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Hello Hunters! 
2016 October 05
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London,
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre,
  • THATLou – Angels & Wings,
  • THATBrit – Skull Scouting

Hello Hunters! 

Please use the “Categories” box to your right to find what you’re looking for. Though we do have a few sections of typical blog articles (such as the “Travelling with Kids in Paris and London” and “Nearby Food & Wine”) this blog is also meant to help hunters read posts on the museums they’ll be hunting in, in the meantime sometimes reading whole articles on the treasure they’ll be scouting out on their THATMuse. 

To find these articles, please look for which THATMuse you’re going on and theme you’ve chosen, for instance:  

THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary
THATBrit – Fun & Games


When fragments of text are in bold, often that means it's going to answer a precious bonus question. (Please note, the museums do close of sections at times, so not all blog posts in your theme will always be included in your hunt – worst case scenario you’ve learned a bit about art for the sake of art). Prior to leaving you may want to print off the posts for your THATMuse prep to read en route to Paris or London thus getting your adrenaline pumping for the greatest Museum adventure!   Comments or suggestions per blog post or via email are warmly welcomed!  Happy Hunting! 
Daisy
The Borghese Beauty
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  • Nearby Food & Wine,
  • THATLou – All Things Gaul

The Borghese Beauty

In our most recent THATLou post we lingered on an introduction to the Borghese Collection at the Louvre. Though necessary, it was honestly a bit sober. So in developing this story line (before getting to the actual crux — an item or two of the collection itself!) I thought we needed some juicy gossip. And what makes for juicier gossip than scandal? It’s hard to top the stories of Messalina, as touched on in a previous post, but Pauline Borghese, Napoleon’s sister and wife to Prince Camillo Borghese, certainly comes a close second in “shock” factor.



Portrait of PrinceCamillo Borghese, by Francois Gerard (1770-1837) location unknown, wikipedia.org

She was the beauty of the family, 6th of the 8 children born to Napoleon’s parents in Ajaccio, Corsica. At the age of 16, in 1796 (just as Napoleon was starting to make his mark on history, during the Italian Campaign), she fell madly in love with a 40-year old syphilitic philanderer. To distract her, the family married her off to one of Napoleon’s soldiers, General Victor Emmanuel Leclerc (whom Nappy incidentally caught her being let’s say, indiscreet with behind a screen at the Palazzo Mombello in Milano — but I get the idea he didn’t share this morsel with his family).  

Despite having a son by Leclerc (Dermide, whom Napoleon, ever the control-freak, named), Pauline set herself up with many a lover. The family was posted to Haiti, which is where she may have developed her taste for sleeping with black men. It is well documented (a small bit of trivia that I remember from high school when we had to spend time at the Museo Napoleonico in Rome. Just as an aside, these completely un-useful bits of trivia is exactly how my history teachers hooked me on their rich subject) that she was in the habit of having her large black servant, Paul, carry her to the bath every day, and would spend an inordinate number of hours receiving guests from the bath – talk about being hungry for attention! She’d also apparently use ladies-in-waiting as foot servants — literally stepping on their backs.



Portrait of PrinceCamillo Borghese, by Francois Gerard (1770-1837) location unknown, wikipedia.org

Unlike either her older brother (who spent a large part of his life being her PR spin doctor, in addition to being self-appointed ‘Emperor’ of Europe) or Messalina (3rd Empress of Rome and a flagrant hussy), Pauline didn’t seem to have any ambition — her interest was pure frivolity and sex. Eight months after Leclerc died she secretly remarried the handsome Prince Camillo Borghese. This rush infuriated Napoleon (Ironically with such a sister, Napoleon tried to instill a code of good morals. Compare Jacques-Louis David’s Portrait of Mme. Recamier (1800, at the Louvre) to Antonio Canova’s sculpture of Pauline – which at her request was nearly nude and posed as Venus Victrix – 1805-8 at the Galleria Borghese). Throughout her infidelities, there was a modicum of decency and even loyalty about her. Though she swiftly cheated on Borghese — who was forced into selling a large part of his family’s art collection to his nouveau-riches self-coronated Emperor brother-in-law — she also secured Camillo the post of Governor of Piedmont and guardian of Napoleon’s prisoner, Pope Pius VII (two tasks Camillo coveted). And though she caused a lot of trouble for her brother (who adored her), she is also the only Bonaparte sibling to have supported him after he was deposed and sent to Elba. 



British Embassy on rue du Fbg St Honore, taken from flickr.com/eisenphotovideo

In fact according to Alistair Horne’s The Age of Napoleon, she liquidated most of her assets to go and live with Nappy in Elba and better his situation (although she kept her pretty frocks `to make him happy`). Among her assets was a sumptuous little number on rue du Faubourg St-Honore which she sold to the Duke of Wellingtonafter the Battle of Waterloo, and which since then has been the British Embassy of France. Apparently Wellington “gained the respect of the Parisians when, as the victor, he could have grabbed it for nothing, but insisted on paying the full price.



Pauline Borghese’s Paris Palace, now the British Embassy taken from Hector Berlioz’s website

Just as a small reminder – when little morsels are randomly placed in bold, it just may mean that those could conceivably arise as answers to bonus questions. The Borghese Beauty is applicable to any number of THATLous, since the Borghese Collection has the Three Graces (Beauty), wild satyrs (Bestiary), wonderful Craters (Food + Wine), and Roman Sarcophagi (Skull Scouting Halloween Hunt), etc.


English historian Alistair Horne has written a number of great books on Napoleon and his time. And here’s a good New York Times article about the Borghese Collection au Louvre (no bonus questions – just if interested).
Beauty
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Beauty



Three Graces in the Borghese Collection at the Louvre, www.wikipedia.com


THE THREE GRACES

Roman copy of Greek 2nd Century BC Statue

Marble, H 1.19m (3ft, 10in) x W 85 cm (33 in)

The Graces, according to Seneca, stand for the 3-fold aspect of generosity the giving, receiving and returning of gifts of benefits. Three daughters of Zeus, some identified them as Beauty, Charm and Joy. Many myths had them presiding over banquets and gatherings, primarily to entertain and delight Zeus’s guests.  These are a Roman copy from the Imperial era (approximately 2nd Century AD), after a Hellenistic original from the 2nd Century BC. Nicolas Cordier (1565 – 1612) restored them in large part in 1609 for Cardinal Borghese (Did you catch that? It’s a thatlou hint… that this marvelous trio is a part of the Borghese collection). Napoleon acquired a considerable part of the Borghese collection in 1807 from his impoverished brother-in-law, Prince Camillo Borghese. 344 antiquities in total made their way from Italy to France. Yet another example of how a French monarch (don’t forget Francois Premier pulling over the Italian renaissance) reaped the benefits of Italian artistic talent — and Italian financial incapacity.

POINTS: XX

And remember during the hunt NO looking at the internet – so you may want to remember this Room 17, Ground Floor, Sully Wing address! And while I’m at giving Bonus Question hints away, who do you think is prettier, these Three Graces or the scandalous Paulina Borghese, Napoleon’s sister and Camillo’s wife?

All “treasure” per clue-manual have that up above in bold – the title, period, country of the piece, and when an artist is known, his/her name.
Messalina- More Sour Grapes
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Messalina- More Sour Grapes

Part of the reason the Julio-Claudian family is tricky to follow is because of all of the interconnected (read: incest!) relationships. Roman Empress Valeria Messalina, known as just Messalina (12 – 48 AD), was the third wife to Emperor Claudius; a cripple with a stutter. 10 years his junior, she was cousin to her husband Claudius, as well as cousin to his predecessor, Emperor Caligula, as well as paternal cousin to Emperor Nero (to follow Claudius, and to be his step-son — as well as… you guessed it, cousin!). Lastly (to be listed, as the connections go on and on!) she was the great-grand-niece of First Emperor Augustus. All of them (Messalina, Claudius, Caligula and Nero) were descendants of Livia, 1st Empress or Rome. Incest aside, she was what one would consider a powerful woman – as well as being a lady of, let’s say ‘compromising morals’, and a conspiring lady at that (for which she would eventually be beheaded)



Messalina and Brittanicus at the Louvre, taken from Flickr, Dipity

Robert Graves depicts Emperor Claudius as adoring Messalina for her beauty and youth. Whether this is true or not, we don’t know, but she did bare him two children directly after they were married in 38 AD, Claudia Octavia (who would be the future empress when she married her stepbrother, Emperor Nero) and Brittanicus, who Messalina vied to be the emperor (but she wasn’t so clever as Livia getting her own son, Tiberius, to the throne).  But before Robert Graves, who was writing in the 1930s, we have Roman sources to turn to for the juicy stuff.



Nero (equestrian statue fragment) at the Louvre, Taken from Louvre.fr

Both Tacitus and Suetonius portrayed Messalina as lustful, insulting, disgraceful, cruel, avaricious, etc. They attributed this to her inbreeding. Pliny the Elder tells of Messalina’s 24-hour sex competition with a prostitute in Book X of his Natural History. And guess who won? Messalina, having bedded 25 more partners than the whore Scylla (you may want to take note of this tidbit in case it appears as a bonus point in one of the hunts).

