Standing in the World of My Story – The Grand Mosque of Paris

The Grand Mosque of Paris, located in the 5th arrondissement stands 33 metres high and is one of the largest mosques in France. It was so amazing to see it for the first time, the building at the centre of my story, Beyond Belief, a building that I’d only seen in pictures until now.

How incredible it was to view the crisp white domes, and the emerald green tiles that ran through the courtyard like a calming river.

I imagined my character Ruben playing there with his friends, splashing in the fountains, and digging in the garden to plant new vegetable crops.

What an oasis it must have been for those who took shelter there in WW11, away from the cattle trucks crammed with people, roaring past on the Plus du Place du Puits de l’ermite.

The mosque is completely fenced off with huge wooden or iron gates that would have been difficult to penetrate for even the most determined Nazis.

Towering over it is the stunning mosaic covered Minaret where the muezzin calls the people to prayer. I could feel the power of the mosque to calm and protect.

Sitting on the steps in the courtyard and reading over my notes, I immersed myself in the peace around me.

The blue sky of Paris stretched out overhead, broken by old buildings and a tree standing straight and tall in the gardens of the nearby Jardin des Plantes.

There’s nothing quite like being in the actual world of your story … feeling, seeing and smelling those things that your character would experience.

I’d come nearly 17,000 kilometres to do this, and it was certainly worth it.

My first visit to the Grande Mosquée de Paris was incredible and I’m sure it won’t be my last for the month that I am here in Paris.

There’s nothing quite like standing or sitting in the world of your story.

If you’ve shared a similar experience, please feel free to share it in the comments below.

Happy writing:)


This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria 


14 thoughts on “Standing in the World of My Story – The Grand Mosque of Paris

  1. How thrilling. Brought tears to my eyes and tingles to my skin. You are breathing your story. This is quite remarkable. The reverse has happened for me. I wrote a children’s short story earlier this year. The setting is in a toy shop tucked away in a cobbled street in the old town of Antibes (Cote d Azure ), where I used to live. Writing the story was as good as walking those cobbles again. I felt I was back there, breathing in the perfumes of the markets, knowing where to stand to catch the warmth of the sun. Remarkable. One can truly travel in stories. This you know, Dee.

  2. Sounds amazing, Dee, & I completely agree with you – to be immersed in the world of your story is a magical experience.

  3. Wow, I’m surprised at your access. I grew up in Ethiopia, and I was never allowed beyond the women’s section. I’m glad you got a great tour and love your photos. It’s a beautiful mosque.

  4. Oooo. The way you described the scenery, and your character, gave me goosebumps.

    The novel I’m working on is partly set in the Queensland outback. I spent a lot of holidays on a cattle property as a child. It’s been fun to imagine myself back there, breathing the air, the different smells, remembering the way of life, and now imagining my characters living in a similar place. Though it would be wonderful to revisit it all again.

    I’m loving the photos and descriptions of your journey, Dee. Looking forward to many more.

  5. I think mosques are a lot more accessible now, Deborah.

    In Australia they had a national mosque open day and I visited the one in Melbourne and they were very welcoming there too.

  6. Thanks Megan,

    Love the sound of your novel, and how great to be able to revisit that place in your mind. I hope you get the opportunity to go back there. You could try for a VicArts grant … that’s how I got here 🙂


  7. So great to follow the journey of this interesting angle of Paris and your character, Ruben. There are so many stories that need to be told. Looking forward to reading this one! All the very best.

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