this city of love. They found that most attractions were rather accessible and accommodating to people with disabilities. Most of the pathways are made out of cobblestones, but the family was able to push Tyler around with little difficulty. “Getting around wasn’t much trouble [as well] because Tyler’s wheelchair is lightweight and can be easily stored in regular taxis,” Thomas adds.
Visiting the Eiffel Tower
One of the attractions the family visited was none other than the renowned Eiffel Tower. While they were queuing for their tickets up the tower, one of the staff members noticed the family, and brought them to the front of the queue to purchase their tickets. “There is no admission charge for a visitor in a wheelchair and for one person assisting them,” Thomas shares.
Going up the Eiffel Tower in an elevator and being able to get a panoramic view of the city was an enjoyable experience for the boys, particularly so for Tyler because he “likes things with moving parts.” Do take note that wheelchair users can only head up to the first and second floors, but even that was high enough for Thomas! They then topped off their visit with fresh crepes opposite the tower.
Visiting other attractions
- Seine River Cruise. The family also walked along the beautiful Seine River. Unfortunately, they could not take the cruise, because “there is no way to get a wheelchair down to the boardwalk.”
- Notre Dame. It was completely accessible. One part of the stairs doubles up as a wheelchair lift as well. Inside the cathedral, the family got to look at ancient relics at the treasury, and also marveled at the stained glass features, both of which Tyler loved doing. Next up, the family went to the gothic cathedral, Sainte-Chappelle, which also boasts magnificent stained glass windows. Unfortunately, the wheelchair lift was broken when they visited. Hence, Tyler was unable to head up to the second level to view the stained glass features. “Be flexible and plan ahead for sure,” Thomas advises.
- Montmartre, a neighborhood known for its art. It's a very hilly area with big cobblestones. Therefore, Thomas recommends taking a cab or Uber van up to the top instead. At the peak of Montmartre is the grand Sacré-Cœur, which the family found was not accessible.
- Louvre, the world’s largest museum. “I like the Louvre because there were so many cool paintings,” Thomas shares. It is usually crowded at the painting of Mona Lisa, but the Louvre staff brought the family to the front of the crowd to view the painting. As for its accessibility, the museum is completely accessible. However, do take note that “sometimes you have to go to different floors and back up again to see the different exhibits.”
“Getting to the palace is the hard part. Trains in Paris are very seldom wheelchair accessible.”
The family got there by hiring an Uber van. As it is a popular tourist destination, Thomas recommends pre-booking your tickets to avoid the long queues at the ticketing counters. As for getting around, Thomas says: “Versailles’s cobblestone roads are challenging to push a wheelchair to. It’s doable, but challenging.” Hence, the family decided to rent a golf cart for easier maneuvering around the palace and garden. There are golf carts available that are specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs. “Tyler loved the golf cart,” Thomas shares.
They also booked the King’s Chambers Tour, which is completely wheelchair accessible. “They took Tyler up in the wheelchair lift, and he got to see rooms that nobody else got to see,” says Thomas.
All in all, Paris was full of beautiful sights, food, and people. “Traveling around Paris was fun for our whole family,” Thomas shares.
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