Up Next? THATLou Website!

C - 1' pyramid from above

So it’s sort of wild that THATLou is fairly close to its first year anniversary  (23 March was our first Angels + Wings Treasure Hunt at the Louvre, as was reviewed in Out and About in Paris among a host of other generous blogs). What’s most wild about this landmark may be something pretty basic:  we don’t yet have a website. It’s the first tool that most small business owners attack, that and business cards.

But it’s been a much busier year than I expected, and all good things come in time, right? So it is with great pomp and fanfare that this blog post should alight to your in-boxes to announce: This past week web-design-extraordinaire Jenny Beaumont and I have been on full-on all’attaque mode to produce THAT website! Jenny, an American based in the rolling hills of Normandie, is a bastion of patience and practicality as well as being a genius designer and crafty UN diplomat/devil’s advocate.  And I am blessed to have her guidance, as well as the wise counsel of Allison Blumenthal to subtle-ly stomp my sometimes feral enthusiasm.

C - 4 Spiral staircase, pyramid not evident

On the first-things-first basis we’ve been distilling all the necessities that are admittedly tricky to find on this blog.  The themes will be explained, the schedule and booking will be made easier, the generous press will be integrated along with corporate quotes, happy tourist reviews on Trip Advisor and testimonials of destination weddings and school groups visiting Paris.  And in a depth of field that I just can’t fathom (I tend to read the paper in hand, and write letters with a pen) I am getting a glimpse of just how abstract and brilliant Ms. Beaumont is.

C - 3 spiral stairs, pyramid above

The new www.THATLou.com website will be launched toward the end of Feb / beginning of March. Until then I shall post sporadic photos that both El Argentino (my husband) and I have had a ball taking for it. Of course most of the snaps posted here won’t be included in the final site (there are hundreds!), but if you happen to see any that you recommend certainly feel free to drop a line either below or via email.

Needless to say, I still need to take a dip south of the Seine to photograph for THATd’Or (Treasure Hunt at the Musée d’Orsay), as there will be a little sister site www.thatdor.com which will be launched simultaneously.

C - 2 ' triangular fountain from above


THATd’Or Round-up

Alexandre Falguière's Winner of a Cockfight (1870)

Alexandre Falguière’s Winner of a Cockfight (1870)

J’Adore THATd’Or. I do, j’Adore it to bits. Co-host Kristina Tencic, of the AFMO’s Avant Garde, and I thought it went off rather well, based exclusively on the bubbly attitude everyone had when we regrouped at Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty.

As you’ll see from the silly photos below some of the bonus questions requested our fine hunters to pose as various Edgar Degas dancers (awkward as they stretch), as well as the Falguière Winner of the Cockfight, with one leg raised, one arm in the air, victorious! But they had to ask someone else to take their picture, and some of the photos were even taken with the whole of the Musee d’Orsay Cafe Campana watching them balance.

Degas Ballerinas

Edgar Degas Ballerinas

The winners of the game, Team Orsay, got a whopping 1600 points (out of 2000), which perhaps reflects that all three of these Sexy Young Things were AFMO members. Pays to join, doesn’t it?

THATd'Or Prize went to Team Orsay!

THATd’Or Prize went to Team Orsay!

Rather ridiculously, I don’t have a photo of the winning Team Orsay (which stands for Obviously Really Sexy And Young). That said, I look forward to seeing Team Orsay, consisting of Elizabeth Kozina, Melissa Heyhoe and Lauren Hasty, for the Easter Hunt, as this prize above (made in part with the help of Allison Blumenthal) was granted to each of them.

Additionally, our THATd’Orers (doesn’t really work so well as a name), were called on to think of a team name for themselves, which we then voted for when we got to Le Petit Jacob. I suspect most people wanted to vote for the THATd’Or Treasure Whores, (because who can top such a great name?), but an inherent desire to win this second prize (a wood train, as per the hunt’s theme, Motion and Movement) kept people to voting for themselves.

THATd'Or Treasure Whores

THATd’Or Treasure Whores Won the Team Name Contest

Here we have the THATd’Or Treasure Whores posing as the Cockfight Winner. Can you tell they are facing the entire Cafe Campana as they pose? From left to right, Kasia Dietz (of Kasia Dietz handmade bags), Suzanne Flenard (of Square Modern, Mid-Century designer cushions) and Anne Mullier (of Ritournelle Blog).

Allison Blumenthal + Jennifer  team

Allison Blumenthal + Jennifer team

Team Franglais d’Orsay were particularly graceful (and unabashed) in their Degas ballet poses Allison Blumenthal (whose photography and artwork you can see here) and Jennifer Lejeune were joined by Jennifer’s friend from Brazil (whose name I sadly didn’t catch).

