La Chasse aux Tresors (2013 Paris Treasure Hunt)

Saturday was the 2013 La Chasse aux Tresors de Paris (Paris Treasure Hunt). In it’s seventh year, it is jointly organised by the Mairies (City Halls) of the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th districts of Paris and of Saint-Ouen and has about 25,000 participants.

My ‘home’ arrondissement of the 2nd isn’t participating for some reason, so I enrol in the 3rd’s program. The 3rd arrondissement covers the northern, historic part of the Marais, which isn’t an area of Paris I know well, so it will be adventure.

When I arrive at the Mairie of the 3rd, the line to collect the ‘treasure map’ stretches down the street and round the corner. It moves quickly, and I wimp out and ask for the map directions to be in English. The treasure hunt is well organised, and caters for visitors who are not fluent in French. Which proves to be a good move as the directions run to a couple of pages and some of the subtleties are lost in translation unless I really concentrate.


The Mairie have a designated English speaker who goes out of her way to emphasise that there is a lot of ‘looking up’ at buildings to be done, which proves to be good advice. The treasure hunt is well designed and allows you to go off on the wrong track if you don’t pick up the right signals that you’re heading in the right direction, and there are multiple versions of the map so that the participants are dispersed pretty quickly from the first clue.

I manage to go off track pretty early on missing a key word and making a wrong turn. Never mind, it was an interesting walk along the street near Republique J. I back track to where I’m certain I had the right position on the map, and realise that had I followed the instructions, I should have turned left to walk behind the church, not right. From that point it is easy to find the markers along the way.


The first place to collect a clue is a small shop in Chinatown, which sells Venetian masks and collectibles. I make my first apology (amongst many for the day) for not speaking French and the charming man running the shop tells me it’s not my fault (well it is, but thanks for being so generous!) and hands me my first clue, which reads “This memory contains no aiM”. Right. On to the next part.

I manage to find the next clue collection point without getting lost. It turns out to be a local restaurant. Apologise for not being fluent in French again. This time the restaurant owner has questions to ask, correct answers are needed to collect the next clue. “Do you know what part of the word you’re in?”. Ummm, the 3rd arrondissement? It turns out he is asking what the cuisine of his restaurant is. The menu is meant to provide a clue – it has strudel listed, so my guess is Austria? Close, but not correct. Fortunately he has to serve a paying customer, which gives me time to get out some of the bottles of wine on the shelf. “Product of Hungary”!  Correct. “What is the national dish of Hungary?” Goulash! Correct! Here’s your clue. Merci Beacoup! Clue number 2 is “Remembering kept you busy as a Bee”. Okay.

On to clue number 3. Okay, so I miss a key turning point and continue straight ahead instead of turning left. When it becomes clear I’ve gone too far, it’s time to back track again. This time the collection point of the next clue is clear. This time it’s a taste test in a local provider. The taste test is of a biscuit. Okay, what’s in the biscuit? Okay, tastes like shortbread, so flour, sugar. No, what is the type of nut in the biscuit? It has nuts in it? All I can taste is sugar. Hmmm….almond? No. Macadamia? No. Peanuts? Cashews? No. No. Here, try another piece. Hmmm…maybe walnut or hazelnut. Walnut? Yes! Final clue handed over.  “The souvenir wasn’t a living heLL.”  Hmmm.

So, three clues collected, and the next part is to find the house of the father of Cubism. The easiest part – that would be the Picasso museum (currently undergoing renovation). According to the instructions, remembering Picasso is important.

The final challenge is to find the ‘finish line’, using the clues collected. Only one of the clues is relevant. The map has a number of locations where Erasmus and his (missing) memories were made. The first place I try is where Erasmus first saw his missing love – the Musee Carnavalet. Not there. Next choice is the place of their first kiss.

This was in the Jardin Saint-Gilles Grand Veneur, a semi private garden that you’d never find unless you were on a mad Gallic orienteering exercise.


You know the staff of the Mairie never expected the Australian to finish when they cheer your arrival! Picasso turns out to be important as the final question is ‘what is the name of the museum’? That gets me two entries into the prize draw.

By now it’s been nearly three hours on the treasure hunt, and the prize giving session at Place des Vosges isn’t until 4pm, so time to go back to the apartment for lunch.

Place des Vosges is busy, with participants from the 3rd and 4th arrondissements gathered. The ceremony is running late, so time for a couple of photos – chess game and the local medieval jousting crew




Of course I don’t win a prize, but what an enormous amount of fun on another spectacular day in Paris – 27 degrees, nearly 17 kms walked and sunburnt feet!

This entry was posted in Arctic 2013, Europe, France, Paris and tagged , , , .