Gran and Jo do Paris...
Gran is my travel idol. She’s been to Australia, China, Greece, Venice, Florence and Paris. So for her, the plus side of travel is less about seeing new places, and more about re-visiting what she knows. This trip allowed her to see familiar surroundings and bring back pleasant memories, while discovering new things that she’d always wanted to do, and have never gotten around to doing. Here’s how we made our trip an amazing one!
1. Remember that your grand-parent isn’t as mobile as you are. Uber is your friend! Make sure you have an international internet plan that gives you 3g because no one wants to fight to hail a taxi outside in the cold when Gran is already tired. To give you an idea: after a couple of hours in the Musée d’Orsay, our Uber picked us up from the back of the museum in minutes. With no walking and no hassle, it was just perfect.
2. Avoid public transport. If you must take the metro, make sure it’s the stations that you can handle. Gran did great with a transfer in Sèvres Babylone, but the stairs leading out of Porte d’Auteuil were a bit of a struggle. The cold kept us off the bus, but we could have ridden the bus from our hotel to the Opera, for example.
3. Scope out the benches and elevators. Many attractions in France don't want you to use the elevators. As a result, elevators and rest areas are often hidden. I also noticed that museum exhibits weren’t designed with the elderly in mind, so while there may be ramps, there can also be long winding paths that don’t show anything interesting. Save precious energy by asking museum guides where the shortcuts are.
4. Ask her what she wants to see. I’ve been to Paris tons of times, and so I can get into a bit of a rut when it comes to what I do when I’m in town. She wanted to see the impressionists and African art. So we did that. By taking me into an area of the city I rarely venture into, and pushing me to step out of my comfort zone and go to new places, Gran made Paris feel new.
5. Remember that museums often have cafes. Plan a refueling stop in the middle of your tour so that everyone can recharge. The café at the Musée du Quai Branly serves breakfast, lunch and snacks in a sun-filled dining room. The views of the gardens and Eiffel Tower made it the perfect spot to take a well deserved rest...
6. Buy tickets online for museums ahead of time. Part of me thinks that Gran’s favorite part was not having to stand in any lines for any attractions. You can buy tickets to the Musée d'Orsay online at Digitick. I also bought our Musée du Quai Branly tickets online at Digitick. Digitick is one of the best ways to get online tickets, because you won't need to print it out. Just save the e-ticket to your smartphone, and you'll be fine. Entering different visitor names on each ticket you buy will save you time at the entrance. Remember to buy tickets at least one day in advance...
7. Go to things that are fun, but don’t require too much physical activity. We headed to a cafe and had wine and desert as musicians played and sang.
8. Remember that you can always come back, but she may not necessarily. These things may not even seem to be much, but they will mean a lot to your grand-mother. My gran never thought she’d ever get to come to Paris again, so there were some very nostalgic things she wanted to do. They included walking past the neighborhood where she used to spend lots of time, eating baguette, and eating a croissant.