Oh Paris ( Accessible for everybody ) or See Paris and ...
See Paris and … "accessible" trip to Paris, Oh la la (part 1)
See Paris and … Flying out from Ben Gurion airport. So, today is 3rd of April and we are at Ben Gurion International airport in Tel Aviv, which is accessible to everyone, as it was checked many times, as VIP clients who were accompanied by smiling airport personnel.
We – it's me Damir and Talia.
Doughtily passing check-in successfully reached Duty-free and by our tradition we tasted free alcohol and after that we sank into a romantic mood. Locking up myself in a totally accessible bathroom I recorded on tape the first part of my impressions.
(Audio – first part in the airport)
I remembered my first flying experience when I was 6 months old. Since then I got in love with the smell of jet fuel and airport atmosphere, with flight attendants and announcer's voices. Here, turning of the vanity, bills, and papers, I felt like suddenly finding myself in intercontinental port and I can fly far far away from problems. This time we are flying low-cost with Transavia France.
Personnel in the airport did their job very professionally and brought me down the jet way into the plane very fast and I was seated on the best places in the third row. Just 5 hours and we are in Paris, oh la la!!!
Orly Airport, taxi and hotel
In Orly airport, despite the rumors that French people don't like foreigners, on the contrary, we were greeted warmly, like home, by joyful French girl, who accompanied us till the baggage claim point and after help to get through the queue and called out the taxi for us.
Here we were met by moody emigrant – a taxi driver from Eastern country, who didn't want to take us, as we got jammed for minute or two, while we were searching for hotel address. Advice: always print the hotel address, as here the taxi drivers have an old-school GPS, and just with hotel name without its address, you'll be searching forever. We got jammed and our bags again ended up on the pavement. But immediately a Vietnamese guy pulled up, real quick helped me to move on the front seat, although as I understood, in Paris taxi passengers usually are traveling on the back seat, culture, you know. My super light and compact wheelchair easily fit in the trunk. Already on the way, we were figuring out the address. Along the way, the taxi driver was telling us that he lives in France already for 30 years, in his own house, not far from Paris, and that his kids see themselves more as French than Vietnamese. The taxi cost was only 30 euros, as in the hotel they were offering transfer for 65 euros each way. Advice: take a taxi on the street or at the airport, if you don't need specially equipped car like minibus with lift.
At the hotel, we arrived late, around 12 am, as low-cost flies at an inconvenient time. But if you are up to pay for the half day in advance, then this option is perfectly suitable for you, you arrive at the hotel, go to sleep, and in the morning waking up fresh and heading up to explore surroundings. About the hotel, you can check the link Villa Phanteon, which is located on the intersection of Latin Quarter and Boulevard Saint-Germain.
Many monuments and sculptures in Latin Quarter for some reason were with medical masks and it surprised us, later turned out, it was a protest of the society who's fighting for fresh air and cleanliness in Paris, who staged a protest and equipped sculptures with protective clothing :)
In the hotel we were welcomed, but the room that we booked in Booking.com was not all that accessible, the doors to the room and washroom were pretty wide, but instead of the shower there was a quite large bathtub, although for the turns and maneuvers space was more than enough. At the entrance the doorstep is about 5 cm, but anyone can overcome it on any vehicle. However next day ( by heavens!) without difficulty we switched for the lux room with accessible shower and toilet. In case rooms number 115.
Advice: book hotel using our services, or in advance try to enter into too long correspondence with booking.com and hotel, explaining to them what exact types of accessibility you are looking for. The hotel itself is pretty nice, in old fashion way with leather furniture, beginning of 20th-century style, also very clean and room cleaning is every day. Usually in Paris hotels are not very expensive and not very high standard, that's why we think that we got lucky.
In the morning we went to have breakfast, didn't meet any obstacles in our way, also the elevator to the dining room was operating perfectly. The dining room is located on -1st floor, but with very cozy atmosphere, created by soft and dimming light of lampshades. The walls were upholstered with clothing and were perfectly clean.
