Accessible Travel Lake Bourget & Aix les Bains

October 31, 2012 in Adaptive Cycling, France, Wheelchair Walks

Lake Bourget France

Wheelchair travel in the French Alps is easier than you think. Lake Bourget didn’t disappoint my hopes of accessible outdoor fun in fabulous surroundings.

Wheelchair Walks & Cruises

Lakeside Promenade

Wheelchair travel esplanade du lac, Aix, Lake BourgetThe Esplanade du Lac in Aix les Bains is a romantic tree lined, lakeside promenade. From Petit Port to Grand Port there is a long stretch of smooth wide path. After Grand Port there is a small beach Plage Memars and Vagabond Gardens, some of which is good for wheelchair users.

Voie Verte

There is a new greenway (voie verte) cycle path that runs alongside the lake which is perfect for wheelchairs. It’s smooth and wide with glorious views. We rode from Aix les Bains to Les Mottets and back (on the new wheelchair bike) along this route. The path is near the road so it is a bit noisy sometimes, but the path is usually below the road (so noise is lessened) and does veer away into lovely lakeside park areas. Views of the lake make it very worthwhile.

wheelchair walk, voie verte, lake bourget, france

 

The greenway around Lake Bourget is perfect for wheelchair walks.

 

Site des Mottets, Lake Bourget, wheelchair walk

Site des Mottets

This is a large park that leads to a lakeside beach. Reedbeds, moorhens, ducks and wild rabbits give it a nice wildlife feel. The paths are easy access and compressed gravel suface. There are disabled toilets and barbeque areas. It is next to a small marina and a nature reserve. It also has a duck pond, skate park and kids playground.

 

Cruise on the lake

Wheelchair accessible boat rides are available to Savieres Canal, Lake Bourget and Rhone River. www.bateauxcanal.com & www.compagniedesbateauxdulac.fr

Mount Revard

Mount Revard wheelchair access rhone alpsMount Revard viewing platform, disabled travel rhone alps

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scenic alpine drive and panoramic views anyone?  Le Revard Bellevedere is good day out for wheelchair users. On the drive up we enjoyed the picturesque alpine vistas. Cows with bells jingling on the grassy slopes, layers of mist floating amongst pines, conifers and ski chalets looking cosy with their stacks of wood ready for the winter.  At the top is a large car park, restaurant, shop, disabled toilet and 3 wheelchair accessible viewing platforms. If you go on a clear day the views of Aix les Bains, Lake Bourget, Mont Blanc and the surrounding Alps are astonishing. The glass floor viewing platform definitely enhances the feeling of being on the edge!  The paths between the platforms are easy access compressed gravel.

Chanaz

wheelchair walk chanaz, Lake Bourget, Rhone AlpsChanaz, Lake Bourget, French Alps

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Aix les Bains we took a drive around Lake Bourget for a day out in the quaint canal side village of Chanaz.  There are disabled parking bays in the village.  On the other side of Canal de Savieres there is more parking and a lovely canal side path which is perfect for wheelchairs or wheelchair tandems. Here we soaked up the lovely view of the village with its turquoise/ jade canal while the fishermen sat on the banks waiting for a catch.

Veloroute Near Chanaz

velo route chanaz to les mures, rhone alpsvelo route chanaz to les mures, french alps

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Chanaz we rode the wheelchair bike on the veloroute to Les Mures and back, alongside the Rhone. It was peaceful and mostly car free.  Although the long flat bit was a bit monotonous, it was very scenic (and hilly) between L’Ecoincon and Les Mures.

Wheelchair Access In Aix les Bains

wheelchair access aix les bainsWheelchair users may need assistance in the town due to the slopes. The town gardens are smooth and accessible. In the pedestrian shopping area and around the roman arch, the surface is often stone tiles which are only slightly bumpy.  Fancy a dip in the public hot springs? Visit Thermes Nationaux d’Aix les Bains. Entrance to the thermal pool, hammam and sauna is wheelchair accessible and costs 19euros per person per day.  There is disabled parking in the underground car park and there is a lift to all floors.

