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Category: About the Golden Owl

The 11 clues on one page


Gives the clue order using the colour wavelength number titles for each of the clues.


1 = 530

3 = 470

5 = 600

7 = 420

9 = 650






Gives seven letters that spell out the name of the city Bourges.


My first, first half of the half of the first age,
Precedes my Second and Third, seeking their way.
My Fourth is inspired, my Fifth is in rage,
But, without protest, follows my Fourth and the roman alpha.
My Sixth is hidden at the limits of ETERNITY.
My Seventh, standing, spits his venom.
To find my all, just to be wise,
Because the Truth, in truth, will not be a Devin’s affair.






Gives the game measure, most likely 33cm, but much of this clue is mysterious.


Where you want,
By the nag and the coachman.
But where you must,
By the compass and the foot.









Gives letters that spell out the name of a town, ‘A_Ronceveaux.’

My first by gaiety multiplies.
My Second offers you space,
My Third from the air, and my Fourth from the water.
When he’s lying down, my Fifth hums.
My sixth is worth a hundred, and my seventh is only a knot.
My eighth has the taste of the laurel,
while my ninth, by surprise, is dragging.
My tenth is still naked when he has an affair.
My eleventh, finally, is the unknown.

Find my All, and through the Opening you will see the light.



Gives 10 towns in alphabetical order, the final key is A=0 B=1 etc., which is used as a key to solve the next clue.  So it means Bourges will be worth 1, Cherbourg worth 2, Dieppe worth 3, Epernay worth 4, Forbach worth 5, Gerardmer worth 6, Héricourt worth 7, Issoire worth 8, Jarnac worth 9, Angers worth 0.

THE GOOD WAY, IT IS THE WAY OF THE OPPOSITE WAY, AND VICE VERSA will be worth 1 will be worth 2 will be worth 3 will be worth 4 will be worth 5 will be worth 6 will be worth 7 will be worth 8 will be worth 9 will be worth 0




The key of the last clue is used to produce an unsolved clue phrase, ‘The key is on the black perched ship.’


BDI, J. DF, F. CFD. BJ. HJ. EA, B. BC. E. DC, B.
BC. E.








Gives the town of Carignan, where we must take a right angle to find a four-centred Spiral at 185km.


A 2424-42-424-44-224-24-42-24 , borrows the orthogonal.
To find the Spiral with four centers ,
560,606 measures, it is far.
But by the Mega it is a million times less.








Decodes to give the town of Golfe Juan, where Apollo fires at arrow 559km towards a 650km zenith.


C’E-10752-365 LA Q-30667-E THE AIGLE
687-ARQ-30667-E DE 10752-E-10752 10752-ERRE-10752
DA-60140- 10752 LE 10752-ABLE,
CENT 4330-O-30667-R-10752 AVA-60140-365 DE 10752-E
CA-10752-10752-ER THE
E-365 Y-CAP Y LAI-10752-10752-ER 10752-E-10752

Then lend a bow to Apollo :
from there, he will count 1969,697 measures towards the zenith.
In a 46,241,860th fraction of sidereal day ,
his line will fall.
Hurry to find the arrow.


We are at Cherbourg, with England at our back, and we must look for the Opening, drawing lines on the map.


When, at Carusburc , you will have Albion in the back,
Look for the Opening that reveals the Heavenly Light.
Do not wait, do not ask for your rest, But get ready to walk on the water.
Twice, Neptune will come to your rescue And lead you away from the icy North.
Pursue your way and do not interrupt your journey
Before seeing through the opening, the becalmed Nave.
Without deviating an inch, draw a line, and you will not regret what you did.






Having solved the previous 9 clues we have found the mysterious ‘Sentinels.’ We review them at 2.64km from the end location of the previous clue.


Back to the Ponant, seek the Sentinels.
At 8000 measures from there, they are waiting for you.
Find them, you need to review them.









A final clue suggesting information that will help us when we dig for the buried owl prize.


Between them, there would be only two intervals if they were aligned.
But this would be a too easy game!
Now that you have undone all the yarns,
Doubt is the last torment that will be inflicted to you.
Because it is the rule of this cruel game:
Alone, you have to find where to land your shovel.
Show your respect for Mother Nature,
And before getting away, close its injury.









The legal status of the Golden Owl prize

This treasure hunt was set up in 1993, and the book’s publisher has since gone out of business, and Max Valentin, the designer of the puzzle, and co-author of the Chouette d’Or book, has died.

The original rules of the puzzle state there is no time limit to the game. ‘ It is not limited in time, but will be closed the day of the discovery of the cache.’

The rules also state, ‘The Prize is a statuette of gold, silver and stones, representing an owl sculpted by Michel Becker. Its value is about one million francs. In no case can it be exchanged for its cash value.

The rules continue, ‘The book provides the clues needed to solve the riddle. The first person who has deciphered the final enigma to locate the cache is deemed to be the winner.’

