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It’s funny how these posts come about. Because of the last post concluding the Three Graces series, I’ve had the Borghese Collection at the Louvre on my mind. However, there are so many places to start on this topic, and so many paths to stray to. A rocky relationship between Italy and France is certainly one (think the Italian Campaign of 1796-7, where Napoleon made his name), as is the actual collection of 695* incredible antiquities (the Sleeping Hermaphrodite, the Borghese Gladiator, the Three Graces, to name a few). Just how these antiquities got to the Louvre is worthy of a large part of Marie-Lou Fabréga-Dubert’s two-volume tome “La Collection Borghese au Musée Napoléon,” published jointly in 2009 by Musée du Louvre Editions and the publishing branch of the Beaux-Art de Paris. The NY Times reviewed it favourably here, and as with any good review the Times provides great morsels from the book.

Borghese Gladiator
The Borghese Gladiator at the Louvre

Then there are the personalities — Napoleon has never been short on providing history with anecdotes, his brother-in-law Prince Camillo Borghese of the Roman nobility, is of course the source of the collection and then there’s Napoleon’s sister and Camillo’s wife, Pauline, whose salacious habits were already well established in her first marriage to General Leclerc (I believe “Bacchanalian Promiscuity” was attributed to her when she was in Haiti with General Leclerc).

And of course we can’t overlook the minor characters — minor to history, but with entire wings and courtyards named after them I guess “minor” is relative. Dominique-Vivant Denon (Director of Imperial Museums), and Ennio Quirino Visconti  (“overseer” of Roman Antiquities at the Musée Napoléon — what’s now the Louvre), were responsible for the mammoth task of getting the antiquities from Rome to Paris — no easy feat when the British had an embargo in the Mediterranean which made the French travel overland. Denon, Sully, and Richelieu will certainly have their THATLou posts at one point or another (concerning both the wings as well as the colourful characters of French history). In one of my first posts I wrote about the Visconti courtyard, which is about to be all over the press when the new Islamic wing opens this September (supposedly – the opening’s been postponed for a few years).

Villa Borghese, Rome
The Villa Borghese gardens

PS/ I can’t seem to get to the bottom of just how many antiquities Napoleon (mmm, sorry, I mean the French State) bought from Borghese. Wikipedia, which of course isn’t to be trusted, says it’s 344 antiquities. A figure I’ve seen in other googled sources (who perhaps used wikipedia).  When addressing the Borghese Kylix the Louvre’s website says Napoleon bought Borghese’s entire collection — which of course can’t be right as there’s a small museum with  just a few Berninis on the Pincian Hill in Rome called the Villa Borghese (photographed above, where Denon and Visconti started their shipping process). So though I haven’t read Mme. Fabréga-Dubert’s 2-volumes, I have chosen to go with her figure of 695 pieces. If for no doubt because I’m from NY and trust the editors of the Times to at least quote her correctly.

Galleria Borghese Extra Info:

HOURS: open Tuesday – Sunday, from 8:30 – 7:30 pm

ADDRESS: Piazzale del Museo Borghese, 00197 Roma (in the middle of the large park, Villa Borghese)

THATMuse Recommendation: Purchase tickets on line, before you go (they can often be sold out as it’s one of the best museums in Rome, with Bernini, Caravaggio, Canova and the lot!)

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.

Which European capital, Paris or London, is more kid-considerate when it comes to parks? In the Battle of Green Glory, it may take an American to decide. This post, which first appeared in the Telegraph, was written by expat Daisy de Plume, founder of THATMuse.

Carousels

Sorry, London, there’s no contest when Paris’s oldest carousel was designed by Charles Garnier, who also happened to build the city’s opera house. The Jardin du Luxembourg’s carousel has animals swing from the ceiling and a tricky ring game. London’s Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank, has a sweet little carousel to make you feel like you’re in Mary Poppins, but on the carousel score, Paris has no competition. Anywhere.

Paris: 1

Picknicking

Approximately 47 per cent of London is covered by green spaces, making it perfect for picnicking: with city spots like Russell Square which are ideal for a pit stop after whizzing about the British Museum, as well panoramic swathes of green such as Hampstead Heath.

While Paris parks are lovely, they are more to be observed, not interacted with. Usually there are only designated portions of grass in which Parisians are permitted to spread out. One of the best of these is the Marais’s Place des Vosges.

Of you are the sort who prefers a dry picnic, according to Weather2Travel, Paris has 170 days with some rainfall each year, while London has just 155, giving the British capital a clear advantage.

