Monday, November 2, 2009


Today is our final day in Paris. The flight to Venice from Beauvais airport leaves at 6:30 pm. We have to take the bus at Porte Maillot for Beauvais airport. We still have a half-day available. Waking up early as usual, I browsed the map of Paris. I chanced upon Paris Mosque located just outside the Place Monge metro station. Excellent, that would be where we would end our Paris trip.

Our appointment with the caretaker to return the apartment keys was at 11:00am. On the dot, the caretaker arrived. He returned our precious Euro 300 deposit in exchange for the keys, after satisfying himself that everything was intact in the apartment. Anyway, the washing machine was too big to stuff inside our travelling bag! Ha...ha

Unlike Paris where Mimi had already pre-booked the apartment, we had no accomodation booked for Venice. Somehow Mimi missed this important task in her to-do list. And we would be arriving in the evening in Venice. So first on our must do list was to get to an internet facility to book a place to stay on arrival this evening in Venice.

A 5 minutes walk from the apartment got us to an internet outlet. No French required. The outlet was manned by a Sri Lankan lass. We decided to google for “accomodation near the airport”. A few tries and presto, we got one within a reasonable budget of Euro 156. One potential headache cleared and we were soon in the metro heading for Place Monge to visit Paris Mosque.

Exiting the station, I asked a lady for direction. She was obviously French but spoke English ala French and pointed us to the direction. Crossing the street and taking the first turn, the star and crescent symbolising a mosque was in our view.

Where opportunity prevails, I do look forward to visit mosques in a foreign land. I recalled visiting several mosques in Chengdu, China. For one used to see Chinese temples, one could mistake the mosques as temples. That's the beauty of different cultures.

It would be wishful thinking to expect a mosque in France to take the architecture of medieval Europe, ala Notre Dame. So, Paris Mosque was moorish in architecture, built by the North Africans in 1922. Information on the internet recorded that it was build to honor the North African countries that had helped France during World War I. That would be some history to dig.

However, I always feel at home in a mosque, foreign or otherwise. I am sure others feel the same way as I do.

Entering the mosque, we were greeted with a small garden typical of Islamic landscape architecture. Two fountains with a 6-pointed stars at the base are flanked with plantings on both sides.

A French Muslim lady then ushered us in, into the courtyard towards the main prayer hall.

The courtyard was square in shape. In the centre stood an ablution pool. Though no longer used in the modern era, the pool would have served its purpose during its earlier years.

A lone student was in the library, rather oblivous to me taking a shot. A library in a mosque is not something we see quite often in our local mosques in Malaysia.

There were several Muslims inside the prayer hall, some reciting the Quran. A few were in supplications. We took the opportunity for sembahyang sunat. My wife told me the Muslim ladies were fascinated by the telekong she wore for prayers.

We spent roughly an hour at the Paris Mosque and also met a group of French Muslims of Algerian descent. One young man offered us coffee which we gladly accepted and struck some short conversations with Mimi and I. He had heard of Malaysia which he spoke highly of and we just let him to continue saying the good things he had heard of Malaysia.

Visit over. It was past lunch time. We had lunch and pretty soon were back in the Metro heading for Port Maillot. The bus left at 5:30 pm and we settled in for the trip to the airport, bound for Venice, with the comfort of knowing that the accomodation awaited us.

At the departure lounge, which was crowded with holiday-makers like us, I cant help noticing this very serious warning.

No Christian Dior for me!

1 comment:

nadya.s said...

i so envy u, kind sir.. :)