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PARIS TRIP REPORT WITH A 91-YEAR-OLD, A WHEELCHAIR AND A WALKER

by..... katri1229@comcast.net

My husband, 91-year-old father and I just returned from a wonderful week in Paris. We thank all of you who gave us information and suggestions to make the trip smoother.

I canÕt say enough about how good we were treated by USAirways and PHL and CGD airports going over to France. We did curbside check-in and by the time the skycap had our boarding passes, he also had the escort ready for us. We were whisked right through to our gate. There was no line at security-surprisingly. In Paris we waited for the plane to empty and the escort came right onto the plane with a narrow wheelchair looking for my father by name. Again the escort whisked us right through to the baggage claim.

Our friends Raija and Veikko from Finland were waiting for us with Jean-Marie our driver. Jean-Marie was a Godsend. He speaks perfect English, is very professional and personable. He took us on several tours and with 5 of us, it was cheaper than the Parisvision Tours, plus we had door to door service. This was very convenient with the walker and wheelchair.

On Sunday, it was sunny and about 80 degrees. Jean-Marie took us on a city tour and then dropped us off at the Bateaux Mouches. We had picked up some wine and had an enjoyable Seine River cruise. Our first stop on the tour was Sacre Couer. My husband and Veikko had to push Dad in the chair uphill on cobblestones for several blocks. Our destination was the view of the city in front of the church. Had I known that, my father and I could have stayed back and bought post cards and watched people. With the companion chair, which has 4 small wheels, the wheels would get caught in a rut and my father was almost tossed out. The footrests were moving with the vibrations and his feet were almost off and hitting the ground. It wasnÕt worth all that. The guys struggled pushing, Dad had to hold on for dear life and I had to watch the crowds and his feet. It was May Day and very crowded. Perhaps a chair with large back wheels would move over that area easier.

Monday we rested at the timeshare and went to see the show at ŌLidoĶ that night. It was a cool and windy day, about 65 degrees. Fortunately, we had Jean-Marie drive us again. Taxis were few and far between after the show.

Tuesday was quiet again and our friends went off on their own. We had thunderstorms that afternoon and showers that evening. We met at the Eiffel Tower for dinner and my father and I went home while the rest went to the top of the tower. They said the view was breathtaking.

Wednesday we went to Versailles and had a FodorÕs get together that evening. It was a rainy day and evening. We met 3 lovely women and enjoyed wine and good conversation. Hello Sue, Shon, and Glenda!

Thursday was an early day going to the Normandy Beaches. It was very moving and brought the war to life. It started as a windy rainy day and turned bright, sunny and about 70 degrees.

Friday we went to the Louvre which was a nightmare. We had trouble navigating the museum with the wheelchair and found the staff very unhelpful. Of the 2 hours we were there, we spent quite a bit of time in the elevators. We did see the 3 main things, Mona, Venus and Victory, but it was work.

We then walked to St. Chappelle and Notre Dame. It was a nice day and the sidewalks were regular cement so it was easy to push the chair. We ended the evening with dinner in a Greek restaurant on the left bank.

Coming home on Sat., we had to wait about 10 minutes at CDG for an escort. When we landed in Philadelphia, one of the flight attendants pushed my father into the terminal, gave us a cart for luggage, and then we were on our own. That was awful. At the end of the moving sidewalk the wheels stuck and Dad almost spilled out of the chair and I got hit in the legs with the luggage cart and almost fell. It was a mess getting off the moving sidewalk with the wheelchair and we pushed the rest of the way up the corridor.

The French people we met there were wonderful. On May Day, we were talking to a group of people who spoke little English and we spoke little French and it was fun. We all got our ideas across and they finally helped us find a good place for dinner that night. The same night after dinner, we found ourselves on a street with little traffic. One young man came by and told us to go to the end of the street for a taxi, but that was in the opposite direction of our place. A few more young people came by and told us the same. Then the young woman called for a taxi and it showed up in a minute. We met a few surly taxi drivers, however, how much enjoyment could there possibly be doing that job.

Our timeshare unit was in the 19a in a residential neighborhood. There was a supermarket down the street and a few brassiers nearby. Of course, we were there for May Day, the day after holiday and Ascension Day in the same week so the area shut down for half the time we were there.

Overall, a good time was had by all. We saw quite a bit of things at a slower pace and maybe that was okay.

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