Sunday, 15 June 2014

Even In Paris

Not all Paris is bad. In fact there are some pretty great parts about Paris, not the least of which is the Mercure Hotel where we are staying, next door to the Gare de Lyon. Our hotel room has a terrific wheelchair bathroom and very easy access. The staff have done a great job in making our stay a good one.

Yesterday we went to the Orangerie Museum, in the Tulierie Gardens, near the Louvre. Having been to the Louvre a couple of times and the Grand Palace once, I was determined to see the works of Monet, Picasso, and other impressionists on display; the Orangerie was the place to see them. The process of getting there was interesting. The hotel called a "wheelchair cab" for us which completely failed to show up. Fortunately another cab driver, with a wheelchair cab, saw us standing in front of the hotel and asked if we needed a cab. We took up his offer in spades, reserving him for a pickup after our visit to the museum.

He dropped us off at the museum, or at least as close as we could get, and we agreed we would meet him there at 6:00 PM, an agreement he kept. After putting on my "freewheel|", we headed into the park and up the gravel pathway to the Orangerie. There we discovered access was not only free for me, but free for Cheryl as well, plus they put is right at the front of the line, giving us priority access. It was a good counterpoint to some of the transit issues we have been seeing here in Paris.

After a lovely afternoon in the Tulierie and Orangerie, we headed back to our hotel, prepared for an evening of excitement on a tour of the night life of Paris, something which the vendor had assured us had full wheelchair access. We had even gone to the extra effort of having the hotel staff make the booking for us, ensuring that language was not an issue in describing our needs.

We had dinner first, then waited for our driver. He showed up in a beautiful black Jaguar sedan. He looked at us as he got out, walked right past us to the front desk, and then returned to tell us that he could not take me in the chair. Could I stand up and get in the car please? Since that was impossible, the hotel staff arranged with the tour provider for a "wheelchair van". The van duly arrived, except that it had no wheelchair access; it was a standard van. The driver looked at me and said "Sorry. Can you transfer up into the van somehow?"

After this double comedy of error, both Cheryl and I realized that both the tour and the Moulin Rouge were not going to happen. Not only was transport an impossibility but the timing had become so short as to make it untenable. We stayed in, having a glass of wine in the lounge and going to bed early. It may not have been the evening we planned, but the wine was good and we relaxed. I have learned that you must make what you can out of what you get, even, and perhaps especially, in Paris.

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