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Provence Accessibility

Avignon Accessibility

Overview/Layout
Avignon has a medieval city wall that is about a mile in diameter. Almost all the sights are within this city wall. The Rhone River flows outside the wall to the North and West of the city. The Palace of the Popes is in the north end of town just inside the city wells, and the Pont d’Avignon is just outside the northern city wall. The whole city is pretty compact – from the southern city wall to the northern city wall (where the bridge is) is less than a mile. The city is primarily flat: there is a hill to go up to the Rocher des Doms gardens overlooking the river, and there is a hill going down from the Place de l’Horloge square to the city wall towards the West. Most of the city is paved. The plaza in front of the Palace of the Popes is about 200m long with medium cobblestones. The street that runs south along the palace has severe cobblestones.

Getting There
There is a handicap parking spot in the SW corner of the Place de l’Horloge next to the City Hall (Hôtel de la Ville). You can also park in the parking garage at the Palace of the Popes (enter from the road running adjacent to the river…there will be signs for “Palais des Papes” parking). The WC exit in the parking garage was behind and unmarked door in the NW corner of the garage.

There are two main train stations. The TGV high-speed train station is located about 2 ½ miles south of town and connects to the main cities (Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Nice, etc…). To get into town you can either take a cab or take the accessible shuttle bus. The shuttle bus will drop you off at Rue de la Republique street and the southern city wall. From there it’s less than a half mile flat walk to Place de Horloge city square.

The other station is the SNCF train station and it connects to the small local towns. It is located just outside the south city wall at Rue de la Republique (1 block from the drop-off for the TGV shuttle bus).

Getting Around
There is no public transportation within the city walls other than taxis, but the sights are generally within walking distance of each other. There are some medium cobblestones near the Palace of the Popes and a few small hills. Most of the city is paved.

Tourist Sights
Palace of the Popes – not accessible. Lots of steps to tour the various rooms. I didn’t go inside
Petit Palais – contains Italian medieval and Renaissance artwork. Was closed the day I was there so I didn’t go inside

Rocher des Doms gardens – The gardens are located on top of a hill next to the Palace of the Popes and have a great view of the Rhône River. To get there you can either drive, push up the street, or take the tourist train that stops outside of the Palace of the Popes and has a somewhat difficult transfer. I pushed up the street….you can view it from the bottom and decide for yourself. On the way up there is a church….it had 3-4 steps and I didn’t go inside.

Pont d’Avignon – The entrance is at the road following the river. There is an accessible lift to get up to it. On top of the bridge is medium to severe cobblestones but it is only about 100m long. The two chapels on the bridge are not accessible.

Arles
Overview/Layout
Most of the city is flat. There are some hills heading from the amphitheater down to the river. There are some medium cobblestones surrounding the amphitheater.

Getting Around
The sites are within walking distance of each other. You may want to take a cab to the history museum.

Tourist Sights
The history museum is on the southwest side of town and is fully accessible.
Roman Amphitheater – There are about 4-5 steps inside the amphitheater.
Roman Theater – Up two steps and over some roped off grass to enter.
Constantine Baths – There are three single steps at the entrance before arriving at a staircase. From there you can see most of the ruins.
Place de Forum, city hall square, and Espace de Van Gogh are fully accessible.

Les Baux
Overview/Layout
The cobblestones and hills make it one of the least accessible European cities that I have visited. Nevertheless the town is pretty small and quite unique.

Getting There
There are inaccessible busses running from nearby towns? Or you can drive and park in the handicapped spots at the entrance to the town. It looks like the locals could drive through the town after the sites close….not sure if the TI (immediately inside the gate) would let you do it for a wheelchair.

Tourist Sights
Castle Ruins – It is _m uphill over medium cobblestones from the city entrance to the castle ruins. I needed a push over about 30m of a steep section. On the way back down I had to stay in a wheelie for about a minute over the cobblestones. The Les Baux castle ruins, just like any European castle ruins are quite slow-going but I got to see a lot. There is some fairly deep gravel heading straight, then right, to the medieval catapults. I was able to do it without help. They demonstrate the catapults every 1-2 hours….check the TI for times. Past the catapults is 50m of rocky, uneven ground to get to a great view. After that you can turn left and go up a gravel hill that is almost impossible to do without a push. At the top of the hill, a view over the town back to the left can be seen from there. At that point I was right next to the castle ruins but chose not to go any further because there were lots of steps to get to the top. Retrace your steps to get out of town.

Cathedral d’Images – Located on the road leading north of town. Did not visit.

Pont du Gard
Overview/Layout
Roman Aqueduct (bridge over the Gardon River) , 2nd highest remaining Roman structure next to the Coliseum. Fully accessible museum and theatre. Accessible path that leads a few hundred meters to the bridge. Wheelchairs available.

Getting There
Easiest option is to drive. There is a bus from the nearby town of Nîmes but I doubt it is accessible. You could also take a cab from Nîmes.

Tourist Sights
Museum – Museum is fully accessible and contains displays on the Roman water transportation system and bridge construction. The theatre shows a film about the bridge which oddly follows an Italian couple who are all over each other and includes lots of cleavage (I told you it was odd!)

Bridge – There is an accessible path to the bridge and there is a road built in the late 1800s that crosses the river right next to the bridge. The road is no longer in use and you can use it see the bridge and rive from several different viewpoints.

Kayak Trip – You can drive upriver to Collias to take a kayak or canoe trip with Kayak Vert. It is a 2+ hour float trip and goes underneath the Pont du Gard….a very cool experience! They have 1 person and 2 person kayaks, as well as 2 person and 3 person canoes. Kayak Vert takes a group of disabled people down the river every year so they know what they are doing. You can reach them here: http://www.canoe-france.com/en/gardon/index.html

Sage Firsthand Experience
The kayak trip from Collias to Pont du Gard was fairly tranquil except for a few small rapids. I was in a one person kayak which was easy for me although I was slower than my friends because I don’t have trunk muscles due to my T-4 spinal cord injury. I sat on a lifejacket and should have brought another one to use as a backrest. Getting in and out of the river was no problem – I transferred into the kayak in the parking lot and then the guys working there (who can assist with transfers) dragged the boat down the slope into the river.  They brought my chair in their van down the river to the takeout point.

Isle sur La Sorgue
Overview/Layout
Isle sur La Sorgue is a small, scenic town with canals running through it. The town is small and flat with some mild cobblestones. Canals cut through the town alongside and underneath the steets. Waterwheels used to power industry in the city and still There are some sights there but we got there after they closed.

Getting There
You can drive 30 min east from Avignon to get there, or you can take the train. The train station is called L’Isle–Fontaine de Vaucluse. I’m not sure if the train station is accessible.

Tourist Sights
Notre-Dame-Des-Anges church – steps to get into it. Didn’t see a ramp to get into it.

http://www.provenceweb.fr/e/vaucluse/islesorg/islesorg.htm

Sage Firsthand Experience
Buy a pizza and a bottle of wine, sit by a canal, and watch the world go by.

Vaison-la-Romaine
Overview/Layout
There are really two towns here: the small medieval one on top of the hill to the south and the larger modern town to the north that contains the Roman ruins. The medieval town is not accessible but is worth driving through. You can park in the modern town where the sights are within walking distance of each other.

http://www.nicetourism.com/GB/html/pratique/infos/i_handicap.html – Some accessibility info on Nice, France
http://mobileenville.free.fr/plans/Nice/Nice.html – Map of Nice accessibility
http://mobileenville.free.fr/plans/marseille01/marseille01.html – Map of Marseilles accessibility

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