A bailiff is listed in the rules, they are in charge of administering the owl game. ‘Participating in this game implies the full and complete acceptance of the present regulations deposited with Maire Frédéric LLOUQUET, bailiff, 130, rue St-Charles – 75015 PARIS.’ This bailiff is no longer active or paid for, though it’s possible a successor at the company still has some regard for the game.

There is another rule ‘Article 7’ that asks the owl finder to reveal no details of their solution for one year. This is so that Max could publish a book of solutions himself. The rule states, ‘This person (the winner) will refrain from making any statements, granting interviews to publish or reveal the solutions of riddles and the location of the cache, to report the anecdotes about the treasure hunt, and, as a rule, to broadcast any information for a period of one year after the discovery of the Owl. He or she formally agrees to reserve her statements to Max Valentin, co-author of the book.” Max is no longer with us, but it would be wise to respect this rule if the owl is found.

So, a bronze replica of the owl treasure is buried somewhere in France, along with instructions and a phone number (most likely no longer working.) It seems that anyone finding this bronze owl would have rights to claim the prize, however the owl’s status has been the subject of a few legal disputes.

The golden owl statuette was held by the publishing company, Manya, but this company went into liquidation in 2003. When Max Valentin discovered the owl’s precarious status he tried to take ownership of the owl prize. There seems to have been some secret legal dispute by Max to regain control of the prize, and from what I can understand, he didn’t involve co-author Michel Becker in his legal claim to take possesion of the owl.

The case was eventually resolved in January 2009 with the judge agreeing that the original creator of the owl, Michel Becker, should own the owl. Becker paid for the owl himself, which may well explain the judge’s decision. The judge stated Becker held the owl, “within the limits of the exercise of the right of ownership”, that is to say that Becker had to consider the rules of the game and hand over the statuette to the discoverer of the buried owl.

The story of the Golden Owl took an unexpected turn in 2014 when the treasure hunting community was shocked to discover that the golden owl entered in an auction. Michel Becker had decided to sell the prize. This sale was prevented due to legal proceedings by the AC2O. It was pointed out that the previous ruling had given Becker limited rights to the owl. The owl was withdrawn from the auction and the owl’s status was protected – it couldn’t be sold.

Michel Becker still holds the golden owl and it is highly likely he would give it to anyone who produced the bronze version, most likely without any legal case. Max Valentin left a ‘book of solutions’ revealing the location of the owl to his son, although Max’s son has little interest in the Chouette d’Or hunt, he has committed to protecting this important document.

If a treasure hunter produced a bronze owl, and a location that matched the answer in Max’s solution, it would be hard to deny the winner of the game their prize.

What to do if you find the owl?

Here’s what I think would be the best plan.

  1. Celebrate!

2. Don’t announce the discovery to the world, remember the ‘Article 7’ rule. It’s not worth risking breaking the rules by tweeting, “I’ve found the treasure!”

3. Try the phone number and follow any instructions left with the cache.

4. Get in touch with the owl hunting organisations. It’s a good idea to join the AC2O because they’re a great organisation dedicated to protecting this game and the best interests of owl hunters.

5. Contact Michel Becker, the Chateau 1876 organisation or the AC2O, should help, and it would be worth clarifying the Article 7 rule and checking out what will happen with the incomplete ‘book of solutions’ owned by Max’s son.

6. If there is any dispute (unlikely) find legal help, and feel sure that you have the support of thousands of owl hunters who will support your claim!

See also:

The rules of the game (French) on the WikiChouette site.

The legal dispute about the owl statuette (French) on WikiChouette.

Interview with Max’s son, detailing the Chouette d’Or solution that he protects in a safe.

The sticking points – Why is this mystery still unsolved?

There are many elements of the Golden Owl treasure hunt that are understood and accepted by the ‘chouetteur’ community, but several sticking points that prevent progress from being made.

Taking the clues in order I will try to highlight the major sticking points.

Clue B – Gives the game order, its solved.

Clue 530 – Reveals the city Bourges.

Clue 780 – Reveals the game measure (likely 33cm) and probably more, perhaps a direction, but the ‘coach and bad horse’ concept of this clue is little understood.

Clue 470 – Reveals Ronceveaux,  but also through the Opening you will see the light.

Clue 580 – Reveals 10 towns, used to solve the next puzzle. It’s not clear if the towns have some other purpose.

Clue 600 – Big sticking point, the mysterious phrase, The key is on the black perched ship.’

Clue 500 – Reveals Carignan, but what is the spiral with four centers at 560.606 measures?

Clue 420 – Reveals Golfe Juan, but from there we need to plot the fall of an arrow flying at 1969,697 measures towards the zenith.

Clue 560 – Reveals Cherbourg, but we don’t understand  the opening that reveals heavenly light or  how Neptune helps twice, or the meaning of seeing the ‘Nave becalmed’, through the Opening.

Clue 650 – Describes how to process the clues that have come before, there are Sentinels at 8000 measures from ‘here’ and we need to decode the number 71721075 that is drawn in the image.

