Livre/Louvre, by Jean-Philippe Toussaint: Never a dull moment while treasure hunting at the Louvre.
The Louvre in Paris is arguably the world’s most famous and definitely the world’s most visited museum, containing over 35,000 artworks. Let’s face it: the Louvre can be pretty overwhelming if you’re an art buff or not. Whether it’s the Mona Lisa or 17th-century Flemish paintings that interest you, there is a lot to take in and enjoy.
As a child, one of my favorite books was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I reread it five times in one summer and imagined how cool it would be if one day I escaped a class trip to live in a museum. The closest I came to that was a sleepover in a local children’s museum, and while it is still one of my favorite memories of childhood, I never gave up wondering what it would be like to run around a museum as more than just a visitor.
So you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to a treasure hunt in the Louvre.
The Louvre does not lack elegant staircases to climb and admire throughout the hunt.
THATLou (Treasure Hunt at the Louvre), started by American expat Daisy de Plume, takes you on a grand trip of the Louvre, through various wings, as you hunt for, find and learn about over 20 pieces of art chosen around a central theme. Ours happened to be angels and wings, which sent us searching for works including Georges Braque’s The Birds and the sarcophagus box of Ramses III.
The 16th-century sculpture hallway leading teams to additional treasure.
This treasure hunt is an exciting and nontraditional way to experience the Louvre, whether it will be your first or fifth visit. Instead of just casually wandering from wing to wing, this adventure has a purpose: to find as much treasure (art) as possible and, hopefully, win.
During each treasure hunt, participants are split into groups (around three or four), given a list of “treasure” to be found and, for the next hour and a half, race around the museum finding the artworks and taking photos as proof of what was found.
When the time is up and all participants have reconvened in the lobby, everyone heads to a nearby café to tally up their points, discover the winner and socialize over an afternoon apéro.
While the hunt was challenging and groups were running all over the Louvre, I was pleasantly surprised that the teams were able to accumulate a lot of points, and it was a close race at the end. While my group did not come in first, we were a close second and quite pleased with our success in discovering over half of the pieces of art.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace is an iconic sculpture that was one of the easiest to find.
Whether you are traveling solo, as a couple or with a group of girlfriends, THATLou is the perfect way to explore Paris’s grande dame of museums, learn a new thing or two about art and meet other travelers. With THATLou, you will see more of the Louvre than you probably ever knew existed. I know I did. Experiencing the Louvre from the perspective of an explorer rather than just a visitor helped break the barrier I felt between the museum and me. The Louvre now seems more manageable, and I’m inspired to return soon.
Currently THATLou is offering treasure hunts that focus on different themes, such as wine and cheese, poisson/fish, animals and wheels in motion, for the spring and summer seasons, held on the first Sunday of the month from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Aside from the monthly general treasure hunts, THATLou will also be offering date night trips, kids’ trips and architecture trips, as well as other themed events.
The cost for the event is 18 euros per person or 16 euros per person for two. There’s also a group rate of 15 euros for five people.
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Editor’s note: Attention all Parisaholics: GG2P has a brand-new do-it-yourself walking trip of the Latin Quarter, also known as the 5th Arrondissement. Get it while it’s hot!