Tag Archives: France

Don’t know much about art …

20 Dec Louvre, Paris, France, art, accessible

… but I have visited a few incredible museums!

Here’s a short list:

In the Netherlands:

In Italy:

In Egypt:

  • Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (Cairo)
  • Valley of the Kings (Luxor)

And, of course, in California:

In Paris, I have visited l’Orangerie and Musee d’Orsay (my personal favorite!)

But perhaps the largest and most famous museum I have visited is the Louvre.

Louvre Museum, Paris, France, art, accessible

The Louvre, as seen from Tuileries Gardens

My first visit was in April of 2002. It was almost overwhelming. (I initially attempted to follow Rick Steves’ self-guided tour, but quickly realized that renting the audio tour was money well-spent.)

More recently, I visited the Louvre in April of 2009, accompanied by my sweetheart, his daughter Carrieanna, and his college friend, George.

Because Carrieanna was in a wheelchair, and I was her assistant, we were able to avoid the ticket line and enter immediately. (The guys were not so fortunate; they stood in line for 20 minutes. However, they were enjoying each other’s company and didn’t mind that Carrieanna and I were ready to start exploring. We would reconnect with them later.)

Quoting Wikipedia (to give you a little idea of the size of museum):

The Louvre—is one of the world’s largest museums, and a historic monument. … Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet). With more than 8 million visitors each year, the Louvre is the world’s most visited museum.

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection,

As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.

For the most part, the Louvre is very accessible. As noted on the website:

In keeping with France‘s 2005 disability law, the Louvre aims to ensure all visitors can access the museum safely and comfortably. Special attention is given to ensuring quality help and care are available throughout the museum.

Some areas were very crowded.

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

Crowded hall in the Louvre

Carrieanna had to be very aggressive in order to get close enough to see the Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa, Louvre, Paris, France, art, accessible

Carrieanna views the Mona Lisa

(I later learned that had she asked for assistance, we would have been escorted around the crowd and allowed easy access.)

Other areas were very easy to navigate

Louvre, Paris, France, art, accessible

Exhibit hallway without crowds, Louvre, Paris

Although there are often stairs between wings, there are also lifts and attendants – often quite handsome! – to allow access to wheelchair users.

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

The lift attendants were very helpful.

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

Motorized lifts made most wings accessible

Obviously, there are too many treasures to share in this blog. It would probably take a week – or more – to view every painting, sculpture and artifact housed in the Louvre.

If you love art, I’m sure the Louvre is on your bucket list. If not, here are just a few photos to inspire you ….

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

Carrieanna enjoyed the Egyptian Antiquities

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

Beautiful ceiling in the Louvre Palace

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

Beautiful 18th century panels, Louvre

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible, Egyptian, Roman

Up-close view of the sculptures; Louvre

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible

One of the many courtyards; Louvre

Louvre, Paris, France, art, sculptures, accessible, Jean Michelin, Adoration of the Shepherds

Adoration of the Shepherds (Jean Michelin); Louvre

The Kindness of Strangers

23 Oct

Paris, France 2009

Over the years I have heard that Parisians are rude.

I have never found that to be true — well, with the possible exception of *that one* taxi driver in 2002.

In fact, while visiting Paris in 2009, Carrieanna and I found the exact opposite to be true.

As noted in a previous blog post, we were in Paris to celebrate Carrieanna’s birthday.

I have viewed The City of Lights from the top of the Eiffel Tower, and I wanted Carrieanna to have that same experience. It was my birthday gift to her. And we would go at night, to enjoy that spectacular view.

We had already determined that we would not attempt this on her actual birthday, which fell on a Saturday, since it was very crowded that night. Instead, we would go on Monday night and make this our last great adventure in Paris. (We would be returning to Amsterdam on Tuesday.)

There’s a miracle story here, but let me share another one first.

To understand why I call these “miracle stories,” let me quote Rick Steves, in his [mostly] very helpful book “Easy Access Europe.”

“Unfortunately, Paris … has a few sights that are best left to non-disabled travelers (or more adventurous slow walkers): … Sainte-Chapelle upstairs chapel … the top level of the Eiffel Tower ….”

We were happy to prove him wrong, with the help of kind strangers!

Earlier in the day, after visiting both the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay — yes, it was a VERY busy day! — Carrieanna and I took a taxi to the Ile de la Cité, to see the beautiful stained glass at Sainte-Chapelle.

“The interior of this 13th-century chapel is a triumph of Gothic church architecture. Built to house Jesus’ Crown of Thorns, Sainte-Chapelle is jam-packed with stained-glass windows, bathed in colorful light ….”

“… climb the stairs into the sanctuary, where more than 1,100 Bible scenes – from the Creation to the Passion to Judgment Day – are illustrated by light and glass.”

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France 2009

“Unfortunately, the upstairs chapel (with the stained-glass windows) can be reached only by climbing a narrow spiral staircase.”

Umm, maybe. Unless you encounter a kind ticket attendant, who was a charmed by Carrieanna’s smile and offered to take us the back way (which included a tiny construction elevator and a keyed door).

We were taken through the King’s Entrance (built to allow King Louis IX easy and private access the chapel) …

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France 2009

… and, voila!

We were inside the chapel, admiring the glorious stained glass of Sainte-Chapelle!

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France 2009

(Carrieanna in the chapel)

After spending an hour or more in the chapel, Carrieanna and I were escorted back downstairs and to the street, where we thanked our escorts for providing us with this amazing opportunity.

And then we enjoyed a little river-side respite and people watching …

Paris, France 2009

Paris, France 2009

… knowing that we had another grand adventure in store later in the day — ascending the Eiffel Tower!

Carrieanna’s father shared our story in his letter to Carrieanna’s Aunt Becky:

“…Jeri and Carrieanna head off by taxi to the Eiffel Tower. Our last night in town.

“They reach the second level. Carrieanna says the guards explained to her that people in wheelchairs are not allowed at the top level, although blind persons are allowed at the top.”  (We didn’t understand that logic either.)

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France 2009

“She decides that despite ’17 very steep stairs’ up to the elevator to the top, she will do it. She finds a fellow American who says he was in a wheelchair for a while, who is willing to watch her chair for her while she goes up. His wife and daughter already are on their way up, and he is just waiting for them on the second level. (As it turns out, his wife and daughter came down much earlier, and he sends them home in a taxi while he waits for Carrieanna and Jeri!)

“After the 17 steps, they wait 45 minutes, with no place to sit, which is very demanding on Carrieanna’s legs. And then, the Top! And she loved it. She felt so proud of herself!”

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France 2009

To quote Carrieanna, “Don’t say it can’t be done unless you try.”

Because … Anything is Possible!

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