The Grand Mosque of Paris

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During my stay in Paris, I decided to venture into arrondissements that I hadn’t yet been acquainted with. Thanks to the prevalent social media, I had stumbled upon a photograph of The Grand Mosque of Paris and thereupon, I made it a mission to cross it off my bucket list. It could be perceived as ignorant or puzzling for a non-Muslim individual to visit a Muslim place of worship. However, I have never allowed religion to be an obstacle in my choices, ideologies and perceptions.

 

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The mosque is situated in the fifth arrondissement near the National Museum of National History. Its white stucco walls and large wooden doors effortlessly blend in with the nearby baroque infrastructures. Once you enter the sanctuary, the homogeneity is soon replaced with a Hispano-Moresque style architecture. This distinct form of architecture is represented with ceramic tiles, peculiar mosaics also known as Girih, exquisite turquoise patterns and meticulous symmetry.

 

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I spent most of the guided tour in the captivating garden, characterized by vivid turquoise ceramic tile surrounded with foliage, palm trees and lilacs. The Prayer Hall, which is prohibited for non-practicing visitors, can be accessed through the vast white courtyard, where Muslin men were engaged in post-prayer conversations.

 

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For those wanting to put their feet up the café located on the lower level offers a full halal menu and traditional sheeshas at a small cost. The interior is decorated with orange wooden walls and opulent arabesque arches while the outside terrace favors the decor of the Mosque with its mosaic tabletops.

 

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Visitors are welcome to make donations in addition to the inexpensive fee of 3€ for the tour. Taking a glimpse into the Islamic culture was undoubtedly a memorable experience, which I recommend to all as it is so often stigmatized and degraded.

 

Remember to dress accordingly.
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Steffy Fogain

Steffy is an ellipsis in human form, thirsting for knowledge of the world and yearning for inner peace while mastering equanimity. Currently dabbling her feet in Criminology and Media studies, devouring a plethora of churros at any given opportunity and metamorphosing her acute wanderlust into reality.

4 Comments

  • Reply September 23, 2014

    Kharena Keith

    Hi, I am visitng Paris this December. Do you have any travel tips or locations that I should visit? I am just looking for hotels now and I want to choose the right one since I will only be there for four days

    • Reply October 6, 2014

      Steffy Fogain

      Hi Kharena! Because you’re travelling during the month of December, I would actually recommend getting an apartment or private room on AirBnB. Hotels are quite expensive and you can actually get a cozy apartment in the heart of Paris for an affordable price on the home rental website. If you are set on a hotel room though, I recommend Hotel Paix République in Le Marais, Hotel Saint Georges around l’Opera and if you want to splurge, Best Western Hotel Ronceray which is close to the Louvre. As for tips, definitely take advantage of the subway (1
      0 tickets for 14€), carry a crossbody bag and ensure that all valued items are safely hidden (pickpockets in Paris are extremely skilled and remorseless), avoid touristy traps (restaurants close to world renowned monuments – they will literally charge you 10 bucks for water!), avoid time-consuming activities (going up the Eiffel tower for instance, you get a better view at the Tour de Montparnasse) and most importantly, have fun, live in the moment and eat as much as you can without regrets! As for food, visit Pierre Hermé instead of La Durée, best macarons in the world! Order a dozen of chouquettes at the local bakery, try the arabic Grec (can also be delivered to your hotel room) and visit a traditional French Bistro for the quintessential boeuf bourguignon. Bon voyage!

  • Reply August 25, 2015

    Moyo

    Hey, i’m visiting Paris in November for my 20th with a group of friends (9-10 people) from the 26th – 28th, we’re essentially there for 2 nights and have only 1 whole day to explore properly. Do you have any travel tips, best places to visit or see and how to manage and stay safe traveling with so many people? Also we’re currently staying in the 9th arrondissement, how accessible is that from airports and middle of paris? What transport options would you recommend?

    Sorry to bug you down with so many questions. 🙂

    • Reply September 13, 2015

      Steffy Fogain

      Hey Moyo! Apologies for my late response. Wow, you must be so excited to embark on this journey. I’ve never visited Paris with a big group of friends although it’s on my bucket list. I’ll try to answer your questions as best as I can but if you need any additional details, feel free to email me!

      Because you’re only there for one full day to explore, I would recommend walking in the different neighbourhoods of Paris to get acquainted with the city; start with Montmartre (to get it out of the way) and stop by Sacré-Coeur & La Maison Rose for photos. You can then take the métro to Opéra (back to your neighbourhood) and stare at the edifice of the Palais Garnier. Don’t forget to make a quick stop at the Galeries Lafayette if you want a memorable (and pricey) souvenir. Also, you can get a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the city from the terrace of the department store. And it’s free! On your way up, pick up macarons from the Pierre Hermé stand, they’re the best! La Durée has nothing on them.

      The macarons won’t leave you satiated and it may already be time for lunch. For lunch, you can grab a quick bite to eat at one of my favorite places “L’as du Fallafel” in the Le Marais neighbourhood. Head there using the métro (I recommend getting some tickets to share between the group, avoid taxis and buses – due to traffic, underground is the best way to get around the city). From Le Marais, you’re pretty close to the Notre-Dame cathedral & Centre Pompidou but as an alternative, you can start heading west towards the Louvre area. I recommend strolling along Rue de Rivoli. The symmetry of the Hausmannian buildings on both sides of the road is incredible. Once in the area, you’ll get to see the Louvre, the Palais du Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries and the Place de la Concorde. If you’re up for more shopping, Rue Saint-Honoré is the spot. Otherwise, the view of the Rive Gauche from the Pont Alexandre III is a sight to see (there are several bridges parallel to it with an equally astonishing view).

      After that, you can choose to cross the bridge and end up on the Rive gauche and head towards the Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower or you could stay on the Rive Droite and continue west towards the Champs-Elysées. I suggest staying on the Rive Droite and having dinner at Le Relais de l’Entrecote (best steak & frites ever – it’s definitely a splurge!) ; that way you save the best for last (Eiffel Tower) and you can catch the light show on the Trocadero steps with your friends! Y

      If you want to squeeze in some museum time, avoid the Louvre (way too chaotic) and instead visit the Musée d’Orsay.

      To answer your question about distance from airports, Roissy (CDG) & Orly (don’t remember the code by heart lol!) are pretty far from the city because they’re located in the suburbs. If you’re landing at Roissy, the Roissybus takes you to Opera (which is right in the 9th arrondissement) for 10 euros I believe. Alternatively, because you are a big group, you could get taxis from the airport and just split the cost. If you’re landing at Orly, I believe the Orlybus connects you to the city centre as well but I’m not familiar with the stops. The métro & RER (train outside of the city centre) systems are super straightforward so don’t hesitate to make use of them.

      For the evening, I’m not much of a partier but try “hipster” areas around the Canal St-Martin for some fun with friends! If you want a chill vibe, I like getting on the bateau-mouche with a blanket and admiring the views of the city along the Seine river.

      I wrote a piece about tourist traps to avoid while in Paris, you can read it here: http://travelnoire.com/5-quintessential-tips-parisian-tourists/

      If you need any additional advice, holla!

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