My Travel Book - Paris - 'La Grande Mosquée' (The Mosque)


Ever since I got sick in July and was told that I would not be able to travel/fly around for quite a long time, I started grumbling. All of a sudden, I wanted to go all over the world... All over the world and nowhere else!

Last week-end, Swee’Pea was in Paris, back from South Africa. South Africa! You’ve got to be kidding! And I started to complain about my life, stuck... stuck... stuck... nowhere.

“Mom, you’ve got to be kidding!” said a nonplussed Swee’Pea. “I know that right now you are feeling kind of trapped but please look around.”

I did look around - in my mind, that is because we were having this talk in his apartment.

And he was right. What should I complain about? All right, I live in Brussels which is a city I do not like but there are so many beautiful places in Belgium.

I get to spend quite a few days in Paris every now and then. Paris where people flock from all over the world. Paris I love so much.

And then there is Brittany, my end of the world. Well, Cap Fréhel is not Cape Point but it is a wonderful place to sail around.

Last Sunday, the weather was lovely. Sunny and warm.

We decided to go take a walk... the three of us since it seldom happens. The three of us in Paris, I mean. So where to? Since it was so warm and sunny, the Tuileries or the Luxembourg would be packed. I suggested the Père Lachaise but Popeye did not like the idea of spending some time in a graveyard...

Swee’Pea suggested a very quiet place in the Jardin du Luxembourg he used to go to when he was a student. So off we went...

By the time we got to the Luxembourg, we had changed our mind and we decided to go to a place we’d never been before. Well, Swee’Pea had been there all right many times but it was a brand new experience for Popeye and I.

Imagine. A brand new place in Paris when I thought I knew Paris by heart and there was nothing left there to discover...

The Paris Mosque.

So near the Jardin des Plantes. How could I have missed it?

Its minaret (manārah) stands out so clearly. It is 33 meters high. Very impressive. Let’s not forget that we are in Paris where Catholic steeples and church towers are far more traditional than a minaret. But there it is nevertheless.

We started our visit with a stop in the delightful oriental tearoom. 

Very sweet Moroccan tea with mint. I almost felt I was back to Marrakesh. Except that there were house sparrows all over the place. 

And so many people drinking tea and eating honey pastries. Speaking French! And so Parisian after all.

We wanted some peace and quiet. We left. Time to visit the Mosque. 

And there we were - in Andalucia... the place Popeye and I we love to distraction. A lot more sober. (It was built in the 1920s in the mudejar style.) Smaller than most places we had been to. But the real thing.

So peaceful.

Of course quite a few rooms are forbidden to non-Muslims, especially the   prayer room but you can have a look without entering of course. And it is very beautiful. A few men were there, meditating.

The few visitors were very quiet and respectful.

We walked through the garden... Al-Andalucia all over again.

And then around and around again. Zellige in Paris... 

La Grande Mosquée de Paris is on the French historical register. The place is very moving but its history is exceptional. The French have always had a very difficult relationship with their colonies, especially with the Muslim North African ones. This Mosque was built in 1922/26 to pay homage to the 70.000 Muslims who died during the Great War, fighting for France. It was the first mosque ever built in metropolitan France.

What an amazing and peaceful experience. Why should I complain about not being able to travel all over the world when there are still so many places to be discovered or revisited so close to me?

I guess I'll have to open my Travel Book for you once in a while... It feels so good to travel again!

*Good Luck, and Good Night*

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I love Andalusia, too! That is such a lovely mosque you found—good for you for being a "tourist" in your own city!