My next adventure: Valletta (Malta) – May 2024

European Road Trip – June/July 2013

Day 26 – Homeward Bound

Well here I am again back in sunny Bristol! Yesterday, we headed back to Calais making good time catching the 1:30 shuttle back to Folkestone. That seemed to be the end of our luck as we sat on the M25 for almost 3 hours getting back to Bristol finally around 8!!!

This post concludes my Wheelchair Traveller blog for this year as I return to university in September but be sure to check it out again next year where I have plans for America.

See you then!

Day 25 – Travel to Meaux and the Disney Village

We began our last full day in France by driving from our hotel in Claremont Ferrand to Meaux on the outskirts of Paris. Basically our journey consisted of one straight road until we hit Paris where we encountered a number of motorcycles dodging in and out of traffic and it was then we realised that we were back where we first started…. We even drove on the same road that we used to get to Strasbourg so we completed a full circle racking up 2000 miles along the way!

Anyway, after the sat nav decided to take us on a tour of Meaux, we reached our hotel for the night were we checked in and then headed out to the Disney village which is 20 minutes away. We splashed out all our remaining euros on gifts, and of course the Disney soundtrack album! We then headed to the rainforest cafe to go for our last dinner followed by a wander around the lake before heading back to our hotel for our last night.

Tomorrow we head back to Bristol, overall, it has been a great holiday seeing lots and lots of sights along the way.

Day 24 – Travel to Claremont Ferrand via the Millau Viaduct

This morning we checked out of the hotel and headed straight into Montpellier for arrive around. During this time I noticed that the trams were completely accessible if you are thinking about of going even though there are quite a lot of cobbled streets! We then, yet again drove through picturesque scenery until we hit The Millau Bridge. We stopped off at the view point where I made my PAs push me up a steep hill up onto a viewing spot looking out onto the bridge.

After this we carried on our drive to Claremont Ferrand through a thunder storm which was quite cool and it dropped to the coldest temperature of the whole holiday! 15.5 degrees! We arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon where we chilled out and then went for dinner.

Tomorrow we head further north to Meaux on the outskirts of Paris, stopping at the Disney village to pick up gifts and eat in the Rainforest cafe again before our last day of driving home.

Day 23 – In and Around Sete

Today was our last day in the south of France before starting to head back to Calais and guess what, my electric wheelchair still has a bad cable! Oh well we headed out in the van down to Sete, a town on the Mediterranean coast. Along the way we stopped off at a random beach for a while which included me getting out of my wheelchair and onto the beach as you can see from the Twitter photo as well standing in the water a little bit which was fun ! By this time it was midday and started to get up to 30 degrees so we decided to spend the rest of the day in the van.

We began our drive in Sete which my PA likened to a French Torquay. We then discovered a way to drive up the hill behind Sete and look out over the Mediterranean Sea before heading to a nearby town to pick up lunch.

We then looked at our road atlas and found a nice road to drive on through what looked like a national park, it kind of reminded me of driving through Switzerland with the winding roads. We then used my PA’s sat nav to find our way back to Montpelier, however, as usual, it took us on a detour which we then found out that we did a full circle followed by an hour hold up due an accident on the auto route. When we finally got back to the hotel at 7.30 pm it was time for dinner and then another day is over!

As I mentioned, tomorrow we begin heading back up through crossing the Millau viaduct and stopping over at Claremont Ferrand so keep following on Twitter and see you then!

Day 22 – Exploring Avignon and travel to Montpellier

We woke up in our posh hotel to another hot and sunny day as we headed to the centre of Avignon for a wander around the palais de papes. One word of advice, if you’re planning to visit Avignon in a manual wheelchair, forget about it because loads of the streets and pavements around the old town are cobbled and the drop curbs are not really drop curbs! Anyway, we explored around the old Palais De Papes before heading along the river to the Pont D’avignon during which time my electric wheelchair suddenly stopped working so my PA had to go get the van and come and find us. There seems to be a “bad cable” although the water might have been something to do with it. Anyway we will find out tomorrow, fingers crossed.

After this drama, we set off to Montpellier planning to visit Pont de Gare along the way. However, when we arrived, we discovered that it had become a massive tourist attraction similar to Stonehenge and would cost to walk across it so we decided to against it. As we travelled further down towards the Mediterranean coast, the temperature reached 38 degrees but luckily settled for 35.5 degrees in Montpellier and, yet again we have air con!!

Tomorrow we plan to drive down to Sete right on the coast and drive along what looks like a piece of reclaimed land. Lookout how PA’s get on pushing me around in my manual wheelchair (if my electric doesn’t suddenly come back to life) on Twitter.

Day 21 – Exploring Lyon (Round 2) and travel to Avignon

We began today by going for a wander around the financial district of Lyon in which we discovered we could go up the tallest building as it is a Radisson hotel and bar. The plan was to buy a cup of tea up there but looking at the prices, we decided against and so my PA pretended to look at the menu to distract the bar manager while we were taking photos. On leaving the tower we were approached by the same bar worker and his colleague, we instantly thought that they had come after us when in fact they were just trying to help us find an accessible way to the train station. Although we did not have time to go onto the tram, we checked them out and they seemed to be pretty accessible similar to the ones in Strasbourg.