Juvenal was shockingly graphic in his critical description of her brothel, when he described her in Satire VI. He said the minute Claudius was snoring Messalina would put on a blonde wig and go to work at her brothel for the pleasure of it (for PG status I can’t requote Juvenal’s graphic bits), nor can I post the 1527 engraving that Augostino Carracci did for the famous Renaissance erotic book, I Modi (“The Ways”), which depicts various sexual positions. The engraving depicts her in her brothel, entitled Messalina Lisisca, after Juvenal’s poem.

After she convinced her lover, Roman Senator Gaius Silius, to leave his wife Messalina and Gaius plotted to assassinate Claudius and have Gaius adopt Brittanicus (Messalina’s son by Claudius and the presumed future emperor). Claudius caught word of this, and had them both executed for treason. Messalina was offered a knife to commit suicide honourably, but as she was too cowardly for that, she was beheaded on the spot (in the Gardens of Lucullus, which are now a part of the Villa Borghese in Rome, right above the Spanish Steps).



Spanish Steps, taken from citypictures.net

With such a juicy story under her belt, there are many references to her in popular culture – from Charlotte Bronte (in Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester refers to his first wife as an Indian Messalina) to Gabriel Garcia Marquez (in Love in the Time of Cholera, a dog with many pups bears her name). In Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and the Margarita, Messalina is a guest at Satan’s ball. 



Cuckolded Claudius took necessary measures with his beloved wife; photo taken at the Louvre, from histoire-fr.com

Flexible morals aside, the lady was venally powerful. That is, until she lost her head! Messalina fits perfectly for a Kings + Leaders THATLou, or of course a Ladies at the Louvre THATLou… Perhaps even the Love Hunt might include her – in the carnal sense… Is this hint obvious enough???
Trilogy of Death, Part III
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Trilogy of Death, Part III

In the past few posts I’ve banged on a fair bit about the truly grisly Cimitière des Innocents. First touching on numbers of dead , then covering the business of the death all the while trying to augur the fear & horror involved in a proper Halloween celebration.



Comtesse d’Auvergne, XV siècle France, Louvre

But where’s the dough, you’re probably asking? Our fine hunters need some reward for all the reading they’ve done (although whether you know it or not you’ve been given at least two answers in the past two posts – for both the Skull Scouting hunt as well as if you’re going on an All Things Gaul hunt — as the French are so good at being Masters of the Morbid!). As we’re closer to the final count-down I will cut to the chase and just tell you that our friend Death (as seen below) is on the ground floor of Richelieu in Cour Marly, room 13 (& no you’re not allowed to read this blog post whilst playing – but Room 13 makes sense, no?).



It gets better: This fine female from Auvergne (above) is in the same room as our friend Death (below). She does not have butterflies in her stomach — she’s dead. So what’s eating her up?  Yes, worms are decomposing her corpse in the grisly affair of DEATH! Man, those French! So here’s a cut & paste of the actual treasure clue, as a dead ringer (a dead give-away? — how else can I try to incorporate death in here?!?).



La Morte St Innocents, 16th C French, Alabaster, Louvre

DEATH ST INNOCENT (La Morte St Innocent)

Alabaster, H 1.20m x W .55m x D .27m – from Paris’s Cemetery of Innocents

16th Century French, sculpture (end of Middle Ages) — Cour Marly

The plaque at Death’s foot reads “There is not a single being alive, however cunning and strong in resistance, whom I will not slay with my dagger & give to the Worms as their Pittance!” Quick take a whopping fifty bonus points with your team pointing to worms in this room – and just look at what they’re doing! Talk about appropriate for this gruesomely ghoulish death hunt! So our friend Death was originally kept in the Cemetery des Innocents (CDI), which was found smack dab in the center of Paris – abutting the market place of Les Halles. The CDI started out as a perfectly orderly graveyard, with a space per individual. But as the city grew, the small swath of CDI (just 130 meters by 65) did not. When space ran out mass burials began to be conducted – up to 1500 dead could be buried in one pit before a new one was dug. Just think about the stench as you’re going marketing right next to this grisly pit of death. Horrible. No one had the sense till Louis XVI moved it from the center of town, and in 1786 our friend Death here was moved first to St Gervais then to Notre Dame, where he is unveiled with his ominous (now-missing) dagger only one day a year. Which was? You guessed it, La Toussaint (All Saints’ Day)!


POINTS: 60

Remember if there are words in bold they may answer future bonus questions — as these treasures can apply to various themes.
Trilogy of Death, Part II
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Trilogy of Death, Part II



Fontaine des Innocents, by John James Chalon (1823)


So yesterday we pondered the dead at the Cimitière des Innocents[ (CDI), once Paris’s largest and oldest graveyard smack dab in the middle of town (where the Renaissance Fontaine des Nymphs, aka Fontaine des Innocents** currently is, near the RER Les Halles station). Our cliffhanger left us off with figures; when space ran out at CDI, mass graves of 1500 cadavers per pit were created. Left open till they were filled (the air must’ve been tangibly disgusting!), they were then closed off and a new one of equal size was dug. With the horror of numbers checked off, what about the business of death?


Plan de Turgot (1730)

Income from each burial – mass or otherwise – went to St Eustache (the large church to the north of current-day Les Halles) after CDI became part of its parish property in 1303 (it was later the property of St-Germain-des-Auverrois, the church just across the road from the Louvre’s Cour Carré). The Bishopric of Paris owned much of the lands and tax rights over central Paris, which caused them to open the marketplace next to the cemetery, so to better monitor the trading and assure that they got their share from the trading. The cemetery was opened to merchants in an attempt to reclaim a part of their monopoly over Paris trade.



St Eustache church with Les Halles in foreground. Taken from WikiCommons, photo by Alfie Lanni (Flickr)

The living and the dead co-existed to a point where a whole genre of medieval art – the “Dance Macabre” – was created on the back wall of the CDI. From an art historical point of view this makes CDI supremely important, as the 15th century Dance of Death was the first and finest known example. Unfortunately the wall was razed in order to expand the abutting road, but there are several Holbein woodcuts as well as French and English prints of it, as well as descriptions.



WikiCommons – Une des 17 gravures sur bois de la Danse macabre du cloître des Saints Innocents à Paris. Publiées en 1485 par deux éditeurs parisiens, Guyot Marchant et Verard, elles furent diffusées dans toute l’Europe. Le seul exemplaire parvenu jusqu’à nous se trouve à la bibliothèque de Grenoble.

Since they were making hand over fist, the Church pointedly ignored sanitary issues repeatedly raised by the Crown. What overflowed as quickly as the church coffers was the GROUND. Skeletons of decomposed dead went to charniers (wall closets lining graveyards, housing bones of the dead), but the cadaver’s fatty residues remained in the earth, leaving greasy mounds that couldn’t process the dead at the rate it was being asked to.  Yet the only modification the church would make was to raise its funerary charges!


The court of Louis XV issued an investigation in 1763 of the neighboring Les Halles commerce. Inspectors recorded local stories of meat that rotted before one’s eyes, a perfumerie unable to sell its wares due to the putrid air, tapestry merchants whose rugs changed color if exposed too long and wine merchants whose barrels yielded only vinegar. Several edicts by various Kings to move the parish cemeteries out of the city were resisted till the situation came to a head in the spring of 1780 after a prolonged period of rain.

On 30 May a cellar wall bordering CDI gave way under the weight of the excessive burials and humidity and spilled a mess of decomposed corpses, thus infecting the mud. Talk about a gush of gore! No horror film could top this. The building was evacuated but not even the thickest masonry could keep the stench of rotting flesh at bay, which finally prompted Louis XVI to exile all parish graveyards outside the city walls (you wonder why Montparnasse, Montmartre and Pere Lachaise are in the outer arrondissements – there’s your answer).


Père Lachaise, photo taken from WikiCommons

By 1786 bones of 6 million bodies were exhumed from cemeteries throughout the city and moved to the catacombs (former mines) out of town, at Denfert Rochereau (in today’s 14th Arrt). Just as a grisly conclusion – Many bodies hadn’t fully decomposed and had turned to margaric acid (fat). This fat was collected and turned into candles and soap. Guess that’ll make you think twice before washing your face with soap!



Paris Catacombs “Stop, this is the empire of death” photo taken from MichaelJohnGrist.com **

Fontaine des Innocents (1547-1550) was built by architect Pierre Lescot (there’s a street with his name in the Les Halles area). François 1er, and later his son Henri II had Lescot transform the old Louvre (originally a fortress under Philippe Auguste) into a palace. The Cour Carré that we see — The Sully Wing’s courtyard – is thanks to Lescot’s designs. Jean Goujon was the sculptor for both the Fontaine des Innocents as well as the Cour Carré. Both also collaborated on the roof of the church across the road, St Germain l’Auxerrois.

La Morte St Innocent will conclude our 3-part Trilogy of Death, revving up our grisly juices for the Halloween Skull Scouting on Wed night!
Trilogy of Death, Part I
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Trilogy of Death, Part I

The grisly Death Hunt isn’t far from us.  Our Black-Clad Hunters will be tasked to find all sorts of skulls, from Death overlooking 17th C Dutch Vanitasscenes, Egyptian Mummies, Roman Sarcophagi, and there’s even a silver ‘skull clock’, as seen below. To merge the two in a single object makes sense as both time (and the fact that with each passing day, all of our time is running out) and skulls are typical Memento Mori motifs. These scary skull-clocks are a great discovery in the Objet d’Art section of the Louvre – on the 1st floor, just off IM Pei’s enormous escalator unifying 3 levels of Richelieu (oh boy, I think that might have been a give-away!). Protestant clock-making centers like Blois made a lot of these skull-clocks, a reminder that a handful of Skull Scouting treasures also overlap with the All Things Gaul hunt.



