I arrived in Paris on a Saturday morning with a layer of sleep that glazed my eyes, but the genuine anticipation of beginning my THATLou internship on Monday– not to mention living in the most amazing city in the world — made that daze of jetlag fade away. My internship did not start slowly; I would be jumping into my first THATRue hunt on Thursday and my first client would be the Dutch Embassy (a 70-person party). There was no way I could shake off the nervous-excitement that I felt for that day, so I spent the rest of my weekend glossing over the blogs that pertain to the power-hungry queen, Marie de Medici; pre-text to the hunt.
Monday morning I took to the streets of the Latin Quarter by myself, with my hunt in hand and with the job of making corrections if needed. My goal was to get used the treasure hunt layout and then to become familiar with the route. I remember as a little girl visiting the Luxembourg Gardens and picnicking there with my family, but I was in no way familiar with this particular area of Paris, nor the history that belonged to it, so this experience was completely new for me. The immaculate façade of St. Sulpice surprised me most, known for its lopsided architectural design; the second largest church in Paris took me back to my memories of reading the Da Vinci Code. The brass line echoed thoughts of the Holy Grail, but in stark reality the church despises Dan Brown for his fabrication, which I had a good laugh about– I knew the Dutch Embassy would get a kick out of that. I spent most of the hunt inside the church, not only because of the gorgeous organ, or the incredible sundial, but because one of the clues was hidden under layers of construction and I went in circles trying to find it. That sneaky Delacroix!
On the day of the hunt for the Dutch embassy, I arrived to the meeting point an hour early, taking in essential preparation time, plus my nerves were rising to an obscene level. I sat in front of the clock in one of the perfectly placed lawn chairs that surround the Gardens, enjoying an espresso and my view of Le Sénat. Once Annie, in charge of the hunt and the Odeon trail, and Maria, another helper leading the Pantheon trail, arrived I began to set into reality and my nerves calmed down a bit.
Photo Credit: Lindsey Kent
At 10 am, a sea of multi-colored ball caps bounced down the right-hand set of stairs leading to Le Sénat. The Dutch Embassy had arrived, all 70 sporting different colored baseball caps that separated them into teams of four, brilliant! Annie provided the teams with the instructions; Maria and I handed out all the materials and then gave each team a time to depart, letting them go in 3 min intervals. All of the teams were determined and ready start their treasure hunts, a lot provided playful banter with other teams in confidence of their future victories. Once all of the teams departed it was time to keep a stealthy look-out on the trail and tail behind. Oh what fun that was! My pink cap team (the last to depart) in the St. Sulpice hunt, was gearing up to take first place, it was amazing to watch them surpass the rest of the teams, as they were the first to complete the treasure tasks inside St. Sulpice. They remained in the lead, although neck and neck with the orange team for quite a while, but remained triumphant in the end beating the orange team by a mere two minutes. To see all 70 smiling faces after the hunt was really gratifying. It’s the most fun and perfect way to see the Parisian world and its past and I was so lucky to be a part of it.