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A Brief Look at the Egyptian Middle Kingdom

Following our post on the Old Kingdom, we’re now turning our attention to the Middle Kingdom (and yes, you guessed it, the next will be about the New Kingdom). 

Lintel of Amenemhat, 20th Century BC, Met Museum. Hieroglyphs and heads of the King, Anubis, Horus and attendants
Lintel of Amenemhat, 20th Century BC, Met Museum

The beginning of the Middle Kingdom (after a hiatus of turmoil and strife over a succession struggle) was messy and did not immediately follow the Old Kingdom. There were two factions vying to control all of Egypt with the 11th Dynasty of Thebes controlling the Southern part and the 10th Dynasty from Herakleopolis ruling the north. Eventually the Middle Kingdom started when Mentuhotep II, of the northern Thebes, won control & consolidated power.

The kings of the Middle Kingdom never reached the absolute power that the kings of the Old Kingdom did. That said, one of the most important traditions of Ancient Egypt was established during this time, that of appointing the king’s son as Co-Regent, a tradition that would continue into the New Kingdom.      

During the Middle Kingdom, the ‘block’ statue would become popular and remain so for almost 2,000 years. These statues consist of a man squatting with his knees drawn to his chest, and his arms folded on his knees. The one on the right is located in the British Museum. 

Red sandstone torso of Queen Sobekneferu from the Louvre museum. 18th Century BC.
Headless bust of Sobekneferu,

One of the most interesting facts about the Middle Kingdom is that it saw the first historically attested female king take power. Her name was Sobekneferu (you can see a headless bust of her at the Louvre — and on the left!), although she only ruled for four years, and her death signaled the end of both the 12th Dynasty and the Golden Age of the Middle Kingdom. She was followed by a succession of short-lived kings called the 13th Dynasty, although this is somewhat misleading because few of these kings were actually related. Eventually the unity of Egypt fully disintegrated, leading into the Second Intermediate Period, which would see no significant advancements in almost any aspect of Egyptian civilization. The period following this, the New Kingdom, will be the subject of our next and last post in the Ancient Egypt series.

The THATMuse blog has content pieces about the actual museums where you’re hunting, but we’ve also amassed plenty of recommendations of what to do in Paris and London apart from your museum time. Check out our Travelling in Paris & London category on the blog for pieces from kid-friendly parks, cafes and toyshops to romantic cocktail lounges near our museums. Looking for something to do on a nice day after an afternoon of competition at the museum? Jenna-Marie Warnecke, our wonderful THATLou colleague, will point you in the right direction with her guide on how to picnic near the Louvre. 

sculpture and flowers in Jardin des Tuileries Paris with ferris wheel in the background
Jardin des Tuileries

After spending a couple of hours running around the Louvre, racing against time to rack up the points necessary to win THATLou, you’re likely to be not only pooped but also hungry. There’s no shortage of (overpriced) cafés nearby where you can relax and grab a bite, but if it’s a nice day out, you can do no better than to have a picnic in the nearby Jardin des Tuileries.

empty tables at modern Brasserie Flottes
Flottes Brasserie

One of my favorite spots to get an easy, quality to-go bite is Flottes And Go at 2 rue Cambon (75001), just across the street from the Jardin des Tuileries (and about a 10-min walk from the Louvre). As an arm of the next-door brasserie Flottes, this bistro boutique is the perfect spot to pick up everything you need for a fabulous picnic from wine to cute napkins.

Fresh sandwiches like focaccia and salmon or quiches with ricotta, zucchini and tomato run about 8€, while you can also grab smoothies and organic sodas like pink grapefruit for 2-4€ and gourmet ice cream with flavors like honey lavender for 4€. There are also plenty of adorable French souvenirs to pick up while you’re at it, including jams, spices, decorative tins and cookbooks.

multicoloured macarons arranged in a glass display case
Macarons at Pierre Hermé

And though Flottes has its share of sweets from artisanal chocolate to gelato, I’d recommend taking a few extra steps down the street to Pierre Hermé (4 rue Cambon, 75001) to try one of their famous macarons. Pierre Hermé macs are renowned for their perfect texture and wild flavors, from chocolat-foie gras to the Ispahan, a delicious blend of rose-raspberry. They are the ultimate picnic dessert!