18th century Memento Mori Clock, Paris, Louvre

So which piece of treasure is the king of the hunt, the Master of the Morbid? They’re all so gloriously ghoulish it’s hard to choose which to give-away. So as a process of elimination, which piece is inextricably tied to the history of Paris?

La Morte St Innocent fits this bill beautifully, both for Skull Scouting as well as “All Things Gaul” as he is quintessentially French. La Morte is the lynchpin of Parisian Death – the epitome of just how macabre Medieval Paris got. Apart from Death’s appearance and adjoining plaque (which reads “There is not a single being alive, however cunning and strong in resistance, whom I will not slay with my dagger & give to the Worms as their Pittance!”) his birthplace is key to setting the tone of central Medieval Paris.



La Morte St Innocents, 16th C French, Alabaster, Louvre

Before examining Death itself, which deserves a post unto itself and will be the third of this three-part series let’s have a look at where he’s from: Cimitière des Innocents which was also the birthplace of La Danse Macabre.



Dance of Death (woodcut) Hans Holbein the Younger, 1491 (German printed edition, folio CCLXI recto from Hartman)

Named for the Massacre of Innocents (St Innocents was the same name of an adjoining church, once facing rue St Denis), Cimitière des Innocents (CDI) had been housing the dead since Gallo-Roman days. Originally outside the city walls, as the city expanded it ended up smack dab in the center of town (where current-day place Joachim-du-Bellay is). It was where rue St Denis and rue Berger meet, and abutted Paris’s famed central Market, Les Halles. In the 12th century it was still a perfectly orderly graveyard, with an individual space allotted per body. By the 13th century it was the graveyard for Paris’s parishes without cemeteries as well as a dumping ground for the dead of the nearby hospital, Hôtel Dieu (which, if facing Notre Dame, is directly to your left – to escape the throngs of ND goggling tourists you can always dip into Hôtel Dieu’s peaceful plant-filled courtyard).  But back to Medieval France – With so many incoming dead CDI was starting to ooze. Soon it would grow to a festering sore, Paris’s pussing pustule emitting ghastly gasses.



image taken from Cadrans solaires disparus  (michel.lalos.free.fr)

How could it not? While Paris grew, the CDI plot of 135 meters x 65 meters did not. Moreover the number of deaths due to famines, wars (100-Years War, the 30-Years War), let alone the Plague were enough to send heads spinning. During several bouts of the plague in the 14th Century an estimated 800 people died a day in Paris, the Plague of 1418 poured nearly 50,000 dead into CDI over a five-week period, in 1466 another 40,000 perished in Paris. With the swelling of such numbers, mass graves were created. They’d leave a pit open till 1500 cadavers filled each crevice, then close it off for the worms to do their decomposing jobs, filling another 1500-body pit just inches over.


Plan de Turgot, de 1730

Imagine the stench of your Saturday morning marketing – how could the Crown allow such (un-)sanitary conditions to co-exist? That’s your Hallowe’en cliff-hanger for the day. I’ll continue this gory CDI glory tomorrow, and shall get us back to the Master of the Morbid! Thus, hopefully, auguring the spirit of Halloween (smiley-face, exclamation mark)!

Things in bold tend to refer to bonus questions…
A Basanite Babe
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A Basanite Babe


Livia Drusilla, standing marble sculpture as Ops, with wheat sheaf and cornucopia, 1st C BC, Louvre

Livia Drusilla, first Empress of Rome, was indisputably the most powerful woman in the Julio-Claudian Roman Empire. All Julio-Claudian emperors were her direct descendents, despite having a childless marriage to the 1st Emperor of Rome, Augustus (formerly Octavian Augustus, back when there was a triumvirate and Rome was a Republic). This marriage lasted 50 years and by all accounts was a partnership of two clever minds. Livia (58 BC – 29 AD) saw to it that her son Augustus’s step-son, inherited the throne. This, despite the fact that Augustus intended five others to inherit the throne (all of whom happened to die, some under rather suspicious conditions).


Basanite bust of Empress Livia (58 BC – 29 AD), Louvre

Because this bust is basanite (a volcanic rock), it’s believed to have been sculpted just after the Battle of Actium (2 September 31 BC), when Octavian Augustus seized Cleopatra’s kingdom (the loss of this naval battle caused Mark Anthony to commit suicide). This would have made Livia 27 years old, already an able leader just as cunning as her Egyptian counterpart, Queen Cleopatra.

With senators on both sides of her family, Livia was not only the crème of the Roman aristocratic crop, she also had financial independence from Emperor Augustus (and from her former husband, the father of her two sons) through being granted the ‘marks of status’ in 35 AD, which was rarely granted to women. Soon thereafter she was also granted the sancrosancitas, which gave her the same rights Augustus had.

Tacitus described Livia as malevolent and called her a “feminine bully” and Robert Graves had a ball depicting her shrewd ambition in I, Claudius as the epitome of a scheming matriarch poisoning anyone who crossed her, and anyone who got in the path of her son Tiberius inheriting the throne (though Graves did a great service to widening our BBC knowledge of Roman History, he might have been slightly fictitious). But no one questioned the fact of either her cunning intelligence or her absolute power. Second only to her husband. The Julio-Claudian family tree can be slightly complicated with brothers and sisters marrying (Caligula, for one), but all of the Emperors stemmed from Livia. Tiberius (14-37 AD) was her son, Caligula (37-41 AD) her grandson, Claudius (41 – 54 AD) her grandson, Nero (54-68 AD) her great-grandson.

With so many anecdotes under her belt, Livia is a perfect candidate for plenty of THATLou Themes, from Kings + Leaders to Ladies au Louvre or seen as Ops holding wheat she could even be suitable for the Thanksgiving Food + Wine hunt. Wheat was free in Rome, which is perhaps why their bread is so delicious … 2000 years of practice with the forno certainly shows off! As for her Cornucopia, abounding with fruit, there’s another larger one found two rooms over in this Denon ground floor (Rez-de-Chausse, in French).

Things in bold are sometimes references to bonus questions…
Louvre Icon, Venus de Milo
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Louvre Icon, Venus de Milo



Aphrodite, known as VENUS DE MILO


Marble, H 2.02 meters

Island of Melos (Cyclades, Greece), 100 BC Statue

You can’t tell me you’re surprised we’re opening up the Love Hunt with the Goddess of Love, can you? A hands-down top ten Louvre Icon, just look on your map for her snap…

The identity of the “Venus de Milo” is unknown, as her arms were never found, nor were any attributes. Because of her sensuality and semi-nudity, she’s often considered to be Venus (goddess of love), however, she could have very well been Amphitrite (Poseidon / Neptune’s wife originally, but sadly this goddess of the sea diminished in importance at different junctures of Olympian history). Amphitrite was worshipped on the Island of Melos (Milo), where this Louvre icon was found.

She originally wore jewellery (bracelet, earrings and a headband) of which only the fixation holes remain. Traits which were typical of the 5th C BC, such as the harmony of her face, her aloofness and impassivity, lead some Art Historians to believe she was a 100 BC replica. Likewise, her hairstyle and the delicate modelling of the flesh evoke the works of the 4th C sculptor Praxiteles. But there’s plenty that places her in the Hellenistic period (between 3rd – 1st C BC), such as the spiral composition of her body, the fact that she’s 3D, her small breasts, elongated body and most importantly the thin veneer of material draped from her hips and not quite covering the top of her butt crack. It’s not the cling wrap material of Nike of Samothrace.


Venus’s fixture holes photo taken from from Where is Ariadne? Blog


photo taken from “Where Is Ariadne?”

Whoever this mystery lady is, she’s gorgeous and her ‘top-ten attraction’ at the Louvre status is entirely understandable. If you’re sharp you’ll have earned another thirty points by telling us where Venus de Milo hid during WWII, as discussed in Just Do It And another fifteen points each for 2 other treasures that hid with her — Not shabby on the bonus question front, eh?


As for the WWII Bonus answer: all of the following treasure was kept in hiding at the Château de Valençay: the lovely Venus, Michelangelo’s Dying Slaves, the Mona Lisa and Nike of Samothrace Every time I go up the Daru Staircase I think of the photo of Nike being evacuated from the Louvre’s Daru Staircase in 1939, as seen in the Nike blog post.

* The Louvre map has photos of six highlights per floor on their map. When it’s such a “greatest hit” (my joke term for these Louvre icons) those treasures are only worth 10 game points, as there’s no challenge to finding them. That is NOT TO SAY you don’t want to find these easy-to-find Icons, because you’ll be well rewarded with bonus questions, as you see above.

When things are in bold, usually that’s a hint that they refer to bonus questions…
Big Bulls of Antique Iran
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  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders

Big Bulls of Antique Iran

Going out with a bang, I’m concluding our visit to Darius the Great’s Winter Palace at Susa (which in turn sadly wraps up the Louvre Near Eastern musings which started with Ain Ghazal, the oldest piece at the Louvre) with something big! Nearly matching the Louvre’s gentle Lamassus in height, here’s one COLOSSAL capital.



