The Louvre. Been there – done that? Well if you think you’ve “done the Louvre” (and therefore don’t need to do it again like, ahem, *some* people – that would be me!), think again! Last month, after a long time of observing from a distance (online) I finally got to check out the Louvre in a completely different way – as the location for one of the most fun treasure hunts ever – Daisy de Plume‘s THATLou (Treasure Hunt At The Louvre).
The THATLou concept is pretty simple – you work in teams to complete a list of challenges based on clues about the works of art all around the museum. To prove “you were there” teams must photograph themselves in front of as many of the listed works of art as possible, earning themselves a different amount of points per treasure discovered. There are quite often questions for bonus points embedded in the clue texts – these either requiring you to make silly poses for another photo or drawing on articles from the THATLou blog or from the information sheets around the Louvre. I joined a public hunt (these happen a few times a year) but THATLou is also offered as a private hunt for groups (perfect if you are travelling in a group or having a party – or even a team-building event!).
Each hunt has a theme, so if you are a keener you could probably do some reading beforehand but I decided that I wanted to check out the hunt with no prior knowledge. My hunt took place on July 14th – a day when entry to the museum was free so it was a little bit crazy getting in but Daisy sends a very detailed information sheet letting you know how to plan entrance to the museum (through which entrance, how long you should expect to wait to get in – some days, like the free entry days, it’s much longer than others).
The throngs of people are a little overwhelming but Daisy had planned the majority of the hunt in wings of the museum that don’t see a lot of traffic, even on very busy days. I partnered up with Hannah Duke of Ma Vie Française/ My French Life and we set out, just two little Aussie girls against the world.
We had approximately 3 hours to complete 29 basic tasks (and then some, if you counted the bonus challenges) and Hannah and I managed just about half the basic clues and a handful of bonuses. I could tell you we spent most of our time taking photos that had nothing to do with the hunt but actually – the hunt is pretty hard! Definitely a lot of fun but if you take it seriously (or are, ahem, a little bit competitive!) it’s a lot of work to complete all the clues in the given time.
Daisy warned us we wouldn’t complete the course (though some of our fellow competitors managed to score a huge amount of points!) so it’s good to have realistic expectations of what you will be able to cover in the time given.
Before you even start out on the hunt itself, Daisy advises to spent a bit of time planning your route around the museum, grouping the clues according to location so that you make the most of your time in a section (i.e. solving the most clues you can in one area).
Whilst Hannah and I did spend quite a lot of time on this part, the actual clues themselves (even though some of them have photos to help you figure out what you are looking for) are pretty challenging – there’s lots of reading to be done to solve the clues (which is hard to do as you walk quickly through the museum, avoiding other people and the works of art!).
But you know, clues and challenges aside, every now and then you just have to stop and look around you… Hannah’s also a blogger so we often found ourselves taking photo breaks (when we really should have been looking at clues!) – the Louvre is SUCH a beautiful building that you can’t help but pause in your tracks from time to time and take in the beauty all around you…
Apart from that final 30 minutes, I have to say our time in the Louvre was very quiet. Like Daisy had promised, the wings we were hunting in predominantly were fairly empty (despite the busy day…) so the hunt itself was really pleasant – you were not battling people to move from one point to another or jostling for a view (except with the Mona Lisa but I guess that’s never going to be any different!).
Whilst Hannah and I did not do very well in terms of points scored and challenges completed, I will say that what THATLou does is make you want to stay on in the museum after your hunt and either go back and complete the tasks you missed (just for fun!) or simply wander. As long as you are ok with not seeing everything… The Louvre is best done in stages, and next time I am in Paris, I might just do a THATLou (or a THATd’Or at the Musée d’Orsay or THATRue in the streets of Paris) at the beginning of my trip so I can return and take it all in much more slowly.
Highly recommended for anyone who wants to experience the Louvre differently (and Daisy’s working on kids’ versions of the THATs as well!).
Many of you will know I’m in France for most of the summer. While I will be slowly blogging about things I do here, the best way to keep up with me will be by following my photos which you can do on my Summer 2014 set on Flickr or Instagram where I am @eatlivtravwrite (if you don’t have the app on your phone you can still check out the photos online.