A tour of "The History of the Arabs in Paris"

A tour of "The History of the Arabs in Paris"


Since the 16th century, cultural relations between France and the Arab world have been mainly concentrated on the left bank of the Seine, in the 5th arrondissement.

The first links were established between the Sorbonne and the Collège de France, Arabic being seen as a key to learning, medicine, and philosophy. After the failure of the Crusades, Arabic became a basic requirement obligatory for many monks in France and Italy, and for many scholars.

A real passion for the East developed under Louis XIV. The first printing press dedicated to publishing in Arabic was set up, and the first translation of the Koran was produced, accompanied by a biography of Mohammed. Colbert founded an "Ecole des Jeunes de Langues", a college for training future translators, which became the Ecole des Langues Orientales in 1795.

In the 19th century, Paris was a meeting place for the Arab intellectual elite.
The passion for all things Egyptian was at its height, reinforced by the colonisation of North Africa.
Arab life was organised during the 20th century with the foundation of the Comité Arabe de Paris, and the opening of Orientalist bookshops.

A Muslim square was created at the Père Lachaise in 1855 and, finally, the Grande Mosquée, or Great Mosque, was inaugurated in 1926, in the presence of the King of Morocco, the Bey of Tunis, and the President of the Republic.
The Institut du Monde Arabe, created in 1980, welcomes a million visitors a year.
At its initiative, a walk round the "History of the Arabs in Paris" was set up on 23rd March, with guided tours starting from 8th April.

The tour traces the history of Franco-Arab relations since the 16th century, with 5 main stages. The walk takes approximately 2 hours.
The Sorbonne and the Collège de France are the starting points on this trail, followed by the holy places of Christian Arabs (Saint-Ephrem, Saint Julien le Pauvre). Not to be missed are the first Arabic printworks and bookshops, a visit to the Paris Mosque and mint tea at the Institut du Monde Arabe to finish off the walk.

Practical Information:
The History of the Arabs in Paris tour: from Saturday 8th April 2006
Tuesdays and Saturdays, setting out from the Place de la Sorbonne at 10.30; walk takes 2 hours, price: 15 €
Bookings: 0 892 702 604 (0.34 €/min)
Group tours: call 33 (0) 1 40 51 38 45/39 54
Institut du Monde Arabe
Tel: 33 (0) 1 40 51 39 01


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