London: 1

Jumping

After a treasure hunt at the Louvre, the sunken trampolines in the adjacent Jardin des Tuileries are a great spot for kids to bounce off some energy. Costing €2.50 (£2.25) for five minutes, the trampolines are off the beaten track, so the queue is never long. Did you know that the Jardin des Tuileries had hidden trampolines? London’s trampoline “parks” are indoors, not central and relatively expensive. This cannot compete with flipping about in the 17th century park designed by Le Nôtre, chief gardener of Versailles

Paris: 1

Playgrounds

Kensington Gardens’ Diana Memorial Playground and the large playground at Jardin du Luxembourg are both fantastic: both have guards at the entry to keep tots from escaping, snack food stands, bathrooms, and are great fun for kids aged 2 – 12.  The Diana Memorial Playground is a joy for children aged two to eight or so.  The Jardin du Luxembourg playground costs €2.50 (£2.25) entry, so for free fun, London pips Paris to the post.

London: 1

Getting Lost

A special treat for Parisian enfants of all ages is the labyrinth in the Left Bank’s Jardin des Plantes, where kids can climb in the hollowed-out bushes and secretly make their way up to the next level while parents wander up the spiraling dirt path. France’s main botanical garden, you can visit galleries of natural history within the park

With terraced levels being crowned by a looking-point gazebo, the labyrinth looks a bit like a massive green ziggurat. It’s a delight for kids, but perhaps agree to a special whistle prior to letting your children out of sight, or if they’re older agree ahead of time that you’ll meet at the gazebo apex.

The conical maze is hidden behind the art deco Winter Garden; many Parisians don’t even know about it, associating the Jardin des Plantes with the 18th century zoo and botanical gardens.

Paris: 1

Wildlife

There is plenty of animal-spotting to do in both cities, from feeding the pelicans and mallards in St James’s Park, to doing a beeline to the beehives of the Rucher École beekeeping school in Jardin du Luxembourg.  Coram’s Fields, near the British Museum, tips the scales in London’s favour, with an adorable, if somewhat worn, petting farm with goats, bunnies and chickens.

London: 1

Treasure Hunting

Sculpture scouting is my son Storsh’s preferred game in Parisian parks; the Tuileries has 20 Maillol alone, and more than 200 sculptures and urns, while our family favourite, Jardin du Luxembourg, has 106 sculptures. Likewise, London’s Regent’s Park is filled with wonderful contemporary sculpture during the art fairFrieze.

Paris: 1

Zipwires

London’s Coram’s Fields has a great zipline, as does Holland Park, but the standing, swerving one in Jardin du Luxembourg is exciting, too.That said, nothing tops climbing a ladder the height of a tree to zipline across Canal St Martin during the seasonal Paris Plages, something many Parisian parents look on with great jealousy.

However, London triumphs with Battersea Park’s impressive Go Ape course. Ticketed slots cost £20/person but this aerial adventure park makes a great holiday treat. Kids (and parents) will turn into Tarzan as they swing, climb and zip from tree-top to tree-top. You must be a meter tall to play, although there is a playground for little siblings. Paris doesn’t have anything quite like it.

London: 1

We may have to call it a diplomatic draw – but choose your city based on which activity most appeals to you!

Jacquemart-André Museum

Welcome to the 1st of the Monthly Museum Musings (MMM), where we’ll linger on lesser known museums (when compared to the Louvre that leaves us pretty much open to any of the more than 150 museums across Paris). MMM will focus predominately on Paris (though at times we’ll stray to other cities’ fine collections) and will be defined by a brief overview of the collection at hand, as well as a quick “In the Neighbourhood?” element to provide suggestions for a stroll one could take before or after your Museum Musing. If you have suggestions of a museum you’d like covered or would like to contribute, we’d love to hear from you!

The Frick Collection in New York, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, London’s Wallace Collection: All of these places were the mansions of wealthy families, now housing their art collections for the public. Paris’s version of this big-home, small-museum type is no less impressive, though perhaps slightly less known on an international scale: The Musée Jacquemart-André.

Jacquemart-Andre Museum

The couple, Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart, collected old masters such as Titian, Uccello, Van Dyck and Rubens. Though the quality isn’t quite on par with Frick’s peerless collection, some of the 15th and 16th century Italian paintings are divine. Paintings aside, the house is a piece of art unto itself with a gorgeous aerie, plant-filled interior courtyard with a Tiepolo fresco overlooking the double-spiraled staircase. Downstairs you see Edouard and Nélie’s separate bedrooms – the toilet of which has always fascinated me with its various embroidered furniture (didn’t it get wet with splashes? No matter). Made into a museum in 1913, you can also go for one of the best high teas in one of the prettiest salons in Paris. I work in the neighbourhood and go for a delish mango salad on special occasions when I can go a-missing for a few hours of pretending to be a lady-who-lunches.

