Thursday, 5 May 2011

Paris pt 5: Hammam Sandwich

It was with some trepidation that we went along to the famed Hammam of the Grand Mosquee in Paris for a good old steam and massage. Recommended again by a friend we heard you could get a good steam and scrub and a meal for one prix fixe - the so called 'formule orientale' (58 Euros). I hoped that my poor French wouldn't impact on the experience and I was sort of proven wrong - the guys were very friendly and as welcoming as you would expect when a pasty English type shows up. The sauna and steam room were hot in many senses of that word, though I was only there for the hammam experience (honest!) - the final and hottest steam room had a visible line where the warm air ended and superheated steam begin - and this so hot you could hardly breathe it. One detail I noticed was that in the holes in the wall the steam was coming out from, there was sprigs of rosemary jammed in, giving it a lovely medicinal scent. I must have spent a couple of hours in there, steaming, getting scrubbed, shower, more steaming, massage, steam... you get the idea. Then afterward starving heading up to the packed Grand Mosquee cafe and restaurant for my couscous and tea, which were delicious.

The whole place was rammed with people sitting in the beautiful courtyard having Arabic pastries and sweet mint tea. Definitely a brilliant experience, and a great place to marvel at the many different people and cultures that make up this incredible city.

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