2 Men + MereganTeam 2 Men + a MeRegan did not win the name prize, but they did come in 2nd to the actual game prize. Their team name needs a bit of explaining, “2 Men” were the only male hunters, so their gender needed highlighting. Moreover the coincidence of having two ladies named Megan (Megan McGuire) and Regan (Regan Lynn), both of which are spelled this way, explains their name (which won out over 8 Thumbs, which I’m rather partial to, too).

Team Swingers as Degas

Team Swingers as Degas Dancers

Team Swingers are seen here posing as Degas dancers.  Camilla Kleniewski (of Milski Art Bags), Nathalie R., Stephanie B (who’s half of La Mom) and Anka Sima came in just 25 points below the second team at an impressive 1450.

Nicky, Grace and Lilian

Nicky, Grace and Lilian

Team La Chasse d’Or had an elegant name (but sadly sex sells) and consisted of Nicky Berry (Growing Berries), Grace Alyssa (Will She Love Paris) and Lilian Lau (Lil + Destinations). I thank all three of them for their generous reviews of THATLou and THATd’Or, respectively. All three are linked in parenthetically here.

Dali Llamas

Team Dali Lama: Katie Knowles, Liz Mockapetris and Ahnnie (apologies for my spelling) were surreally peaceful as they trekked for their treasure.

AFMO's Kristina Tencic and THAT Daisy de Plume

AFMO’s Kristina Tencic and THAT’s Daisy de Plume

And then a quick snap of Team AFMO THATd’Or, which a wandering tourist took of us as we patrolled the gorgeous halls of the Musée d’Orsay (prowling for cheaters), and having fun chatting. It was an all-round great evening, hopefully to be repeated!

In the coming days more photos of the night’s event will be uploaded on the AFMO website as well as on our respective AFMO and THATLou Facebook pages.

Tonight? THATd’Or

Musee d'Orsay at night, taken from www.freemages.co.uk

Musee d’Orsay at night, taken from http://www.freemages.co.uk

Dear Night Hunters!

Kristina Tencic, of the AFMO’s AVANT Garde, and I are pleased as punch that tonight’s THATd’Or is finally here. Time will be tight tomorrow (the sound track of Mission Impossible may be beating to your movements for the night), so I’m posting a quick run down of the evening:

  • We’ll meet promptly at 7.45 pm. Once everyone’s gathered we’ll use the museum’s private entrance (The AFMO’s special entrance… Become a member and you’ll become familiar with it!)
  • After everyone’s inside we’ll check our coats (please remember to wear comfortable shoes)
  • As soon as you’ve checked your coats we’ll reconvene here, in front of the Statue of Liberty* where we’ll be welcomed and I’ll hand out the hunts and review the rules one more time.
The AFMO-cleaned Statue of Liberty prototype, by Auguste Bartholdi

The AFMO-cleaned Statue of Liberty prototype, by Auguste Bartholdi

  • We’ll need to synchonise our clocks and agree to the finishing point and time (probably 9.30 pm back at the coat check – so take mental note of where this is!)
  • Then divided up in our teams you’ll have 10 or 15 minutes to strategise as a team and then at the appointed time off you’ll set (ideally by 8.10 pm)
  • Kristina and I will be wandering about, drinking up the lovely treasure as well as keeping an eye open for any possible cheaters (so beware! No running, no separating, no external help (iPhones, guards, tourists-in-the-know)…
rue Verneuil, Gainsbourg's house, taken from Wikipedia

rue Verneuil, Gainsbourg’s house, taken from Wikipedia

– Once we’ve regrouped we’ll have a bit of fresh air, en route to Le Petit Jacob (passing Serge Gainsbourg’s house on rue Verneuil, along the way).

Le Petit Jacob, 40 rue Jacob, the back's reserved for our prize-giving ceremony!

Le Petit Jacob, the back’s reserved for our prize-giving ceremony

– Madame Claude Million will welcome us to her Le Petit Jacob where we’ll have a glass of Bio wine while we meet the competition, tally our scores and have the prize-giving ceremony! For those of you who need to make plans after the night’s event, Le Petit Jacob is at 40 rue Jacob, facing rue Benoit. Closest metros are St Germain des Prés (line 4) or Mabillon (line 10).

Le Petit Jacob, 40 rue Jacob 75006 Paris

Le Petit Jacob, 40 rue Jacob 75006 Paris

And of course, to get to the Musée d’Orsay take line 12 to Soférino. Apart from being south of the Seine and in an entirely different space, this hunt is obviously different from any THATLous on a basic level (for instance it’s not photo-based, and of course – since it’s the first time at the  this blog doesn’t have any articles answering bonus questions). That said, the answer to all the knowledge-based bonus questions can be found within the hunt – it’s just a matter of your team playing to its strengths (who’s good at navigating maps, who’s good at reading fine print, who’s visually-oriented to scan a room for your delicious treasure?).

Alrighty then, Happy Hunting!

* Interested in how Bartholdi’s prototype of Liberty Enlightening the World was cleaned, and her movements around France prior to landing in at the Musée d’Orsay (from the Luxembourg Gardens to Tours, then north of Paris)? See what the AFMO did here.

