My name is Emma and I live in Scotland. I share my experiences of living with a physical disability on my lifestyle, travel and disability blog.
What is your impairment?
Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD)
How does this impact on your life?
LGMD is a progressive muscle weakness condition that affects the muscles in my arms and legs. I use a powered wheelchair as I cannot walk and simple tasks like scratching my nose can be extremely difficult because I can’t lift my arms.
What difficulties do you face when travelling?
As a wheelchair user I always have to ensure that I book an accessible room with a roll-in shower. I always double check that the hotel’s facilities are going to meet my needs as their meaning of ‘accessible’ might not necessarily mean ‘accessible’ to me. It’s always good to clarify. When I’m travelling by plane I need to book airport special assistance as I need assistance to get onto the plane and into the aircraft seat. When travelling to a new destination I always have to research the accessibility of public transportation, taxi’s and tourist attractions which enables me to plan around any access barriers.
Tell us about the best experience you’ve had when travelling – particularly when facilities haven’t been perfect, but the welcome and service you’ve received has made up for it.
I was attending a show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City with my partner and when we arrived I needed to use the toilet. We quickly realised that there wasn’t a unisex accessible toilet. Instead there was only one accessible stall in both the ladies and gents toilets. This was difficult as I need my partner to help me to the toilet, but they wouldn’t let him come into the ladies with me or me into the gents with him. Realising how difficult this was for us the staff let me use the staff toilet instead, which turned out to be much more accessible and comfortable for us. The staff member was friendly, understanding and made us feel welcome.
Here is a blog post about my experience of the wheelchair accessible tourist train in Paris
Are you planning a trip to Paris soon? Are you looking to do something a little different during your time in the City of Light? If so, you must take a ride on the coolest little blue train the city has to offer with Another Paris. There is no better way to see the streets of Paris.
What is Another Paris?
Another Paris is a unique tour that takes you through the little side streets of the city to experience the real Paris and enjoy panoramic views from the comfort of the little blue train. There are five different routes to choose from and they are all wheelchair accessible. So you’re sure to find one that interests you…if not them all. If we had more time in Paris we’d definitely do all the routes.
- Royal Route – the île de la Cité, the Marais and the île Saint
- Academic Route – upper part of the left bank of the river Seine
- Artist Route – Saint-Germain des Prés and the plain of Grenelle
- Elegance Route – the luxurious Paris- Palais Royal, Garnier Opera House etc
- Bohemian Route – Montparnasse, secret areas in the 14th district
Another Paris offers great accessibility for disabled passengers. Wheelchair users will access the train via a ramp at the back of the third carriage, which can accommodate a total of two wheelchairs. Wheelchair users are advised to book in advance to allow the driver to prepare and remove the necessary seats to better accommodate your wheelchair.
We arrived for our tour at 11:30am and met Anne, our driver, and once inside the train, she made sure my wheelchair was secure and safely in place with belts. Before going on the tour I was worried about how secure I was going to feel on the Another Paris train. I had visions of my wheelchair moving around and my butt feeling every bump in the road. I didn’t have to worry about any of that because the whole journey was pretty smooth and my wheelchair didn’t move all at. This is helped by the relaxing pace of the train as it moves along at 15 km/h ensuring everyone feels safe and comfortable at all times.
Each carriage of the little train is fitted with screens displaying images and subtitles on the approach to each building of interest, which is in perfect sync with the audio guided tour. To hear the audio you must wear the provided earphones and switch to the correct channel to hear it in either French, English, German, Spanish or Italian. There are headphones available if you prefer or have difficulty wearing the earphones.
The Another Paris little blue train provides great viewing for everyone including wheelchair users, which is often rare on other forms of transportation and bus tours. Panoramic views are enjoyed through the large side windows and glass rooftop. This gives amazing views of the streets, buildings, trees and even the tops of buildings, which you wouldn’t get on regular bus tours unless you are on the top deck of an open-top tour bus (not accessible for wheelchair users). The little blue train is fully enclosed making it perfect in any weather and the glass rooftop protects you from bad weather. So whether the sun is splitting the sky or it’s pouring with rain you’re going to enjoy a comfortable ride.
We decided on the Academic Route for our first day in Paris. This route starts and finishes outside a restaurant called ‘Hippopotamus’ on n° 9 rue Lagrange (Lagrange street) in the 5th arrondissement (district). The route covers the Latin Quarter and the Observatory, which is located in the upper part of the left bank of the river Seine.
During our 1hr 15 minutes tour of the Latin Quarter, we got to see an incredible 45 points of interests. Points of interests that we would not have had the chance to see if we hadn’t decided to book a tour with Another Paris. Some of the most well-known buildings included Pantheon, Musée Cluny (Musée National du Moyen-Âge), Luxembourg Palace and Luxembourg Garden, Paris Observatory, Saint-Séverin Church, Art and Archaeology Institute and Notre-Dame Cathedral.
The tour ended outside Hippopotamus around 1:20pm, so we decided to stop there for some lunch and it was so good. I’d highly recommend having something to eat in this restaurant after your Another Paris tour. After lunch, we walked across to Notre-Dame Cathedral as it was a short 5-minute walk.
Another Paris tourist train tour was a great way to kick-start our trip to Paris in a really cool way. It was fun, educational and gave us the chance to get our bearings while seeing the little side streets of the city that we probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. The tour is extremely enjoyable and comfortable compared to regular bus and walking tours. Our driver, Anne was incredibly warm, friendly and reassuring. With a great passion for Paris and her company, she has earned many awards including Tourisme & Handicaps in 2013 and Trophée de l’Accessibilité des Régions in 2015. Tickets are very affordable costing only €13 for adults and €6, 50 for children. I highly recommend taking a wheelchair accessible tour with Another Paris to experience the true Parisian streets. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll leave wanting to do more of the routes.
You can read more of Emma’s blog posts at http://www.simplyemma.co.uk/