The "Highlights" of Paris: A Punny Treasure Hunt
Updated: Aug 4
This is the third Queer Martha treasure hunt that takes you to some of the hidden gems of Paris. Check out the Romantic Treasure Hunt here and the Trip Through Time Hunt here. The hunts take about 4 hours each, though you are encouraged to stop to eat and drink throughout the trip. The treasure hunts don't actually lead you to a final pile of booty - the treasure is getting through the course and living to tell the tale.
I read this beautiful essay by poet Henri Cole the other day, and it inspired me to put up another Parisian Treasure Hunt. I found Henri's piece to be immensely moving, especially since today is the one-year anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. As Henri's mother says, let us all remember to put more commas and semi-colons in our lives and remember to reveal the soul’s capacity for compassion, sacrifice, and endurance.
This treasure hunt starts in the Luxembourg Gardens. You will need a metro card. DO NOT do this hunt on a Sunday.
This hunt is for the adventurer who has no time for messing around with mediocre sites. You are about to embark on a trip that will take you to the highlights of Paris. “Highlights” may actually be a pun in many cases. Just warning you.
1.) Leave the Luxembourg Gardens through the eastern gate. Head to the Pantheon. Find the statue of P. Corneille outside the building. Continue straight to the road named after the first king of the Franks. When it dead ends, head uphill. When you see a street made of cobblestone where James Joyce did not live, take it. At the end, descend the steps and continue straight. Follow the road to the right past the jazz corner. When it dead ends, turn left. Continue until you see the wall of the park. Enter the park. Walk to the other end of the park and exit. Turn right and walk along the banks of the river. Eventually, you will see a building hanging over the river with a bright green façade and bright green signage. This is the Paris fashion and design school – where the new generation of designers are making the haute couture of Paris. Enter this temple of high fashion (I warned you about the puns…).
To prove you were here, find the photo booth hidden somewhere within. You may need some wanderlust to find it. Take time to explore the building if you wish. It is a “place to be” for Parisian hipsters.
2.) Head toward the bridge with two sets of arches, large on the bottom and small on the top. When you reach the bridge, take the stairs back to street-level and cross the river. Continue straight until the road dead-ends, then bear right. Here there are two roads with nearly the same name. You should be on the “Boulevard”. If you are on the “rue,” take the next left up to the “Boulevard.” After the train tracks pass you overhead, you will see a small park. Continue with the park on your right. When the park ends, turn left. You will know you are on the right street if you pass a small “ruelle” on your left. Continue until the road bends around the point of a triangle. On the other side of the triangle is the gate to a park. Enter the park (Feel free to stop and get some sparkling water from the kiosk to the right). Ascend the steps. At the top of the steps you will see a bridge crossing over the grassy area below. Turn right to find the entrance to the bridge. Cross over the grassy area on the bridge and continue straight through the buildings. Welcome to the Promenade Plantée/Coulée Verte – the original High Line. This was once an elevated train line. Paris made it into a park in 1993. You can take this high line for several miles.
3.) Continue straight on the Coulée Verte. Descend the steps when you see the sign that says Bastille is 950 meters away. At the base of the steps, turn right and continue. When the viaduct changes from brick to metal, turn right. Continue until you see the metro. Get in it. Take the metro in the direction of Balard. Stay on for 10 stops – descend at the most musical station. When you resurface, get yourself behind the national monument. You should be standing in front of a big Lafayette. Cross the street so you are standing close to the store windows and the parking sign. Turn left. Farther down the road you will see another metro stop that has four lines running through it. Pass the metro and you will see a pedestrian street to your right. Cross the street and enter the store. The sign above the door should say Beauty and House. Head to the 9th floor. Have a drink. You’ve worked hard. Take in the sights at this height.
4.) When you leave the building, turn up the pedestrian street you passed earlier. When it dead ends, turn right. Turn left when you see a church. Cross under the church’s arches, continue until the street dead ends, then turn left. Continue up the street. The road diverges at the bistrot. Take the offshoot toward the red-light district. Not sure you are on the right street? Look for the name Fasquelle on the wall. The street ends at a fountain. On the other side of the fountain, you should be able to see the Noctambules. Take the street that passes next to that bar. Turn left before the road dead ends, the turn left immediately after the stairs. After the four trees, there will be three signs that protrude from the buildings on the even side of the street. One is black, one is green, and one is red. Enter the store with the red sign.
This store received the highest prize for their baguettes in 2010 and 2015. Try their product, and sit high on your laurels for finishing the Treasure Hunt!