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Disabled in France


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May I suggest a new section for disabled people in France?

This could include all medical problems, car parking, transport, shopping, hotels, holidays, any assistance available such as help around the house and garden, and generally how to live in France in a wheelchair.

One subject might be to encourage supermarkets to provide wheelchairs or electric shopping carts as is done in the UK, or to set up a scheme such as shopmobility in UK.

I do not know if this would receive much support, but perhaps you could ask the forum if the contributors would support such a section?

David

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Excellent Ame and NormanH,

I think it might also be very useful for those people who find themselves temporarily disabled such as people who have had an accident and are mobility restricted.

The assistance to all, wheelchair or not, could be of great benefit and may also include support and assistance groups.

e.g., you have an accident, stroke, other problem - where do you go for help, how can you cope practically?

You want to go shopping or on holiday to a particular city or resort - how would you manage.  Public transport, hotels, car parking etc.  For example I recently asked on this forum about disabled (blue badge) parking at the driving licence centre at Niort.  I was given much helpful advice about parking in public car parks at some distance down a hill - very difficult in a wheelchair.  When I went there I found a blue badge space right outside the office!

The trams in Nantes - can you take a wheelchair on board?  At other towns - which supermarkets help the mobility restricted?  For example in Perpignan Carrefour provide two electric shopping carts, Le Clerk provide nothing - who do I use?  I use Carrefour and I have spent much money there in the shopping cart - I now will not use Le Clerk.etc, etc.

David

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It certainly is  much easier in the UK.

Most supermarkets, DIY & town centres have wheel chairs available at either f.o.c. or a nominal sum.

During the last summer we took mother in law with a gammy knee (aged 85) to France and we took a wheel chair with us from England as I knew that no - or few such facilities are available.

Tegwini

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I think things are changing though, I see those battery operated wheelchairs now available in the larger Hypermarkets,  I think you ask at the info desk for a key and maybe leave a deposit.  I wish they had been available when I busted my ankle.

A friend of mine is severely disabled (broken back in  an air crash) and walks with extreme difficulty with 2 crutches.  I often accompany him as 'minder' and I am sometimes appalled at the jostling he gets in the street.  I am also delighted at the helpful attention he gets in shops, restaurants etc in providing seats and not queuing any longer than necessary.

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I write articles for the internet on disablility issues in France, travel and tourism also. I have also written about my experiences as a disabled person since moving here four years ago. I have written about the benefits that can still be obtained from the UK and the help available in France.

We do not have the luxury of motorised scooters, unless you have your own, at hypermarkets. In fact you are lucky to get a caddy that fits your French national health wheelchair!

Carrefour seems to pick and choose in our area as to whether they have caddies for use or not and if you have had to do your shopping with a loaded basket on your lap you would understand.

LeClerc have issued a pamphlet saying how they have improved their supermarkets to accomodate everyone, which, if it wasn't so humiliating would be funny. I use one of these shops once a month  to buy my maize bread and while there pick up a few items but to go through the caisse is a farce. There is a sign that says handicapé but the wheelchair just fits through the caisse exit by the till  if I keep my arms in but the caddie won't fit. At first the staff wouldn't believe it until they saw it with their own eyes, I forced it through and nearly took the surround with me. Still nothing has been done despite their promises in writing in their own pamphlet.

I cover many events where new accessible areas are opened to the disabled public and have made suggestions of improvements. L'Office des Forets have made walks for the disabled, the last at a beautiful location by some lakes. It is a long way from the road and from a village, but there are no toilets. I explained for the disabled it is imperitive there are toilets, just like everyone else (if you have visited anywhere with young children you will understand) but I said I didn't expect flush toilets but dry ones like they have in Australia would be good and they could move them around. They hadn't thought of this, for anyone.

Dijon is our nearest large city and you can have dropped kerbs one side of the road but not the other, parking wardens have watched me being pushed along a pavement only to have it blocked by a parked car or van but they ignore it. Luckily me husband pushes me but if I were alone, what then? I have seen an ambulance car arrive at a consultant's surgery and two ambulance men lift an elderly man, in a wheelchair, up the steps. Disabled toilets at malls that are not large enough to take a wheelchair due to them being blocked by unnecessary tat. I have encountered taps that are difficult to turn due to problems with my hands, others that have a lever that has to be operated by the legs (what if you are paralysed in the legs?) the best are the ones that come on automatically when the hands are put beneath them.

If supermarkets in France used the same system as the UK, where all checkouts are of the same size, there would be no need for disabled checkouts. I do assert myself but other people wait while people who don't need them push in.  Our local supermarket closes one checkout for an hour a couple of times a day and yes it is the disabled access one.

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Burgundy Maid, your post is a fascinating and eye-opening one.  Tomorrow I set off on my first ever wheelchair-bound shopping trip myself.  Don't think this subject is one you are dis (as opposed to un) interested in because one day, it could be you facing these problems.....
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After reading Burgundy Maid's eye-opening post, I wish you the very best of luck tomorrow, Cooperlola. It sounds like you're going to need it! I imagine that it will be a steep learning curve for you and for the person pushing your chair, if they are also new to the experience.

Burgundy Maid, can you recommend any websites or publications that address the issues you mention in your post? 

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The UK is years and miles ahead of the rest of the world for access to the disabled, not just physically, but for services, education, etc.

Bonne chance Coops - will be thinking of you. Thinking of all these years ago, when I was a young woman in London, learning to walk again - I remember with sheer terror the fear of getting on and off escalators- and the impossibility of accessing buses. so much easier now. Well done UK.

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Burgundy Maid,

I agree with every word that you have written, in spades.  Thank you for such an informative post.

These problems do not only apply to the long term disabled, but can also apply to any forum reader at any time due to sickness or accident.  Perhaps a special section in this forum could help those newly or temporarily disabled seek help and advice from those with actual experience?

For example, CPAM will supply a wheelchair free of charge if prescribed by a doctor.  This wheelchair can then be replaced every five years.

David

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Coops,

I was concerned to read that you are taking your first ever wheelchair shopping trip.  I have been off the forum for a while - have you had an accident or illness?  I do hope that you are only wheel-chair bound for a short time, and not for life.

How did you manage with your shopping trip?  I am sure that an account from you of your very first trip, from such an experienced poster, would be of great interest.

Kind regards,

David

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I hope, Norman, that the following will not be counted as female emoting. (Funny but I reckon the blokes around here emote quite a bit also, but that is not for this thread...)

I was actually pleasantly surprised  by the trip to Auchan yesterday.  OK, it's tough to get to loads of the shelves from a wheelchair but when I needed to a chap appeared as if by magic (staff) and helped out.  All the wide checkouts were open and the kind lady packed my bag for me.  As for the other shoppers, most were extremely pleasant  and some even offered help although it's true quite a few didn't seem to notice I was unable to get past them on occasions but to be honest, that's often the case when one is on two feet!   However, once out of the supermarket, other shops are a different matter - even in a modern shopping centre.  I'd have liked to have browsed the newsagents too but this was impossible given the layout.

Great to see this new section.  Because I'm in rehab' there is loads of information for the disabled available here.  I'll do a trawl of some of it and see if I can't find some more useful links. 

Thanks David and everybody else for your concern.

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