Springtime, Banking, L’Orangerie & Easter

Springtime arrived in Paris this week and like in most cold-weather cities, everyone goes nuts when the sun comes out. It’s a great time of the year.

I paid a visit to my good friend Bipul, an Indian man from the Himalayas who owns a import store in the Marais. As is usually the case, he closed his store and we went upstairs to his office, shared some chai and I showed him prints of my images from India. He asked if we could sell the prints in his store and we decided to give all the proceeds to his ashram in India, a place M and I visited last year. Hopefully we’ll have some success.

The big event of the week was the culmination of my 2-week attempt to open a new bank account here. This isn’t the first time I’ve opened an account in France; I’ve had one since I moved here 5 years ago. The motivation for opening this new account was simply a huge difference in the exchange rate the bank uses to convert dollars to euros – a difference of thousands of dollars for me over a year. Well, if you factor in the number of hours it took to do something seemingly this simple, I’m not sure it was a good deal. I was stunned when the bank asked me questions like how many kids I had, details about my job and other things that I really didn’t think were necessary in order for me to give them my money. The coup de grace came when I had to sign the agreement and before my signature, I had to write an unbelievable number of words in French (see photo); the text roughly translates to “read and approved, as well as the general conditions attached and the current fees brochure, that I recognize having received and accepted without reservation”. I had even write this on my own duplicate copy before my account could be opened.

One last note about my bank: my account comes with a small personal insurance policy against theft and, I kid you not, there is a provision in the policy which excludes any loss stemming from the “disintegration of an atomic kernel or ion ray”.

M and I decided to finally visit the l’Orangerie Museum in the Tuileries Garden. The museum had been closed for renovations for 6.5 years – it’s been closed the whole time I’ve lived here – and re-opened last summer. The museum is quite beautifully designed, very stylish and extremely manageable, unlike the Louvre. The top floor features huge murals painted by Monet and the lower level has paintings from various artists, all pretty impressive.

Went for a walk in the 5th and decided to visit the Mosque of Paris, a beautiful complex near the Jardin des Plantes. It’s open to the public except for the prayer room and in fact, they serve some good mint tea on their terrace.

This last weekend was filled with Easter-related activities at the big cathedrals of Paris. On Good Friday, I shot the ” Stations of the Cross” ritual at Sacre Coeur and then last night (Holy Saturday) I shot the Easter Vigil ceremony at Notre Dame (see images below).

And now, the photos of the week:

The archbishop of Paris, Monsignor Twenty-Three (not kidding), genuflects in front of Sacre Coeur.

Crowds rush up the stairs at Sacre Coeur during the Stations of the Cross Good Friday ritual.

M checks out one of Monet’s murals in the l’Orangerie Musuem.

A room filled with Monet’s giant wall murals in the l’Orangerie Museum

A mildly disturbing painting in the l’Orangerie Musuem

A flame takes on a human form during the Easter Vigil at Notre Dame.

A couple walks by Notre Dame at night.

A seriously disturbing exterminator store window display near Chatelet


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