This COLOSSAL capital alone is 4 meters tall, 1/3rd the size of the column that it topped.  Altogether the columns  – 36 columns to be exact* – in Darius’s Apadana (Audience Hall) were over 20 meters tall (meaning about 70 feet ceilings, I think).  The hall was 109 meters squared.  Just look at the size of the beams nestled between the two kneeling bulls: they’re unfathomably large. To help put it in context, El Argentino said that the bull’s eye would be looking straight into our kitchen window – we live on the 4th and final floor of a typical Parisian building dating to 1810. The trek up the 4 flights each day, my toddler Storsh in hand, make me all the more sensitive to such lofty height.



The variations of colour in the capital’s stone is due to the fact that it was reconstructed from fragments of several columns by Marcel Dieulafoy, the archeologist leading the 1884-1886 excavation. To demonstrate the unification of the different parts of Darius’s Persian Empire, influences were taken from all over. The stone masons were Greek and Lydian, and the architects Persian. The double volutes with rosettes was taken from the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, yet the pair of bull protomes are purely Mesopotamian, representing cosmic equilibrium. And let’s not forget Egypt, a significant part of his 50-million-person strong Achaemenid Empire – that basket-like ensemble of palm fronds are a reminder that the Egyptians had been peed on by Darius. Again, just one capital is a Benetton of sorts, a little UN-melting pot of cultures as described in the last post, which mentions which exact room these treasures can be found in… Helpful no?



Besides the bulls, those friezes from the last post may just be THATLou-applicable!


On the globe-trotting front, apparently one of these fine bulled capitals has found itself far far away – from Paris or Iran…  El Argentino is from the leafy hood of Palermo, Buenos Aires.  Our favourite part of the 3 de Febrero park, also known as the Bosques de Palermo (the woods of Palermo), is the Rose Garden. Though we’ve been to feed the ducks and picnic in the fragrant green plenty of times, I hadn’t noticed that they have one of these double-kneeling bulls perched in place, above a fluted column. This one is apparently from Darius’s father, Cyrus. In 1972 one of the Pahlavi Shahs gave the 102-ton column to Buenos Aires, for nuclear good-will no doubt (the Argentines had advanced nuclear technology in the 60s and 70s).  Anyway, how this behemoth passed my notice says heaps about how open my eyes are!



La Columna Persa, Parque 3 de Febrero, Buenos Aires

To close this Near Eastern Antiquities musing, I just wanted to say a word on Susa, the town where Darius chose to make his administrative capital and Winter Palace. Also known as Shushan, or in Greek Susiane, Susa shares the “oldest” element that Ain Ghazal opened our Near Eastern visit with:  Susa is among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, starting in 4200 BC. There are also traces of a village there around 7000 BC. We think of Egyptian art as old, but the first traces of it were 2000 years later, in 5000 BC.



man standing in foreground for scale

Apart from making a star appearance as Bestiary (fantastical animals, such as unicorns, dragons and griffins, etc), Darius’s palace at Susa could certainly appear in plenty of other THATLous –  such as Animals in Art or Kings + Leaders, what with Darius’s reach (his empire stretched from India to Greece) as mentioned in the last post you never know!

All photos were taken from Wikipedia and Google and are in the open domain.

* And yes, when things are in bold, often that means it’s going to answer a precious bonus question!
The Benetton of Near Eastern Art
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou – Animals in Art,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders

The Benetton of Near Eastern Art

Till our next visit to the Louvre, this will be my penultimate highlight concerning last weekend’s visit to the Near Eastern antiquities wing.  It’s been tricky to choose what to profile since El Argentino and I had so many surprises and discovered so many delights.

In choosing this third finale I hoped to find a thread which holds the three completely different pieces, from completely different places together. First we had our rather morbid friend, Ain Ghazal with his silent watchful eyes. He’s from the Levant (which describes both a culture and a geographical area between Egypt and Turkey, Iraq and the Mediterranean), but Ain really stands out, because at 9000 years old he’s the Louvre’s oldest piece. That’s pretty cool.  Then we had our adorable Assyrian Lamassus, curiously smiling down at us as they protected Sargon’s palace. Endearing and gentle, the Lamassus put proportion back in the idea of palace, with their monumental size.

So with size and age for themes, I nominate Darius I’s winter palace at Susa.  Son of Cyrus, father of Xerxes, Darius I (522-486 BC) was the most successful of the Achaemenid kings. Under his rule the Persian Empire stretched from Greece to India. A melting pot of styles, Achaemenid art is defined by seemlessly combining many elements taken from different cultures. I guess one could think of it as the Benetton of Near Eastern Art. His palace at Susa (east of the Tigris River) celebrated all sorts of his victories, and not just through storytelling as his Greek contemporaries were painting on their pots, but through methods and materials as well.  Darius was big time and he wanted you to know it.  So big-time was he that this entry shall be two-fold, in my weak attempt to do his winter palace justice: art today, architecture to follow.



King of the beasts, the lion figures an important role both royally and religiously.  A frieze of lions ran along the top of the wall in the first court Darius’s visitors entered. The provenance of the glazed siliceous bricks and its composition as a frieze is from older Mesopotamian traditions, found for instance in the 2nd millennium temple of Kara-indash in Uruk. The repetition of a symbolic animal was typical of Babylonian art, where its significance was more religious. Yet the clear knowledge of anatomy, and the attention to details such as his wavy mane was true to Achaemenid Persian art.  A little artistic UN, all in one palace. By 480 BC it was estimated that 50 million people lived in the Achaemenid Empire.



Sphinx in Darius the Great’s winter palace at Susa, Iran

Apart from these turquoise lions Jacques de Morgan, the archeologist leading the excavations from 1908 – 1913, found bas relief friezes of griffins and sphinxes, archers (with duck heads at the top of their bows) and immortals — among plenty of colossal double-headed columns which we’ll linger on in another post.



What does that mean for you? Well, a lot of THATLou points if you know where on Sully’s ground floor (ground floor in French is RDC, Rez-de-Chaussée) to find them in the “Antique Iran” section that’s yellow on your Louvre maps… Oh here, you’re good enough to be reading this THATLou homework, these precious creatures are in Room 12 and 13!

Apart from appearing in the Beauty + Bestiary (fantastical animals, such as unicorns, dragons and griffins, etc), Darius’s palace at Susa could certainly be pertinent to plenty of other THATLou themes – Kings + Leaders, Animals in Art, or even a possible Beauty + Bestiary… You never know!
Lamassus at the Louvre
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou – Animals in Art,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders

Lamassus at the Louvre

Continuing on the Louvre Near Eastern visit that El Argentino, STORSH and I took this weekend, I thought I’d introduce this rather endearing winged bull-man. Called a Lamassu (meaning “protective spirit” in Akkadian), he is one of a pair who was usually found flanking the doorways to Assyrian palaces. One of the things I find so clever about them is why they have five legs; If you look at them from straight on, they’re standing at attention, still. If you look at them from the side, they’re walking. The British Museum also has two Lamassus, one of which has some graffiti of the board game, the Royal Game of Ur scratched between two of their legs… Guards who were clearly stationed at the gates, idling the time away.

But back to the Khorsabad room in the Mesopotamian section of the Louvre: These guys are somehow comforting, or perhaps what’s comforting is the space they’re in. It smells earthy, I suppose of the gypseous alabaster they’re made of. With the grey-but-bright Paris light shedding in, there’s something intimate about the well-proportioned L-shaped room lined with Sargon’s treasures. And then there’s size. Our friends here stand at nearly 4 and a half meters tall, making me feel. Well. Very human. They’re from the palace of Sargon II, who reigned from 721 – 705 BC; it was square in shape with 158 towers & had a 24-meter thick wall encompassing 3 km². Nothing so piddling as our French Khorsabad room at the Louvre. But sadly we don’t have much of Sargon’s treasure left.



In the 1840s and 50s the palace, named Dur Sharrukin, was excavated by the French consul general to Mosul (yes, of Iraq), Monsieur Botta (and yes, his name is in bold — perhaps an answer to a bonus question?). Heart-breakingly two shipping incidents caused much of the excavations to go missing: one through the boat sinking and the other to pirates. They must have been strong pirates as two 30-ton statues went missing.

I haven’t done much digging myself, but I do have to wonder why some Indiana Jones character hasn’t gone looking for the ruins at the bottom of the Tigris river, where the first ship sunk.



Anyway, this endearing Lamassu could appear in any number of THATLous. His strong, architecturally-necessary form makes him suitable for an Architecture + Structure hunt, and of course, the fact that he is neither animal nor man, but an imaginary compromise places him in the blurred line of Beauty + the Bestiary (fantasy animals, like unicorns) theme. Or, since two of their three components are animals, I bet they’re also in the Kid-Friendly Animals in Art theme (the purpose of which is to avoid crowds)? Lucky you’re reading this here, to get a leg up (or five!) on your THATLou adversaries!