Aix les Bains Accessible Accomodation

Although they didn’t have any printed accessibility info, the woman at the Tourist Office www.aixlesbains.com was helpful and encouraged me to email accueil@aixlesbains.com for any further info.

Camping Alp’Aix  is a lovely spot for trees and birds.  It’s fairly peaceful and is very near to the Esplanade. It has smooth paths and a basic disabled toilet.

Campings du Sierroz is a bigger campsite with disabled facilities and is also near the esplanade. They also have a wheelchair accessible static caravan for hire.

 

 

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Wheelchair Travel On The Greenways In Burgundy

October 31, 2012 in Adaptive Cycling, France, Wheelchair Walks

Burgundy’s Accessible Greenways

voie verte  Santenay to Nolay, burgundy  Santenay to Nolay Voie Verte vineyards  wheelchair bike, wheelchair tandem on voie verte burgundyvoie verte map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you look on this tourist map of the Voies Vertes, you will see miles and miles of smooth surfaced, accessible and car free countryside paths in Burgundy.  They have even marked which access points are wheelchair accessible.  This is the main reason I wanted to visit this area. To get out in the countryside in my wheelchair or on the wheelchair bike and hear the birds twittering while watching the vineyards turn golden in the autumn sunlight.  We only managed a fraction of the Burgundy car free paths as there is so much to go at. We stuck mainly to the Santenay area and surrounds. There is so much more to explore on future wheelchair travel trips.

Wheelchair Walks and Wheelchair Tandem Biking

Santenay to Nolay

It’s a Gentle uphill slope nearly all the way to Nolay. We passed vineyards, charming villages, lush and abundant rolling hills and bucolic vistas. Towards the end there are 2 viaducts with wide views. We turned back towards Santenay after the first one and glided back downhill all the way back to camp.

Santenay to Nolay Voie Verte wheelchair travelSantenay to Nolay Voie Verte wheelchair access

 Chagny to near Chalon sur Saone

This is an old tow path alongside the canal. It has quiet locks, lockmaster houses decorated with flowers, barges and house boats.  Cruise boats passed us by and then even WE overtook them. Went past huge fields and tiny smallholdings, met cows, donkeys, chickens, sheep, geese and lots of cats. Nice and smooth, mostly flat apart from short slopes at the locks.

wheelchair walk, Chagny to Chalon Burgundy voie verteChagny to Chalon voie verte cycle path burgundy

 Santenay to St Leger sur Dheune

We saw lush emerald countryside, white cows, charming canal side gites, roller bladers and more canal cats. We learned the art of pique-nique (we brought tasy nibbles) and stopped at canal side benches for snacks. Gliding alongside the ducks and fish, we were easily overtaken by the Tour de Francers (men who dress up in serious cycle gear).  We rescued a tiny snake on the path. Another cyclist asked where to find a wheelchair bike for his handicap daughter. Luckily, the creaky pedal (that became a wobbly pedal when oiled) waited until the end of the trip before needing attention.

santenay to st leger voie verte burgundywheelchair travel, santenay to st leger, voie verte burgundy

 Burgundy Scenic Drives

Mountain of the 3 crosses, Santenay, Burgundy

Montagne des Trois Croix

I enjoyed the scenic drive up the Montagne des Trois Croix, but sadly the viewpoint at the top is a no go for wheelchair users. It’s only a 5 minute walk up, so I sent my carer up to enjoy the 360 degree views while I waited in the car park.

Route des Grands Crus

Driving from Santenay to Beaune through the vineyards on charming country lanes. This is the wine tasting route where you pass through rustic villages and a sea of grape vines as far as you can see.

