For three days we emerged from our third floor apartment, down the curved and carpeted staircase, through the door in the gate to criss-cross Paris on foot and by Métro.
We wandered up Montmartre and took the funicular to the Sacre Coeur and then made our way to the Eiffel Tower in the rain. Those with a head for heights took the lift to the deuxième étage, while I braved the weather and watched Tsonga play at the French Open on the huge outdoor screen.
Note: do not make my mistake and take a Pakamac to Paris in Spring. It won’t keep you dry and it is not chic.
We met up with friends and, after traveling down the Seine on the Bateau Mouche, we ate a delicious lunch at a restaurant in a charming tourist free square where Yves Montand and Simone Signoret once lived.
You can’t visit Paris and not go shopping. More walking down the Champs Élysées to the Paris St Germaine FC shop (not a patch on its equivalent at Aston Villa except for the obviously hand picked assistants!).
On to Galerie Lafayette and the welcome relief of escalators leading to the top floor with its gorgeous art nouveau cupola and descending golden balconies with their exotic displays. Reassuringly, the assistant in the children’s book section was too cool to be polite. We left the shop in a haze of expensive perfume and plenty of samples to take home.
Finally, a lovely day at the Jardin des Plantes admiring the interesting horticultural beds and eating crêpes in the sunshine while watching baby wallabies.
None of this could have been accomplished without the extensive Paris Métro and someone to interpret it and lend me a strong arm and a helpful hand.
But, shame on you Paris! The Métro is not accessible to people with mobility problems or to parents with push chairs. Except at two stations, we saw no lifts or escalators and no officials. Just long tunnels and hundreds of steps. It is difficult to imagine how a VI person could manage at all. What about all those equal rights edicts coming from the European Parliament?
The only concession I saw to disability was a Braille pathway through the Gare de l’Est with its passage marked in relief out on the floor and discernible with foot and stick.
I have to thank my companions for their patience and good humour. In spite of the aching knees and frustration with the Métro accessibility, Paris was as amazing and beautiful as ever and the more enjoyable for sharing it with different generations. And we managed, guilt free, to avoid all the museums!
Hard to believe Paris is less than three hours away from London by the Eurostar train.
Apartment in Paris was booked through booking.com. Well appointed and central but up three flights of stairs!
Eurostar special offer booked online. Try seat61.com.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton read by Mark Meadows. This very long, post modernist take on the Victorian novel is set in New Zealand in 1860s gold fever times. Interesting but very complicated and not ideal listening.
The Cuckoos Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) read by Robert Glenister. Full of colour, humour and pace. Perfectly caught the zeitgeist of modern London with, for me, the right amount of glamour and social comment. Light relief after The Luminaries.
Visited the Henry Moore and Rodin sculpture exhibition at Compton Verney, Warwickshire. Interesting to discover I preferred the Rodin sculptures now. Didn’t used to!