We woke up fairly early on Lou’s birthday, and after a time opening presents we headed out into the city. Given the long journey the day before we were surprisingly awake after a good night’s sleep, and as soon as we walked/wheeled out into the summer sunshine we felt ready for the long day ahead.
Today’s route takes us past The Louvre to Notre Dame, along the river to the Musee d’Orsay, to the Place de la Concorde and Tuileries Garden before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner!
First stop was breakfast – we found a nice cafe near the river on the eastern side of The Louvre, just a couple of minutes from our hotel. The interior was accessible, like many of the eateries we came across, with a nice outdoor seating area too.
Following our crepe-based breakfast and feeling nice and energetic, we set off along the river towards Notre Dame.
The famous cathedral sits on an island, the Ile de la Cite, in the middle of the Seine river. It’s easy to get to in a wheelchair with lots of dropped curbs and no problems encountered. Things do start to get very busy tourist-wise though… actually make that VERY busy! Still, there’s loads of space and a big square in front of Notre Dame itself, so plenty of room to view the amazing building.
This is the part where wheelchair users really do get a bonus – despite the long, long queue to get in, even early in the day, disabled people can just head for the exit. The staff member on duty waved us through despite it being against the relentless flow of people trying to leave, and after trying my hardest not to injure anyone with my chair, we were inside.
It’s extremely grand, and they were just starting Mass so that added a lot to the atmosphere. I stayed and watched that while Lou went to the only bit I couldn’t access without leaving the chair behind.
After about half an hour inside, which is probably enough when it’s really busy (longer would be nice if you were lucky enough to go at an off-peak time), we headed back out. Note that there are toilets outside but they’re not accessible – they’re down two flights of stairs and possibly have a long queue at the bottom!
Next stop on our planned route was the Musee d’Orsay, but first we had lunch in a lovely modern cafe called Pizza Marzano just over on the south-side of the river. As with all the other places we’d eaten so far, it was accessible (this one with a lift) and made lovely, imaginative food.
All refuelled, we headed out for a walk along the river to the Musee d’Orsay. The building was finished in 1900 and was a mainline station until 1939. Eventually, after the threat of demolition passed, it was opened as a museum in the mid-80s. It really is a great space for the artworks inside, and is logically laid out and open, making it very easy to get around. Because of its size it never seemed too busy or difficult to navigate – perfect for just enjoying the exhibitions really!
We spent about an hour going around the museum – could’ve spent longer but time was wearing on and we still had the Place de la Concorde and Tuileries Garden to see before heading back to the hotel, and getting ready for dinner in the Eiffel Tower! So, back outside and in the 30C+ heat we made our way west along the river – again, it’s all easy going really, nice and flat with dropped curbs and lots and lots of great views and buildings to keep you occupied.
The Place de la Concorde is a massive, open space at the eastern end of the Champs Elysees. You can look up to the iconic Arc du Triomphe at one end (it looks close but is quite a long way away), and then the Tuileries Garden with The Louvre beyond at the other end. It’s all extremely impressive, and when we were there they were setting up for the final leg of the Tour de France, so it was all decked out with French flags. A really impressive place I have to say, which only added to our great impression of Paris.
Next, and finally, we walked into the Tuileries Garden (past a very welcome public accessible toilet!) and spend a bit of time sitting in the sun, eating ice cream and watching the world go by. Then it was a short walk back past The Louvre, which we’ll visit tomorrow, before heading back to the hotel.
And that’s our day touring Paris!! A fairly short itinerary distance-wise, but I think enough for anyone in a day really. Definitely a good route to get a feel for the city and see some of the major tourist locations.
Stay tuned for part 3, which covers our meal in the Eiffel Tower (spoiler alert: it was very nice 🙂 and our trip round The Louvre.
Thanks for reading!
- A weekend in Paris with Louise and my wheelchair! Part 1: The journey (randomandystuff.wordpress.com)