THATLou Treasure hunt at the Louvre in Paris

Written by on September 21, 2012 in Quirky Stuff

Daisy and Storsh

The Good Life France talks to Daisy de Plume, an American expat in Paris and founder of THATLou which stands for Treasure Hunt At The Louvre. A  terrific idea which appeals to all ages – from kids to corporate types, eager 10 year olds and grumpy teens; from families on holiday –  pitted against one another, or groups of friends; or perhaps strangers brought together in a fun and fab event. The range is limitless for anyone with a keen sense of curiosity and fun. No previous knowledge of art is necessary, but Daisy says “hopefully when you’re through your appetite is dampened!”

We asked Daisy to tell us more:

Tell us a bit about who you are and where you’re from… My childhood nickname is Daisy and though I’ve tried in vain to be Charlotte Louise (my given name) – I’ve just resigned myself to being Daisy. As of last spring (THATLou’s inception) I’ve become Daisy de Plume, which I find amusing. I was born and raised in NY (my mother was on Bank Street, my father on W 12th and my grandmother at 45 Christopher Street). I see myself in Paris for the unforeseeable future, though not necessarily for life. My husband’s from Buenos Aires (but he’s angry at his country politically and economically so, sadly, we prob won’t get to live there, though I’d LOVE to -– it’s as pretty as Paris, but taps its foot to a faster, more melodic beat). Our toddler, STORSH, is a mutt with blood from Argentina, China, America (N), England and Spain, though in fact I guess he’ll really just end up being a darling little Frog.

What bought you to Paris?

My grandmother died and I had to deal with her enormous apartment (which had 3 generations of STUFF). I was executrix to her Will plus I was a bit burnt out from working too much at Vanity Fair, so after  a few years when the estate was finally cleared I decided to take a short break from NY in either Paris or Shanghai. I flipped a coin and found myself in Paris (though I’d been numerous times, Paris was never really my cup of tea: Too cold in character and grey in weather). After 4 months here, though, I had my ticket to go home to help with the Kerry campaign. Before even boarding the plane to NY I realised that no matter who won, no matter how grey the sky and no matter how hard it would be to make Paris mine (visa, language, unemployment level, $ – € exchange being horrid, etc) I would be returning. In a very short time Paris had gotten under my skin. When Bush won, of course, the choice was even easier.  

Where are your favourite places in Paris to eat, drink, play?

My all time favourite place to eat is at home. My husband is a magnificent cook, and Storsh has a belly to show for this (which he shows off often). My second favourite place to eat in Paris is over a petanque picnic at Palais Royal or Place Dauphine on the Ile de la Cité. But in terms of restos and bars, I’m awfully partial to the Quincaillerie (76, fbg St Denis 75010) for drinks and tapas or Lucky Luciano (1, cour des Petites Ecuries 75010) for a Sunday night pizza in a cozy Billyburg ambiance

The Louvre CC Jennifer Greco of Chez Loulou

What inspired you to set up THATLou

For altruistic reasons I wanted to try to make the Louvre manageable, to take out the ‘over’ in ‘over-whelming’. It’s a palace of 65,000 m² – one would have to walk 14 KM or 8 miles to see it all. According to Henri Loyrette, Director of the Louvre, 80% of the visitors only want to see the Mona Lisa. That’s a crime to me, when the place has such incredible treasures. So I wanted to both expand the museum for people (by getting them to quiet, untrodden corners) as well as to give them the comfort of providing a focused, tasked visit and overview. If I can get just 30% of people who play THATLou to want to go back on their own for leisurely visits to areas they discovered during the treasure hunt I’ll feel like my mission is being accomplished. For selfish reasons I’d be pleased as punch to be able to quit my office job and create museum treasure hunts all day long. What fun would that be? What a novel idea – to actually use my art history degree!

Most memorable Treasure Hunt you’ve organised and why?

One of my fave treasure hunts was for the management team of Piaggio France. The theme was Wheels & Motion (appropriate for the makers of Vespa scooters) which was a real challenge to make. The CEO gave great prizes to the winners, and a second prize for guessing the theme! Everyone returned from their hunts so exuberant — on fire about what they’d found and curious about what they’d missed. The CEO was the most excited about the bonus points, because he was sure he got something right (but then embarrassed, because his team ended up winning). Such adrenalin and energy is invigorating and keeps me excited about creating something new.

What are your aims and aspirations for THATLou?

What a wonderful question! Do you have an evening for a nice long meal? My aims and aspirations for THATLou are several, but to try to distil it to a few  – 1) to continue to learn about art history and history, and share what I’m learning with whomever would like to play my game or read my blog, and 2) to build THAT Empire, of THATPra (Prado in Spain), THATMet (The Met in NY), THATNat (National Gallery in London, as well as DC), THATVat (would the Vatican like to hire me?), to replicate them so people could enjoy a good treasure hunt in whichever city they’re travelling to!

Having Fun on a Treasure Hunt CC Mary Kay of Out and About in Paris

Favourite work of art in the Louvre?

An impossible question! The museum has 35,000 pieces of art, and though I spend all my free time building themed treasure hunts to try to expand the museum from just those Mona Lisas or Venus de Milo top-hitters – there’s always more to learn… it would take a lifetime to know it all. Of the works that I know well there, though, there are too many for me to even contemplate choosing as my all time favourite… So if I may, I’ll rephrase your question to:  favourite French sculpture at the Louvre? This would be Pigalle’s mischievous old sculpture of Voltaire, sitting on a rock in his birthday suit (privates tactfully covered with a scroll). His sinewy bod betrays his 70-odd years, with his runner’s build having just a bit of waddle hanging – no, dangling – from his forearm. His impish eyes have just the right amount of fatigue circled below them. Despite his age, you can still picture him jumping fast as a gazelle from a young maiden’s bed and into her closet, lest the noise downstairs be her father coming home. He was a prolific man – prolific of ideas, words, and women, and Pigalle captures all of this perfectly in this life-sized solid block of marble.

Favourite bar to unwind after a treasure hunt?

I’m particularly partial to Café Blanc (10, rue Croix des Petits Champs 75001 Paris). Both Damien and Jennifer have been wonderfully accommodating and lent out their aerie upstairs room to THATLou-ers thirsty for a good drink while they talk smack to the competition.  It’s a corner resto, so when it’s too hot there’s a lovely cross-draft in their typically Parisian tile and bevel-mirrored room. Other clients have chosen Café Marly and Le Fumoir for the prize-giving ceremony drinks, both of which I’m fond of, too. But for the first Sunday of the month public hunts I always go to Café Blanc, and feel very much at home there thanks largely to Damien’s friendly staff.

Check out the details for all the themes  and how to participate on THATLou‘s wesbite.

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