Scenic drive, Route des Grands Crus, BurgundyBeaune

We drove into the centre and saw the hardcore cobbles and skinny pavements.  It looked like a wheelchair disaster zone, so we headed straight out again. Someone with more patience or enthusiasm might be able to chart a wheelchair travel route through this place, but it wasn’t gonna be me on that particular day!  Instead we enjoyed the sunset scenic drive back through the sea of grapes on the Route des Grands Crus.

Santenay

Santenay Village

The village square in Santenay has good parking and access. Nearby there is a small Vival supermarket, but you might have to go up and down the curbs to enter, as the pavement is a bit skinny near the entrance. Further up the hill from the main square the pavements get thinner, but there are no cobbles. If you want to investigate further in your wheelchair you might need to go on the road.

You don’t need a watch in Santenay, just listen to the bells if you want to know the time.

Santenay wheelchair access BurgundySantenay wheelchair access travel Bugundy

 Accessible Accomodation

camping des sources, santenay, burgundyCamping des Sources has large pitches, most of them on flat ground. There are disabled facilities, you will need to get the key from reception. Set amongst the vineyards in a green and lush environment, it’s friendly, peaceful and has lovely trees. This campsite is in a great location as it’s not far from the village and very near to the Greenways (car free paths).

Santenay tourist office website is www.ville-de-santenay.fr/

 

 

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Wheelchair Tandem Biking

October 15, 2012 in Accessible Days Out, Adaptive Cycling, France, UK

Guest Article For Tourism For All UK

Marina from www.wheelchairaccesstravel.com shares her experiences of wheelchair tandem biking.

Wheelchair Bikes for Hire

I am really excited about wheelchair bikes right now, since having so much fun being peddled around the countryside.  If you’ve never had a go, I highly recommend it.  So much so, that I compiled a list of bicycle hire shops in the UK where you can rent a Wheelchair Tandem near a car free cycle path.

wheelchair bike, wheelchair tandem, rollfiets, adapted cycle,

Types of Wheelchair Bikes

There are different types of adapted cycles for people with different disabilities.  My physical condition means that I’m unable to exert myself at all, so even a hand bike is out of the question.  With the wheelchair tandem, once I’m on the bike I just sit back and enjoy the ride.  My carer Karl is already developing thighs of steel.

On the net I found  various wheelchair bikes  including the “Duet” Wheelchair Tandem (which is known as “Rollfiets” in Europe), the Draisin Plus, the O Pair and the Van Raam.   I have only tried out the Duet so far, but after  2 wonderful  wheelchair tandem rides in Devon this summer, I was hooked.  Wanting more, I scoured the web for a wheelchair bike to hire near my home in Sussex, but to no avail……………….continue reading at Tourism For All UK

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Mountain Wheelchair Travel in Chamonix Mont Blanc

October 13, 2012 in Adaptive Cycling, France, Wheelchair Walks

Wheelchair Travel Chamonix Mont Blanc

Chamonix is exciting, even for wheelchair users. Starting at the tourist office, there is a lowered desk at wheelchair height, which is always a good sign. They gave me a special info pack (also available online ) with their accessibility information. They also advised me on which cable cars were open and answered my questions.  Very friendly and helpful staff.

Wheelchair Accessible Cable Car Ride to Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix Mont Blanc

Warning: This is Europe’s highest cable car at an altitude of 3842m. I found it more difficult to breathe at this altitude. Physically fit, strong, healthy carer required (it wasn’t just me who was out of breath).  Ascend at your own risk.

Wheelchair Travel & Accessible Cable Car, Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix, Mont BlancWheelchair Travel, Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix Mont Blanc

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went straight to the information desk outside of the station.  The woman who served us should get an award for being friendly, knowledgeable about the access and super helpful. She explained which areas were wheelchair accessible, then went to the front of the large queue and bought our tickets for us. Next, she left us at the front of the departure gate queue, while she got our tickets swiped for boarding. As a wheelchair user I got boarding priority to all the cable car journeys.