Jenna-Marie Warnecke writes regularly for Girls’ Guide to Paris, OK Gorgeous and The Huffington Post. In addition to being a professional writer, she also runs Paris Cheapskate, regarding a wide array of events in Paris for those who have an eye to their purse. Jenna’s also been known to run the odd THATLou in the absence of yours truly, as well as to assist with large treasure hunts. You can follow her movements on Twitter at @jennawarnecke.

THATKid Tuesday is a monthly dose of Art History for kids, running the 1st Tuesday of each month. In this series we’ll be blogging about different terms from the THATKid glossary we’ve created to help kids understand some of the art history terms that pop up in our hunts.

This time we’re going to look at Quattrocento.

Quattrocento means the 15th Century. Literally, “Quattro” means 4 in Italian and “Cento” means 100 –there’s your dose of new Italian words for the day! Its pronounced kwatro-chento, give it a go!  

This period marked the early Italian Renaissance in art, sculpture and architecture.  Before this, artists had tried to give their works a spiritual quality but in the Quattrocento, Renaissance artists focused on portraying these spiritual characters as real people. At times this new way of art caused problems as some people felt that the art lacked holiness. Here’s an example of art from this period (above), which you can find at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Look at how the Virgin Mary is portrayed in the first painting as compared to this painting from the 13th Century (below). What do you notice is different about the two paintings? Does the first one look more realistic?

Any questions about the Quattrocento? Please leave any comments or queries below.

The idea for THATKid Tuesday stemmed from the Kid Pack’s glossary. The Kid Pack has supplemental exercises for after your Louvre hunt, from a Michelangelo Connect-the-Dots and a Mona Lisa sticker-puzzle to a Botticelli Spot-the-Difference. Good for train rides or long French dinners, kids can also pick up on some terms like composition, perspective and the lot. As THATMuse has grown to include the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert and Musée d’Orsay, THATKid Tuesday’s blog version has grown to include other examples.Tune in the first Tuesday of the month if you’d like another art history dose of THATKid.

Hey there! This is the first of a series of blog posts about the different kingdoms of ancient Egypt, by yours truly, Cheyenne, student intern at THATMuse. We’ll start with the Old Kingdom of Egypt, the first of the Kingdom periods.

Pyramid of Djoser, in the Saqqara necropolis near Memphis. 27th Century BC
Pyramid of Djoser, in the Saqqara necropolis near Memphis. Built by Imhotep in the 27th Century BC

First, it’s important to realize that the periods commonly recognized as the Kingdoms were first distinguished by 18th century historians, and these distinctions would not have been used by the Ancient Egyptians themselves. Specifically, the ‘Kingdoms’ refer to high points in the lower Nile Valley civilization. Some historians disagree on when exactly these periods began and ended, but there are some generally acknowledged dates for each of them. What we call the Old Kingdom of Egypt is commonly recognized as occurring from 2686 to 2181 BC, or from the Third Dynasty to the Sixth Dynasty.

During the Old Kingdom, the kings of Egypt (yes King! They weren’t called by the name of Pharaoh until the New Kingdom) were considered living gods with almost unlimited power throughout their physical kingdom. The first king of the Third Dynasty was Djoser, who moved the capital of Egypt to Memphis. His architect, Imhotep, is credited with developing a new architectural form, the Step Pyramid, which was to be used over and over throughout Egypt’s history. You can see a picture of his famous pyramid to the right.  

Djoser was followed by a succession of kings, most of whom carried on his tradition of building large and grand pyramids, which is why the Old Kingdom is sometimes referred to as ‘the Age of Pyramids.’ In fact, during the Fourth Dynasty, the Great Pyramid of Giza was built, and the Sphinx in Giza (below) is also thought to have been built during this time, although there is significant disagreement about exactly when, and who it was built by.  