A visit to the museum is certainly worthwhile, though the 8th Arrt ‘hood is dry with row after row of Hausmannian façades fencing in the tree-lined boulevards. They’re mostly international law firms and companies or posh residences, impenetrable to tourists and expats alike.

In the neighbourhood?

It’s less than 10 minutes by foot up to Parc Monceau for a stroll where the first parachutist landed in the 18th century. If you have kids Parc Monceau has a pony trail that my toddler’s fascinated by (and counting the minutes till he’s big enough to go for a ride). For now though, he’s content with the adorable Parisian 19th Century swings and picnic green rare to many a Parisian park.From there you could go to the pedestrianised market street, Rue de Levis in the 17th Arrt, for a drink and some fabulous people-watching.

Or if you want a more ‘famous” version of Paris it’s 10 minutes west to the l’Arc de Triomphe, where you feel like you’re at the center of it all. It’s true the expanse of all of the boulevards, the Champs-Elysées in particular, meeting at your feet is something to write (at least a postcard) home about!

Jacquemart Andre Museum


What’s on now?

From Zurbaran to Rothko is running from March 3rd to July 10th 2017. Alicia Koplowitz has amassed through Grupo Omega Capital Ω, a collection that reflects her own personal tastes, bringing together numerous masterpieces from some of the world’s greatest artists. The Old and Modern Masters feature heavily in her collection, fostering a dialogue of sorts across the centuries: antique sculptures and paintings by Zurbarán, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Guardi and Goya can be seen alongside paintings and drawings by Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Van Dongen, Modigliani, Schiele, de Staël, Freud, Rothko and Barceló, as well as sculptures by Giacometti, Bourgeois and Richier.

 

Logistics

Details: 158, boulevard Haussmann 75008 Paris

www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com

Metro: Miromesnil (lines 9, 13), St Philippe du Roule (line 9, closer)

Hours: Open 7 days a week, 10am – 6 pm, Monday till 8:30 pm

Prices: Adults cost 13.50 euros, students 10.50, kids under 7 are free (as of 2017)

Perspective epitomizes the marriage of Arts + Sciences, so it should be no surprise that I’m providing this as the give-away clue to all those clever BAC-aged youths who’ll be on the hunt for Science at the Louvre tomorrow afternoon.

Science-Académie (known as Science-Ac’) was established in 2006 with just a few hundred students. Today this Paris-Montagne Association now stands at 2000 students, enlivening the interest of high school students and pre-BAC kids in Science. Science-Ac was born from the l’Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS is the French equivalent of MIT, for you American readers), and has generational dons or tutors per each level, PhD candidates doing lab work alongside high-schoolers. Their proximity in age, no doubt bolsters the inspiration for the students to further their scientific studies.

Tomorrow a group of Science-Ac’ students will be scouring the Louvre for 25 pieces of art that marry Art with Science. For instance a double-sided David and Goliath painting by da Volterra  inspects the Centripetal and Centrifugal forces of David’s use of the sling. But as such physics strays from typical THATLou reading I’ll do a give-away that’s a bit closer to home.

Here are two works of art in two separate wings on two separate floors of the Louvre. One is by a Northerner (Dutch) the other by a Southerner (Sicilian), but both are true masters of perspective in entirely disparate ways. Scientific perspective is an approximate representation, on a flat surface (such as a canvas or paper), of an image as it is perceived by the eye. The two most characteristic features of perspective are:

  1. Objects are drawn smaller as their distance from the observer increases
  2. The distortion of items when viewed at an angle (spatial foreshortening)

In art the term foreshortening is often used synonymously with perspective, even though foreshortening can occur in other types of non-perspective drawing representations.

da Messina’s Christ at the Cross

CHRIST AT THE COLUMN Antonello da Messina (1430-1479), 15th C Italian Painting

This fine painting is tiny, only .30m x .21m wide, so in a reversed way it pops out among the Italian Painting gallery. Antonello’s acquaintance with the rules and foreshortenings of Tuscan perspective allow him here to show a living, monumental Christ whose Passion thrusts itself upon the viewer. This immediacy is enhanced by the illusionist handling of the knot in the rope: set at the bottom of the composition, it appears to rest on the frame, as if on the ledge of a window opening onto the divine. During his apprenticeship in the Naples of the Princes of Aragon – collectors of the work of the Northern painters – Antonello acquired Flemish oil painting techniques: the layering of paint and glazes creates depth and subtle transitions from shade to light, while also enabling meticulous realism in physical terms and in the stroke by stroke rendering of Christ’s hair and beard. Science Ac kids are asked to pose with his pained expression (just think of all Christ had been through at this point). To me he’s saying “how much bloody longer do I have to go through this torture?” It’s a fantastic painting.