Clue 520 – Suggests the final place to dig for the owl, at this stage you need to understand the remnant clues that give the super solution.

So, to solve this puzzle you will need to:

  • Understand the meaning of the coachman and bad horse in the 780
  • Understand the meaning of the ‘light’ seen through the opening and also described in clue 560 and 600.
  • Decide whether the 10 towns of clue 580 have some extra function.
  • Discover the meaning of ‘The key is on the black perched ship.’
  • Know what the spiral with four centers means.
  • Know where Apollo’s arrow lands when it’s fired from Golfe Juan.
  • Plot a route from Cherbourg as described in 560, understanding the meaning of Neptune’s help and the meaning of the ‘becalmed nave.’
  • Know how to use the places discovered through the 11 clues with the number 71721075 and some ‘sentinels’ that have been revealed.
  • Know which game phrases and concepts have not been used before and are clue ‘remnants’ that reveal the super solution of exactly where to dig.

General pointers :

There is almost certainly some simple game ‘trick’ that makes sense of the towns and cities that have been revealed.

The clue order probably matters, there is an important progression from one to the next.

Insights and personal theories into the meaning of repeating game concepts such as ‘light,’ sentinels, ‘the Opening’ will give ideas for progressing the game.

There are many small mysteries alongside the big ones listed here! It’s quite possible that someone exploring a small game mystery will stumble upon something that solves this 25-year long game.

The additional clues and ‘mandits‘ have been explored as much as the original 11 enigmas, yet they don’t seem to have progressed the game an awful lot. Max said the owl could be found by studying the book alone. In my opinion he spent years carefully avoiding giving any meaningful answers in those mandit Q&A! However the mandits can be very useful to check theories.

The topics that Max refused to be drawn on in his ‘mandits’ are almost certainly key to solving this puzzle. Max refused to answer questions on the light, the methods for linking each enigma, the spiral with four centers, the becalmed nave, and (understandably) any clear description of the final location.

The game images, drawn by Becker, were added after the basic concept and clues were devised by Max. It’s worth bearing in mind the fact this was originally devised as a text only treasure hunt! The images were drawn based on Max’s descriptions with Becker having no understanding of the game solution. It’s hard to be sure of the role the pictures play, clearly when Max knew the book would have visual elements he incorporated them. Clues such as the 650 and 500 have important visual elements.

It’s expensive and almost certainly unnecessary to buy a copy of the out of print original book ($220 on Amazon) however I found it useful to print a bound copy using a downloaded PDF of the clues. This cost me about £10 including shipping, I used Dox Direct. but any online printer will do!

The authors

Régis Hauser / Max Valentin

Régis Hauser wrote the Golden Owl book using the pen name Max Valentin. Sadly he died in 2009, but his memory lives on through the intriguing treasure hunt he created. Max worked in advertising and marketing before publishing ‘On the trail of the Golden Owl’ in 1993 with artist Michel Becker. Max Valentin also created more than forty other treasure hunts, whose prizes were successfully claimed. He also invented an interactive web game, ‘On the trail of the Cistes’, that allowed its users to create puzzles and hide small treasures in plastic boxes. Nearly 80,000 players registered on the site and more than 60,000 cistes have been hidden throughout the world. Régis Hauser was also the author of novels and humorous books.


Michel Becker

Michel Becker is an artist and treasure hunt enthusiast. He met Regis Hauser at a party and offered to get involved in his treasure hunt project, illustrating the clues and designing and funding the creation of the golden owl statuette. He created the pictures for the Golden Owl book, according to the specifications provided by Max Valentin. He currently owns the statuette of the Golden Owl, and he controversially tried to sell it at auction in June 2014. The sale was stopped by the legal action of the A2CO – the Association of Golden Owl Researchers.  In 2009 Michel Becker launched a visual only global treasure hunt called ‘The Treasure Tube’ selling a tube of paintings for €99 and offering a million euro prize,  but it was stopped a year later with the prize not awarded, there were estimated to be 2000 participants. In 2016, it was announced that a museum of the Golden Owl would open in the city of Rochefort and it seems that Becker is involved with this project.  Becker’s paintings and the original specifications for the art will be displayed in an art gallery in an old water tower. This project also launches the Chateau 1876 associationits stated objective is ‘to create a place attached to the organized treasure hunt entitled “On the Trail of the Golden Owl ©” and, more broadly to group the objects and writings related to this operation for their ensure a sustainable existence and make them accessible to the public.’

The prize

La Chouette d’Or is a sculpture by Michael Becker of an owl with an approximately 50 cm wingspan, weighing about 10 kg in gold and silver and accented with diamonds.

This unique object was initially estimated to be worth one million francs, and as a unique collector’s item is likely to be worth somewhere between 250,000 to 350,000 Euros.

This valuable golden owl is not buried, but a replica made of bronze is hidden somewhere in France. The person who solves the 11 clues and finds the bronze owl can exchange it for the real Golden Owl.

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