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An additional clue from Michel Becker for the 30th anniversary

Michel Becker, the game organiser since 2021, has released a short poem as an additional clue. The clue was released on April 22rd, at the get together at the Musée de la Chouette d’Or in Rochefort, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the owl treasure’s burial.

A translation would be:

Pierrette and the pot-aux-roses

In a place everything begins,

In a point everything ends.

Going from one to the other, clasped between her hands,

Pierrette’s rose, Valentine’s present,

Has sown its petals, like little white pebbles,

While hesitating, measured, rhythmic,

To the end of the road her steps had carried her,

As in another world of which she would be the center,

Diligent and zealous, Pierrette came to understand…

By the Chouette d’Or®, finally, she would be surprised.

It’s interesting to see an additional clue in a very different style to any that Max Valentin would have written, but it’s enigmatic, and doesn’t give too much away. A lot of owlers were worried it would open the hunt up too much and lead to a race to find the owl, but I don’t think that will happen.

A few thoughts…

The pot-aux-roses

English speakers will not be familiar with this phrase. It’s a French expression that means to discover a secret,  ‘découvrir le pot aux roses’ (literally ‘to discover the pot of roses’). The origin of the phrase is thought to be from the Middle Ages, when women would hide letters and gifts from lovers in flowerpots. When these were found, the secret relationship was discovered. Other theories about the origin of the phrase are to do with perfume or make-up, or possibly from the Latin phrase ‘sub rosa’. The title suggests Pierette is sharing her secrets with us, and the poem uses the emblem of rose petals to play with this secrets idea.

Who is Pierette?

Pierette is a girl’s name is of French origin meaning “rock”. So does that mean the treasure is by a rock, or that the sentinels are rocks? It would be a bit obvious if that’s the only reason for the choice of name!

It is a name that is familiar in France due to an old fable about a milk maid who carried a pot of milk on her head. ‘Perrette, sur sa tête ayant un Pot au lai.’  It is unlikely that this has direct bearing on the clue, but the fable gives a warning about watching where you walk. Doesn’t every treasure hunter need to follow the right steps carefully?!

The Rosetta Stone in French has the name is ‘Pierre de Rosette’. Pierre is the boy’s name variant of Pierre and also means stone. Pierrette’s rose is clearly some word play about this. The Rosetta stone was engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphs and also ancient Greek which meant that the hieroglyphs could be translated. This seems like a clear hint to decryption of some sort, is there a secret encryptions of some sort in the clue text? A hidden word spelling out the super solution would make a lot of sense.

In a place everything begins, In a point everything ends.

This beginnings and endings phrase for me echoes the introductory text. The treasure is there for you… or for eternity ! And also the capital spelled ETERNITY in the 530 clue. It also might suggest circles which have no end and no beginning. Though the wording is subtle and should be studied carefully. Where is the place everything begins? Perhaps that is space. Where does everything end? Perhaps heaven or the afterlife. It’s notable that these are concepts already present in the clues. We have a planet theme in the 420 clue and there is a reference to ‘heavenly light’ in the 560.

The falling petals

The phrase ‘Pierette’s petals’ is all about those ‘pot of roses’ mysteries that lead to ‘Valentine’s secret.’ It’s interesting that Becker describes that she has ‘sown its petals, like little white pebbles’ following this with imagery to do with the measuring, steps, a road. To me this suggests the marking of the clue towns on the map, are the secret petals the pebbles making the road? The use of the word white is intriguing and maybe this echoes the light theme used throughout the clues. It reminds me of the Tour de France additional clue. ‘The world champion could peddle fast enough for his jersey to become white.’ That’s two clear hints that the colour white should be understood in forming a solution.

Steps to another world

Another thought this clue inspired was the references to an otherworldly place. There’s, ‘In another world of which she would be the center’ and, ‘a place everything begins’ plus ‘to the end of the road her steps had carried her.’  So is this the place where the owl treasure is hidden, or is it more of a hint to the theme of how the owl is found? Why is Pierette at the centre? Is the road and steps to do with the ‘FIRST STEP’ clue 780?

There are so many things to think about with this new clue, and these are just my initial thoughts. I will add to this page if any new ideas follow. Well done to Michel Becker for releasing a clue that is intriguing and echoes so many themes of the hunt, without giving too much away! It’s going to add some fun to this game to have this new clue to puzzle over.

The original French version is below, in case you want to play with different translations. It is always possible that the subtlety of the text is lost when using Google Translate.

Pierrette et le pot-aux-roses
En un lieu tout commence, En un point tout s’achève.
Allant de l’un à l’autre, serrée entre ses mains, La rose de Pierrette, présent de Valentin, A semé ses pétales, tels petits cailloux blancs, Tandis qu’hésitants, mesurés, cadencés,
Jusqu’au bout du chemin ses pas l’avaient portée, Comme en un autre monde dont elle serait le centre, Diligente et zélée, Pierrette vint à comprendre…
Par la Chouette d’Or®, enfin, elle se ferait surprendre.