de Hooch Card Players in an opulent interior

CARD PLAYERS, Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684), 17th C Dutch Painting

During his decade in Delft (Holland), Pieter de Hooch was deeply influenced by the color and strict lines of the art of Carel Fabritius, who also influenced Vermeer (huh, Vermeer’s Astronomer may just be nearby, then!). de Hooch developed a personal style that proved a success, basing his compositions on a colorful, artful use of perspective, with figures fitting harmoniously into the overall scheme. His works are subtly illuminated with lateral sources of light and often feature a series of rooms leading from one to the next. The lines of the marble floor tiles here draw the viewer’s attention to the vanishing lines of the painting. The spatial elements opening onto the exterior-windows and half-open doors are punctuated by a contrasting play of light, accentuating the lines and volumes. For an extra fifty bonus points have your team point to the small hint of another room in this charming scene. (and yes for you hawk-eyes, the pretty girl in the foreground is cheating with her lad).

Here are a few Chelsea places we’ve done score tallying for both travelling families on Luxe Hunts as well as for group hen hunts and prize giving ceremonies for corporate clients like Random House and Superdrug. As the V&A and Natural History Museum are just across from each other, the directions remain the same:

Bunch of Grapes (Pub)

Pub exterior, taken from TripAdvisor.

Bunch of Grapes is a lovely Victorian English pub, with original stensiled glass grand décor and dark woods throughout, with pleasant upstairs. We’ve conducted score tallying and prize-giving for up Random House here, a group of over 70 people. Bookings can be made online or by calling. Online booking for up to 8, requests can be submitted for large groups which are seated in the upstairs dining room. Service is always pleasant but it can be slow. This is a Greene King Pub.

Address: 207 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW3 1LA
Phone: 0207 589 4944
Hours: 11:00- 23:30
Prices: circa £10 – 16
Web:https://www.greeneking-pubs.co.uk/pubs/greater-london/bunch-of-grapes/menu/main-menu

Directions:

  1. Exit the V&A or Natural History Museum via the Exhibition Road Entrance/ Exit, turning right
  2. Turn left onto Cromwell Gardens
  3. Turn right at Brompton Square Turn Right on Brompton Square and you will have arrived at your destination!
nhm to bunch of grapes

Hoop and Toy (Pub)

Pub exterior, taken from TripAdvisor.

Hoop and Toy is a cute, traditional English pub, with unique whisky and brandy bottle décor. It’s a cozy, welcoming environment, great for families and groups of friends and colleagues. Bookings can be made online or by calling. Online booking for up to 8, requests can be submitted for large groups. This is a Greene King Pub.

Address: 34 Thurloe Place, Kensington SW7 2HQ
Phone: 02075 898360
Hours: 11:00- 00:00
Prices: circa £10 – 16
Web:https://www.greeneking-pubs.co.uk/pubs/greater-london/hoop-toy/menu/main-menu

Directions:

  1. Exit the V&A or Natural History Museum via the Exhibition Road Entrance/ Exit
  2. Turn right and continue straight, eventually crossing Cromwell Road
  3. Turn Right on Thurloe Street- Hoop and Toy will be on your right, on the bend in the road
nhm to hoop and toy

Honest Burgers

Outside the South Kensington Honest Burgers, from TripAdvisor.

Honest Burgers is popular with kids and is just a short walk from either the NHM or the V&A. It has a cute, urban feel, and is better for small groups since the space isn’t that large. If you’re coming with a larger group, they would prefer that you call ahead two weeks in advance. Best availability is 3-6 on weekends. Honest Burgers offers mostly indoor seating but does have a few outdoor tables. Extremely friendly staff, eager to help and very attentive. Honest has both beef and chicken burgers, rosemary fries and delicious cocktails (preferred that drinks are ordered with food as the space is so small). Not extremely kid-friendly.

Address: 24 Thurloe Street, London SW7 2LT
Phone: +44 (0)20 3019 6440
Hours: Mon – Sun 09:30 – 13:00
Prices: circa £7 – 13 (menu here)
Web: https://www.honestburgers.co.uk/

Directions:

  1. Exit the V&A or Natural History Museum via the Exhibition Road Entrance/ Exit
  2. Turn right and continue straight, eventually crossing Cromwell Road Turn Right on Thurloe Street
  3. Honest Burgers is almost directly in front of you
nhm to honest burgers

The Kensington Creperie

The café exterior, from this blog.

