When Daisy de Plume, the innovative force behind THATLou (Treasure Hunt At The Louvre), created her popular scavenger hunt in 2012, she didn't expect it to extend beyond the world's most famous museum. But now, as THATLou celebrates its second birthday, de Plume is celebrating an organization that has stretched into THATd'Or (hunting down works of brilliance at the Musée d'Orsay) and recently, THATRue, which gives completely new meaning to the idea of a "Paris tour."
Inspired to create a scavenger hunt of the City of Light by a commission for a group of visiting high school musicians from Aurora, Illinois, de Plume spent two months investigating the most interesting nooks of the Latin Quarter with her husband. Together they sought out locales that go beyond art to make the many stories of the city's rich history come alive, from the palace of feisty queen Marie de Medici to where Serge Gainsbourg first kissed Jane Birkin. Teams must scour the charming blocks between Jardin du Luxembourg and Fontaine St. Michel to photograph themselves in front of, say, the building where Ernest Hemingway lived. "Part of why I love Paris so much is for the stories we walk past each day, the layers of history that provides the deserved -- and exhausting -- smugness of the French," says de Plume.
Indeed, like the Louvre itself, Paris is so packed full of cultural history that it can be easy to be overwhelmed. But the THATLou franchise seeks to eradicate that sense of intimidation and instead engage players' curiosity, whether by making them run down Boulevard Saint-Michel in search of a Wallace fountain or, in the Louvre, track down a pair of great stone Lamassus (de Plume's favorite pieces in the museum, by the way). After all, the Louvre is so much more than just the Mona Lisa. "If THATLou works, people will finish their hunts hungry to see more of the Louvre," de Plume says. "A bit of friction and competition seems to pump the adrenaline of kids and adults alike. They'll have a sense of ownership over these great halls, and not leave wilted or relieved to be leaving, as I've often heard people moan when leaving after a normal visit."
Likewise with THATRue, de Plume says, she hopes people will get a juicier sense of Paris history and French culture, one that digs deeper than the much-photographed landmark of the Eiffel Tower or cafés lining the Champs-Élysées. At the same time, the fun and fascinating tour of the Latin Quarter offers players of all sorts -- from families with young children or sullen teenagers to honeymooning couples to corporate groups -- the chance to strengthen the bonds of friendship and teamwork, and truly work together. For de Plume, who grew up an only child in New York, the irony of having created a company that relies on team building and collaboration is not lost. Neither is the fact that the construction of the latest group of hunts was, itself, a team effort. "The creation of THATRue was an entirely collaborative effort between my husband and me," she says. "Personally, the achievement of having built these three distinct Latin Quarter hunts together makes THATRue shine above all the other hunts... I can be a team player, too!" The result of their creative partnership is one of the most remarkably unique ways to experience Paris.