We headed to my favorite place in the whole world, the train station, where we discovered some French trains such as the TGV and local SNCF trains had floors the same height as the platform which I thought was cool compared to English trains. On a closer look there seemed to be quite a big gap between the train floor and platform but it should be alright if you don’t have little wheels!

We then set off for our next destination of Avignon which was two hours away during which time the scenery and buildings changed quite rapidly into more of a Spanish design. We arrived at our hotel in Avignon which, again, was a cheap one, however, we discovered that the disabled rooms were in a different building from the main hotel and it was impossible for my wheelchair to fit in a normal room as well the bathroom being too small for my PA’s to assist me. As a result, we decided to move hotels and splash out on a double the price hotel just round the corner, at least this one has air conditioning as its been about 35 degrees today. We chilled out in my room for a few hours while it cooled down a little before heading down the road to, yet again, another station, this time Avignon TGV. I did what I do best and went train spotting whilst admiring the modern architecture before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Tomorrow we head an hour further down south to Montpelier which will be our base for driving around the Mediterranean coast so look out for hopefully for more photos on Twitter.

Day 20 – Exploring Lyon and the Tour de France

We had an unexpected start to the morning as we had planned to move the car to avoid paying a high rate for parking however when we got to the car, we discovered that my PAs had left the lights on which lead to a dead battery. Through my PA’s extensive knowledge of French, we managed to talk a French guy into helping us jump start the van. During this we caused quite a commotion as we found out that the instructions on the jump leads box were incorrect and we managed to set off the car alarm and then we were corrected by yet another French guy and scared his kid! Due to the battery being empty, we spent an hour driving round the outskirts of Lyon to recharge it, during which we discovered that the Tour de France was finishing at Lyon today. This then set the president for the day in which we decided to, after having lunch, find a shady spot and wait for the tour to come through.

It was quite interesting watching the tour in real life as it took all of forty seconds to pass whereas on TV it seems longer. We then returned to the car and tried to find our way back to the hotel avoiding all the road closures which involved most of the bridges to the financial district-where we are staying.

Tomorrow we plan to do what we were supposed to do today, which was to have a wander around the financial district before we head for our overnight stay in Avignon to visit the special place of the train station!!

Day 19 – Travel to Lyon

Today we travelled from Bern to Lyon, we decided not to use the sat nav and instead resorted to a good old European road map. Throughout our journey we travelled through lots of picturesque Swiss countryside and, of course, tunnels!

We arrived back in France to lovely hot temperature of 33.5 degrees and discovered that our hotel again didn’t have air conditioning. I guess that’s what you get for booking cheap hotels and so one of my PA’s went out and bought a fan. And we also discovered that my van is too high for the car park which involved putting in two key codes and so it’s currently in a pay and display until we find somewhere suitable tomorrow. Our hotel is in the centre of Lyon’s financial district and so we will be wandering around that tomorrow as well as, guess where! Keep following us on Twitter and see you tomorrow.

Day 18 – Exploring Bern

Here I am again… Today we headed out and about in Bern city centre which began by a half an hour walk from the hotel. Along the way I noticed that most of the trams and buses are wheelchair accessible which is good to know! We started at my favorite place again, the train station which had recently been refurbished and it’s still partly in the process as well. This was followed by a wonder round the many old buildings such as the Houses of Parliament and the cathedral. It was a bit of a nightmare in the actual centre as they were relaying the tram tracks so we decided to cross the river which is the clearest I’ve ever seen! We then headed through the trees to the “bear pit” where we saw bears, obviously. Although Bern is the capital of Switzerland the city itself is quite small and took us about 2 hours to walk around most of the city.

So it’s a good choice for a day out. We then picked up some lunch and ate it in a park with pigeons although I hate them! So my PA decided to throw her flip flop at it and they never came back which was quite funny. We then wandered our way back to the hotel to chill out for the rest of the afternoon ready for the drive to Lyon tomorrow.

Day 17 – The Jungfrau

Well as you can see we got to the hotel quite late which is why I’m writing this this morning. Yesterday we headed from Zurich to the Jungfraujoch which took us up the Jungfrau to the top of Europe. To start with we were a bit skeptical about its accessibility so we thought it would be safer just to take my manual wheelchair. We were all surprised by how helpful the staff both on the railway and at the top were, right from the start at Lauterbrunner where the guard took it upon himself to assist getting my wheelchair on the train. We had to change trains at Kliene Schnidegg where we were greeted by a forklift truck with a mobile ramp attached to it. (I thought it was a great improvisation and also I got a ride on a forklift). We reached the top of the mountain and again we were really surprised at how accessible everything was, most places with steps also had a lift somewhere.

We walked around discovering the Spynx Terrace and also attempted to drag my manual wheelchair through the snow which didn’t really work! We then realised that the train we wanted to catch back down was leaving soon so we went back to the station to find out that that one was already full so we resorted to catching the last train of the day. The staff were really helpful and gave us free drinks vouchers and also came down to the ice palace with us where, earlier we couldn’t get the lift to work. After the guy kicked it a few times it seemed to work and we were allowed to go and explore around sliding everywhere! Luckily we catches the last train back down the Jungfrau and got takeaway pizza to eat on the way to Bern. If you are thinking of going up the Jungfrau, like I said the staff are very helpful and it’s very accessible to most so just do it!

Today we are exploring Bern so as usual keep following us on Twitter and see you later.

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