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Where to stay in Paris for a slow walker

My wife and I, both in 70s, will be in Paris for 3 days in May after a Seine River cruise. Because of hip/spine issues, I use a cane and walk relatively slowly. In big cities, like London, Amsterdam, I found myself always looking over my shoulder to be sure I wasn't holding up traffic, and/or dodging the onrush. Same in subways.

We need a hotel with an elevator, a room with shower, coffee maker, and some horizontal surfaces to put some of my extra paraphernalia. In the old days, we used to stay in charming walk-ups, with tiny rooms. Not possible any more. I have read Rick's glowing comments about public transit in Paris, but am concerned about stairs in Metro stations, and the crowds.

Our budget is up to 300 Euro/day, preferably in an area where we could walk a mile to a couple sights (Louvre, Orsay, Eiffel Tower, Luxembourg Garden, etc.), wander some open air markets, indulge in patisseries. I'm thinking of Rue Cler, Luxembourg Garden, Marais?

  1. Should we plan on taxis vs. public transit because of my "troubles"?
  2. Any recommendations for hotels from Rick's Paris Guidebook, or should I just look for a "big box" hotel, with an elevator and larger rooms?

Many thanks.

Posted by
5697 posts

Taxis might not be a bad idea -- at 70+ we have started using them more.

Metro does have lots of stairs (some elevators, but not in every station) but there are buses which have flat-in doors AND windows for seeing the city.
Check a map before you choose a hotel -- Eiffel Tower and Louvre are in different parts of the city so no single location is near to "all sights." We like Luxembourg Gardens, Marais, Latin Quarter areas . But you don't need a "big box" hotel -- just make sure the description specifically states there is an elevator/lift (if it isn't mentioned, it doesn't exist.)

Posted by
2923 posts

I agree with your concerns about the metro. I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the extensive bus system which is much better for mobility issues. A combination of buses and taxis should work.

I would eliminate the Rue Cler area because it is not super central. It’s close to the Eiffel Tower and not very much else. I like Le Marais a lot but I find that rooms there run small even by Parisian standards. Have you considered Saint Germain? Take a look at the Hotel Odeon Saint Germain, which might be a touch over budget. We had plenty of space in their deluxe room. Location is great as is the staff and it has an elevator. The largest hotel room that I stayed at in Paris that is or at least used to be in your budget is the Pullman Gare Montparnasse — huge rooms, American sized elevators and good transit connections. It is closed now for renovations but is supposed to reopen in May 2020. It is not within walking distance to the usual tourist sights. Near Luxembourg Gardens, you may like Hotel Excelsior Latin but it is a bit downmarket from the Odeon but then again, it costs much less so it should be.

Posted by
8493 posts

The Saint Germain neighborhood (6th arrondissement) is central for what you've indicated. The main boulevards have wide sidewalks. People are tolerant and courteous of slower walkers, generally.

The Accor brand hotels have larger rooms at their upper end. Agree that buses, taxis, and walking are best.

Posted by
11450 posts

Agree with others , look at St Germain (6th) and take taxis and buses - avoid metro .

Posted by
6720 posts

Absolutely not Rue Cler which is on the edge of Paris and not central and not terrifically well served by public transport (it is Paris which has great public transport so this is relative). I would want to be in St. Germain, the Marais or Latin Quarter near the river. Those areas are all flat and walkable. And you are going to want to use buses; if you use a cane you should be able to get a seat. Buses are filled with very elderly and disabled people so getting a seat can be tricky thus having the cane really helps in claiming a seat. 75 is the age where age entitles you to a seat -- but only after those with greater need have one. I often have to give up my seat on buses to those in need and I am 75. The metro is a non-starter -- many places have lots of flights of very steep stairs to get to the platform and any transfer will involve stairs. There are a couple of lines with elevators but most don't have them and escalators are often down and when they are not, they are partial -- you might get an escalator for one staircase, but not the other 3 or 4 and some staircases involve 3 or 4 flight lengths. I look at the metro as part of an exercise program -- but when I get to the point of needing a cane, it will be buses for sure. You can get a book of bus maps at news stands.

