When you hear the name Shakespeare, a lot of places come to mind. London. Stratford-upon-Avon. Fair Verona. However, one city that doesn’t tend to spring to mind is Paris, despite the fact that several of Shakespeare’s plays are set in France. But this doesn’t mean that the Bard has no place in the city of light. Shakespeare and Company, located across the river from Notre Dame Cathedral, is one of the most famous bookstores in the world. The Bois de Boulogne is home to the Jardin Shakespeare. And this summer, Paris is the setting for the Cygnet Theatre Treasure Hunt. A Shakespeare-inspired scavenger hunt in Paris? Sign me up.
Cygnet Theatre is a theatre company dedicated to producing English language theatre in Paris. As their website states, their mission “is to increase the presence and quality of professional anglophone theatre through the exploration and production of Shakespeare’s plays.” Much like everything else last year, their 2020 summer season was cancelled due to the pandemic. But they are back this year, producing both The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet as part of their summer 2021 season. The Cygnet Theatre Treasure Hunt is a fundraiser for this upcoming season, with all ticket sales going towards the upcoming productions.
Naturally, when I heard that there was a scavenger hunt based on the works of William Shakespeare to be played in Paris, I signed up right away. I love scavenger hunts and I love theatre, so it was the perfect combination. It’s also played entirely outdoors, so it is the perfect socially distanced activity. The hunt takes you to 11 locations around Paris, each with a connection to one of Shakespeare’s plays, and at each location you have to find a swan with a letter on it. An example is pictured above, and yes, I blurred out the letter on it. Those letters eventually form a secret code word that you can use to enter a drawing for free tickets to Cygnet’s upcoming shows, so I’m not about to give anything away.
All in all, it took my friend and I about three hours to hunt down all 11 swans. The route took us through some of the most famous sites in Paris, as well as some lesser known side streets, and we learned a lot of great Shakespeare trivia along the way. After decoding the final message, we ended our adventure with some celebratory drinks and one very happy but exhausted puppy. It was a wonderful way to spend a day, especially now that the weather is finally behaving.
The Cygnet Theatre Treasure Hunt runs until the end of August, so if you’re looking for a fun, socially distanced activity (perhaps you aren’t ready to brave a museum just yet), click here to find out more information and to purchase tickets.
Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.