The Sphinx and Great Pyramid of Giza in front of a bright blue sky
The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid at Giza

The Fifth and Sixth Dynasty saw a drastic weakening of the king’s power. Powerful nomarchs, which were similar to regional governors, gained more and more power, lessening the king’s by default. Civil wars after a succession crisis likely contributed to the downfall of the Old Kingdom, compounding by famine and a horrible drought in the 22nd century BC. The Nile didn’t flood normally for several years during a 50 year periods, causing extreme strife and unrest in Egypt. This period of turmoil is known as the First Intermediate Period, and the kingdom does not begin to recover until about 2055, the start of the Middle Kingdom, the subject of our next post.

The THATMuse blog has content pieces about the actual museums where you’re hunting, but we’ve also amassed plenty of recommendations of what to do in Paris and London apart from your museum time. Check out our Travelling in Paris & London category on the blog for pieces from kid-friendly parks, cafes and toyshops to romantic cocktail lounges near our museums.

Sunny paris street cafe under red awnings

Looking for somewhere to eat after a few hours of fierce competition at the museum? Doni Belau, the founder of Girl’s Guide to Paris, will point you in the right direction with her guide on where to eat near the Louvre.

Of all the things to do in Paris, going to the Louvre is on the top of nearly everyone’s must-do list. I personally tire of it because the place is so huge it can overwhelm which is why I recommend taking THATLou’s Treasure Hunt at the Louvre (what it stands for). Hers is one of the cleverest and most compelling ideas I’ve run across in all my time in Paris and it’s really a must in order to bring the Louvre down to a palatable size.

Whichever way you enjoy the Louvre, whether you are scavenger hunting or just making a regular visit, after several hours of ingesting culture, you’ll likely be famished. And after all that walking you won’t want to walk far, but at the same time you will NOT want to get stuck in a tourist trap either. Here are my best suggestions for any and every type of meal, drink or snack within 10 minutes of the Louvre. Bon Appétit!

A hearty lunch

In proper Parisian style, sit down for an elegant hot lunch prepared by one of the best chefs in town at La Régalade Saint Honoré. But do book ahead for Bruno Doucet’s homemade terrines and fair prices.
ADDRESS for La Régalade: 123, rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris
PHONE+33 (0) 1 42 21 92 40

It’s Raining

Like often happens in Paris, you are about to exit the Louvre and it’s pouring rain but your tummy is grumbling. Never fear, head back inside and ask for directions to the Richelieu wing. Head to the Café Richelieu, which serves the famous Angelina hot chocolate (and their complete menu). Sit back and sip the rich chocolaty-ness and take a sandwich while you wait out the rain. Just take IM Pei’s escalator up the 1st floor, where you’ll find it opposite the Middle Ages treasures.
ADDRESS: The Louvre, bien sûr!

Just a Sandwich

sunny empty dining room at Verjus bar a vin, Paris
Verjus bar à vin

Some days I can’t be bothered with a sit down meal for lunch. Why not head over to the scrumptious Verjus bar a vin, which serves wonderful wines by the glass and a fried chicken sandwich to die for, which you can take to go. If it’s sunny why not enjoy it on the Pont des Arts bridge? ADDRESS for Verjus: 52, rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris
PHONE +33 (0)1 42 97 54 40

Brunch

For a quick brunch before heading over to the Louvre or a little cupcake to give you energy after your tour, walk over to Oh Mon Cake on the rue St. Honoré. After fueling up you’ll be ready for some shopping in the neighborhood!
ADDRESS for Oh Mon Cake: 154, rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris
PHONE +33 (0) 1 42 60 31 84

Just Drinks

Diners at Le cafe marly, sat underneath sunny arched terrace between cafe banners
le Cafe Marly

They can be rude and very Parisian, but the Café Marly – if you can capture a seat on the terrace – has the best view of the Pyramide at the Louvre in Paris. I do not recommend the food, however, as it is formulaic.
ADDRESS for Café Marly: entrance found from Passage Richelieu, or at 93, rue de Rivoli 75001
PHONE +33 1 49 26 06 60

Sick of French?

