Paris, 2014

Paris, 2014. View from the 3rd floor.

Paris, 2014. View from the 3rd floor.

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.

Eiffel Tower and the French Open

Eiffel Tower and the French Open

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.

Braille Pathway at Gare de l'Est

Braille Pathway at Gare de l’Est

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.

News

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.

Listened to

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!

This entry was posted in low vision, Paris, Reviews, Transport and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Paris, 2014

  1. Paris sounded delightful. I’ve taken the Eurostar, too to Paris and it was a quick ride.
    Loved Cuckoo’s. Will you be reading The Silkworm? That’s the sequel to Cuckoo’s and it comes out tomorrow in the US.

    • It is surprisingly quick by gain. Glad to know you have experienced it. A bit unnerving to imagine all that ocean over ones head though. I am trying to resist the Silkworm until I see what our next book club read is but am tempted to download it anyway. Not sure I would have the willpower not to start listening. Unfortunately, its already out over on the UK. Will you read it or listen to it ? I loved Robert G.enisters voice.

  2. heavenali says:

    What a lovely sounding break but how frustrating they are so under prepared for people with VI. I loved The Luminaries I must say but haven’t managed any Robert Galbraith though I am curious to.

  3. It is shocking how many public places are inaccessible for prople with disabilities. I did enjoy The Luminaries but it was a lot to hold in your head when listening and found it difficult to re ember all the characters. Cuckoo is fun and fine as an antidote after a more challenging novel.

  4. Liz at Libro says:

    I think Matthew listened to the Luminaries, but can’t remember if he got confused. Paris sounds great, I must go back some time. I recall eating a load of bread and cheese on the way back, in the tunnel, because I was worried about importing cheese back into the UK … shame on the Metro, though. I wonder how people manage.

  5. Love the image of you soldiering your way through the bread and cheese before arriving back in the UK. If you decide to go to Paris I will give you the address of our cheap apartment right by the Cadet metro. We didn’t use the buses but I guess that’s what people with some disabilities do.

  6. Even better! I did wonder how you decided where France ended and England began. Glad you’ve cleared that up. You should go again. The cheese police are much more relaxed these days.

  7. Gill Rose says:

    I’m going next April with the City Choir who are singing in all sorts of lovely places. You must recommend some eating places!

  8. Lucky you! Except for the restaurant we were taken to, we used cafes at lunch time and ate in the apartment in the evening. Can recommend a great mini market though! Actually, I think you do need to ask around and do some research to find decent, affordable, places to eat as a lot of the food doesn’t seem all that good.

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