Sunday, May 29, 2011


The Louvre was free for me and John as were all other museums / galleries. Wheelchair users and one carer are not charged.

The Louvre was crowded. We only did the top floor as I really could not cope with more. It seems I can only take in so much before being overcome. My brain just starts to shut down on me and I become disassociated.

At least I know why Mona Lisa has that smirk on her face. She is thinking 'Look at all these twats trying to perv at me'!! The crowd around her was enormous. The guides tho told John and I to go in front of the barrier. There is a separate roped off area for wheelchair users right at the front. (The Scottish National Gallery were not so thoughtful.)

We were allowed to photograph too. Many of the exhibits were in glassed frames, thus the flare, even without the flash.

Most of the photographs I took, and most of the paintings I liked, were portraits of one person. I find the other paintings to be dull even though I am impressed by the blue used in many. (I much preferred the other gallery we went to but more of that in another post.)

I booked our trip six months prior to taking it. I telephoned the Novotel Tour Eiffel and spoke with the reception there. They gave me all the details I needed about how to get around Paris. I was told, correctly, that we could book special taxis that would take me sitting in
my wh/chair, that we could use buses that had special platforms and that all the places we would want to see were fully accessible. They neglected to tell me that the hotel itself was not accessible! The first thing you see when you go in, up a wheelchair ramp, is a pair of escalators! The reception being on the second floor. The only way for wheelchair users to get in and out is to wait for the hotel firemen (don't ask me why firemen) to take one up in the service lift at the BACK of the hotel.

Our room was supposed to be a suite. It wasn't. It was a bedroom with a small, hardly accessible room attached. This room was by the entrance so the first thing John had to do was move the sofa so I could get in. We then discovered there was no fridge , just an empty spot where it clearly had been. The supports in the disabled loo were also broken(downstairs, not in our room-there were none in our room!)

I did not complain until the morning of checking out because I did not want my stay ruined. As it was, I was correct to not do so because the manager clearly thought that the firemen deal was a good one and meant the hotel was accessible! She did not understand at all why I was unhappy and said others had not complained. We know for a fact that the other two wheelchair users we met also complained. I did get the parking charges, £125 worth, waived BUT the parking for disabled ought to be free anyhow as we have no choice but arrive by car. It is free in other places. I am still going to write to the ACCOR hotels head office though. We use this chain all of the time and the last time I wrote to them I was listened to and refunded the cost of the stay. I do not expect that but they need to do something about this hotel. Either build a lift in the lobby OR tell people it is not truly accessible.

The last night we were there we ate in the hotel restaurant. The food was good BUT the service was horrendous. The waiter didn't understand us. This is a 4 star International hotel. My steak arrived 30 minutes before my salad and vegetables. This despite me calling the manager. Our litre of sparkling water was only 50cl! It was a disaster.

I did not allow the hotel to ruin our stay at all. I loved Paris. It is not new to John, he has been many times, but it was new to me as although we had been in 2003, it was during the heatwave which had killed thousands that year. We spent most of our time in an air-con cinema watching Bruce Almighty! I was also ill but undiagnosed and not using any walking aids at all, so collapsing frequently and not knowing why. We were on a two week driving holiday around France and were staying in Orlean, from where we got a train to Paris.

We met so many kind and friendly people. From other tourists to shop staff. I wonder if shop staff, or those who look down upon them, realise what a difference they can make to strangers just by their attitude? The staff we came across treated us really well and were talkative and helpful. They appeared to go out of their way to be helpful and friendly. Unlike here in the UK I'm afraid to say. This really added to the enjoyment of my stay there.

This was the first really tourist destination I have ever been to and it was very crowded which I did not like. There were the usual ignorant arseholes who walked into me or stepped over me. The amount of people who would see me coming but did not take evasive action until they were almost on top of me and then walked across me, just missing my feet. This is SO exasperating and I hate having my space invaded like that. However, I did keep my cool and my sanity.

Everywhere we ate people were kind and helpful. Food was always good. Coffee can be very hit and miss in France but I finally figured out how to get what I want. Double espresso with hot milk on the side. This way I get a coffee with milk and not a milk with coffee!

No matter how much drug I take, I get ratty. Poor John bears the brunt of that. I get so frustrated and I feel guilty that he has to help me all the time. Feeling guilty can make me lash out and I lash out at him who I am feeling guilty about because he has to help me all the time! I only realised this on this trip. I HATE it. Yet I know that he enjoys helping me. I don't mean he is glad he has to. I just mean it makes him feel useful. He is very good at it too though sometimes I wish he were not so helpful and I end up yelling at him ' I am not a f*cking invalid, you know!'. I must be a right pain!

On Wednesday, I did a lot of walking. One stick and using my other arm to hold onto John's arm. We walked very slowly, he pushing Big Daniel with the shopping bags on the seat. I was okay that night. The next day I was tired, worse on the drive home on Friday and yesterday was terrible. Today I still feel sore and exhausted. So I guess even if I think I can do it, I ought not to. What do you want to bet I will not heed this lesson? Despite the cost, I really enjoyed walking along Paris streets, linked arms with John, and just being on my feet even if they did crunch with every step. Of the whole trip, I recall that the best. It was lovely.

The weather was dry and warm. High 70's mostly, Wednesday being in the 80's I think. My hands are tanned and they have tan lines from my wrist supports!

There are more photographs to come but this is it for now.


Jim said...

Very interesting information about travel in France. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Must save pennies and dollars so I can go there. It is good that you were able to get about with your wheelchair.

Denise said...

I had never been to a museum before we moved to Alabama. We went to one here and it was amazing the depth of the color of the paintings. Photographs really do not do them justice. The colors really do jump off of the canvas. You are very lucky to be able to go to the museums you went to and they are wheelchair accessible. That is lovely. I think the museum we went to is now wheelchair accessible. They updated but it is a small museum not even a quarter as big as the Louve I'm sure.

janalee said...

Oh wow- sounds like you had a wonderful trip (despite some of the annoying people). Good for you! Paris, and the Louvre, are on my list of things I'd like to see before I die.

Iris said...

What a wonderful, although sometimes frustrating trip for you.

Anonymous said...

I find galleries in a day a bit overwhelming... but Amy took her first steps in the Louvre so it holds a special place in my heart... she was nine months... and all these little old french ladies going "oooh le petit chou fleur" just did it for her...