And where do you suppose you’d find these gentle giants? In the Mesopotamian department (yellow on the map), not too far from the Near Eastern collection’s Ain Ghazal, the Oldest Piece at the Louvre or Ancient Iranian treasures like Darius the Great’s Frieze of Archers + Griffins who are just around the corner in the Sackler collection of the Sully Wing.
My Insiders's Guide to Paris with Kids
2016 October 20
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London

My Insiders's Guide to Paris with Kids




When people think of going to Paris, they often think of it as a romantic destination (which it is), but it is also a fantastic place for families and if you’re planning a spring getaway over the Easter holidays, then a quick hop over the channel could be just the escape you need. I’ve lived in Paris for 12 years now and have explored it exhaustively with my 5-year-old son Storsh, who loves this wonderful city as much as I do. Here are some of my favourite family-friendly gems in Paris for you to explore too. You never know, you might even have time for some romance….

Parc de la Villette

Up in the 19th Arr., straddling Canal de l’Ourcq, which hosts the Paris Plages (city beaches) in the summer months, is the reclaimed industrial landscape-turned-futuristic Parc de la Villette. There are plenty of imaginative kid-friendly pieces here, from an enormous dragon slide to a verdant bamboo maze and it is a fantastic place to wander through in spring.

While you are there, don’t miss the amazing interactive children’s museum, Cité des Enfants (closed on Mondays; buy tickets in advance), which sits on the west side of the canal. If you ever manage to drag the kids away, there is an enormous Géode cinema just outside, which shows most of latest I-Max films in an English version too. Also nearby is a real submarine for the boys in your family to explore – my son Storsh’s favorite part!

A new addition to Paris’s cultural landscape is the Philharmonie de Paris, built by Jean Nouvel, which has some great children’s programs (from 3 months-3 years (sound & instrument discovery), to 7 & up (“From Beatbox to Mozart”). It’s worth checking out their website ahead of time (http://lavillette.com/) to find treats such as the Villette en Cirques complete with magicians, acrobats and the lot (Running till 17 April, tickets range from 10€ to 26€).

Metro: Corentin Carious (line 7) and Porte de Pantin (line 5).

Website: lavillette.com

Jardin d’Acclimatation

With Disneyland and the like banned from my childhood, being allowed to go to the 19thJardin d’Acclimatation always made Paris a favourite city of my youth. As it’s out in the Bois de Boulogne (the suburbs of Neuilly) it’s well worth arriving on the “Petit Train”which departs from Porte Maillot (17th Arr.). The toot of the horn and chugga chugga choo choo never ceases to delight Storsh.

The park rides range from standard modern play equipment (target games, a mirrored fun-zone) to more antiquated novel pieces (from the more acceptable TinTin section to a more historic – read possibly objectionable – jungle boat ride with colonialists in pith-helmets & natives sitting in the grass).

With plenty of picnic tables, there’s also a farm-inspired café (and a farm with live farm animals!) or more the modern Angelina for lunch. If you’re going all the way out there, be sure to allot time to Frank Gehry’s fantastic new Fondation Louis Vuitton, replete with concerts, exhibitions and estaurant Le Frank, all nestled into the Bois de Boulogne. Open 10am -6 pm, 5.90€ for entry & Petit Train ticket combined, not including rides which are 2.90€ or you can buy a carnet).

Metro: Sablons (line 1) or Porte Maillot (line 1 or RER C)

Website:jardindacclimatation.fr



Ballon de Paris

Skip the lines of the Tour Eiffel and take in a fantabulous view of Paris from a tethered hot air balloon. Getting you off the beaten-track, the Ballon de Paris rises about 150 meters, delighting kids no end. Anchored to the 1992 Parc André Citroen (which abuts the Seine in the 15th Arr.), the park also has ping pong tables and a fun water distribution fountain that kids can have a good romp through, darting around – or through — the playful water jets. Before heading down there, check the website for wind conditions though.  Fares are 12€ for adults, 6€ for children ages 3-11, toddlers under 3 are free).

Metro: Javel or Balard / RER C Javel or Boulevard Victor (the park’s address is 2 rue de la Montagne de la Fage 75015 Paris).

Website:  ballondeparis.com


Vedette du Pont Neuf

I always recommend planning a Seine cruise before or after a half-day at the Louvre (where you can also take part in one of my THATLou family treasure hunts at the Louvre) to give the kids a rest from walking & standing. The closest boat to the Louvre has the benefit of being moored off the Pont Neuf (Paris’s oldest bridge, despite its name, “New Bridge”) where there’s a precious little patch of green, Square du Vert-Galant, right on the water’s edge, good for an energy-spending frolic before and after the boat ride – or for a baguette and stinky cheese picnic.

To play it safe perhaps pick up a Jambon Beurre (ham and butter baguette sandwich) in case the kids are resistant to being initiated to any of France’s delicious, but sometimes strong 350 (plus!) cheeses. The boat offers seating outside (upstairs) or in, both areas having a multi-lingual tour of the sites you’re passing over the hour-long tour.

From 15 March- 31 October the Vedette du Pont Neuf runs every 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 10 pm (the rest of the year it runs on the hour). Tickets are 14€/adults, 5€/kids (aged 4-12) when purchased at the dock, but better prices are available online (9€ in the morning, 11€ in the afternoon).

Website: vedettesdupontneuf.com

Jardin des Plantes

The 17th Century Botanical Gardens are brimming with well-documented plants, trees and splendid allées flanking either side of the 23.5 hectares (69 acres). For kids there’s the 18th century Zoo (originally with animals from the royal menagerie at Versailles), a delightful Art Deco Winter Garden (a hot house is Serre in French) with glass galleries of exotic plants from all corners of the globe), and of course the Natural History Museum comprising 4 main galleries (the Grande Galérie de l’Evolution, Paleontology, Entomology and Mineralogy Museums) is a dusty delight. Behind the hot house, kids can burn some energy and inspire some hide-n-seek imagination in the spectacular labyrinth of hollowed-out bushes, crowned by a gazebo.

Metro:  Gare de l’Austerlitz (line 5, RER C), Jussieu (lines 7 & 10)

Website: jardindesplantes.net
Museum Mummies - Games to engage your kids at the museum
2016 October 18
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London

Museum Mummies - Games to engage your kids at the museum


Because my mother was an art historian, we spent at least part of each weekend prowling European painting collections across New York. I grew up in the West Village and associated uptown with The Met and Frick. To keep me quiet, she concocted all sorts of art games, which I’ve been handing down to my 4.5 year old, Storsh (he thinks of the Louvre and British Museum as playgrounds).

She did such a good job of it that I not only got my degrees in Art History, but when I
had Storsh, a premature worry set in over what his relationship to art and museums would be. In his first year of life, I started a company called THATLou, which stands for Treasure Hunt at the Louvre. Now awaiting number two, we’re building THATMuse for museums in London. Our soft launch was generously commissioned by the British Museum, where I hosted a “Friday Late” entitled The Art of Play: A Treasure Hunt Challenge, which took place last week, on 11 September.

"Scour the wall of postcards for their five favourite pieces before setting off to find those paintings"

In my experience,children love museums if you know how to engage them. Here are some of my top games to keep them interested when you visit the painting collections.


The Postcard Game

If you’re travelling and it’s a collection you don’t know well, go to the gift shop before you visit the museum and have your children scour the wall of postcards for their five favourite pieces before setting off to find those paintings.

For older children

Ask them to find the paintings featured on the postcards within the museum by looking at the country/century of the work on the back of the postcard and finding it on the map. This will develop their navigation skills and give them a layout of the space.

For younger children

Have them pose as the subject for a photo with each work and postcard. If they’re in the habit of taking photos with your phone, trade roles with you posing as the silliest character in the painting. They will enjoy looking back at the photos later.

The Category Game

Find a bench in the museum lobby before entering and ask your kids to choose an animal, a type of food and something like grotesque noses (Storsh loves this one) as your categories.

"Giving them a sense of purpose helps stretch their attention – and your visit!"

Write your categories down then see how many of those animals/foods/body parts your children can find throughout the visit. All kids like collecting things, and having them keep count by writing a line every time they find their item is rewarding. And of course, giving them a sense of purpose helps stretch their attention – and your visit!

The Fashion Game

Before leaving the house, go to your wardrobe and ask your children to feel a variety of materials – scratchy wool, smooth silk, heavy satin, luscious velvet, soft fur etc – the breadth depends on the size of your wardrobe…. Choose one material or more and (assuming it’s not an evening gown!) wear it to the museum so the kids can look at the collection from a tactile perspective. Ask them whether they think it looks real.

The Saint Game



Every time I visit a museum with Storsh, we latch onto a saint and their attribute and devote our whole visit to finding that saint in various paintings. At 3, Storsh started out with St George, easily identified for killing the dragon from a horse. Each time we found a St George, Storsh would make the wild hissing sound of the dragon blowing fire. Sometimes I’d get on all fours and neigh wildly like George’s horse. The more vivid the enactment, the easier to remember the story.

"Quick, show me what Salome does?"

