Saturday, January 26, 2013

Je t'aime Paris - Paris, France

Gare du Nord in May 2012
By the time I arrived in Paris, my interest on the city has waned. Not that it has lost its charm but my feet were soaring. It had been a long journey...from London to Geneva - Interlaken, then to Luzern and then to Zagreb, rode to Ljubljana, hiked in Plitvice, rambled in Venice, roamed in Rome, explored Sorrento, Pompeii, Amalfi, Positano and   shopped in Florence, Pisa and Paris was the last leg before we got back to London. All in all we have been traveling for 16 days.  
A tour to Eiffel Tower is a must
Surprisingly, some of us were still charmed by LV store in Galaries La Fayette and never gave up on the shopping spree in La Valee. Apart from the shopping, Paris has a reputation of being a romantic city of love and I think to appreciate it, you need to spend time and not rush it through. I felt lucky to have spent so much time in this vibrant city in the past...had taken ample time browsing through the museums and gardens. So at this point of time, my legs were the major concern!

I sat by the window of New Hotel, a very simple and basic hotel. For the last 12 years, New Hotel, just opposite Gare du Nord has been my favorite hotel...it is probably only a three star hotel but I just love the convenience of the location. Since Gare du Nord is the Eurostar terminal, that makes it real easy to take the train to London even in the early morning hours. But what is more interesting about this little hotel is the staff who are very chatty and never fail to extend help when needed. 

Early morning at Gare du Nord in 2009
Many parts of Paris have changed over the last few years. Gare du Nord the main train station has had quiet an impressive 'face-lift' since my last visit in 2009. From the window of the hotel i looked out...and I still remember on the same spot, few years ago....on a cold Winter day, I used to watch the homeless folks rolling in their nap sack trying to catch some sleep. Life must have been hard for many in Paris....although this high fashion city continues to catch the attention of the rich, glamorous and famous. For tourists, Paris is a wonderful hub to begin your exploration in Europe. The comprehensive rail network with several cheap airlines flying in and out of Paris and the availability of many buses to all parts of Europe...all these make Paris a perfect place to begin with. I love Paris!
Sacre Coeur
A view of Paris from the top of Sacre Coeur
A view of Paris
The view from Galaries Lafayette roof top
Shopping stores beneath Louvre

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Grande Mosquée de Paris - Paris, France

The tile work on the walls of Paris Mosque
Grand Mosque of Paris is the largest mosque in France. The minaret of the mosque is 33 meters high and the architecture imitates the Moorish of Andalusian (Mudejar). Founded in 1926, the first communal prayer was led by the Algerian Sufi (Shadilliya), Sheikh Ahmad al-Alawi on July 15, 1926. When France was occupied by the Germans in the World War II, the mosque was a secret refuge for the Jews, providing shelter and fake Muslim birth certificates to escape the holocaust (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Mosque)

A major renovation on the interior of the mosque was completed in 1992 and the decoration used mosaics, wood carvings and wrought iron imported from Morocco. What is more interesting is the central courtyard of the mosque which reminds me of the typical patios in the Andalusian homes and palaces. The ground paved with turquoise tiles and decorated with small trees, shrubs, flowers,  ponds and fountains makes the place so delightful with its refreshing look.  
One of the entrance of the mosque

Today the mosque is the center of attraction for most people especially Muslims who come to Paris and a busy place on Fridays, Ramadan and holy days. There is a Muslim Restaurant adjoining the courtyard of the mosque which opens daily from noon to 3 pm and from 7 to 10:30pm

It is located in 5th arrondissement and if you are from the Eiffel Tower, take the metro from Bir Hakim Metro station. Take line Nation to Place D'Italie and transfer to Metro line 7 with direction towards La Courneuve.  Get off at Place Monge station and you're in the precinct of the mosque. 

Address: 2 bis Place du Puits de l'Ermite, 75005 Paris, France
Telephone: 01 45 35 97 33
The tile work on the walls
The columns and the center fountain imitates Al-Hambra of Granada
The corridors to the prayer hall
Wood carving on the door
Inscription on the walls
The central courtyard of the mosque
Moroccan style minaret
Taking a rest after the prayer