Though it is neighbors with one of Paris’ most popular parks, the Jardin des Plantes, the Grande Mosquée de Paris, the largest mosque in France, is one of the few great attractions in Paris that isn’t always buzzing with tourists. In fact, besides for the tea salon, Moroccan restaurant, and hammam (Turkish bath) on the property, I think few people even realize that you’re able to visit the actual mosque itself.
For a modest fee of €3 (€2 for students) you can escape the bustling city streets and retreat to a quiet, lush, green oasis filled with colorful mosaics and trickling fountains — and depending on what time you visit, you might even get to experience the mosque with the soothing sound of the call of prayer in the background, a rhythmic noise as enchanting to me as monks chanting their nightly vespers.
Besides for a few school groups, and maybe a couple of tourists here and there, my visits to the mosque have been quiet, and such a peaceful way to spend a few hours of my day.
As lovely as a trip to Notre Dame or any of Paris’ other great cathedrals, I think a visit to the mosque is an integral part of any well-rounded Paris itinerary, especially for anyone looking for an interesting and relaxing way to escape the crowds for an hour or two.
Once you finish your self-guided tour, snag a table at the lively salon de thé for a cup of sweetened mint tea (ordered table side) and a sweet treat from the pastry stand indoors, and continue enjoying one of Paris’ best overlooked attractions, a place so few tourists take the time to see.