In between touring museums, climbing monuments, shopping and strolling lovely public gardens, the Paris tourist should not miss out on the opportunity for an inspiring scavenger hunt. Two easy themes for Paris scavenger hunts include the famed Paris carousels and mathematical street names.
Paris Tourist Carousel Scavenger Hunt
Paris is nicknamed the City of Carousels for the simple reason that it has nearly 3 dozen of them. Some of these are carousels proper, while others are technically ménageries, featuring other animals or vehicles rather than horses. So next time you are in Paris, how about a scavenger hunt to see how many carousels and ménageries you can find? Even without consulting travel guides, the Paris tourist will undoubtedly encounter the carousels and ménageries that operate alongside major tourist attractions such as Sacré Coeur, Forum des Halles, or La Tour Eiffel.
Finding and riding the Paris carousels and ménageries makes an enjoyable scavenger hunt, but the fun doesn’t end with the conquest. Enjoy the unique whimsical details that make each of these works of art different and appreciable in its own right. Gustave Bayol’s ménageries in the Bois de Vincennes and Jardin de Ranelagh are rightly recognized as masterpieces. At Sacré Coeur and Place de la République, the carousel and ménagerie are double deckers. The former features Venetian gondolas and horses, while the latter offers rides on mermaids and black bulls.
Many European carousels and ménageries including those in Paris rotate counterclockwise, unlike their American counterparts. Why is this? The patents for the operating mechanisms of carousels specify the direction of rotation, and many European carousels use German mechanisms patented for counterclockwise rotation. Taking care to notice details like this will make the tourist’s Paris scavenger hunt for carousels and ménageries all the more intriguing.
Paris Tourist Street Name Scavenger Hunt
Street names can be a fascinating aspect of foreign travel, conveying some of the destination’s history, geography and culture. When was the last time you strolled through a foreign city on a scavenger hunt to find and ponder street signs? Did you know that scores of Paris streets are named after mathematicians? Many of the mathematicians so recognized are accomplished in multiple fields; still some of their names are household words, and it shouldn’t be too hard to recognize a significant number of them.
One of the more interesting mathematicians after whom a Paris street is named is Sophie Germain. Sophie Germain was born the year that the American Revolution began. Her interest in mathematics stemmed from hearing a story about Archimedes of Syracuse. She learned that he was killed for not responding when a soldier of the invading Roman army questioned him, so absorbed was he in contemplating a geometric figure in the sand.
Unable to enroll in the première French mathematics school as it did not admit women, Sophie Germain borrowed notes from the male students and eventually assumed the identity of a former male student of the school, M. LeBlanc. Using this assumed name, she corresponded with leading mathematicians of the day.
Sophie Germain won a medal for her theorem on prime numbers, the closest anyone has come to solving Fermat’s Last Theorem, a mathematical puzzle. Later, Germain did essential work on the theory of elasticity.
Who knows where a scavenger hunt to discover the other honored mathematicians of Paris could lead the inquisitive Paris tourist?
Some names to look for along the way include: Ampère, Carnat, Leonardo DaVinci, Euler, Fermat, Galilée (Galileo), Gabriel Lamé, Newton and Toricelli.