The Deyrolle shop could only exist in Paris. This 155+ year old taxidermy shop is straight out of a fairy tale where family pets and wild animals don’t actually die, but live in suspended animation in this shop. They certainly all come alive after the shopkeeper locks up at night. Personally I imagine them lighting up their cigarettes, pouring the cognacs, and discussing the finer points of human nature.
The shop is the quintessential Cabinet of Curiosities (and a bit of Noah's Ark), with its faint smell of formaldehyde, creaky wood floorboards (sometimes the only sound you'll hear!), and shelves crammed with creatures great and small. You'll walk down one aisle only to find it blocked at the end by a stuffed water buffalo. You'll look up and see a stuffed hawk in mid-swoop. A veritable Noah’s Ark, you see glass-eyed creatures ranging from the smallest butterflies to a mounted ostrich. Big animals include polar bears and baby elephants. Most touching are the domestic pets, cat and dogs, many left behind because the owners could not bear the grief of seeing their beloved pet again (the exact description of a stuffed cocker spaniel that I had asked about). I especially liked the reproductions of Victorian posters, one comparing the amount of alcohol consumed by countries (with the French proudly in the lead!).
You might wonder how such a shop makes its money. You too could have your pet stuffed for a fee. Or you could rent a lion for your next film. They also sell crystals and geodes. The day I was there, a small group of schoolchildren were purchasing a butterfly for a class project (about $15-$20). In any case, one could spent hours here, at one with the animal kingdom.
Postscript: A fire ripped through Deyrolle in February 2008, but they remain open while they rebuild. Please support this magnificent establishment during its renaissance
April 29, 2002
From journal Alt.Paris (Alternative Paris)