Book into this superb Japanese bistro for lunch or dinner. Less than a 10-minute walk and a world away from all the French food you’ve been having, Kunitoraya on rue Villedo serves up delicious udon noodles, sashimi, bento boxes and sushi. The menu is much more affordable for lunch.
ADDRESS for Kunitoraya: 5 rue Villedo 75001 Paris 
PHONE +33 (0)1 47 03 33 65

Drinks and a snack

Just behind the Louvre you’ll find a stand-by spot to prendre un verre (take a glass), the ever cozy Le Fumoir, which actually has pretty solid food as well. Happy hours are from 6-8pm when all cocktails are reduced to 7.50
ADDRESS for Le Fumoir: 6, rue de l’Amirale de Coligny 75001
PHONE +33 (0)1 42 92 00 24 Le Fumoir, ©L’Internaute Magazine, Maxence Boyer

side view of the Standard of Ur, shell and limestone and lapis lazuli mosaic on wooden frame. Ancient Sumeria 2600BC
The Standard of Ur, 2600BC

Continuing off our last post about Queen Puabi’s grave in the Royal Tombs of Ur, Mesopotamia is known as the “Cradle of Civilisation” because of things like their invention of the wheel. What would life be like right now if we didn’t have the wheel? In some of our Kid-Friendly THATBrits we dole out some extra THATMuse points (bonus points embedded in text so to be sure hunters stay alert to our precious text!) by asking them to scribble some things we could not do without the wheel, just to be sure they pause to see its significance.

Archeologist Sir Leonard Woolley made a tremendous discovery in what was the city of Ur (in Mesopotamia’s Sumer – today in southern Iraq). He excavated 1800 graves, 16 of which had so much treasure that he called them Royal Tombs.

Leonard Woolley holding uncovered Sumerian harp at city of Ur, in southern Iraq, 1920s
Leonard Woolley and one of his amazing finds

In display case 17 we have some of these treasures. The “Standard of Ur” is a hollow,trapezoidal-shaped mystery box (Woolley never figured out what it was for). But its decoration is of great interest. Mosaic scenes, little precious stones laid to make a recognizable pattern, or in this case to tell a story, made from shell, red limestone and lapis lazuli, set in bitumen give us the skinny on some objects within the Royal Tomb of Ur (or for us more conservative travelers, the British Museum room). On one side of the Standard is a Sumerian army, with chariots (the earliest known representation of the wheeled vehicles!) and horses rolling over their enemies (quite literally!) and infantry charging their enemy. What tickles me is that these little guys are all bald and in skirts. They do look awfully busy, though. The stories are divided into three rows, with the King presiding at top. We can recognize him easily, as he’s not only bigger than the others, his skirt is special — made of fleece.  You can see both sides on the image below.

Both sides of the Standard of Ur, sowing both city and battle scenes.
The Standard of Ur

On the other side the story’s all about peace and prosperity. Good times with a procession of men bringing animals, fish and other goods. At the top the king banquets among his friends, entertained by a singer and a man with a lyre. Don’t scoot off too quickly, though! That lyre has a bull’s head at the end of it, and brilliantly, the BM has placed the real lyre, also with bull’s head, in a nearby display case. Leonard Woolley excavated The Great Death Pit with an ingenious method of pouring hot wax over his finds and lifting them out to later reconstruct them when necessary. This was especially useful for the Royal Game of Ur, not too far away (and a prime “Fun & Games THATBrit” piece). But there’s another treasure that makes its way onto the story board of this Standard of Ur. If you take a look at the horses in the Sumerian war scene they all have a double loop on their backs. That was apparently to keep the horse’s reins in order, and an example of a real rein-loop is in this room, over in the display case with Queen Puabi, whom we’ve visited with in our last blog post.

When you’re on a hunt you’re going to be racking up these extra THATMuse points, what with all of this help from reading these posts! Within the hunt, the Standard only tells you to go find some objects within the mosaic, but thanks to doing some sleuthing prior to meeting au Musée, you know what you’re looking for!

THATKid Tuesday is a monthly dose of Art History for kids, posted on the first Tuesday of each month. In this series, we’ll be blogging about different terms from the THATKid glossary we’ve created to help kids understand some of the art history terms that pop up in our hunts.

