"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."  --William Shakespeare

Entries in human rights (2)


A Night of Accessibility


Whether your goal is to have the romantic time of your life, or to gorge yourself silly, or just to wander and discover tiny streets and massive monuments, most of the world agrees (tourists vote with their feet and currency) that Paris is THE destination. While the early kings named Henri gave that idea some traction in the 1500s, Louis XIV started showcasing the place as a world metropolis in 1670 when he ordered the defensive city walls torn down and the Grands Boulevards built on top of them.

More walls went up later, for tax collection purposes, but the impetus to create the Paris of today really took off under Napoleon III, Napoleon I’s nephew, who came back from exile in 1848 with a grand plan in his back pocket, and a willing Prefect of the Seine, Georges Haussmann, to hammer out the details. It’s their Paris of boulevards and monuments that people think of as modern Paris.


But this isn’t a history lesson, it’s merely preface to say that Paris is an OLD city.

And old cities are tough to retrofit for modern needs. Like those of the disabled. Those tiny, romantic sidewalk cafés with tables barely bigger than the average American's girth, narrow walkways between tables, and Turkish toilets in the underground caves, are useless to people in wheelchairs. And cobblestone streets that can barely be navigated in heels probably PUT people on crutches.


Even the Métro, one of the best in the world, first opened in 1900, long before the advent of disabled access, though the old wooden trains used to have seats set aside for the wounded of both wars. But how, one wonders, did they get into the station? Only the newer stations and lines have anything close to adequate elevators, escalators, and train access.

Paris Play had the privilege Saturday of working with a group of photographers from the Paris Photography Meetup Group to document the yearly gathering at Place Stalingrad of Jaccede.com, a group that works to spotlight and lobby for disabled people to gain the same kind of access that most of us take for granted.


Jaccede isn’t about demonstrations or agitation; it creates a survey of the town and offers an app that tells disabled Parisians (and visitors) which shops, Métro stations, restaurants, streets, etc., are most easily used by people with various kinds of disabilities, from the wheelchair-bound to the blind.


The night is also a social gathering of the disabled in large numbers, for dancing, playing, partying, hanging out with volunteer jugglers, tightrope walkers and clowns, and serves as a gentle reminder to the able-bodied who cut through the Place Stalingrad to enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beautiful Basin Villette that Paris is everybody’s city.


Some memories of that night below, and a celebration of some of the citizens that we might sometimes overlook. 








Happy Mother's Day (And She'd Better Be a Woman)


Today is Mother's Day in France, and those people still dissatisfied with the newly minted French law that mandates marriage equality for all chose this symbolic day to march down Boulevard St.-Germain in the Left Bank and reassert their contention that marriage is only between a man and a woman.



We'd estimate the crowd in the low tens of thousands, but they were loud. France is the fourteenth country to legalize gay marriage, and the first ceremony is expected May 29th, the first day such a union will be possible in France.  The law also allows all married couples to adopt children.







We couldn't help but make a few comparisons between the gay rights advocates and their parades we've attended, and today's Mother's Day demonstration, so we'll sprinkle those observations throughout.

There were many more French flags today.





Many more children.






Many more priests.




Far fewer people of color.




However, we saw many similarities. For example, both groups favor pink.




Both go for wigs.




Both blow whistles.




Both claim interfaith support.




Both sing the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise."



Both have disco blaring from sound trucks that also feature colored smoke.



Both like blowing rainbow bubbles.



And both believe they are battling for the soul of France.






Kaaren is away from Paris. In her absence, this edition was photographed and written by Richard, and edited by her on-line.