I was sitting at the table, remembering Remark and his characters, hiding like that on the minus first floor, drinking Calvados until German troops entered the city. Romance, all the more, for the breakfast are served croissant, ham, sausages, tasty potato, fresh orange juice and it feels nice. No big variety of fruits and vegetables, but in general everything is tasty and enjoyable. We enjoyed our breakfast and in order to explore the city, all we have to do now is to wait for delivery of mobility scooter, which I ordered to be more mobile, fast, less tired and enjoy Paris.
(check the link) Мобильные скутеры в Париже
At 11 am, right on time, arrived the person who delivered the scooter to us, and we moved forward. Driving that “Rosinante” turned out to be piece of cake, one handle pulling on you - you drive, the other handle is reverse gear, letting go the handle you stop and decreasing the speed, although the first few minutes I was a bit afraid to turn around the curb and was moving with some brakes until didn't get used to it. The company that lease this electronic miracle promised that the battery capacity would be enough for 33 km, but in practice using it on the rough road, it runs out of power in like 15-20 km, but it’s still great, as you can charge your scooter in any coffee shop with the plug that is close. Advice: take the charger for the scooter with you, don't leave it in the hotel. Further, I learned how to enter the public bus with the scooter, good that in Paris they are accessible, unlike the subway. The bus has an automatic ramp that comes out, for that, bus driver just has to press the button inside the bus.
As I think to subway hallway is inconvenient, although they have few accessible stations.
Public transportation stops with signs
People are very friendly and are giving way, a designated area for persons with impaired mobility. Totally forgot, in a set with the scooter I got a portative ramp, but on the sidewalk didn't have the need in it, as the sidewalks are perfect, driving around half of Paris on my "horse" didn't meet any obstacles. On the contrary, many restaurant and coffee shops aren't really accessible, either there's no ramp or the doorstep is too high, or the ramp is not accessible for a scooter, though if you'll search than maybe one out of three will have an accessible entrance, but usually there are no accessible toilets. Toilets on the streets are grey and unremarkable at first sight, automatic, futuristic boxes. They are accessible, with the self-cleaning system, but there is one No, nowhere to throw out the trash, so there's often hygienic items are thrown on the floor.
With a scooter on the Paris streets I felt like smiling Parismen, with a red scarf wrapped around my neck, and my wife didn't need to push me up the hill, although with this machine it's hard to enter to the shop or narrow coffee shop, but still possible, have tried myself. After half an hour of driving your "three-wheel friend", you are becoming an expert. On our own from Latin Quarter we reached Hôtel national des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids) and going in to one more park, I was driving on the gravel road as knight, and these feeling of freedom, which gives you feeling of flying, when you don't need to be concentrated on rolling the wheels of the wheelchair, just going and enjoying the view.
Hôtel national des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids)
More detailed information about Hôtel national des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids) you can get following the link in attraction section Дом инвалидов в Париже
Then we headed our way towards Eiffel tower, and soon its outline appeared on the horizon, serving as a guide. More information you can find in attraction section Эйфелева башня доступная для всех. The accesses to Eiffel tower were totally available, and we've met a lot of couples, families, Frenchmen and tourists walking around, and pseudo ecologists asked us to put our signatures on some doubtful document, but I remembered that it's categorically forbidden, coz later those people will start asking you to donate money for nonexistent projects. Right next to the tower itself there is a park with a puddle where real wild ducks are swimming, that made us really surprised. And around persistent Africans were selling plastic miniatures of Eiffel tower for few euros. It was chilly so we rushed to the entrance. At the entrance we noticed a sign with the wheelchair on it saying "Acces", it was pleasant to see it. Following signs with directions, we headed towards the accessible toilet, but the elevator to the toilet was blocked and seemed like temporary wasn't working, so I needed to be patient and manly smile.