The subject of this post is: TRICOLOR FRENCH FLAG & MARIANNE! 

Have you ever seen the French flag? If you have, you’ll know it’s made of three stripes: blue, white, and red. That’s why it’s called the tricolor, which means “three colors”.

French tricolor flag
The French tricolor flag

The Tricolor Flag

In the French flag, the three colors of red, white and blue symbolize what the French Republic stands for: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity (brotherhood).

The Tricolor Flag first came into use in France after the French Revolution in 1789, over two hundred years ago! Originally, the colors were reversed, so the red was on the left. The idea for the flag came from the French cockades that came into fashion during the French Revolution. These were circular badges that were attached to hats.

Before this, the French flag was plain white, the color associated with the Bourbon family, who had ruled France from the 16th Century. They were overthrown in the French Revolution.

After Napoleon, the French Emperor, was defeated at the famous Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the Bourbon family returned to power, and started using the plain white flag again.

However, in 1830 the Bourbon family were overthrown again, and the famous tricolor flag has been used ever since.

Eugene Delacroix's painting: Liberty Leading the People
Delacroix’s famous painting, Liberty Leading the People

Marianne

Marianne is the lady who represents the French Republic and its triumph over the monarchy. You can see her on French stamps, at all town-halls, and in governmental buildings. Until France adopted the Euro in 2002, she was even on French money!

There are two very famous images of Marianne. One is Delacroix’s painting, Liberty Leading the People (at the Louvre), and the other is the bronze sculpture which overlooks Place de la Republique in Paris.

A goddess of liberty, Marianne has represented the French Republic since its roots. Her first major appearance was on a medal in 1789, celebrating the storming of the Bastille. Her popularity has increased and decreased throughout the years, as she embodied the ideals of the French Republic.

During the Second World War, France was occupied by Germany and ruled by the Vichy government, who were named after the town where they were based. The Vichy government didn’t like the symbol of Marianne, so they melted down 120 of the 427 monuments of her!

She has been portrayed in different ways throughout the years: sometimes fiercer, sometimes not. But like the Tricolor, she is still an important symbol of France today.

Any questions about Marianne? Please leave any comments or queries below!

Old postcard showing the Marianne statue at Place de la Republique, Paris
An old postcard showing the statue of Marianne at Place de la République, Paris… where she still stands today!

Tune in the first Tuesday of next month if you’d like another art history dose of THATKid, or join our mailing list to get all of our blog posts direct to your inbox in a convenient weekly email!

The idea for THATKid Tuesday stemmed from the Kid Pack’s glossary. The Kid Pack has supplemental exercises for after your Louvre hunt, from a Michelangelo Connect-the-Dots and a Mona Lisa sticker-puzzle to a Botticelli Spot-the-Difference. Good for train rides or long French dinners, kids can also pick up on some terms like composition, perspective and the lot. As THATMuse has grown to include the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert and Musée d’Orsay, THATKid Tuesday’s blog version has grown to include other examples.  

Archeologist Sir Leonard Woolley made a tremendous discovery in 1922-32 when he uncovered the Royal Tombs in the Mesopotamian city of Ur (today’s Southern Iraq). This fantastic find is referred to as “the Great Death Pit”. As well it should! His excavation team unearthed 1800 graves, 16 of which had such treasures that Woolley titled them “royal tombs”, all dating from 2800-2370 BC. Below the simple graves of the common people lay the elite of Ur. Although commoners also made it to that lower level, as some of this Sumerian royalty were accompanied in the afterlife with their attendants!

Among the richest tombs was that of Queen Puabi (we know her name from a fine cylinder seal of lapis lazuli found in display case 13, above that adorable donkey on the double rein-loop). She lay on a wooden bier, a gold cup near her hand. She not only had 25 attendants in her midst, all laid out in orderly rows and with cups near their hands as well, in her adjacent chamber there were another 65 attendants (talk about getting help in the afterlife!). Some were musicians, as instruments such as a wonderful bull-headed harp, were found buried with their owners. The burial process here is a bit of a mystery, and Woolley had several hypotheses which evolved as he discovered more tombs over the course of the excavation.

