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Paris on Crutches

In December of 2014, we bought nonrefundable airline tickets to Paris arriving on May 15 and returning to the Toronto on May 21. In January of 2015, we rented an apartment in Paris on the Ile Saint Loius for that week through Air BnB. On Saturday April 9, I fell on the ice here in Cleveland, OH and broke my ankle. I will have surgery on Tuesday, April 19. The surgeon says that I will not be able to walk on my foot until the middle of June. He said that if I want to go forward with the trip to Paris, I should be prepared to use crutches during my entire visit. I am confident that I can move through most public spaces on the crutches. However, I am concerned about using the crutches in the museums and accessing the subway. Will most museums have wheelchairs that I can rent/use? Is there elevator or escalator access to most subway platforms or should we plan to use taxis instead of the subway?

Posted by
11503 posts

Plan on buses and taxis. There are escaltors and elevtors in some metro stations, but not all and there are often long underground passages to walk.

You can rent wheelchairs from some pharmcies in Paris, and pharacmys are everywhere and super easy to find ( all have neon green crosses outside)

Airtransat has some cheap tickets left for june , might be worth throwing out okd ones for may and going a month later.

Pps i would still contact airline and see if they will let you change dates( so you are not asking for a refund) peven for a fee

Posted by
630 posts

If possible, try to go to the gym and work out your back and shoulder muscles. This will help you strengthen the muscles that you use for crutches. If you can't get to the gym, you can do exercises at home. The more you do now will only help with your use of crutches on your trip. You'll be surprised how many muscles you will use to hold yourself up with the crutches.

Posted by
7617 posts

Forget the metro. Use the bus. Your crutches will enable you to claim a seat on the bus as well; you may have to ask for it, but probably someone will offer. Don't hesitate to say 'Sil vou Plais' to get someone to get up and give you one of the seats for elderly (75 and up) and disabled. The Louvre will give you a loaner wheelchair for use in the museum and you can go to the head of the line on your crutches for entry. At the Louvre there are elevators for all the stairs (and there are lots of stairs) They are sometimes hidden around corners but if you don't have the knack of spotting the signs, guards will assist you in locating them.

There are some things you can do sitting down. The Seine cruise is one; the dock at Pont d'Alma is ramped and easy to negotiate the stairs at Vedettes Pont Neuf are not (there is a workaround but it isn't easy to find) The canal tours will allow you to see a big chunk of Paris while seated. The HOHO bus tours if you don't get off, will give a nice seated overview of the major sites.

As I am sure your doctor has told you, a broken ankle also subjects you to DVT risks, so find out what you need to do to avoid that and if there is any medication you should take specific to that issue during a long flight.

Posted by
4684 posts

Another big problem in the metro is that when stations do have escalators, they are often only in the upwards direction and you have to walk down stairs.

Posted by
1901 posts

Our daughter broke her foot prior to our Paris trip. She also has CP so using crutches was out for her anyway. I would strongly advise you to take a wheelchair. We rented a "transport chair" at our local medical supply company. I think we paid $60 for a 4 week rental. It is not a real wheel chair since it can not be self propelled. There are 4 smaller wheels so you must be pushed. You might want to take crutches and a transport chair. The chair itself weights about 25lbs. and is easily picked up. Our daughter could walk on a boot, so we often pushed her, then when we came to steps she would jump out, walk up steps and hubby would carry chair up.

There is so much walking I don't think you will manage very well with crutches. It would be too exhausting. Maybe you can carry the crutches on your lap somehow so you can use a combination of chair and crutch. Please, get a chair!

Secondly, if you are disabled, Paris is the place for it! The French were very wonderful to us! As we approached a museum, we were ushered around to a different entrance right in, we saw the Mono Lisa in front of the rope, cars stopped for us to cross the street, we had a behind the scene tour at Versailles (getting to the elevator) and on arrival, we were ushered with our private helper straight through immigration. However, just know Versailles is NOT wheelchair friendly. The stones out in front are so massive and uneven we couldn't push the chair, daughter had to walk and it was very far.

In some restaurants we left the chair in the corner and she walked to the table. You could do the same if you had crutches with you.

We also used the bus for a bit but we found it more difficult to figure out. I'm not sure why. Just finding the stops seemed hard. But, I'm sure with perseverance you could. We used the metro and hubby just picked up chair and held it over the turnstile.

Bottom line- you really need a wheelchair, way too much walking and too difficult. But, the transport chair was perfect. Our daughter began to feel like a princess she had such good treatment by all the French.

Posted by
9099 posts

I would listen to Susan above and take a chair... as much as I love Paris, I could not do it on crutches.

Posted by
7617 posts

You can buy a bus map book at newsstands; buses are more complicated than the metro -- so many routes and the return route may be slightly different than the outbound route. But the stops have maps, the map book will help you find appropriate stops and lines and many bus stops have electronic signs with information about the bus timing on them.