Staff is very friendly, and in order to use help and reach the elevator that brings you two levels upper on the tower, it is necessary to proceed to the North wing to the sing "Acces" with the wheelchair on it. Entrance fee is about 10 euros per person and I think it's worth it. It is said that Eiffel tower is one of the first on the list of most disappointing sightseeing spots for the tourists, but for me this great building became one of first skyscraper of a kind, that impressed me with how high and beautiful it is, with its belief in winning and French commitment to innovations and desire for freedom. When the great architect Gustave Eiffel won grand form French government for building the tower, a lot of people in Paris and famous people were against the building, as they thought will disfigure the city's view. But vice versa the tower made the city more beautiful and stayed the biggest construction in the world until there was built the Congress building in USA. To go up the tower with the mobile scooter came out wasn't so hard, big spacious elevator lifted us on the second level of the tower just in few seconds, its approximately few hundred meters, less than a half of the whole height of the tower. Elevator cannot go higher as of the towers structure, but also from here, the view of the whole Paris is amazing!!!
As the tower has four sides, each of them is like parts of the world and the view from each side is different. From one side you can see beautiful The Basilica of Sacré-Cœur that is located at the summit of Butte Montmartre. From the other side is modern Paris with its skyscrapers. Each of tower sides is mesmerizing and you can enjoy Paris as it's alive painting that you can be looking at it for a long time. Here, looking from up I felt myself as Batmen or Superman, who's looking at the city with its severe look and searching for another heroic deed and whom to save heroically again. Looking through the old buildings, flying from the edge with widespread wings to rescue. Eiffel tower is really exciting.
While we were up, started to be windy and started drizzling, but I wasn't noticing it, the wind was just an addition to the beautiful view. On one of the levels with the observation deck of Eiffel tower there is French cafeteria and some souvenir shop, on the other level there are some restaurants, but without reservation, it will be hard to get there. I felt that tower itself is giving you the feeling of being free from everyday life, and Eiffel on its one was a tech genius also a great romantic at the same time. Somewhere in the tower may be on the first level if I'm not mistaken, there is a list with 72 names of French prominent scientists, and the tower's base is covered with some sort of symbols, that looks like stars, but for me more looks like bird giant footprints. It reminded me of some sort of rock drawing art.
We already belong to Paris, in this city we felt that either in our past lives we were from Paris or Russian immigrants who survived Revolution and ran to Paris, where is you feel good and the food is close to your heart. It was drizzling, we were soaked wet with an umbrella, feeling cold with teeth chattering from cold but happy. We wanted to eat but we were going through the rain, and suddenly around Palais Bourbon area we saw a place, were people behind the window were sitting in the warmth and surprisingly were drinking green tea and chatting with their friends. What I couldn't expect in Paris – is tea, anything else like Burgundy wine or Calvados, but not tea. We decided to change it, get inside to warm up and drink some Burgundy wine in honor of musketeers and Alexandre Dumas. Variety of food wasn't big, and we decided to take just sandwiches, expecting something French style tasty, but sandwich with French bread tasted the same as our homemade sandwich with cheese and some sausage, only that we are used to add some green salads in it, but here were no green salads. Won't get into details, can add only one, that waiter liked our joke about Alexandre Dumas and Burgundian wine, and was laughing with us. That's how he earned his tips (10% of the bill). After the meal we moved in direction of Latin Quarter and our hotel. The same night we had visited Moulen Rouge – famous classic cabaret in Paris, that was built in 1889, one of the attractions of the French capital. It's on the boulevard Clichy, next to Place Pigalle. Closest subway station is line 2, station Blanche. Cabaret has history of more than a decade, in the center of mainstream night life, surrounded by night clubs, and "massage places". All life day and night and the same immigrants are searching for a shelter, and pickpockets are waiting for the distracted tourists. The place is very famous and taxi driver dropped us for 20 euros, though it could be cheaper if the guy would be more thoughtful and would understand how and where to put the wheelchair, but he wasn't speaking English and didn't turn of the counter, on the counter were some additional currency units. So Moulen Rouge ladies and gentleman! Level of accessibility: first flour is accessible and has toilet, but afterwards through the backstage you'll need to enter to the wonderful world of dressing rooms, where tall and slim ladies are getting ready for their performance.
Strong man in black will help you to go up with the elevator on the second floor, but here you'll have a surprise – chamber covered in a gentle lights of lantern to which are leading seven or ten steps of stairs on which gentlemen are bringing their stylish dressed up ladies to.
