We arranged to meet up at one of Jérôme’s favourite (and accessible) bars, the legendary Chez Auguste on Place de la Victoire, where we discussed Bordeaux’s ranking in the annual “Baromètre de l’Accessibilité” as drawn up by the Association des Paralysés de France. The city currently lies 13th in the table which is topped by Grenoble, Nantes and Caen: “Bordeaux has its shortcomings and there is definite room for improvement, but I do think that position is a bit harsh. On the whole, I’m satisfied by what has been done in the city.”
We make our way towards the nearby tram stop. “The tram network is a godsend for disabled people, enabling us to get around Bordeaux. As the stations and their immediate surroundings have been designed with wheelchair users in mind, these are also among the most accessible areas in the city.” However, I soon gather that boarding the tram is far from simple, especially at this busy time (it’s 10:30 in the morning). As Jérôme enters the tram, the doors close on him, almost leaving me stranded on the platform. Luckily the doors re-open and we can continue our journey both unharmed and together. With people all around, alighting at the next stop is also a challenge: Jérôme has to reverse off the tram with little or no view of what is behind him. He makes it out but it all seems very hair-raising.
|Wheelchair access at the Musée d'Aquitaine and the Grand-Théâtre.|
|Left: a wide, wheelchair-friendly pavement; top right: a raised pedestrian crossing; |
bottom right: an obstacle-strewn city centre street like this is not good news for Jérôme.
|Top left: one step too many; bottom left: this low step can be overcome; right: using the La Machine à Lire ramp.|
We clearly have a satisfied customer. After all, Jérôme moved to Bordeaux from his native Brittany in 2005, so the city must be doing something right if he’s still here after nine years. But does he have a wish-list of things that could be done to make things better? The “step” issue returns: “Bars, restaurants and other buildings with steps should be obliged to have a ramp, even if it’s not a permanent measure. And it would be great to have more tramway stations to be able to get out and about to more places!”