The Kensington Creperie offers traditional French crepes just a short walk from the Natural History and V&A Museums. Crepes are offered as both savory and sweet and the café also serves waffles and a variety of smoothies, juices, milkshakes and hot drinks. Typically, reservations aren’t necessary, but you can always call ahead to check availability. This option is better for small groups and families.

Address: 2-6 Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2HF
Phone: 020 7589 8947
Hours: Sun to Thurs: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm Fri to Sat: 9:00 am – 11:30 pm
Prices: circa £5 – 15
Web: http://kensingtoncreperie.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/KC-Menu-1.pdf

Directions:

  1. Exit the V&A or Natural History Museum via the Exhibition Road Entrance/ Exit
  2. Turn right and continue straight, eventually crossing Cromwell Road
  3. The destination will be on your left (it has Green Awnings)
nhm to kensington creperie

Café Blanc

The café’s patio is great for dining on a nice day.

Address: 10, rue Croix des Petits Champs 75001
Phone: +33 1 42 33 55 85
Price Range: €

This is my standard haunt. We’re not only fond of the people, the upstairs room has a view of both a small Parisian lane as well as the grand Banque de France. The feel is of a “we are a standard French bistrot and don’t pretend to be anything else” with their tiled and mirrored walls and smooth Serge Gainsbourg tunes. Fine for drinks, and I’ve organized lunches there. It is not haute cuisine, just your basic souris d’agneau or pavé de saumon. This is by far my fave to tally scores over a drink and it’s just enough off the Louvre path so that you don’t have a hundred English speakers around you and prices doubled. Their room upstairs can comfortably suit 35 people, or a bit tighter I’ve also managed 40. Not only the space works well, the service are entirely flexible and accommodating, juggling everything with a smile. Google and Piaggio are former clients who were happy with the wrap up drinks here if you need a reference.

louvre to cafe blanc

Macéo

Address: 15, rue des Petits Champs, 75002 Paris, France
Phone: +33 1 42 97 53 85
Price Range: €€€

The restaurant’s beautiful interior lends itself to a meal fit for a king (or, a post-hunt group!)

Macéo is the only restaurant on this list that has truly gastronomic, exceptional food. With a cave (wine cellar) housing 10,000 bottles of wine, ambiance fit for a French king (a stone’s throw from Palais Royal) and service who treats you as such, this is most certainly the place for you if you want to impress a client or for a small 10 to 15-person group. There’s a private room upstairs, which can accommodate small wedding receptions or corporate dinners. The cheapest set menu is 40 euros; it’s one of the few restaurants with food on this haute-cuisine level which can also suit vegetarians (who sometimes go hungry when in France). Dishes such as risotto with morel mushrooms & white asparagus, Breton sardines with clementine compote, or quinoa galette with basil & curry oil stand alongside scrumptious French staples(escargotsmagret de canard, etc.). Really worth it – but not for those looking after their wallets. Airbus was happy with their post-hunt dinner here, although there was a fair bit of back and forth as they handled the menu beforehand. A prestigious local Executive MBA program hosted their post-hunt drinks for 75 people.

louvre to maceo

Please note we are happy to make recommendations & have good relationships with Macéo, Café Blanc and l’Imprimèrie, especially(we’ve hosted corporate / b’day / hen party hunts at all of the below). That said, we do not negotiate menus nor do we foot the bill (as beastly French taxes cause us to nearly double prices & we don’t want our clients to spend more than they should).

Cafés and Bars

Café Blanc (photos, directions here)

Address: 10, rue Croix des Petits Champs 75001
Phone: +33 1 42 33 55 85
Price Range: €

This is my standard haunt. We’re not only fond of the people, the upstairs room has a view of both a small Parisian lane as well as the grand Banque de France. The feel is of a “we are a standard French bistrot and don’t pretend to be anything else” with their tiled and mirrored walls and smooth Serge Gainsbourg tunes. Fine for drinks, and I’ve organized lunches there. It is not haute cuisine, just your basic souris d’agneau or pavé de saumon. This is by far my fave to tally scores over a drink and it’s just enough off the Louvre path so that you don’t have a hundred English speakers around you and prices doubled. Their room upstairs can comfortably suit 35 people, or a bit tighter I’ve also managed 40. Not only the space works well, the service are entirely flexible and accommodating, juggling everything with a smile. Google and Piaggio are former clients who were happy with the wrap up drinks here if you need a reference.

Café l’mprimèrie

Café’s outdoor seating and signs, courtesy of their site.

