Stunning tile, serene inner courtyard, flowers, fountains, and beautiful architecture. All in a house of worship. And it's located in central Paris.
It's not any of the famous churches, so rule out Notre Dame and Sacré-Cœur. In fact, it's on the Left Bank. It's the Grande Mosquée de Paris.
It took a few months of living in Paris before I even discovered there was a beautiful mosque in town. And only then it was in the context of a recommendation to go to the tea room attached to the mosque. But what many don't know is you can go into the mosque and have a walk around for a mere 3 euros/person.
Within the inner courtyard is a pretty garden with fountains, a green oasis that transports you to what feels like far away from France.
The mosque was inaugurated in 1926 and became the first mosque in France. The French government built the mosque in honor of the French Arab community that fought in World War I, and the many who lost their lives doing so.
There is a peacefulness that creates a haven of sorts. And apparently stories have come out about how it once did offer a haven of protection when Jews hid in the mosque during WWII. Read more about the role of the mosque saving Jews in this NY Times article.
I absolutely love the tile in the Grande Mosquée de Paris, and the architecture. It really is a special place to wander around and photograph.
Of course, I'm never one to pass up an opportunity for good food either. So when you're finished exploring the mosque, do head out and round the corner to the tea room. If you are hungry, the restaurant offers delicious couscous and tagines. Or opt to sit in the salon de thé for a snack. Waiters come around with glasses of hot mint tea (thé à la menthe) for 2 euros each. And if you're sweet tooth is calling, consider ordering one of the North African pastries.
That's how you get a unique experience in Paris for only 5 euros! A perfect afternoon intermission from the hustle and bustle of city sightseeing.
PLAN YOUR TRIP:
39 rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 75005 Paris, France
(Salon de thé is around the corner at 2 place du Puits de l'Ermite, 75005, Paris, France)
Mosque is open daily except for Friday from 9:00am-12:00pm / 2:00pm-6:00pm
Admission: € 3 euros/person; reduced rate € 2
Tea room open daily from 9:00am-11:30pm