This is the fourth Queer Martha treasure hunt that takes you to some of the hidden gems of Paris. Check out the Highlights Hunt here, the Romantic 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.
Paris is not all light and romance. On this treasure hunt, you will discover the DEATH AND DESTRUCTION that makes this city a little creepy. You might already know about the Paris catacombs. This complex system of tunnels serves as a mass grave for millions of Parisians and has been a tourist attraction since 1874. This treasure hunt does not take you there. Go there on your own, then start this hunt.
You need 7 euros to complete this hunt. Do not do this hunt on Sunday.
Welcome to creepy Paris. Begin this treasure hunt in the Luxembourg Gardens.
1.) To arrive at your first destination, exit the Luxembourg Gardens through the western gate (If you are unsure which way is west, find the great fountain/pond in the park. The big building in front of you faces due north.). Continue straight until you pass 36 on the wall. Turn right on the next street and continue. You know turned on the correct street if you are on a Boulevard. Continue until the Boulevard ends. At the intersection, bear right. Find the sign pointing to the Musée d’Orsay and take that street. Look for the number 46 on the wall. Look up to the second floor. Enter the store whose name is on the second floor windows. Enjoy the death!
2.) To find your next destination, exit the store and stand on the sidewalk. Look at the store with the green awning at the same address as the one you just left. We're going to the quay named after these. Follow the street you are on until it reaches the river. Turn right. Cross over the fourth bridge you pass. This bridge has little alcoves in it. Turn right after you pass four alcoves. Continue straight. Soon you will see a major landmark. Cross in front of the landmark and continue straight with the landmark on your right side. Look for a building with cylindrical towers at its corners. Turn left after this building. If number 8 is a red brick building, you are doing well. Turn right as soon as you can. At the end of this tiny street, turn around and look at the wall behind you. There is a small plaque that shows how high the River Seine came during the flood of 1910. The flood devastated Paris and destroyed much of the city. You can see the river from here. Imagine the water coming up this high. It was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of France. It created $1.5 billion of damages in today's money and forced thousands of Parisians to flee their destroyed homes.
Now ascend the steps in front of you. Look at the street sign. You made it to the quay you were looking for! On house number 11, notice the plaque on the wall. This was the home of Héloïse and Abelard – the real-life French Romeo and Juliette. There are some significant differences between the real-life French version and the Shakespeare. First, Héloïse and Abelard were not from warring families. She was a brilliant scholar and he was her teacher. Secondly, they didn't die for each other after their secret marriage, they just both joined religious orders and rarely saw each (though they wrote a bunch of letters back and forth). Finally, as opposed to R+J who died as stupid, impulsive kids, Héloïse died as a total feminist badass and widely respected abbess, and Abelard died as a revered and wise scholar. Legend has it that they are buried together in Père Lachaise, and their tomb is a lovers' pilgrimage.
3.) On to the next destination. Continue down the street you are on with the numbers descending. When you come to the intersection, cross the bridge. You will see two awnings - one bright red and one burgundy red. Get ice cream from the burgundy red awning. It is hands down the best ice cream in the world. After you get ice cream, turn back to the bridge and follow the road to the right around the tip of the island. Cross the next bridge. If you have crossed the correct bridge, you should see Chez Julien across the street. Continue passed Chez Julien, making sure Chez Julien is on your left-hand side as you continue up the road. You should be on a road with a very long name. If you pass a pedestrian street with a green fountain on your right, you are headed in the right direction. Continue straight. Pass the mosaic horse. Pass the philosophers. Pass the turret. Keep going straight. Continue until you see the bottle of poison above the Bio. Now turn right onto the street next to the building with the clock. If you pass Cotton Park, you have gone too far. If there is a ghost under the hotel sign on your left, you are on the right street. Continue until you see Bonton. Enter the store and find the photo booth. Take a series of photos inspired by death and destruction. Good job.
4.) Head to the corner of the street. Across the street, there is a gap in the buildings. Cross to the gap and descend the steps. Turn right, then immediately turn down the small street to the left. Cross into the median. When the median breaks, turn left and head to the place with attitude. Continue with attitude on your right side. If you pass a burger joint on your right, you took the correct street. Continue until you see the church. Turn left immediately after you pass in front of the church. The church should be on your left as you continue up the street. When the street dead ends, turn right. As the numbers descend, look for 4. Turn left. Continue straight until you see a great wall. Enter through the gate in the wall underneath the hourglasses. Explore the grounds. Maybe find Héloïse and Abelard. Take a photo of your favorite tomb, because why not?
Congratulations on completing the Death and Destruction treasure hunt!