Slowly, one per museum visit, I added in St Michael and St Margaret, both dragon killers but without the horse. Then St John the Baptist. The bloodier, the better. I tend to quiz him on site, so that his connection to the painting is clear, “quick, show me what Salome does?” Sometimes Storsh draws his fingers across his throat with quick precision for a good beheading, other times he dances – much to the bemusement of the guards.
Paris With Kids: Hidden Outdoor Treasure
2016 October 14
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London

Paris With Kids: Hidden Outdoor Treasure

With many of Paris’s parks dating to the 17th Century, the history of each one is worthy of tomes. One thing they all have in common is seasonal entry hours (generally dawn to dusk), which are posted at entrances. All are packed with history, art and practical playground delights. Here’s a list of Hidden Kid Treasure as well as garden “Spillover” for the whole family to enjoy.
JARDIN DES PLANTES
The Royal Garden Jardin des Plantes was designed by Louis XIII’s doctor, Guy de la Brosse, in 1635. After it was opened to the public, it fell to disrepair until Colbert was named administrator and had the medicinal plants and allées rejuvenated by leading botanists of the day (including Jussieu, whose name graces the nearest metro station).
HIDDEN KID TREASURE: A special treat for Parisian tots is a labyrinth where they can climb in the hallowed-out bushes and secretly make their way up to the next level while parents toddle up the spiraling dirt path. The conical maze is hidden behind the Art Deco Winter Garden (serre in French; the hot house is also worth dipping into). With terraced levels being crowned by a looking-point gazebo, the labyrinth looks a bit like a massive green ziggurat. It’s a delightful treat for kids, but perhaps agree to a special whistle prior to letting your kids run free, as it’s easy for them to get lost in the maze! Or agree ahead of time that they’ll find you at the apex, sitting in the gazebo, so they know to climb up. (Can you tell my 5-year old has scared himself getting lost there aplenty?)
SPILLOVER: The Jardin des Plantes, 23.5 hectares (69 acres), also has an 18th century zoo with animals from the royal menagerie at Versailles, and four main galleries comprising the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, Paleontology, Entomology and Mineralogy Museums.
METRO: Gare d’Austerlitz (lines 5, 10, RER C), Jussieu (lines 7, 10)
JARDIN du LUXEMBOURG
The terraced gardens of the Left Bank’s Jardin du Luxembourg are a playground for both kids and adults. (You’ll find city-run tennis courts and a canopied area for chess players, as well as the 19th century Rucher du Luxembourg where adults can learn about how to care for bees and harvest honey from the garden’s hives.) The gardens were originally laid out to accompany Marie de Medici’s Palais du Luxembourg, which now houses the Senate. The 1620s palace was meant to replicate the Dragon Lady Queen of France’s childhood home, Florence’s Pitti Palace, and the gardens were inspired by Florence’s Boboli Gardens. The gardens have so many delights for kids (Napoleon dedicated the 25-hectares to the “Children of Paris”), that it’s a challenge to highlight one.
HIDDEN KID TREASURE: Since the delicate and discreet Merry-Go-Round is the oldest in Paris, I nominate this for our hidden treasure list. Designed by Charles Garnier, of Opéra fame, this 1879 weather-beaten carousel has the added attraction of having a “Jeu de Bagues”, where kids try to spike iron rings onto their sticks. No easy feat for those older kids on the peripheral circle of horses (and mesmerizing for waiting parents: the attendant re-loads the rings with hands as fast & graceful as a gazelle!). Unlike many of the city’s other carousels, Garnier’s animals swing from above.
SPILLOVER: Too many to name! The 25 hectares host a delightful pony trail, 1920s boats you can stick around the boat basin, a Punch & Judy-like puppet show and one of the city’s best playgrounds, tailored to all ages. (Paid entry, with a guarded gate.) For artsy families you can go statue-stalking as there are 106 sculptures to track, or for photo buffs there’s always a photography show exhibited on the garden’s fences, or of course you can check out the temporary exhibitions at the Musée du Luxembourg at 19, rue de Vaugirard (12€/adults).
METRO: Odéon (line 4), Notre-Dame-des-Champs (line 12), Luxembourg (RER B)
JARDIN DES TUILERIES
The Florentine de Medici family also left its mark on the other major Paris park, the Jardin des Tuileries. After Queen Catherine de Medici, Marie’s elder, was widowed by Henri II, she had the Tuileries gardens built for her Palais des Tuileries (1564); both the gardens and palace got their name from the tile factories which they replaced (tuile means tile in French). The 23-hectare gardens we know today — which connect the Louvre, where the kings lived, to Place de la Concorde, where French monarchy came to an abrupt (and bloody!) end — date to 1664 at the hand of André le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s Versailles gardener. (By no coincidence, le Nôtre’s grandfather had been a Tuileries gardener when it was Catherine’s stomping grounds.) From a kid point of view the Tuileries has plenty to offer, from a wonderful playground with a behemoth jungle gym, popular hammock and roundabout, to two lovely boat ponds for feeding the ducks or pushing the 1920s boats with sticks, not to mention a carousel.
HIDDEN KID TREASURE: It’s easy to miss the sunken trampolines that are off the Tuileries central allée. They’re at about the level of the WH Smith bookstore, between the carousel and Place de la Concorde, yet plenty of Parisian parents don’t know about them. Separated from each other with padded edges, these trampolines cost €2.50 for 5 minutes a pop. They’re available for kids from 2 to 12. (Although my son, Storsh, was too young at 2 to understand what to do other than watch the older kids bouncing like a basketball.) It’s a great way to get their energy out after a morning au Louvre!
SPILLOVER: For the artsy families you can go sculpture scouting for the likes of Maillols, Rodin, Giacometti, or more modern Dubuffet and Roy Lichtenstein. More formally, two museums overlook the Place de la Concorde side: view Monet’s waterlilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie or stop off at the Jeu de Paume, which often has excellent photography exhibits.
METRO: Tuileries (line 1), Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12)
With many of Paris’s parks dating to the 17th Century, the history of each one is worthy of tomes. One thing they all have in common is seasonal entry hours (generally dawn to dusk), which are posted at entrances. All are packed with history, art and practical playground delights. Here’s a list of Hidden Kid Treasure as well as garden “Spillover” for the whole family to enjoy.

JARDIN DES PLANTES

In the Jardin des Tuileries/ photo by Daisy de Plume

The Royal Garden Jardin des Plantes was designed by Louis XIII’s doctor, Guy de la Brosse, in 1635. After it was opened to the public, it fell to disrepair until Colbert was named administrator and had the medicinal plants and allées rejuvenated by leading botanists of the day (including Jussieu, whose name graces the nearest metro station).
HIDDEN KID TREASURE: A special treat for Parisian tots is a labyrinth where they can climb in the hallowed-out bushes and secretly make their way up to the next level while parents toddle up the spiraling dirt path. The conical maze is hidden behind the Art Deco Winter Garden (serre in French; the hot house is also worth dipping into). With terraced levels being crowned by a looking-point gazebo, the labyrinth looks a bit like a massive green ziggurat. It’s a delightful treat for kids, but perhaps agree to a special whistle prior to letting your kids run free, as it’s easy for them to get lost in the maze! Or agree ahead of time that they’ll find you at the apex, sitting in the gazebo, so they know to climb up. (Can you tell my 5-year old has scared himself getting lost there aplenty?)

SPILLOVER: The Jardin des Plantes, 23.5 hectares (69 acres), also has an 18th century zoo with animals from the royal menagerie at Versailles, and four main galleries comprising the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, Paleontology, Entomology and Mineralogy Museums.

METRO: Gare d’Austerlitz (lines 5, 10, RER C), Jussieu (lines 7, 10)


JARDIN du LUXEMBOURG


The boat pond at the Jardin du Luxembourg/ photo by Daisy de Plume

The terraced gardens of the Left Bank’s Jardin du Luxembourg are a playground for both kids and adults. (You’ll find city-run tennis courts and a canopied area for chess players, as well as the 19th century Rucher du Luxembourg where adults can learn about how to care for bees and harvest honey from the garden’s hives.) The gardens were originally laid out to accompany Marie de Medici’s Palais du Luxembourg, which now houses the Senate. The 1620s palace was meant to replicate the Dragon Lady Queen of France’s childhood home, Florence’s Pitti Palace, and the gardens were inspired by Florence’s Boboli Gardens. The gardens have so many delights for kids (Napoleon dedicated the 25-hectares to the “Children of Paris”), that it’s a challenge to highlight one.

HIDDEN KID TREASURE: Since the delicate and discreet Merry-Go-Round is the oldest in Paris, I nominate this for our hidden treasure list. Designed by Charles Garnier, of Opéra fame, this 1879 weather-beaten carousel has the added attraction of having a “Jeu de Bagues”, where kids try to spike iron rings onto their sticks. No easy feat for those older kids on the peripheral circle of horses (and mesmerizing for waiting parents: the attendant re-loads the rings with hands as fast & graceful as a gazelle!). Unlike many of the city’s other carousels, Garnier’s animals swing from above.

SPILLOVER: Too many to name! The 25 hectares host a delightful pony trail, 1920s boats you can stick around the boat basin, a Punch & Judy-like puppet show and one of the city’s best playgrounds, tailored to all ages. (Paid entry, with a guarded gate.) For artsy families you can go statue-stalking as there are 106 sculptures to track, or for photo buffs there’s always a photography show exhibited on the garden’s fences, or of course you can check out the temporary exhibitions at the Musée du Luxembourg at 19, rue de Vaugirard (12€/adults).