J’Adore THATd’Or Theme

It’s the final countdown to the AFMO’s AVANT Garde J’Adore THATd’Or … which means it’s time to unveil tomorrow night’s theme! You may have already guessed this mystery theme from the serene Mondrian painting on the invitation? My original goal had been to make the hunt exclusively about trains + motion. What could be more suitable than to tip one’s treasure-hunt hat to the history of this gorgeous building? As I’m sure you all know, the Musée d’Orsay was originally a train station, built in only 2 years and unveiled on 14 July 1900 for the Exposition Universelle. Until 1939 the Gare d’Orsay covered the southwestern French lines (thereafter it served the suburbs as the length of the building (138 meters) was too short for the longer trains which appeared during the electrification of trains). During the war it was where prisoners’ mail was dispatched. And before Mitterand unveiled it as a museum in 1986, it was the temporary home to auctioneers (while Druout was being built) as well as being the set for Kafka’s The Trial, by Orson Welles (1962). It’s clearly had several lives, but the Musée d’Orsay celebrates its train station roots beautifully and seemlessly.

Gare d'Orsay, © Musée d'Orsay

Gare d’Orsay, photo taken from © Musée d’Orsay

But alas, I wasn’t able to focus exclusively on Trains in art, as the museum keeps things fresh and rotates their collections every two weeks. This is a joy and gift to its visitors (to make sure their collection in storage doesn’t gather dust), but it also keeps treasure hunt makers on their toes!  So tomorrow night’s theme will be Motion + Movement. What subjects might this touch on? Well, a lot: wild waters, divine dancers, prancing putti and of course any locomotive you can think of.  As the museum’s collections pertain to art from 1848 – 1914 there is certainly a fascination with trains, yes, but also an appreciation for industry and workers, think of Zola’s human machine or mechanical man, say. And of course the twists and turns of agonizing lovers is never old when it comes to art, be it songs, poems or bronze reliefs by Rodin (oops, did that slip out?).

So before giving up too much of the hunt, I’ll leave you with just one more thought:

Musée d'Orsay rules: No photos, no phones, no touching, THATd'Or rules: No running, no separating, no external help

Musée d’Orsay rules: No photos, no phones, no touching, THATd’Or rules: No running, no separating, no external help, be on time or lose points

Why is this photo of Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty just so wrong?

Because it’s a photo of a sign saying NO photography! There are a handful of “No”s that are included in tomorrow night’s event – all of which are listed in the photo caption. Photography’s permitted in designated areas, and there is a chance that one or two bonus questions will request fun photos of your team in those areas – but to be completely clear, any of your photos must have the below clock in the background (which is where the museum’s appointed photo-area is, with a view of one of the Gare d’Orsay’s clocks). Coincidentally, the below is this blog’s banner photo — what’s more germane to THAT than time distorted and looming over a museum?

Musée d'Orsay Clock , Top level facing the Seine

Musée d’Orsay Clock

Ok, enough out of me. Tomorrow I’ll post a brief outline of the night’s events. In the meantime, have fun and look forward to our Night Hunt!

And as I’ll hopefully remember to mention after the hunt, if you have fun I beseech you to leave a quick “had fun” review on Trip Advisor. For a budget-less new business (I started last spring) these reviews have been invaluable.

* Last PS/ If you’d like to read more about how the American Friends of the Musee d’Orsay (AFMO, the hosts of tomorrow night’s event) moved Bartholdi(1834-1904)’s Liberty Enlightening the World from the Luxembourg Gardens for a cleaning and indoors to welcome guests to the Musée d’Orsay, see their site here.

J’Adore THATd’Or

J'Adore THATd'Or !!

I hope they sing J’Adore THATd’Or !!

You can’t really tell, but the photo in this RIP-ROARINGLY EXCITING INVITATION is of a gorgeous Piet Mondrian landscape (credited below) that has a white plume of steam (train) defining the horizon. It’s much better in person, so I guess you’re just going to have to sign up for the very first THATd’Or… Dope! was that a hint that it just might be included?

Good news for non-AFMO AVANT Garde members – you get free entry to the Musee d’Orsay if you RSVP prior to Wednesday 23 January:

Please click here to RSVP to the real invitation…

And apologies for all of the bold, caps and itals, but I’m clearly over the moon that the American Friends of the Musee d’Orsay (AFMO)’s AVANT Garde Young Patrons have invited me to cross the Seine. A very special thanks to Sarah Miller Benichou, Kristina Tencic and Mary Kay, of Out and About in Paris (who’s very suggestion it was to contact Sarah!).

More to come on this front, in the fortnight leading up to the Thursday 31 January THATd’Or!!

Photo credit: Piet Mondrian, Polder landscape with a train and a small windmill on the horizon, 1907 © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski, 2013 American Friends Musee d’Orsay, All rights reserved.