Most of those strolling around the Lac Daumesnil are unaware of the magnificent Grande Pagode, but now it is hoping to attract more visitors
Sunday 31 May 2015 11.20 EDT
Hidden in a wood on the outskirts of Paris is an African pavilion-turned-pagoda that houses the largest Buddha in Europe, made in the Paris atelier of the Spanish artist Joan Miró.
The Grande Pagode is an eclectic cultural, religious and artistic treasure, but most of those strolling and jogging around the Lac Daumesnil in the Bois de Vincennes, do not even know it is there.
Now France’s Buddhist community, which celebrated the reopening of the pagoda this weekend after a €1m (£720,000) facelift, is hoping to attract new visitors.
Unveiling the renovated listed building, Liliane Lefait, administrator of the French Buddhist Union – an umbrella group for several Buddhist organisations set up following the waves of immigration from Vietnam and south Asia in the 1960s – said: “This place is open for everyone and anyone to visit. It’s a very calming, peaceful place. I feel calm just coming here, even without praying.”
Despite it being 28 metres (92ft) high, you cannot see the pagoda for the trees. It was originally built in 1931 as the Cameroon pavilion for the international colonial exhibition and was constructed to resemble a traditional African home – but three times the size – using long-established materials and decorations. Continue reading