METRO: Odéon (line 4), Notre-Dame-des-Champs (line 12), Luxembourg (RER B)

JARDIN DES TUILERIES

Playing on a playground hammock in the Tuileries/ photo by Daisy de Plume

The Florentine de Medici family also left its mark on the other major Paris park, the Jardin des Tuileries. After Queen Catherine de Medici, Marie’s elder, was widowed by Henri II, she had the Tuileries gardens built for her Palais des Tuileries (1564); both the gardens and palace got their name from the tile factories which they replaced (tuile means tile in French). The 23-hectare gardens we know today — which connect the Louvre, where the kings lived, to Place de la Concorde, where French monarchy came to an abrupt (and bloody!) end — date to 1664 at the hand of André le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s Versailles gardener. (By no coincidence, le Nôtre’s grandfather had been a Tuileries gardener when it was Catherine’s stomping grounds.) From a kid point of view the Tuileries has plenty to offer, from a wonderful playground with a behemoth jungle gym, popular hammock and roundabout, to two lovely boat ponds for feeding the ducks or pushing the 1920s boats with sticks, not to mention a carousel.

HIDDEN KID TREASURE: It’s easy to miss the sunken trampolines that are off the Tuileries central allée. They’re at about the level of the WH Smith bookstore, between the carousel and Place de la Concorde, yet plenty of Parisian parents don’t know about them. Separated from each other with padded edges, these trampolines cost €2.50 for 5 minutes a pop. They’re available for kids from 2 to 12. (Although my son, Storsh, was too young at 2 to understand what to do other than watch the older kids bouncing like a basketball.) It’s a great way to get their energy out after a morning au Louvre!

SPILLOVER: For the artsy families you can go sculpture scouting for the likes of Maillols, Rodin, Giacometti, or more modern Dubuffet and Roy Lichtenstein. More formally, two museums overlook the Place de la Concorde side: view Monet’s waterlilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie or stop off at the Jeu de Paume, which often has excellent photography exhibits.
METRO: Tuileries (line 1), Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12)

Paris With Kids: Quick Fix Fun for Under 5€
2016 June 28
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London

Paris With Kids: Quick Fix Fun for Under 5€

Apart from being romantic, Paris is also marvelously family-oriented. Despite this, it can be tiring traveling en famille. My son, Storsh, is far more tourist-tolerant if he knows some “kid time” is just around the corner. So instead of making the whole day about the kids, why not plan your days with several bursts of kid-time in between what you want to see? I’ll even give Storsh a few city facts, explaining that I’m going to quiz him on them before his next “kid-time,” and watch his ears perk up a bit. Here are some of my favorite kid-friendly activities, all of which are free or cost less than 5€.
What’s better than free fun? Smack dab in the middle of town is the gorgeous Palais Royal, with Daniel Buren’s stripy stumps that any Parisian kid has raced through. Or there’s always the forest of columns at either end of the enclosed gardens, once Cardinal Richelieu’s residence, where my family and I play a quick game of hide-and-seek when passing through.
Make the outside of the Louvre your playground (before making the inside their treasure hunting ground with a THATLou!). The Louvre’s fountains have wonderful iron fish faces and countless soaring lights, so have the kids count how many they can find across the Cour Napoleon, the courtyard with I.M. Pei’s pyramid, whilst sharing the story of how it housed dynasties of French monarchs before becoming a museum in 1793 under Napoleon. The stunning Cour Carrée, the center of the Sully Wing, is also a go-to for hide-and-seek.
The slanted place facing Paris’ modern art museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou, has been a magnet for street entertainers since built in the 70s by architects Rogers & Piano. Let the kids run free as you sit alongside Parisians taking in the inside-out architectural façade. Pigeon- and bubble-chasing is Storsh’s favorite Pompidou activity, but there are also buskers, mimes, and jugglers who’ve kept him entertained for long stretches. Incidentally, the Pompidou also has the best atelier des enfants on the lobby’s raised mezzanine, as well as phenomenal views from the top floor, though they aren’t under 5 euros.
While in the area, don’t miss the whimsical Stravinsky Fountain by Swiss partners Tinguely and de Saint Phalle, where each family member can choose their favorite creature and pose for a photo impersonating these swiveling, water-spouting figures.
If your children are happy to sit still for half and hour and zone out (or tune in!) to some lovely free classical music, there are a few wonderful options in the area. The neighboring 17th-century Church of Saint-Merry has an afternoon series every other Sunday at 5:30pm and the 16th-century Saint-Roch (296 rue St-Honoré) also has a free classical music series on Tuesdays (12:30-1:45pm). If your children are music-oriented (and you’re willing to dish out more than 5 euros), Jean Nouvel’s Philharmonie de Paris offers a weekend kiddie music program.
One of Storsh’s favorite activities– and probably any boy of a certain age whose favorite word in English is “gross”– is window gazing at any one of the city’s fascinating taxidermy shops. Deyrolle, located on rue du Bac, is the most famous. Another gorgeous option, often with a stuffed polar bear (which does make me wonder), is Design et Nature in the 2nd arrondissement. But if you want to get authentic – especially if your kids saw the film Ratatouille – there’s also the gruesomely gross Julien Aurouze pest control shop, whose storefront is filled with dangling dead rats in all sorts of contraption traps; its perfectly aged façade reads “Destruction des Animaux Nuisibles” (Destruction of Harmful Animals).
There are carrousels all across town, but I recommend heading to the oldest in Paris, designed by Opéra architect Charles Garnier and located in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Another 19th-century number, which is especially fancy, is the double-decker carrousel – the largest in Paris – at Hôtel de Ville. Alternately, you can find more modern rides, like those at the Villiers metro station near Parc Monceau, or artier carrousels, like the one located near Gare Montparnasse, where Impressionist paintings by Monet, Renoir, and Manet lining the center panels.
Finally, for scaled-down versions in practical locations, there are also plenty of siren-ringing, traffic-shaking firetrucks or motorcycles that rattle around most covered markets and run one euro/ride.
Deyrolle, 46 rue du Bac, 75007; Métro: Rue du Bac; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 22 30 07
Design et Nature, 4 rue d’Aboukir, 75002, Métro: Sentier; Tel: +33 (0)1 43 06 86 98
Church of Saint-Merry, 76 rue de la Verrerie, 75004, Métro: Châtelet; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 71 93 93
Church of Saint-Roch, 296 rue St Honoré, 75001, Métro: Tuileries; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 44 13 20
Philharmonie de Paris, 221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019, Métro: Porte de Pantin; Tel: +33 (0)1 44 84 44 84
Julien Arouze, 8 rue des Halles, 75001, Métro: Châtelet; Tel: +33 (0)1 40 41 08 98
Villiers, Boulevard de Courcelles, 75017, Métro: Villiers
Gare Montparnasse, 17 Boulevard de Vaugirard, 75741, Métro: Gare Montparnasse or Montparnasse Bienvenue
Related Links
Need tips for where to eat with kids in Paris? Have a look at this useful guide from Paige Bradley Frost.
The Jardin du Luxembourg is a great kid-friendly zone. Discover all that it has to offer here.
For more kid-friendly activities in Paris, check out this article from The New York Times.


Apart from being romantic, Paris is also marvelously family-oriented. Despite this, it can be tiring traveling en famille. My son, Storsh, is far more tourist-tolerant if he knows some “kid time” is just around the corner. So instead of making the whole day about the kids, why not plan your days with several bursts of kid-time in between what you want to see? I’ll even give Storsh a few city facts, explaining that I’m going to quiz him on them before his next “kid-time,” and watch his ears perk up a bit. Here are some of my favorite kid-friendly activities, all of which are free or cost less than 5€.



What’s better than free fun? Smack dab in the middle of town is the gorgeous Palais Royal, with Daniel Buren’s stripy stumps that any Parisian kid has raced through. Or there’s always the forest of columns at either end of the enclosed gardens, once Cardinal Richelieu’s residence, where my family and I play a quick game of hide-and-seek when passing through.Make the outside of the Louvre your playground (before making the inside their treasure hunting ground with a THATLou!).The Louvre’s fountains have wonderful iron fish faces and countless soaring lights, so have the kids count how many they can find across the Cour Napoleon, the courtyard with I.M. Pei’s pyramid, whilst sharing the story of how it housed dynasties of French monarchs before becoming a museum in 1793 under Napoleon. The stunning Cour Carrée, the center of the Sully Wing, is also a go-to for hide-and-seek.



The slanted place facing Paris’ modern art museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou, has been a magnet for street entertainers since built in the 70s by architects Rogers & Piano. Let the kids run free as you sit alongside Parisians taking in the inside-out architectural façade. Pigeon- and bubble-chasing is Storsh’s favorite Pompidou activity, but there are also buskers, mimes, and jugglers who’ve kept him entertained for long stretches. Incidentally, the Pompidou also has the best atelier des enfants on the lobby’s raised mezzanine, as well as phenomenal views from the top floor, though they aren’t under 5 euros.



While in the area, don’t miss the whimsical Stravinsky Fountain by Swiss partners Tinguely and de Saint Phalle, where each family member can choose their favorite creature and pose for a photo impersonating these swiveling, water-spouting figures.If your children are happy to sit still for half and hour and zone out (or tune in!) to some lovely free classical music, there are a few wonderful options in the area. The neighboring 17th-century Church of Saint-Merry has an afternoon series every other Sunday at 5:30pm and the 16th-century Saint-Roch (296 rue St-Honoré) also has a free classical music series on Tuesdays (12:30-1:45pm). If your children are music-oriented (and you’re willing to dish out more than 5 euros), Jean Nouvel’s Philharmonie de Paris offers a weekend kiddie music program.



