PARIS: Like a Noah’s Ark frozen in time, all the animals are here; the elephant, the giraffe and all the other creatures of the Animal Kingdom alongside the creepy crawlies of the earth. Shimmering beetles, butterflies of fabulous colours. No less than 130 species is stuffed inside the shop everywhere on the polished oak floor. And, luckily for the giraffe, the shop has a ceiling four meters high.
This place used to be a luxury hotel, and is now owned by Prince Louis-Albert de Brogle. He is commonly referred to as «The garden prince» due to the exclusive garden equipment he sells at the ground floor.
From the outside Deyrolle looks like any other shop in the posh street – until you spot a Zebra in the window! The animal kingdom inside is unbelievable. The truth is that they are all stuffed animals in the right sense of the word, stuffed with straw and preserving remedies. Yet they look very much alive. If you dare to sneak up the stairs you will be met by peacefully co-existing buffalos, Meer cats, warthogs, lions and giraffes.
For nature-geeks this place is a true treasure, and for everybody else, a unique experience. I can only imagine that for children experiencing Paris’s Deyrolle for the first time, there is a mix of utter enchantment and mild terror. The largest taxidermist shop in the world, which dates back to 1831, is also a «cabinet de curiousites», a chamber of secrets, both large and small.
I discovered Deyrolle by coincidence ten years ago just by walking down the street with my family. For a bird-enthusiast like me this was absolute heaven. My budget suffered a severe blow as I purchased a beautiful pheasant.
The taxidermists have gone to some serious lengths to preserve and conserve all creatures great and small. Mostly they strive for a naturalistic look, but sometimes, the imaginative playfulness occurs. Even as an adult, I find the store messes with my fantasy-reality boundary – when I am face to face with a motley pack that includes a grizzly bear, a water buffalo, an elephant, wolf, a peacock, a lion, and the list goes on
Royal parrots. The Norwegian crown princess Mette Marit got some parrot specimens here, and she says Deyrolle is her favourite shop in Paris, certainly along with a high profiled fashion house. Although everything here is dead, sometimes it feels different as birds hang suspended in mid-air, little mice resides in the corners and large herbivores stare at your back.
For the regular customer it will probably not be very handy to purchase a life size lion, but it might get any dinner guest’s attention. And the prize..? – 30,000 thousand euro.
Animal heads on a wall are no longer in fashion, but you sure can learn a lot just by looking at these replicas. If you bring a «Simba» back home, make sure you are allowed through customs and have all the papers in order. You don’t want to get in trouble for trading with endangered species, do you?
A trip to Deyrolle mean for the most part that you can see a shadow of the beauty and splendour of nature displayed by carefully prepared specimens of all kinds, all those details, all that history of evolution, all the colours imaginable preserved in boxes and boxes of graceful captured butterflies.
It’s like a museum in here, a place to study and learn. At Deyrolle you can get a closer look at the animal kingdom, without being eaten. The majority of life does not consist of encounters with wild beasts, but it’s great to know that Deyrolle is there when your imagination needs a good romp, and to know that even if you’re too old to believe in magic, you know it when you see it.
Address: 46 Rue de Bac, 75007 Paris, France
Phone: +33 1 42 22 30 07
Opening hours: Wednesday 10am – 7pm