So, what’s it like to use a wheel chair in Nice?
Actually, not too bad, at least where we were.
As I have written before, we stayed at the Best Western, Hotel New York. (where the red push pin is) The gray lines of Avenue Jean Medecin are where the clean, easy to use tram runs. Just south of the push pin at Rue Biscarra was a tram stop. So it was fairly easy to get to the tram and use it.
I say fairly easy, only because Ben and I rolled right down the middle of Avenue Marechal Foch rather than using the sidewalks which many times had cars parked halfway on them blocking the way for a wheel chair or the sidewalk sloped to allow a car to drive in to a lot and it was hard for me to control the chair on a sideways slope. This part of Avenue Jean Medecin is a wide pedestrian area with only the tram running through it.
Getting on the tram was not bad. I can not begin to count the times that folks pitched in and helped us. Ben is a big man and I am petite. I know I appeared to be struggling and guess what, I was! After the first ride, we picked our tram carefully, sometimes letting a shorter tram (fewer cars) pass us by to wait for a longer one a few minutes later. We also did not try to ride during peak, crowded periods.
This area, vielle ville (the old part of the city) is hilly, sloping down to the sea with steps and curbs and small streets and crowds. We did not even try to go there. We had been there on previous trips so we knew what it was like. There was only one sports bar that we had considered going to, to see a football game. We probably could have taken a taxi to it but if Ben had needed to use the restroom he would have been out of luck. There was a narrow flight of stairs to it. The Cours Saleya is a flat, pedestrian area that we could have gone to, arriving by taxi or using a longer, less steep route. Again, we had been there before.
However, the Quai des Etats-Unis is a wonderful long, flat, wide promenade along the sea, that we reached fairly easily from a street to the west of the park area at Avenue de Verdun.
It is just getting back up the gradual hill to the tram that was the killer. Fortunately there was a pedi-cab. Popped Ben in to it and the nice young man delivered Ben to the tram stop and waited until I caught up, pushing an empty wheel chair.
The wheel chair did fit in to the elevator of the hotel when it was folded up. Ben and the chair might have fitted in. We didn’t try it. Ben is able to walk so he would go up to the room and the chair and I would follow. We could have stored the chair in the luggage room but the one chair in the bedroom was not comfortable so Ben used the wheel chair to sit in while we were in the room. Not every elevator in Nice is large enough to accommodate a wheel chair. We had to turn down other choices of rooms because the elevator was too small. The bathroom in the hotel was not handicapped accessible. It had a tub that I had a hard time getting in and out of. But we knew that when we made the reservation. Ben made do with his sponge bathes and it was fine for the few days that we were there.
We ate at restaurants close by the hotel. A reason we picked the hotel, it was near a lot of Asian restaurants where we knew we wanted to eat. (and the hotel has a small parking lot) By the time we were headed out to eat dinner each night the streets were fairly clear so I just rolled Ben right down the middle of the street. When we got to the restaurant he would get out and walk in and we would collapse the chair and try to find somewhere to park it. In all the restaurants the staff was very helpful and accommodating. Most nights the hotel staff had called for a reservation for us and alerted them. Maybe that helped. And maybe it helped that it was not the peak tourist season too.
To summarize, is NIce accessible? Yes and no. Fortunately, Ben is able to walk and to handle a few steps. On the other hand I am not always able to tilt him in a wheel chair up and down curbs. (Once you get away from the pedestrian areas and tram way there were not a lot of curb cuts, hence rolling right down the middle of the street.) Since we were traveling together we were able to make the situation work. Ben could not have managed if he had been alone with the type of chair that he has. (just a basic no frills model) A younger person using a different type of chair (or perhaps if Ben had a motorized chair) would be able to comfortably handle most of the best part of Nice. I would suggest picking a hotel carefully, making sure the chair will fit in the elevator and that there are not stairs to the elevator. Also picking restaurants carefully. Some of them are so small. Staying near the tram line. And if possible avoiding peak tourist season.
Nice is a wonderful city. We have been going there for years and I am so happy that we will be able to continue to visit there.