Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hammam and cheese

One of my favorite activities in Paris (and many other cities as well) is to go to a hammam (Turkish-style bath house).

Paris has many hammams - some are co-ed, some are every other day men or women, some are chic, some have been renovated into hip nightclubs (e.g. Les Bain-Douches)... no matter which one you chose the experience is amazing and shows you a different side of Paris - once you step over the doorway you begin starting to see the real city - not just the 10% that you already knew (i.e. Eiffel Tower, baguettes, Notre Dame...).

La Mosquee de Paris - believe it or not, France is home to more than 100 mosques and approximately 6 millions Muslims - that is almost 1/10 of the French continental population. France is a secular country, if not the most secular country in today's world. There will be (much) more on this subject later...

La Mosque de Paris is at the same time a mosque, museum, tea house, restaurant, outdoor cafe, a souk, and a hammam (bain maure). The rules are every other day is either men or women. The secret is out on this fantastic place by the metro Censier Daubenton - and it was renovated and repainted a few years back. When you first walk in you are to choose your formule and the deshabille yourself and walk though the rooms the go from hot to hotter than hell... clothing is optional and when its time for a massage you can sit out in a room that is covered in colorful pillows and sip your mint tea while chatting with friends. You can choose a massage in a private room or out in the main room. It is best to spend a few hours here and really relax - you are experiencing many things French at the same time; 1) a more open attitude towards bodies and insecurities (you will see what I mean if you go 2) residuals of the French Empire and colonialism 3) living proof of a secular states at work and 4) the notion of pleasure for pleasure's sake.

To find the hammam, you want to go in the side where there is a courtyard cafe (on the other side from the museum entrance)on la rue Geoffroy-Saint-Hiliaire - when you walk into the building from the outdoor courtyard you will see a dessert stand/cart on your left - go behind this through the doors and you will then enter the hammam.

Prices/times/details for hammam/restaurant:

Women: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday - 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Friday - 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Men: Tuesday - 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm; Sunday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Other notable hammams in Paris:

LES BAINS DU MARAIS, 31-33 rue des Blancs-Manteaux - 75004, T. 01 44 61 02 02.
Women: Mon 11h00-20h00, Tue 11h00-23h00, Wed 10h00-19h00;
Men: Thu 11h00-23h00, Fri 10h00-20h00, Sat 10h00-20h00:
Mixed (swimsuits are mandatory): Wed 19h00-24h00, Sun 11h00-23h00.
Hammam €30, with treatments €60. M Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville. Modern and sparkling with a cafe.


Article about the Mosquee de Paris - Hammam:

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