The first time I went to Paris, I was 17 years old. With almost four years of French under my belt, I traveled with seven other classmates and our French teacher, Monsieur Licata. Okay, so he was a Bronx-born Italian, but his love of the French language and culture made you forget that when he was not speaking French, he was a “deeze, dem and doze” kind of guy. Prior to our trip, our beloved teacher tried to prepare us for the many important sites and historic places that we would be visiting on our upcoming journey, including The Louvre, for which he had a special affinity. He did his utmost to impress upon us the sheer size and depth of this monstrous museum and the wondrous wealth of artistic treasures held within it. But, upon visiting The Louvre in person, (and wearing a tacky beret, mind you) I was awe-struck and completely overwhelmed. So much so, that I had a hard time absorbing much.
Fast forward to last year, (2013), a tad older than 17, and a second trip to Paris under my belt; I decided to plan yet another trip to Paris with my two youngest daughters, (ages 6 and 8 at the time). I fantasized about how much they were going to love this trip! I heard Edith Piaf’s La Vie En Rose playing in my head – my girls were going to LOVE the desserts, the crepes filled with ice cream and nutella! The delicious breads, the Eiffel Tower and, of course, The Louvre. Wait – – did I just say that a 6 and 8 year old were going to enjoy a gi-normous museum?? Well, unlike my first experience with this amazing treasure trove, I was determined to have my kids have the time of their lives at the greatest art museum in the world! But how? Well, with the help of my ever-amazing travel agent, Stephen, we figured out just how this feat was going to be accomplished!!
We discovered an amazing find for kids (and their parents!) to insure that a trip to The Louvre would be one of the funnest and memorable experiences of their Paris visit. With a little bit of creative investigation, we found a wonderful private tour called “Treasure Hunt at the Louvre Museum.” Created and guided by Paris Upperside, which specializes in private, customized visits and innovative private tours, this unique hunters insurance experience was one of the most delightfully and enjoyably designed introductory tours of a museum of this magnitude, I have yet to experience. What’s more, my girls thoroughly enjoyed the “treasure hunt” so much that when asked, visiting the Louvre was one of their favorite activities on this trip! Mission Accomplished!!
Our tour was confirmed for 8:45 on a Thursday morning. Our exceptional tour guide, Luz met us at our hotel with a warm smile and a special gift for each of my daughters – an adorable cross-over purse with a Paris design. After our friendly introductions, and the kids sporting their new stylish bags, Luz explained that we were going to spend two fun-filled hours walking through specific exhibits at the Louvre, all the while “searching” for various clues, symbols and items as she told us stories. Can you imagine a more sneaky and brilliant way to teach kids historic information about art then weaving it into a story and topping it off with a fun activity like a treasure hunt!! Well, I must say, it worked just as well for us adults. It was my husband Tedd and my mom, Camille’s first visit to Paris, and a private tour, presented in bite-site pieces left them awe-struck.
Now, one of the reasons my girls were given their little bags was because with each “find” on the treasure hunt, they received a little “prize.” And each prize harkened back to the question or “find” at hand, tying the whole story up with real show and tell. They were also given a pencil and booklet in which to write their “answers” to the various questions posed at each exhibit or work of art.
We walked over to the Louvre which was only a short distance from The Hotel Regina, where were staying and Luz had tickets already so there was no waiting in line. That was another added benefit to this tour – the tickets were purchased in advance. The tidbits of information starting flowing right away as we walked toward the entrance with the history of the Louvre Palace, which was built originally as a fortress in the late 12th Century and was the Royal Residence until Louie XIV moved to Versailles. My kids actually remembered this fact! They loved the Louvre Pyramid or Pyramide du Louvre, the large metal and glass pyramid in the main courtyard of the Palace, which since it’s completion in 1989, has become a landmark of Paris.