Monday, July 23, 2012
I wouldn't blame you for seeing these photos and thinking we'd gone to Morocco again. La Mosquée de Paris looks like it might have been lifted from North Africa and dropped in the 5th arrondissement, tiles, courtyards, fountains and all.
Lovely intricate plasterwork, colorful tiles, quiet arcaded hallways make the mosque a shelter from the traffic noise and bustle just outside.
There's an entry fee of 3 Euros that goes to the upkeep of the grounds and the non-Muslim visitor is welcome to go anywhere but the prayer rooms. On the day we wandered in after a visit to the nearby Jardin des Plantes, the few visitors were scattered through the grounds and we felt quite alone.
A tea room and garden with a separate entrance at the rear of the mosque grounds serves mint tea in typical small glasses for a few euros more and very good Magrebien pastries are available to accompany it. There's a restaurant as well for more elaborate fare, decorated in traditional style. It would be a great place for a party, though I have no idea of the quality of the food.
This is an unexpected departure from daily life here, one that doesn't require a plane flight or security lines to allow you to feel transported to another place.
It's almost a surprise to walk back out and find yourself on a residential street in Paris.