Tackling one of the world’s largest museums with kids in tow is now easier thanks to THATLou. Their Louvre Museum treasure hunts remove the stress of navigating the 40 acres and 70,000 works of art in a way that is interesting to kids. Not only that, but my 8-year-old daughter was fully-engaged in the museum — a must-visit when in Paris with kids (or without) — for over two hours, which is something we never would have been able to achieve on our own.
But you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy these hunts as they are interesting and challenging enough for all ages. Corporations use Louvre treasure hunts for team building and adults often play against each other.
Treasure Hunting with THATLou
I had heard of treasure hunts in the Louvre a while back but I wasn’t sure who to turn to for details. Via a Google search, I found THATLou (which stands for Treasure Hunt at the Louvre). I definitely landed in the right spot. Owner Daisy de Plume is an American expat in Paris with a goal to make sure that people see more in the Louvre Museum than the Mona Lisa — which is what 80% of visitors do.
The crowds near the Mona Lisa were so out of proportion from the rest of the museum that I would say this statistic is right on the money. We used to visit Paris frequently on weekend breaks when we lived in London and this has more or less always been the case, in my experience.
Choose a Theme
I let my daughter pick the treasure hunt theme and was not surprised she chose Skull Scouting, given her love of Monster High dolls. Daisy advised that this theme covers all wings of the Louvre which translates into a lot of walking. The museum is more or less in a long u-shape so you can’t cut across to see a gallery on the other side you may have missed. But, we decided to tackle it anyway. Other themes includes Angels + Wings, All Things Gaul, Animals in Richelieu and more.
It was a lot of walking but she didn’t complain once.
Plot a Strategy
We opted for a private hunt so at a prearranged time, we met Daisy’s assistant Paolo at Bernini’s equestrian statue of Louis XIV in front of IM Pei’s glass pyramid (did you know that I.M. Pei also helped design spaces in Four Seasons Hotel New York and used some of the same limestone that is inside the Louvre?). THATLou can include skip-the-line Louvre tickets, but our Hotel Regina package included them so we were good to go.
Let me tell you how nice it is to walk right in. Skip-the-line tickets are a must because the lines are very long otherwise. Paolo guided us straight through security and to a quiet spot to learn the rules of the hunt. Now, these are emailed to you in advance but in the flurry of getting ready for our trip, I forgot to read them.
Participants are given a packet that outlines each “treasure” (work of art) to find that includes a photo of what each treasure looks like, the name of the gallery it is in and a description of what it is. A highlighted Louvre map that shows where items in the packet are located, but not which items are located where. While this seems like it might be dropping too many hints, trust me, it’s not.
Though there is no pressure or reporting necessary on a private hunt like ours, we were challenged by Paolo to find everything within 90 minutes. And, we had to take photos of each piece as proof.
Our family strategy on hindsight wasn’t the most efficient but it worked for us. We picked a wing and decided to try to find everything we could in each of the wing’s highlighted galleries. It did involve some backtracking and occasionally getting lost (I’ve never been to the Louvre and not gotten lost) but my daughter didn’t care because she was on a mission.
In the end, we found almost all of the treasures. The answers are provided in a sealed envelope which is good because a few were challenging to find (that is the point). And, we managed to pass by almost every other piece of art that we wanted to see.
Tips for a Successful Treasure Hunt with Kids
If my daughter knew there was something to find in a particular gallery, she would look at virtually every piece in it… sometimes twice. While we would consider this a total victory, it does require a bit of extra time and patience for those who like to zip in and out of spaces.
Manage the kids’ expectations in advance by mentioning that it’s totally O.K. if they can’t find every single treasure within the allotted time. This is quite normal.
I would familiarize yourself with the Louvre Museum map in advance, especially if there are pieces that you know you want to see. This way, if you happen to be in the area during your hunt, you can take a quick detour or this might determine how you strategize your hunt.
Kids of any age can play, but if they’re quite young you’ll need to provide a lot of assistance. It is recommended that you check strollers because the Louvre Museum is quite crowded and there are unavoidable stairs.
We paid 75€ for our private hunt exclusive of Louvre Museum tickets and it was well worth it. My husband, the walking encyclopedia, also noticed that her level of interest in the art both in the hunt and outside of it was much greater, likely because she had an invested interest in being there. Skull Scouting is one my daughter’s favorite memories from our trip.
Visiting Paris with kids (or without)? Book your hunt with THATLou.