Crushed skull and remains of gold headdress in British Museum
Queen Puabi’s intricate headdress and crushed skull

We don’t know the cause of Queen Puabi’s death, but do know that her skull was crushed, possibly from the weight of the soil over the thousands of years that passed before the Royal Tomb of Ur was discovered. She, like other fine ladies of Ur, was buried with an elaborate headdress that was crushed. (The picture above shows what the crushed skull and headdress look like today.) Leonard Woolley was ingenious at extracting these treasures, by way of pouring hot wax (THATMuse Bonus?) over them before lifting them out of the Great Death Pit, so to reconstruct them later (incidentally, Leonard’s wife, Katherine, reconstructed Queen Puabi’s headdress to its original grandeur with gold leaf and ribbons, sprinkling through treasured lapis lazuli pendants.)  The image below is an example of this beautiful headdress. 

gold headdress of leaves flowers and rings on a black model head, reconstruction of Quenn Puabi's burial at Ur, Mesopotamia 2600 BC
A reconstruction of the beautiful headdress

But let’s back up a bit, and ponder those attendants… When you think of Human Sacrifice you think of the Aztecs or Mayans, no? Well how can you explain all of her attendants? They can’t have ALL died voluntarily, just because their precious Queen died… Yet all the bodies were laid out in an orderly fashion, evidently peaceful. Originally Woolley thought they had been killed to reflect the King’s (or in this case, Queen’s) power. Yet they all had cups by their hands, just like Queen Puabi. Could this be a poison they voluntarily drank in loyalty Woolley wondered. Or perhaps (more likely to my imagination, although I’m not very subservient) they were sedatives and the real cause was sealing off the chamber to suffocate them. A few of the skulls on the other hand received blunt force trauma, implying a less than servile attitude to killing themselves for their Queen!

However you see it, the story of the Royal Tombs of Ur is pretty grisly – just right for a Skull Scouting THATBrit, or of course a Lady Hunt or Kings & Leaders hunt, wouldn’t you say?

The THATMuse blog has content pieces about the actual museums where you’re hunting, but we’ve also amassed plenty of recommendations of what to do in Paris and London apart from your museum time. Check out our “Travelling in Paris & London” category on the blog for pieces from kid-friendly parks, cafes and toyshops to romantic cocktail lounges near our museums. (Want to see other parks in London & Paris? Check them out here: Part 1, Part 2)

Here’s the third part of our 3-part series on parks by Daisy de Plume, expat mother of two boys growing up in both cities (and THATMuse founder).

REGENT’S PARK

path under vine trellises and arches in Regents park

Impossible to distill the breadth of this green oasis in NW London, this was yet another hunting ground of Henry VIII and kept in royal hands long after John Nash planned this 410-acre park. For kids the choices abound, from the London Zoo with over 20,000 animals and nearly 700 species to the boat pond which is easily as big & verdant as Central Park’s. For the water weary, there is also a separate Children’s Lake open on weekends and on school holidays where kiddie pedalos are available for hire (either for the whole family, 28£/2 adults, 3 kids or children’s pedalos for only 4£ for 20 minutes). With plenty of playgrounds, the snazziest is near Hanover Gate, which has a timber tree house for older kids within a large sandpit for tots. HIDDEN KID TREASURE: Since he was 3 Storsh’s favorite part of Regent’s Park has been the Rose Garden, a secluded circle included in Queen Mary’s Garden. With about 12,000 roses and 85 single-variety beds, the garden’s laid out with five-foot rose bushes, divided into centralized beds that you can circumnavigate. It’s there that we compare the smells of the roses, inspect their thorns, laugh at some of their dippy names (Lady Marmalade? Bees Knees? Betty Boop?) and then Zulu-like play a savage game of hide-n-go seek/tag. As there are generally so few people, I don’t mute Storsh’s yelps of joy, fear of being found and general exuberance.