Address: 29, rue Coquillière 75001
Phone: +33 (0)1 45 08 07 08
Price Range: €

We’ve hosted a handful of birthday party hunts, networking hunts and corporate hunts here. It’s a lovely plant-filled resto/bar with a mahogany wood bar, decent food, proper cocktails and the service is pleasant. Pros: For a group as large as 30 they close it off just for us, and the vibe’s fun. Cons: The music’s loud and the layout of the space (because it’s on a corner) can be tricky to get everyone’s attention simultaneously for prize giving ceremony and team names or limericks if asked for. It’s ideal for a group of 15 or under (because then we can have a section to ourselves). Students at Science Po had their wrap up drinks here along with several American law firms.

Au Caveau Montpensier

Quaint exterior from Au Caveau’s site.

Address: 15, rue Montpensier 75001
Phone: +33 (0)1 42 60 12 89
Price Range: €€

A bar bar, it’s on the narrow street running alongside Palais Royal. It’s more a martini crowd, with the cocktail lounge, cavernous feel (although there’s new ownership, so perhaps they serve food now). This place would probably be able to give us a section, if arranged beforehand (under the old ownership they did) and is a pleasant setting to continue the night for Hen/Stag parties (or for a tonier finish to the night you can go to the delicious Verjus up the street, for dinner – ressies needed).

Restaurants

Macéo (photos, directions here)

Address: 15, rue des Petits Champs, 75002 Paris, France
Phone: +33 1 42 97 53 85
Price Range: €€€

Macéo is the only restaurant on this list that has truly gastronomic, exceptional food. With a cave (wine cellar) housing 10,000 bottles of wine, ambiance fit for a French king (a stone’s throw from Palais Royal) and service who treats you as such, this is most certainly the place for you if you want to impress a client or for a small 10 to 15-person group. There’s a private room upstairs, which can accommodate small wedding receptions or corporate dinners. The cheapest set menu is 40 euros; it’s one of the few restaurants with food on this haute-cuisine level which can also suit vegetarians (who sometimes go hungry when in France). Dishes such as risotto with morel mushrooms & white asparagus, Breton sardines with clementine compote, or quinoa galette with basil & curry oil stand alongside scrumptious French staples (escargots, magret de canard, etc.). Really worth it – but not for those looking after their wallets. Airbus was happy with their post-hunt dinner here, although there was a fair bit of back and forth as they handled the menu beforehand. A prestigious local Executive MBA program hosted their post-hunt drinks for 75 people.

Bistrot Vivienne

Photo of the bistrot exterior, courtesy of Best Restaurants Paris

Address: 4, rue des Petits-Champs 75001
Phone: +33 (0)1 49 27 00 50
Price Range: €€

For plain old corporate-fancy, or upscale birthday hunt/dinners there’s the upstairs room of Bistrot Vivienne. It’s got good space, and is in a divine setting (it’s within the glorious Galérie Vivienne).
CONS: It’s a bit expensive, I don’t think they’ll accommodate just for drinks and the service needs to get over themselves.
PROS: The setting’s plush and the food’s rich, and the fact that you can have your own space – apart, upstairs – makes it all the more exclusive. Another thing going for it is that you traverse the lovely Palais Royal in order to get to it (as with Macéo and au Caveau Montpensier). We can reference a successful customized 60-year old birthday hunt dinner here, if interested.

Le Fumoir

Comfy bibliothèque interior, from TripAdvisor

Address: 6, rue de l’Amirale de Coligny 75001
Phone: +33 (0)1 42 92 00 24
Price Range: €€

You’ve probably been if you’ve been to Paris. This is your place if you want a “scene” of French Bobos (Bohemian Bourgeois). Wood-lined walls and newspapers on sticks, it has the vibe of a place that “beautiful people” go / a bit pretentious with arrogant waiters. It’s not too pricey (but certainly more than l’Imprimérie or Café Blanc) and is large enough that tables can be ordered to be set together for score tallying for a 15 to 20 person hunt. This restaurant faces the Eastern side of the museum and is a pleasant walk through the Cour de Carrée to get there (5 mins). Pernod Ricard had a fun lunch where we gave them the rundown of the hunt prior to entering together. Le Fumoir is also helpful in holding bags & making airport taxi reservations when need-be.

Café Marly

The café entrance, taken from TripAdvisor.