And also here the strong security guys are going to help you to pass the obstacles and you will end up in the awesome world that hasn't changed in one and a half century, in that chamber where past and future got mixed together, where you feel yourself in a time portal and once again the character from the Remark roman, or something like that. Ticket per person includes a table with a bottle of cooled champagne costs 87 euros, that's in the middle of the week, on the weekend's tickets are more expensive.
In this place you forget about everything, people are smiling and flirting and you can easily get acquainted with people at a nearby table who will be from Texas, and you will drink champagne that is flowing here. You just imagine, huge chamber with few tables on tree levels, small red lanterns and expectations of something unbelievable, the feeling that you are not in 2018, and maybe less than 1918, especially when the topless dancers are coming out on the stage, with the wigs made out of the peacock feathers or that reminds about it. It becomes a bit funny and even totally unsexual, but you understand that you are deliberately immersed in the atmosphere of beginning of 20th century, and you are planter in a white cork helmet. All of a sudden the clown juggles and laughs on the stage and it reminds you circus, and when you are about to fall asleep a real whirlwind – Cancan bursts on the stage.
Girls are dancing so truly so happy and smiling that it feels like in paradise their vehement exclamations you are no longer you, but the ghost of fun. Performance is going so fast, that you even don't finish the bottle of champagne as performance is over. Yeah, yeah but the fun is still already outside and we already love our new friends, exchanging phone numbers and inviting them to Jerusalem for next year.
In a word that's how ends up our first day in Paris, and we tired and tipsy are falling asleep around 3 o'clock at night, to wake up tomorrow and continue our journey.
to see paris and… accessible trip to Paris, oh la la, Second day.
We slept only for few hours, rubbed the sleep off our eyes as we grabbed a quick breakfast, and packed a few ham croissants for the road. We set off to Orsay museum.
The museum is in the old train station building. This is the biggest museum of impressionists in the world where collections of artists like Gaugin, Claude Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Van Gogh and others are in display. Their lives and works were extensively based in Paris.
‘Impressionism’, as a style, was created as a unique perspective of the world, by an aspiration to capture the moment in the fluidness of feelings and impressions. Many paintings of impressionists exhibit characteristics of diffuseness and nebulosity, as though reflecting the essence of a human unclear as an instant but at same time clear from the impression’s point of view moments, that are called life.
First of all, impressionists were not only interested in urban life, café & people but also in scenery.
Be sure to visit this museum as it is very close to the Latin Quarter and is located in the most beautiful and striking building of the former Paris railway station.
Admit it… it’s original, the painters at the station, the connection of passageway with very tall glass roof and huge clock on the wall, inexorably running forward and reminding of the times when people on the train station were in a hurry not to get late for their train, and were looking on this clock, let’s say going to Bordeaux or Bretagne (Brittany). As we were in a hurry and wanted to visit most of the places in minimal time range, we just went through the floor of impressionists’ paintings using audio guide and headphones. The cost of the audio guide is 5 euros, and to museum we were let in for free. I was let into museum right on the scooter. Toilets are accessible and from my point of view museum didn’t have any problems with accessibility. Cezanne and Monet could paint the same composition for 10 times to achieve the effect of diffuseness memories in different times of a day and in different weather.
Exploring the first floor and listening through audio stories took us at least 2 hours.
You can check the ‘attraction’ section on the webpage of Musee d’Orsey музея Де Орсе for more detailed information about museum accessibility and history.
Running further to Louvre finding the way with help of so-called “Handy” mobile device with unlimited calls and access to internet, that is provided by hotel absolutely for free. You can find “Handy” in your hotel room and carry along all the time for free for the period of your stay in the hotel and use google maps and your google account. Just when you will check-out just press the button - Delete Data and all your personal information will be deleted from the device.
We reached Louvre in half an hour’s time, took pictures next to it and rode the bus to the foot of the temple Sacre Coeur, which is located in Montmartre.
There, in one of the shops, the seller advised us to move my bag from the back of the scooter to a safer place, in order to avoid pickpockets. Public in this district are of diverse origin.
