Deyrolle: Animal kingdom

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Reviewed on 12/4/2011 | No Reviews

Paris visitors don’t have Deyrolle on their list of things to do, unfortunately. But they are wrong. A visit to this traditional taxidermist is an absolutely unique, unusual and enchanting experience, especially when travelling with kids.

Once you arrive at 46, rue du Bac, you will not immediately realize that you’ve just entered one of the most fascinating wunderkammers you could possibly imagine. And the best thing is, the visit is for free. Strangely, there is a fancy garden tool shop on the lower floor. But upstairs, you’ll be welcomed by bears, tigers, zebras, even giraffes and baby elephant. Eagles might fly over your head, or ducks or seagulls. Not to mention all the pinned butterflies and the colorful batallions of beetles waiting for you.

A King Crab for your bedroom

Here they are, in all their beauty, the representatives of our threatened fauna. To me, Deyrolle is one of the most beautiful and heavenly unexpected places in Paris. It’s a marvel, even if you’ve never dreamed of decorating your living room with a peacock or displaying a beautiful King Crab in a show case.

Unimaginable, that this place was almost completely destroyed by a severe fire in February 2008. It was a true shock for a lot of Parisians. But the enthusiasm to help was as huge as the shock: numerous artists, fans and companies like Hermès helped to rebuild the store which is now as beautiful as ever and actually looks as if it has never changed since 1888, when Deyrolle moved into the building of rue du Bac.

Go for the rabbit

Charmed by the beauty of this cabinet of curiosities, you might want to take one of those guys back home. And you might ask yourself whether there’s enough spare money in your pockets? Well, for a lion you’d have to spend at least 10,000€ (13,500 US$). A beautiful penguin out of the Galapagos Islands will cost you 2530€. More modestly, you could go for a  rabbit (600€) or a colourful canary (290€). Or you pick up fossils or shells for a couple of Euros, whereas a butterfly is definitely not more expensive than a lot of souvenir crap you can buy in the shops lining Rue de Rivoli.

“Clients come from all over the world”, explains Peio Rahola, co-director of the boutique, “especially from the US, South-America, South-East Asia, too.” Meanwhile, most of them buy the mounted animals for decorative purposes. Deyrolle also rents them for fashion photo shootings, movie sets or the decoration of show cases.

From scientific to a decorative purpose

It hasn’t always been like this. When Deyrolle’s story began in 1831, the taxidermy activity was oriented exclusively toward pedagogical purposes. Deyrolle supplied mounted animals for universities and museums. But very soon it attracted hunters eager to immortalize their trophies.

Until recently, you could even entrust your deceased dog or cat to the taxidermist of Deyrolle and they would do their best to re-built your beloved animal. They no longer offer that service. “Too much trouble”, explains Peio Rahola. “Often elderly people who spent a whole life with their animals are very disappointed once they saw it mounted.”

From zoos and circuses

Now comes the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question: Where do the animals come from? Rahola is categorical about it: whether the animals are part of Deyrolle’s vintage collection or they are sourced from zoological reserves, circuses or captive-bred birds in total respect of the Washington convention, which regulates international animal trade and provides guidelines in order not to endanger the survival on any species. It’s a fair trade thing, sort of. And very beautiful.

Deyrolle
46, rue du Bac
75007 Paris
Tel. 00 33(1) 42 22 30 07
Open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 7pm, on Monday 10am-1pm, 2pm-7pm
Métro: Rue du Bac 
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