(Entrance from Passage Richelieu or)
Address: 93, rue de Rivoli 75001
Phone: +33 1 49 26 06 60
Price Range: €€

This restaurant is replete with gilded mouldings, patrimoine mirrors, royally high ceilings and overall Louvre details because it’s in the museum (although the entrance is directly to the public). The service, as with all Costes Brothers restaurants in Paris, are models in tuxedos, often with attitude (there have been articles about how they seat people according to how pretty they are). The food’s fine – nothing haute-cuisine, but not horrible – & the prices of course match the height of the ceilings. All that said, to sit overlooking IM Pei’s pyramid isn’t shabby either! It’s difficult for large groups, because they don’t always suit you to sit together more than 10 people, but we’ve hosted Hen party hunts that have worked out well.

The Percy Jackson series tells the stories of the half-mortal / half-god children (called demigods) of the ancient Greek Mythology. The story follows Percy, son of Poseidon, and his friends at Camp Half Blood, which is the only place where young heroes are really safe from the monsters that constantly hunt them.

Camp Half Blood Logo (from Percy Jackson) – photo via Google Images

As important as Camp Half Blood is, the Parthenon (the 5th Century temple in Athens), is at least ten times more important. The Parthenon is easily the single most important building to the Western Cannon of architecture. It was built as an offering to the goddess Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, and mother to Annabeth Chase of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. On our Fun & Games treasure hunt, we ask you to count how many Chariots are on the Parthenon’s frieze, which runs the length of the British Museum’s most famous treasure. These treasured stones, which the English call the Elgin Marbles’, were stolen from Greece by Lord Elgin in 1805-1807. Elgin’s day job was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (Constantinople, the capital, is the old name for Istanbul), but he was really interested in archaeology.

True to his role as an Imperialist Ambassador, Elgin was also a stone robber; so when he stopped off in Athens he stole the freestanding statues of the Pediment (showing the Gods and Goddesses), the reliefs of the Frieze (mere mortals or humans in a procession giving donation to Athena) and the square reliefs of the Metopes (telling the story of Centaurs fighting Lapiths – more on those Centaurs, half man, half horse, in a moment!).

whats what on the parthenon
Architecture of the Parthenon – Photo via Google Images

Can you think of a building in your home town that is loosely based on the Parthenon, with pediment, frieze and a forest of columns (known as a portico, it protects visitors from the rain)? When you visit the British Museum, whose façade is a copy, you’ll see this.

In the books by Riordan, Annabeth spends a lot of time mastering both flying chariots and chariot races. Much like the charioteers depicted racing in the Olympic games on this ancient temple to Athena, trying to establish athletic superiority and gain honors, Annabeth and her fellow campers raced to determine honors as well. The campers of Camp Half Blood however, compete for positions far much more coveted than Gold, Silver and Bronze, they compete for the best chore slots in the camp.

Parthenon Chariot Races
Chariot on the Parthenon Frieze – Photo via Google Images

In The Sea of Monsters, Percy and Annabeth compete together against the other cabins, alternating between who was the driver and who fended off the magical attacks of the other campers as they raced. Chiron, the camp leader (and a centaur) had previously banned chariot races because they were so dangerous, but with his absence in this book, they were re-instated. They might not have had magic in the chariot races in Ancient Greece, but chariots were decked out with all sorts of weapons used to secure victory. Look closely and you might even find some!

centaur battle
Parthenon Metope of a Lapith killing a Centaur – Photo Credit Daisy de Plume

When you look at the metopes you’ll notice that they tell the story of some rowdy centaurs (most likely the Party Ponies) crashing a Lapith wedding. The Centaurs planned on stealing Lapith wives (they failed, the Lapiths won!).

If you’ve read Percy Jackson you’ll know that Chiron doesn’t act like a Party Pony any more, but back in his youth he certainly did. Who knows, Chiron could very well be one of the centaurs (half man, half horse) that are forever immortalized on the Parthenon!

Any comments, or queries about the Elgin Marbles? Just post below!

As for reading this blog post, you’ll be well rewarded with having learned the answers to some potential bonus questions – such as how many chariots are on the frieze (we count 8), what parts of architecture the Pediment, Frieze and Metope are as well as thinking about just HOW you can get your team to pose as one of the fighting centaur and lapiths… not so hard if you’re willing to sell your price, except your THATMuse challenge is to do so without heads, true to these Parthenon metopes!

MEETING POINT

The entrance to the British Museum.

Your first task will be to find our meeting point on Great Russell Street, just outside the BM’s main gate. If facing the museum your greeter, will be just to the left of the entrance (photo above), across the road from a Starbucks, near a red London phone booth (photo below) with a signature white canvas THATMuse tote. Together you’ll navigate security & coat checks before a brief history of the museum & we set you up on your treasure hunt within the museum’s famous Great Court!