JARDIN DES TUILERIES

Flowers and sculpture in front of Ferris wheel in jardin de tuileries

The 23-hectare gardens connect the Louvre (where the kings lived), to Place de la Concorde (where the kings lost their heads in the French Revolution, site of the guillotine). The gardens we know today date to 1664, by André le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s Versailles gardener. The name comes from the tile factories (tuile means tile in French) they replaced when Catherine de Medici built the Palais des Tuileries with accompanying gardens. From a kid point of view the Tuileries has plenty to offer, from a wonderful playground with a behemoth steel jungle gym, popular hammock and roundabout, to two lovely boat ponds for pushing 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. These trampolines, divided by padded frames, cost €2.50 for 5 minutes a pop for kids aged 2 -12. A great way to get their energy out after a morning Treasure Hunt au Louvre! METRO: Tuileries (line 1), Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12)

The THATMuse blog has content pieces about the actual museums where you’re hunting, but we’ve also amassed plenty of recommendations of what to do in Paris and London apart from your museum time. Check out our “Travelling in Paris & London” category on the blog for pieces from kid-friendly parks, cafes and toyshops to romantic cocktail lounges near our museums.

Looking for something to do in London with kids that’s fun but also not too tiring?  Look no further, as Cheyenne, student intern at THATMuse, is here with a list of fun markets to visit while in London!

Borough Market

Entrance to Borough Market on Park street by classic pub and view of The Shard
Classic shot of the entrance to London’s Borough Market

Located in Southwark, this market is one of London’s most famous, with everything from fresh, UK-produced cheese to homemade Turkish delight to hand-blended milkshakes. This market is right off of the Thames, which makes for a nice view while eating, and is located near several hot tourist spots. London Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern are all close by, and worth a visit if you have the time and inclination. A much lesser known attraction is the Southwark Cathedral, literally less than two minutes’ walk from the market, which is a beautiful church that is open to the general public for free. It has a statue dedicated to Shakespeare, and some very pretty gardens to eat in. Just remember to throw away your trash in a bin!
Address: Borough High Street, Borough, London, SE1 9DE
Phone: +44 (0)20 7407 1002

Spitalfields Market

Food and clothing stalls under the covered Spitalfields Market
Spitalfields Market is the perfect place to spend a rainy London afternoon!

This market doesn’t share the heavy focus on food that you will find in Borough Market, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of a visit. There is some amazing street food here, so you can eat as you walk around and enjoy the stalls selling everything from antiques to hand-made toys and clothing. If you’re looking for a good hot chocolate (I know I always am!) a restaurant named Dark Sugar less than five minutes away from the market makes some of the best hot chocolate I’ve had in London. There’s also a garden nearby if you want to turn your family outing into a picnic with food you picked up from the market, or just let the kids run free for a while.
Address: Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6EW
Phone: +44 (0)20 7247 8556

Bloomsbury’s Farmers Market

Shoppers stood by local milk stall under a tree at bloomsbury market
Bloomsbury’s Farmers Market is a quaint and personal market experience for any would-be Londoner

This is certainly not a very large or well-known market, but it’s my favorite by virtue of being located right outside my flat, and on my way to work. Nestled between the schools of UCL and SOAS every Thursday, this market may be on the smaller side, but it certainly has plenty of delicious food to make up for it. My personal favorite is grabbing a wonderful organic brownie from a dessert stand, but they have all kinds of different food here, making it a perfect fit for any family. Like Spitalfields, there are several gardens nearby for a picnic: specifically Gordon Square and Great Russell Square, both of which are beautiful. The British Museum is less than a five-minute walk up the street, if you want to burn some of your kids’ energy and let them learn at the same time.
Address: Torrington Square / Byng Place, behind ULU, WC1E 7HY

THATKid Tuesday is a dose of Art History terms for kids, simplified and illustrated. These terms are culled from the glossary found in our Kid Packs, booklets you receive on Luxe Hunts that offer travelling families exercises. I made one for families visiting London and Paris, b/c as a mother, I’ve really just wanted to have a glass of wine at the end of a lovely day touristing and have found it useful to give Storsh and Balthazar these exercises at restaurants when travelling. The Kid Packs have art fun such as a Botticelli spot-the-difference, Michelangelo connect-the-dots, some da Vinci Decoding (do you know he kept his journal in a secret language?!!) or even some color-in exercises for smaller siblings.