Posted by
400 posts

My husband works for a medical supply company and said there is no way he would ever go anywhere on crutches. They are annoying, unfortable and just a real pain in the ....
Go with suggestion of renting a chair or change your travel date. Good Luck!

Posted by
3800 posts

Here's another vote for renting and taking a light weight wheelchair. I've been helping a family member who just had major hip surgery. She is in her 30s and very physically fit. One of her passions is rock climbing. So even with all of this upper body strength, using crutches leaves her tired. We use a combination of crutches and wheelchair to go anywhere. It takes us a lot more time to get around too, especially if she just uses the crutches.

Posted by
32058 posts


I just finished with six weeks on crutches, and can't imagine what a "pain" it would be to travel in Paris (or anywhere else in Europe) with them. Accessing the Metro could be a problem in busier locations that only have stairs, especially going down. If you get a crowd of people behind you rushing to get downstairs, they may not have too much patience with someone on crutches. I agree with the others that using a chair in the museums would be a good idea.

Good luck with your surgery tomorrow!

Posted by
2018 posts

Hi wr, first of all, very sorry about your ankle.

I've never had to walk on crutches but I would imagine that it's difficult under the best of circumstances. You could consider a wheelchair, but I guess that depends on your traveling companion(s). Can the other person(s) take care of themselves, their luggage, your luggage, and you too?

If you have trip insurance, I'd recommend that you re-schedule for Sep/Oct when you're in better shape. With your medical documentation, you should be able to get all the money back for the airline tickets and apartment deposit. Good luck with whatever you decide.

PS - We had such a great winter in Cleveland this year! The weather on Saturday, April 9, was terrible. I had to cancel a conference I had scheduled due to the inclement weather and poor driving conditions. The following Saturday, April 16, it was 75 degrees and sunny!

Posted by
285 posts

There are LOTS of long passageways to walk in many Paris metro stations, sometimes involving going up and down stairs within the station itself if you are changing lines.

Posted by
1014 posts

As a handicapped person, who uses crutches and wears a brace all the time, I would suggest a power scooter. Either rent one a week before you go so you can figure out how to use it, or buy a used one on ebay or craigslist two or three weeks out to make sure it works and does not need batteries. (Most used ones do) Most scooters come with a 12v12ah battery, which usually lasts about 7 or 8 hours and 8ish miles. A 12v15ah battery will fit in the battery box and give you 2 more hours and about 3 or 4 more miles. The charger that comes with the scooter will charge either. The scooter will be flown free to Europe. Just go online to your airline and tell them you are bringing an electric scooter. Tell them you can walk from the planes door to your seat and back. Ask them to gate check it from door to door. You might have to gate check it at the airline kissock where you board your plane. Your ticket will indicate a scooter, you just have to get them to put a tag on it. You also get to board first along with a companion. No extra charge. The scooter should be brought to you at the planes door when you arrive. Take your time de-planeing. Using a scooter, you will take longer at security. So, be there at least 3 if not 4 hours early. I do 4 hours. At security, there is a handicapped line you can go to, to get you through faster. Pushing a wheelchair through Paris, up and down hills, will be a daunting task. Been there, done that. Had blisters to prove it. Get a scooter. A 3 wheeler is lighter, but can be tipped over easily. A 4 wheeler is more stable, but weighs more. You might be able to rent one in Paris. I did a quick check on scooter rentals in Paris, ( about 300 Euro per week) and you may be able to buy one cheaper. When you get home, sell yours for about what you have in it. GoGo Travelers and GoGo travelers Elite are decent scooters. Hopefully, others will chime in on what they use and like. If you need more info, message me.


Posted by
2349 posts

I think John's recommendation of a scooter is the best idea. Crutches suck. (I stubbornly went to an amusement park on them when I was 16.) You'll need to dial down your expectations and take it easy.

John, what do you do with your scooter when you go into a restaurant? Can it be left safely outside? I would assume you'd have to take crutches with you for moving around inside. Using a scooter would keep you on buses but you'd really need to stay off of the Metro no matter what. For short trips out to dinner, you could just leave the scooter at the apartment and take a cab.

Is the apartment you've rented fully accessible by elevator? That might be the deal breaker, to have to go up several flights of stairs. Or you could lose the apartment deposit, pay the flight change fees, and go in the fall. You may come out about even when you consider the extra costs involved.

Good luck. You're working through what we all fear when planning travel. I hope your surgery went well yesterday.

Posted by
380 posts

Hi, wrsober

My sympathies. I have broken my ankle and had a few surgeries. I was very fit from weight training. After two days of continuous crutches, my arms were killing me, but I got buff triceps afterwards. The Rollator was a welcomed relief.
Look at this on Amazon. It only about $55. Take it with you. You may need this even after you return from Paris.

Forget about trying to use the subway on crutches. You don't want to risk a fall down the stairs/escalators. Take taxis. You can fold the Rollator into the trunk of the taxi.
Also, the cobblestones can be pretty unstable even for healthy people, let alone on one foot with crutches.
With all this travel, elevate your ankle as much as possible. Are you going to be in a cylindrical fiberglass cast or a removable cast? If the former, you have to be careful about swelling in a rigid, confined space. Speak to your doctor about bivalving the cast.