Your THATMuse Mission

Photo your team in front of as many pieces of THATBrit Treasures as possible within the given amount of time (90 mins to 2 hrs) With each photo you’ll earn 20 game points (about 500 game points), however, with careful reading you could pick more than 1000 bonus THATMuse points & Letter Scramble spelling out your prize treasure with THATMuse Letters embedded in the text! We’ve intentionally provided more treasure text & fun than you could read about within the given time in the hope that you’ll want to return or extend your visit (& to ensure strategy!)


TOOLS

Please be sure to have freshly-charged batteries in your phone or camera, as it’s a photo-based game!

RULES

(in addition to photographing your team in front of as many pieces of treasure as possible)

  1. Teams must stay together at all times, must not run, jump or shout
  2. No external help… If seen speaking to a tourist-in-the-know or BM staff you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise, no googling the Mesopotamians, no GPS-ing where the Greeks are, or anything other than your hunt & map… No phoning your Egyptologist Aunt for help, either!
  3. Please be sure you have one (1) Master Copy with all the answers and only use one (1) camera/phone (to facilitate score tallying). In respect to Museum policy please mute your phones & no flash photography
  4. Must meet back at starting point (X on your map) at the precise time agreed. Each minute late merits 5 negative points, per minute (!!) There are sometimes strategical reasons to be late, but attention (!!): if you’re more than 10 mins late you’re ousted!

For small doses of Museum/Art Trivia, tune in (share or contribute your own!) to our daily Twitter (@THAT_Muse_) page for #THATMuseFacts! Or just #THATMuse for your hunting snaps!

MEETING POINT

Your first task will be to find our meeting point within the British Museum’s Great Court lobby. If entering the museum from the main entrance on Great Russell St, the circular Information Desk is to the right (within the Great Court); we’ll meet behind the Info Desk, at the Roman equestrian prince statue (photo herewith). Your THATBrit Rep will have a white canvas THATMuse tote.

TOOLS

Please be sure to have freshly charged batteries in your phone or camera. Please visit the cloak room &/or toilet before our meeting time.

ROLES

  1. Navigator (good with a map)
  2. Scribe (who’s got the best penmanship?)
  3. Reader (the lawyerly type who’ll catch bonus questions embedded in the treasure text)
  4. Organiser (who’ll keep an eye on the clock and make sure you’re in order) and of course the photographer. Some of these roles can overlap, of course.

Your THATMuse Mission

Photo your team in front of as many pieces of THATBrit Treasures as possible within the given amount of time (90 mins to 2 hrs.)
With each treasure photo you’ll earn 20 game points (about 500 game points), however, with careful reading you could pick more than 1000 bonus THATMuse points. There are several ways to do this. Our bonus questions fall into three key categories:

– Scrutiny (looking more carefully at the piece or surrounding rooms)
– Silliness (willing to trot like a Tang horse for bonus points?)  
– Knowledge (All of these questions can be answered within another piece of treasure text, within the hunt) 

There is also an artistic challenge & Letter Scramble spelling out your prize treasure with THATMuse Letters embedded in the text, both worth 100 bonus THATMuse points! We’ve intentionally provided more treasure text & fun than you could read about within the given time in the hope that you’ll want to return or extend your visit (& to ensure strategy!)

THATMuse is entirely independent of the British Museum as such, we unfortunately have no control of rooms they close off (which changes within the day)


RULES

(in addition to photographing your team in front of as many pieces of treasure as possible)

  1. Teams must stay together at all times, must not run, jump or shout
  2. No external help… If seen speaking to a tourist-in-the-know or BM staff you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise, no googling the Mesopotamians, no GPS-ing where the Greeks are, or anything other than your hunt & map… No phoning your Egyptologist Aunt for help, either!
  3. Please be sure you have one (1) Master Copy with all the answers and only use one (1) camera/phone (to facilitate score tallying). In respect to Museum policy please mute your phones & no flash photography
  4. Must meet back at starting point (X on your map) at the precise time agreed. Each minute late merits 5 negative points, per minute (!!) There are sometimes strategical reasons to be late, but attention (!!): if you’re more than 10 mins late you’re ousted!

For small doses of Museum/Art Trivia, tune in (share or contribute your own!) to Twitter (@THAT_Muse_) and FB page for daily posted #THATMuseFacts! Or just follow us to see fun #THATMuse hunting snaps!

Please use the Search box to your right, alongside the Categories Box, to find what you’re looking for. Though we do have a few categories 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 museum you’re going to and then, as a subcategory, the theme you’ve chosen. For example:

Louvre – 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!