This time we’re going to look at Tempera!

If this has got you thinking of dinner, you’re probably thinking of tempura…

st francis feeding the birds
a detail from Giotto’s Stigmatization of St Francis (1300), using Egg Tempera, au Louvre (did you know our Christmas Nativity dates to St Francis and his love of animals?


Sadly for these artists, tempera is not a food but a method of painting. Artists would grind powdered pigments (colours) into a binding agent such as egg and use this to paint with. Pieces painted in this way, also known as Tempera paintings, were very long-lasting.

Madonna and baby christ
Duccio’s Madonna & Child, 1290-1300, Met (NYC)

This example of a Tempera painting, Duccio’s Madonna and Child, was painted on wood around 1300. This was the main medium used in Classical and Medieval art until it was replaced in Europe by oil painting around 1500. When used for paintings in churches, extra material was sometimes added to give the paint a nice smell. Without this the egg tempera could smell quite bad for some time! At times during the 19th and 20th Centuries some artists began to use Tempera again and it continued to be the required method for Orthodox Icon painting.

Questions or thoughts about Tempera? Just post below!

The THATMuse blog has content pieces about the actual museums where you’re hunting, but we’ve also amassed plenty of recommendations of what to do in Paris and London apart from your museum time. Check out our “Travelling in Paris & London” category on the blog for pieces from kid-friendly parks, cafes and toyshops to romantic cocktail lounges near our museums.

Here’s part two of a 3-part series (you can see Part 1 here) on parks by Daisy de Plume, expat mother of two boys growing up in both cities (and THATMuse founder).

ST JAMES PARK

pond in St James's Park London with view of Whitehall and the London Eye

The oldest Royal Park in London is St James’s, dating from 1532 when Henry VIII acquired it as a deer park. Surrounded by three palaces (Westminister, St James’s and Buckingham Palaces), it’s the backdrop to numerous movies from Woody Allen’s Match Point to James Bond’s Die Another Day. The kids will remember the lake from 101 Dalmatians, starring Glenn Close and Jeff Daniels where a chase is set through St James’s that ends with a splash. HIDDEN KID TREASURE: Apart from the recently renovated children’s playground, wander the grounds for an Animal Hunt, counting how many types of furry & winged creatures you can find; from robins & woodpeckers to squirrels & bats, St James has more than 17 different species of waterfowl alone. The most famous bird residents are the pelicans, found on Duck Island. Storsh loves it when we catch the daily feeding, their long necks and big, gaping mouths go flapping for their food. These comical creatures have been here since 1664 when the Russian Ambassador gave them to Charles II for the park. Linger over Blue Bridge for a Coot fight. Those black birds with white foreheads (where we get the terms “Bald as a Coot”) are territorial and mean, they’ll fight anything that swims or flies! Whilst on the bridge, quiz your kids on a bit of London history, the park they see is by the hand of John Nash, the architect and planner of St James Park, as well as Buckingham Palace (viewable from the bridge). If they’ve been to Trafalgar Square or Regent’s Park, Nash’s name will again be bandied about. For longer stays, grab a sandwich and rent a stripy deckchair for an hour for just 1.60£. Open Daily, 5 am – midnight

JARDIN du LUXEMBOURG

Flowers and lawns at Jardin du Lexembourg

There are so many kid-treats in Jardin du Luxembourg that Napoleon dedicated it to “the Children of Paris”. In the 1600s it was originally laid out to accompany Marie de Medici (Dragon Lady Queen of France she holds the key to THATRue’s Latin Quarter hunts!)’s Palais du Luxembourg, which now houses France’s Senate. The 25 hectares hosts 1920s boats you can stick around the boat basin (3€ a pop), a delightful pony trail, 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. 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. METRO: Odéon (line 4), Notre-Dame-des-Champs (line 12), Luxembourg (RER B)