Note that the Louvre which is a palace full of stairs, has an elevator for every set of stairs; if you don't see the sign then ask a guard; they are hidden around corners here and there. The Orsay also has elevators but they are a bit trickier to find.

Hotel rooms don't have coffee makers in Paris; it is just not at all the norm; nor do they have kettles. Perhaps someone will know one that does but we have never seen one. But there are cafes everywhere and particularly in the areas mentioned and it is easy to find a place to have a cafe creme or espresso any time. And in cool weather many cafes have heaters in their outside spaces so you can even sit and enjoy a cuppa outdoors watching the world go by.

We like Henri IV Rive Gauche when we use a hotel. It is in the Latin Quarter near the river, near Shakespeare and Co and Notre Dame. Small but nice rooms and those in front overlook a lovely old church. Minibar but not coffee pot but an elevator. We didn't breakfast in as hotel breakfasts always seem overpriced to us and so can't speak to that, but there are plenty of cafes. Not sure about horizontal surfaces -- hotel rooms tend to be tiny and that is not one of the things they have lots of. Search this forum and TA for recommendations on central hotels and then read reviews.

Posted by
152 posts

Many thanks to you all for your experience, insights and advice.

I am glad to know that my suspicions about using the Metro are correct. Maybe if we find a stop with few stairs, off-peak, we'll give it a try, just to check it off our bucket list.

I also appreciate the comments regarding neighborhoods and lodging. It can be daunting looking for suitable places that will work with my limitations. We live in a semi-rural area, so I never have to content with sidewalks crowded with fast moving pedestrian traffic. I found Amsterdam especially scary because of the bikes. Fascinating, but scary.

Once I've done some more research, I may be back with another query. Thanks, again.

Posted by
6720 posts

I am convinced I will meet my end in Amsterdam where it feels like the trams, thousands of bikes, cars and pedestrians are all on the same ill defined road/sidewalk (I am sure they are clear as a bell to those that live there, but I always seem to blunder into the wrong space and years ago in rain with my hood up I came within inches of getting hit by a tram -- one passed and I didn't realize one was coming the other way)

I walk in the Marais a lot and haven't found it difficult -- old neighborhoods, often narrow sidewalks but manageable. I think taxis are more trouble than just walking or taking the bus -- but others disagree.

For exploring the metro. Lines 14 and 1 both have elevators and are handicapped accessible. Line 1 stops at many central tourist destinations like the Louvre. Being pickpocket proof is for everywhere but of course line 1 is a favorite target since it is crowded and full of tourists. Don't carry valuables in pockets or carelessly held purse and you will be fine.

Posted by
2002 posts

I like the Londres Eiffel hotel in the 7th. Very nice, friendly, and of course an elevator, though the rooms, like most in Paris, are not large.

True, it is not as centrally located as other recommendations, but it is in a lively, but not overly crowded neighborhood, just off the rue St. Dominique. There are many good restaurants, a supermarket, bakery and other interesting shops in the immediate area, and it's a short walk to Champs du Mars, the Eiffel Tower, and rue Cler. You could take a short cab ride (or another bus) up to Les Invalids, the Army museum and Rodin gallery, which is in the vicinity.
For a slow walker, I think this area would be ideal. I love the St. Germain area - but it is much more busy.

The 69 bus runs down rue St. Dominique and will easily take you across town near all other major sights. Forget the metro, I have never seen a station that has only a few steps, and if you are slow, getting on and off a crowded train will be daunting. Take the bus or cabs.

Posted by
4136 posts

Another vote for the Saint Germain des Prés / Odéon area, possibly up to Luxembourg Gardens (but avoid staying around Panthéon, it's on a hill), because on top of the aforementioned reasons, there are tons of buses going everywhere from there: Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Opera, Marais... And there are plenty of quiet side streets where a slow walker can walk at their pace. After all, there are many elderly local residents - the area is unaffordable for most younger people who'd like more than a studio flat.