One of Storsh’s favorite activities– and probably any boy of a certain age whose favorite word in English is “gross”– is window gazing at any one of the city’s fascinating taxidermy shops. Deyrolle, located on rue du Bac, is the most famous. Another gorgeous option, often with a stuffed polar bear (which does make me wonder), is Design et Nature in the 2nd arrondissement. But if you want to get authentic – especially if your kids saw the film Ratatouille – there’s also the gruesomely gross Julien Aurouze pest control shop, whose storefront is filled with dangling dead rats in all sorts of contraption traps; its perfectly aged façade reads “Destruction des Animaux Nuisibles” (Destruction of Harmful Animals).


There are carrousels all across town, but I recommend heading to the oldest in Paris, designed by Opéra architect Charles Garnier and located in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Another 19th-century number, which is especially fancy, is the double-decker carrousel – the largest in Paris – at Hôtel de Ville. Alternately, you can find more modern rides, like those at the Villiers metro station near Parc Monceau, or artier carrousels, like the one located near Gare Montparnasse, where Impressionist paintings by Monet, Renoir, and Manet lining the center panels.
Finally, for scaled-down versions in practical locations, there are also plenty of siren-ringing, traffic-shaking firetrucks or motorcycles that rattle around most covered markets and run one euro/ride.

Deyrolle, 46 rue du Bac, 75007; Métro: Rue du Bac; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 22 30 07

Design et Nature, 4 rue d’Aboukir, 75002, Métro: Sentier; Tel: +33 (0)1 43 06 86 98

Church of Saint-Merry, 76 rue de la Verrerie, 75004, Métro: Châtelet; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 71 93 93

Church of Saint-Roch, 296 rue St Honoré, 75001, Métro: Tuileries; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 44 13 20

Philharmonie de Paris, 221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019, Métro: Porte de Pantin; Tel: +33 (0)1 44 84 44 84

Julien Arouze, 8 rue des Halles, 75001, Métro: Châtelet; Tel: +33 (0)1 40 41 08 98

Villiers, Boulevard de Courcelles, 75017, Métro: Villiers

Gare Montparnasse
, 17 Boulevard de Vaugirard, 75741, Métro: Gare Montparnasse or Montparnasse Bienvenue


THATLou Rules & Tools
2016 October 14
  • Hunt Booking Info

THATLou Rules & Tools

ROLES + STRATEGY
There are three main roles for each team: 1) hawk-eye, a lawyer-like soul who picks up bonus questions embedded in
the text (perhaps during strategy this person can skim and underline the text), 2) the navigator, good with a map and 3)
the visually-oriented one, quick to scan an area for your treasure. Kids usually excel at this last role.
For strategy we recommend writing the red # identifying each treasure onto your map, in the area where you expect to
find it (just look at the bold identifying lines in the text and match up the highlighted tags on your Louvre map). Please
note, one can answer the knowledge-based bonus Qs even without having found the treasure. THATLou prep can be
found on the blog (look under the “Category” list for your theme). As for museum navigation: the color-coding on the
map corresponds to the areas in the museum, so if lost you can just look on the walls between rooms for those same
colors (ex: Italian painting = red, Egyptian Antiquities = green). Each room is numbered & those numbers correspond to
the map. You will NOT find all the treasure within 2 hours, done intentionally so that hopefully after your hunt (& a break)
you’ll want to return to find the remaining treasures at a leisurely pace.
Have fun on your hunt and hopefully when you’re done you’ll not only feel camaraderie with your team, but feel an
individual sense of ownership of these great halls and will want to return to actually LOOK at the art (opposed to winning
a game, albeit a great one)!
RULES
1. Concerning the photographs, please only use one phone/camera per team. The photographer can change, but one
camera / phone facilitates tallying scores.
2. Teams must stay together at all times and must not run: If you are seen more than 3 meters apart you will lose 10
points per foot you’re found apart and (!) the team who sees you apart will gain in your lost points! (& yes, there was
just a switch from meters to feet… you don’t want to learn conversion the hard way, stick together!).
3. No external help… If seen speaking to a Louvre employee or fellow tourist you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise,
no using the internet, no GPS, or anything other than an official Louvre map (hardcopy) during the game. No phoning
your Art Historian Aunt for help, either!
4. Must meet back at arranged finish point at precise time (we will synchronize watches and agree to finishing time
beforehand). Each minute late merits 2 negative points - per minute! – but remember, no running Sometimes
there are strategic reasons to be late, but be careful – if you’re more than 10 mins late your team’s ousted (ouch!)
TOOLS + TIMING
A camera/phone per team with fresh batteries in that phone/camera (important point!) & comfy shoes (Photography’s
allowed in the museum, without flash)
The Hunt lasts 90 minutes to 2 hours (or longer if you opt for this), but we need a minimum of 20 minutes prior to hunting
time for a brief history of the museum, to review rules, distribute hunts, pencils + highlighted maps per team & to allow
teams to strategise. When booking you can opt for “express lane” tickets (22€/adult, kids under 18 enter free):
- Standard Private Hunt (not be met after the hunt, but we provide each team with an answer sheet in a sealed
envelope). You can also ask for “friendly competition” (against another family). 25€/head, not including tickets
- Luxe Hunt (we spy on teams as they’re playing & for a wrap-up at the end to help tally scores & have a lighthearted
prize-giving ceremony). 350€/3 hours (includes Kid Packs, but not entry tix & is for fewer than 6 people)
- Public Hunt (up to 30 people, only scheduled according to holidays, costs 20€/head, not including tickets)
The general rules are quite simple:
Teams (of 2 to 4 people) must photograph themselves in front of as
many pieces of art (treasure) on the list as possible, within the given
amount of time.
The general rules are quite simple: Teams (of 2 to 4 people) must photograph themselves in front of as many pieces of art (treasure) on the list as possible, within the given amount of time. 

ROLES + STRATEGY
There are three main roles for each team:
1) hawk-eye, a lawyer-like soul who picks up bonus questions embedded inthe text (perhaps during strategy this person can skim and underline the text), 2) the navigator, good with a map and 3) the visually-oriented one, quick to scan an area for your treasure. Kids usually excel at this last role. For strategy we recommend writing the red # identifying each treasure onto your map, in the area where you expect to find it (just look at the bold identifying lines in the text and match up the highlighted tags on your Louvre map). Please note, one can answer the knowledge-based bonus Qs even without having found the treasure. THATLou prep can be found on the blog (look under the “Category” list for your theme). As for museum navigation: the color-coding on the map corresponds to the areas in the museum, so if lost you can just look on the walls between rooms for those same colors (ex: Italian painting = red, Egyptian Antiquities = green). Each room is numbered & those numbers correspond to the map. You will NOT find all the treasure within 2 hours, done intentionally so that hopefully after your hunt (& a break) you’ll want to return to find the remaining treasures at a leisurely pace. Have fun on your hunt and hopefully when you’re done you’ll not only feel camaraderie with your team, but feel an individual sense of ownership of these great halls and will want to return to actually LOOK at the art (opposed to winning a game, albeit a great one)!

RULES
1. Concerning the photographs, please only use one phone/camera per team. The photographer can change, but one camera / phone facilitates tallying scores.

2. Teams must stay together at all times and must not run: If you are seen more than 3 meters apart you will lose 10 points per foot you’re found apart and (!) the team who sees you apart will gain in your lost points! (& yes, there was just a switch from meters to feet… you don’t want to learn conversion the hard way, stick together!).

3. No external help… If seen speaking to a Louvre employee or fellow tourist you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise, no using the internet, no GPS, or anything other than an official Louvre map (hardcopy) during the game. No phoning your Art Historian Aunt for help, either!

4. Must meet back at arranged finish point at precise time (we will synchronize watches and agree to finishing time beforehand). Each minute late merits 2 negative points - per minute! – but remember, no running Sometimes there are strategic reasons to be late, but be careful – if you’re more than 10 mins late your team’s ousted (ouch!)

TOOLS & TIMING
A camera/phone per team with fresh batteries in that phone/camera (important point!) & comfy shoes (photography’s allowed in the museum, without flash). 

The Hunt lasts 90 minutes to 2 hours (or longer if you opt for this), but we need a minimum of 20 minutes prior to hunting time for a brief history of the museum, to review rules, distribute hunts, pencils + highlighted maps per team & to allow teams to strategise. When booking, you can opt for “express lane” tickets (22€/adult, kids under 18 enter free)

PRICES
Standard Private Hunt (not be met after the hunt, but we provide each team with an answer sheet in a sealed envelope). You can also ask for “friendly competition” (against another family), though we can't guarantee this.
- 25€/head, not including tickets.

Luxe Hunt (we spy on teams as they’re playing & for a wrap-up at the end to help tally scores & have a lighthearted prize-giving ceremony).
- 350€/3 hours (includes Kid Packs, but not entry tickets & is for fewer than 6 people)

Public Hunt (up to 30 people, only scheduled according to holidays)
20€/head, not including tickets