The first part is the cable car to Plan de Aiguille. There is no wheelchair access to the viewing area here, so we just changed here to the cable car up to Aiguille du Midi. At the top station I had a dizzy spell. I felt quite giggly, but very weak and thought I might drop dead from altitude sickness.  I survived by doing some deep breathing techniques and keeping still to conserve energy.  Most areas are wheelchair accessible.  There are disabled toilets, a museum and several viewing areas. We crossed the bridge and took the elevator to the top viewing platform. Here we found a 360 degree panoramic view of ice, snow and clouds nestled amongst rocky spires and peaks.  Luckily we were there on a clear day, the views are spectacular.

Show your blue badge or disabled ID card to get 50% off for you and your carer. (The 50% discount applies to the multipass too.) There are free disabled parking bays in front of the Aiguille du Midi station. Ask for the key to the disabled toilets at the info desk.

Accessible Train to the Glacier – Mer de Glace, Chamonix Mont Blanc

This station was quite busy. There’s no point queuing with the crowds to board the Montenvers Mer du Glace Train. If you are in a wheelchair let the staff know and they will bring you around a different way to board the train. It involves ramps and the ascent onto the train is quite steep. You definitely need a strong carer for this part. Two members of staff also helped with the transfer, so I had 3 people pushing and guiding my chair up the ramp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a pleasant mountain train journey, we arrived at an altitude of 1913 metres. More ramp action to get me off the train, then a mooch around, enjoying the glacial and mountain scenery.

There is a small crystal museum with some huge crystals. It’s a fairly steep downward slope from the station to get there, but not long.  There is also a sunny viewing deck that’s accessible. You can see the ice cave down below from here. The ice cave is not wheelchair accessible so I waited on the deck while my carer went down the hundreds of steps to check it out.

The path to the Glaciorium and the Grand Hotel Restaurant are okay if a bit bumpy. There is a short gravelly bit (a bit annoying) on the slope at the entrance to the Glaciorium. We watched a few short films there about glaciers.

Wheelchair Walks In Chamonix Mont Blanc

Around town - Chamonix beckons the wheelchair traveller with its relatively flat valley.  The smooth pedestrianized, café lined tourist centre is easy to navigate, but stray off the beaten track and the one area you will find it is not so generous is;  drop curbs.

By the river – Follow Promenade du Fori by l’Arve for a flat easy access walk.

In the forest – Go for a roll in Bois du Bouchet, where they have a lovely easy access forest walk.  It caters for different disabilities and has a cute little wooden chalet for a disabled toilet at the start of the trail. There is parking just off Route du Bouchet.

 

 

 

 

 
 

How To Spend A Rainy Day In Chamonix

There are 2 museums in the town which I didn’t have time to visit. Musee des Cristaux is apparently completely accessible.  Musee Alpin is an old building so it’s ground floor only for wheelchair users.

Accommodation and Camping in Chamonix Mont Blanc

Travelling on a budget we stayed at Camping Les Deux Glaciers. In late September it was quite nippy at night, which is not surprising being so close to Glacier des Bossons. There is a disabled toilet which was opened on request. No wheelchair access to the reception. The campsite is a bit hilly but there are flat pitches near the disabled toilet. The pitches are very pretty. Think rambling stream, flowers, wooden chalet huts and astonishing sunset views of peaks and glaciers from your tent. There is traffic noise though from the nearby motorway. It’s lessened by the sounds of the glacial stream (if you camp near it) and the road is not as busy at the weekend.

Check out the accessibility info online for more accommodation.

Wheelchair Travel Chamonix Mont Blanc, Glacier des Bossons at sunset, Camping Les Deux Glaciers,

Wheelchair Travel, Camping Les Deux Glaciers, Chamonix Mont Blanc

 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 

Velo Route in Chamonix

We did some wheelchair biking in Chamonix too. More info coming up in future posts.

 

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