Posted by
5262 posts

Just to add that our experience in the Marais was mostly narrow sidewalks with busy people trying to pass us -- and we walk at what I'd call an average pace (though slowing each year).

Posted by
784 posts

I am also a slow walker. Walking in Paris, I find the sidewalks often crowded, narrow and uneven. Some sidewalks in the Marais, especially around Rue de Rivoli are "under construction" with sheets of plywood covering what I assume to be holes. I found I needed to watch every step. Many Pedestriations tend to walk in groups and do not yield to others, I found it was always up to me to move aside or be run over. I am just telling you this so that you are aware, not to rain on your parade. There are plenty of areas - check out the side streets - that are less crowded and more enjoyable - and interesting - to walk.

Posted by
152 posts

Thanks to all for ideas and recommendations. Looking at the map, I'm thinking the Saint Germain des Prés / Odéon, or St. Sulpice areas may be good. I've just started looking at the bus map, to try to get lodging near a good bus stop.

In looking at the hotel sites, many show the room size. In your experience, does that number include or exclude the bathroom? We once did a small ship cruise in Alaska, on which our cabin was 100 sq. ft., including the bathroom. My wife and I had to dress in shifts, as there was no room for both to be standing, looking for clothes, etc.

Back on point, what about Uber in Paris?

Thanks, again, for all the great, free advice.

Posted by
3332 posts

I'm now a slow walker and found staying in the 6th Arr by Luxembourg Gardens to be ideal.

Posted by
2923 posts

"Back on point, what about Uber in Paris?"
Uber works just the same as it does in the US. If you have the app on your phone in the US just do what you would do in the US. The card that I have attached to my Uber account is one that does not charge me foreign transaction fees. That is something you may want to consider if you have such a card and you plan to use Uber a lot in Paris.

Posted by
1156 posts

Uber is not allowed to use the designated express bus lanes in Paris but regular taxis are.
You might want to keep that in mind if you are in a hurry to get across town.
I hope that you have a wonderful time!

Posted by
152 posts

"JHK: Take a look at the Hotel Odeon Saint Germain"

So far, this hotel is on our short list. Are there issues with being so close to the theater: noise, traffic, etc? Should I inquire about a specific room or location: upper, front, back, courtyard, etc?

I've not yet looked at the bus access, but walking a couple blocks should not be a problem.

Thanks.

Posted by
5556 posts

I like Hotel Louvre St Anne, but it isn’t very big. Elevator. Good location for your needs. Rooms are not huge. Air conditioned. One triple, I think, quite large. For 300 Euros, you could get a bigger room in a poorer location hotel.

Posted by
82 posts

I just recently stayed at La Villa St. Germain on Rue Jacob. Great location! Good size room, plenty of storage (2 ladies able to completely unpack LOTS of clothes LOL), I believe there was even a coffee maker. It had an elevator and a full bar downstairs which was nice for an end of night drink before going to bed.

Posted by
2923 posts

Jerry, I just saw your post. I flew to Paris last night (last minute decision using miles) and am replying now before I go to sleep (so no accents). Anyway, back to the hotel. If you mean the Odeon Theatre, the hotel is a five-minute walk from there and I never heard any noise. It was quiet. We have stayed in the same two connecting rooms on the 4th floor facing the street and I do not recall any noise issues but I have never opened my windows because I have only stayed there in the summer time and you know, AC.

In my experience, Rue Saint Sulpice does not get a ton of traffic though buses do run on the street with a stop for the west bound routes being located a few minutes away from the hotel (Stop: Eglise Saint Sulpice). That stop is about a 5-minute walk from the hotel. Of the buses stop at Eglise Saint Sulpice I am familiar with only the east bound routing for bus 96 which is on Rue du Four near Rue des Cannettes. My guess is that a room in the back might be incrementally quieter and there is no harm in asking for that but I do not know what the view will be. Our rooms had charming streetscape views down Rue Saint Sulpice.