You can private message me if you have any questions. Been there.


Posted by
1014 posts

Yes, the subway is verboten. Buses work fine. Enter through the side door, towards the back. The driver will put a ramp out of the bus for you to enter on a scooter. There are handicapped parking areas on the bus. Strollers are also parked there. A second person should board on the front, validate your ticket and keep it. Police do check tickets. The driver might ask where you want off, so be ready. You still need to watch. The drivers forget at times. Do not leave the scooter outside a bar or restaurant unless you are with it. Most, but not all, restaurants will assist you in getting into the restaurant. My scooter seat swivels, so I can turn it and use it as a chair. You can park the scooter in a corner and walk to a table too. Just remember, most toilets are up or down stairs. Just a FYI.

Paris is really a small city, compared to London or NY. My scooter gets 15-18 miles per day. I usually stay in a studio in the 9th. We have been for the past 15 years. I go everywhere a tourist would want to go on one charge. However, I have batteries on steroids. You might want to take your battery charger with you, with a plug converter, to plug your battery in while eating. A 2 hr. charge can be a lifesaver. Pushing that sucker with you on it, gets really old, really fast.

You buy bus tickets and subway tickets at the same place. The metro. Have a companion go down to the metro office, each metro has one, and buy a carnet of 10 tickets. I think they are around 13 or 14 Euro. A ticket gets you anywhere a bus goes, and allows one transfer.


There are other websites that have info. too. Just google Paris bus. When you land, get a bus map the first thing. They are free. Also, buy a Paris street map which is sold in the book kissocks. It gives a detailed street map of Paris, by arrondissements. When walking, you will need it.
If you take a bus on a one way street, the bus does not come back that way. You need to figure out where to get off that is closest to where you want to get to, or you can ride the bus all the way around again. Might have to use another ticket. Depends on the driver. (I have done both :) )

Using a rolator, as suggested above, works great on flat ground and in the house or on short runs to the grocery, on concrete which is not broken. Remember, you are pushing it with one leg. On Paris streets, with broken pavement and sidewalks, un-level cutouts, cobblestones, crowded streets and stores, etc. becomes a challenge I would not want to do. Battery power is better, in my opinion.

Posted by
380 posts

It's not just about how to get around in Paris. You will only be 4 weeks post op. Chances are there is still some swelling. How long is your flight to Paris? How are you going to go to the bathroom on the plane? With your legs in a dependent position for 8-10 hours, the ankle is going to swell even more.

Then in Paris, wheelchair/scooter the leg is down again. More swelling. With swelling comes more pain.

Post op swelling is difficult to resolve. Swelling will decrease the chances of a good surgical outcome.
I presume this is the first time you've had ankle surgery. (And I hope the last.) You may be underestimating how difficult the post op course is.
Other people have suggested that you postpone the trip. That would be a very good idea. I went to Paris 6 months after my ankle surgery. I just started to walk without a cane. It was still a little bit difficult on the uneven cobblestone sidewalks.

Posted by
565 posts

I understand you really want to go to Paris. However, take it from someone who broke her ankle while in Europe, it's really just so difficult. Not impossible, but extremely difficult. Wouldn't you rather enjoy Paris when you can maneuver yourself better? The airline may not let you get a refund, but they can change the date of the ticket with minimal issues, usually up to a few months later.

Four weeks postop, I was in no condition to travel around my own city, let alone Paris. I was also in my early 30s at the time, so it wasn't an age thing either. Please reconsider the timing of your trip, if anything to lessen the DVT risk.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all for your advice. Your advice has generally confirmed that it would be wise to wait given my likelihood of a full recovery. My surgery appears to have been successfully completed on Tuesday and I was sent home from the hospital Wednesday afternoon. Based upon discussions with the surgical team and your recommendations, we have concluded that we should reschedule our visit to Paris. According to the treatment plan, I will not only still be on crutches on the scheduled date of our arrival but also be non weight bearing at the time of the scheduled visit.

Posted by
3800 posts

I'm here week 4 helping my daughter in law who will be non weight bearing on her leg/hip for several more weeks. I think you've made a hard decision but the right decision. Best of luck with your recovery.

Posted by
335 posts

So glad your surgery went well and that you're on the road to recovery! Also sad you had to delay your trip to Paris, but I think you made the right and smart decision. Several years ago I hurt my foot and had to use crutches for several weeks. My experience was that I was VERY UNSTABLE with crutches, often losing my balance or feeling like I was going to lose it. If I ever have another injury requiring crutches, I will definitely opt to use a 3-point cane or even a walker instead.

Posted by
2349 posts

I'm sure you feel better having made your decision. It's often the uncertainty that is so difficult.

I have to agree with the above post about crutches. A simple walker or a rolling walker is so much better than crutches. Good luck. Damn ice!