An American [Person with MS] in Paris
After much planning and speculating, as well as a week of the London experience under our belts, we boarded the Eurostar for our destination deux: Paris Gare du Nord. Leaving the comforts of family (a.k.a. the best tour guides, activity-planners and tea-time-makers) not to mention the familiar language, the three of us set out with a map, an address and my newly named scooter, Gigi – a cinematic name to keep me thinking of it (her) as my BFF.
The positives of this friendship were clear. People were nicer to me and were happy to be so. Without a doubt my favorite perk was always being escorted to the front of the line. It was really exciting to be the reason for a shortened cue - when I was accustomed to being the reason that everything takes longer.
- At the taxi cue – me first.
- The Eiffel Tower – me first.
- Public transportation – me, well I already had a seat, but if I hadn’t any number of people would be happy to offer theirs. It’s like a good melon; you can just tell. :)
The taxi drivers were very happy to pop Gigi in to the boot of the cab. Our destination was in the Marais district; to a friend of friend’s courtyard flat. Though I made sure that it was on the first level, there was a rather large iron frame securing the courtyard that required about a foot of clearance. Even if I didn’t have Gigi to worry about, it would be an effort to traverse even as someone who has limited foot-lifting skills. Gigi was an encumberance on a whole different level. Thankfully I had a Keith and a Madeline to help with my garden access.
Planning our wheres and hows ahead
Each evening we would discuss what we were doing (or not doing) the next day. We mapped out the wheres and the hows of getting to our destinations. Invariably there would be a frustrating and seemingly insurmountable challenge, but we kept up our mantra: Being still in Paris was better than being-still-in-New Jersey (not that there is anything wrong with that!). And that worked for the many moments when we were ready to throw our hands up and yell the newly learned French expletives.
Being in the Marais district made it easier to feel like a local (except for that whole broken-French thing). We went shopping at the MonoPrix just outside our door. Stocking up on crepes and salmon with a dill yogurt spread seemed like something we would easily redeux at home. We had a cafe within walking distance (by my definition) from our apartment, where we sat and had croissants and espresso and talked and talked and talked, and even went to the movies. It was just like being home… but with less bills, chorses and tidying!
Some of the less-than days included a mishap on our tour boat on the Sienne. Keith and Mads were on land while getting snacks and as the boat pulled away from the dock—we had that Casablanca moment. So I did the tour alone–- which would have been no biggie had I not had a bowel dysfunction.
Then, feeling a bit on edge while heading back to the street level, my wallet was stolen (in the manner that all the tour books warn you about). So our emotionally vulnerable morning lead to an even more vulnerable afternoon. And then in the evening, I made a bad call thinking a cab would get us close enough to a movie theater that I needn’t take Gigi– which was a horrible mistake that resulted in my starring role in and a zombie reality show. But in the end, Madeline rose to the occasion that was reinforced by the powerful mother– daughter film Rebelle (Brave) we were about to see. We had seen it in English in the States, but observing the French audience laughing (and not laughing) when we did the opposite was very funny in and of itself. It was a wonderful social-study from our theater seats. The seats that were even more comfortable having just survived the Night of the Living Dead before the movie even started.
All in all Paris was fantastic. Riding the roll-on, roll-off tour bus helped us to cover wider ground as we played the role of tourists; pretending to be locals and method acting as tourists again. Our Queen’s escort to the Eiffel Tower was brilliant. We went to a pop-up fair near the Eiffel Tower where we played games, went on rides and ate Nutella crepes. Rolling about town on cobblestone streets were the moments most likely to be remembered as accomplishments to be appreciated, not just the fillers in between.
And most memorable was the time we spent just-being in our Parisian flat; napping, chilling and making movies on our mac – less picturesque perhaps, but definitely unforgettable.
We look forward to going back with a little less activity on the Sienne, a little less theft and more predictable movie outcomes. Quite frankly just the Eiffel Tower from a comfotable seated position will always make the trip worth the effort.
Check this out: Sage Travel just posted an accessible travel group going to London and Paris on their site. I guess these posts are quite timely!
For more posts about my trip to Europe go to:
For an informative post about traveling with MS- Check out the ever-articulate, ever-informative, ever-knowledgable Lisa Emrich’s post (link)!
Amy wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Multiple Sclerosis (MS).