Overall the hotel is very quiet or at least that has been my experience. Rue Saint Sulpice is not very crowded and I can't recall any lively spots near the hotel on the street but as soon as you walk to Rue de Conde/Carrefour de l'Odeon, it gets lively.

Posted by
152 posts

JHK,
Thanks for your remarkably timely reply from Paris!

Pardonnez-mois, I must be getting cross-eyed from searching listings. My specific questions were actually related to a different hotel, the Odeon Hotel, which, apparently, is across from the Odeon Theater. I am checking out the Hotel Odeon St. Germain, which is what you mentioned in an earlier reply.
Enjoy your stay.
Jerry

Posted by
16 posts

Have you considered an apartment at all? Some of them have elevators, walk in showers, and you would have room to spread out your stuff and make coffee, or even snacks or a light meal if you wish. I just returned from Paris, and I stayed in the area that you are looking at in the St Germain area. It was very convenient to busses, and I walked quite a bit. I have plantar fasciitis, so I was walking very slowly (limping actually) most of the time. One great thing about walking slowly is that you have time to see the details, and notice things that others miss.

Posted by
152 posts

Jlgnd,
Thanks for your idea.
I have not considered an apartment, simply because it would seem to be a wide open topic, and I'm not familiar with the idiosyncracies of apartments in Europe. When we travel to Hawaii, or even in California, we have usually tried for a house, cottage or condo, for many reasons. We've used VRBO, but not airbnb. Do you have a name of an owner or rental agent you could share?
Jerry

Posted by
1118 posts

Here is a listing of Metro Stations that offer accessibility, but no guarantee that the elevators are functional. Incase you want to give it a try.

Auber, Chatelet, Ch. De Gaulle-Etoile, Chatelet-Les Halles, Gare de l’Est, Haussmann St.-Lazare

Invalides, La Defense, Madeleine, Metro-14 line, S. Michel-ND

Pyramides - Elevator off Ave de l’Opera (In front of the Big Bus office)

Posted by
31 posts

I too would like to hear from anyone who has legally rented an apartment for a vacation stay recently. The sites I've been looking at all seem to be for long-term. (I recall a few years ago a lot of major cities were trying to outlaw apartment rentals for tourists.)

Posted by
2923 posts

@ tripthelight, I have not rented in Paris recently but I know quote a few people who have, There are still legal vacation rentals but not as many vacation rentals as there used to be. Vacation rentals in Paris are not outlawed. They are regulated and the regulations are being enforced more these days than in the past. Booking.com lists only legal rentals or maybe I should say it lists vacation rentals only if they have the magic 13-digit registration number beginning with 75. A friend of mine has rented every year since 2016 from Paris Perfect but only rents apartments with the required registration number. Paris Perfect also has apartments without the numbers and she avoids those. AirBnB has some legal rentals and so does Guest Apartment Services though I venture to guess that they have more non-conforming rentals than legal rentals.

Posted by
152 posts

Thanks to the posters on the subject of apartment rental in Paris. I think I'll pass, and make do with a hotel. If we were returning visitors to Paris, familiar with the layout, and language, might give it a try. But having hotel staff to help with arrangements has value.
Jerry

Posted by
8394 posts

Jerry, i agree with you to stick with a nice hotel. There is definitely value in helpful staff.

I have to respond to Carolyn’s post about having to move over to avoid being mowed down on narrow sidewalks... i spend a good amount of time in Paris and find the vast majority of people are very polite and have very good sidewalk etiquette. But, if someone is coming right towards me as i stay as far to the right as i can and doesn’t appear to be moving over for me, i just stop. I have mobility issues too, and i am not moving out of someone’s way because they are too impolite to move over. Stopping does the trick, they have no choice but to move over.

I also take buses a lot and agree they, and taxis or Uber, are your best bet... however, i’ve had buses not come at all when they are supposed to. Wasting time waiting for a bus that never comes is very aggravating. Happened to me at least 6 times this Oct.