Many migrants, and sneakers in crowded tourist peoples, are beggars. Our trip went well, no one bothered us, but you still need to be cautious. On my scooter I rode up to the pretty high hill and suddenly on almost at the top we found the jumble-shop in which they shot one of the episodes of the movie Amelie, one of the favorite movies of my wife.
After taking pictures there we continued our way higher searching for accessible stairs up to the Basilica Sacre Coeur. Basically after 500 meters we saw gates and funicular that can bring you directly to the foot of the Basilica. Staffs also here were very courteous and helped us to get in funicular (price is 2 euro, if I’m not mistaken).
Elevation to 200-meter height and we are already at the base of Sacre Coeur. The temple by itself is not accessible but the view of Paris from its base is wonderful and you can visit this place if you are already at Montmartre. Montmartre itself is a very picturesque district, especially closer to Sacre Coeur. As everywhere in Paris, here you will find many cafés for all the tastes, but those are mostly not accessible.
After exploring neighborhood, we got down to the one of the bus stops that we found using Google Maps. While we were waiting for the bus that came almost without delay according to the time indicated in Google maps, another “Lieutenant Schmidt’s kid” came to us – a young guy, who was wrapped in plaid, with memorized script talking about that he doesn’t have parents and no money, but we didn’t have any change in our pockets, coz all of it was spent on souvenirs and we safely took off hoping in to the bus.
More 25 stops and we are next to our hotel in Latin district that became like home for us. By the way, why this district is called Latin? Because here is a lot of educational institutions, including Sorbonne university, and in middle ages mostly theologians were learning and only in Latin language, this language meant knowledge. That is why scholarly district is called Latin. Latin district. Our third, also the last day came out to be very interesting. In advance, I found tour guide – Victoria in the internet, and decided to take a sightseeing tour of the Latin district with her. We arranged to meet next to Notre-Dame de Paris
good that from our hotel it’s only 8 minutes to walk, not more. Tour costed us 110 euro and it lasted around 3 hours, but we heard and learned a lot of new and interesting things. Victoria told us about each corner of Notre-Dame temple, about the gates and exquisite pattern on it, about that the master who, to create such a beauty, sold his soul to the devil. She talked about ancient stained glass that are capable to emit absolutely special purple light into the gothic temple, although the glass on itself is totally not purple color. She was talking, and we were listening with savoring, after the temple we walked away from it for like 100 meters and Victoria was finding more and more new places to tell us about, for example church of Julian the Hospitaller (Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre), that is pretty unnoticeable place on the background of Notre-Dame.
By the legend, Julian the Hospitaller was predicted that he would kill his parents, that’s why he left his father’s home early and had a successful marriage with his beloved wife, but once when the knight was at hunting, unexpectedly his parents came to visit to their house. Wife of Julian was very glad and gave the best room to the parents, their own room. When Julian came back home from hunting he entered his room and saw man and woman in his bed and in a jealous rage killed them both with the sword.
When he realized what had he had done, there was no limit to his grief, he was inconsolable. His wife advised him to devote himself to God and to help pilgrims. Since then, Julian started to build churches and shelters for the wanderers. That’s how in Paris appeared Julian’s church, where eventually monks had begun to study. It had led to the beginning of the Latin district and to all the educational institutions of the future.
Victoria told us many more interesting things and showed us, for example, the house where Napoleon Bonaparte used to live when he was still just a simple sergeant, the narrowest house in Paris, and others. And when we completed our tour in Luxembourg garden where the most romantic fantan of the whole Paris and the Senate chamber that served as house of Medici that was built by her. Unbelievable beautiful here, peaceful and Parisians come to Luxembourg garden, couples or with friends and are having very cultural picnics with wine and French goodies.
That’s how we finished our day and all we managed to do after excursion before leaving is to get lunch in the bistro in front of our hotel where everything was simple tasty and exquisite. My wife ordered duck and I ordered beef with mashed potato which wasn’t simply mashed potato but with cheese, that I should admit, haven’t tried it before. All that we concluded with a few glasses of wine, and our happiness didn’t have any limits.
Taxi till the airport costed us 30 euros. It was a bit sad to fly back home as in Paris stayed back a piece of the heart and we want to come back here once again, to here and to France.