Parisian Living

Favorite Paris Spots: The Magic of Deyrolle’s Parisian Taxidermy

by Tory Hoen

In the town where I grew up, there was a small, mostly underwhelming children’s science museum. The best part of it by far was its taxidermy Bengal tiger, which was positioned—perhaps strategically—just around a sharp turn in a hallway.

If you turned the corner unaware, it would inevitably scare the bejeezus out of you. And even if you knew it was there (as I did), rounding that corner was still a heart-pounding, adrenal experience. What if the tiger is alive this time?

I can only imagine that for children experiencing Paris’s Deyrolle for the first (or second, or third…) time, there is a similar mix of utter enchantment and mild terror. The store, which dates back to 1831, contains an astonishing mélange of curiosities: preserved insects, fossils, science books, gardening equipment, and of course, a vast assortment of taxidermy animals, both large and small.

Even as an adult, I find that the store messes with my fantasy-reality boundary. Much like rounding the tiger-corner once did, ascending Deyrolle’s spiral staircase to the second floor gives me that rush of impending danger. Suddenly, I am face to face with a motley pack that includes a grizzly bear, a water buffalo, an elephant, a wolf, a peacock, a lion, a bobcat, and the list goes on.

Instinctively, I hold my breath as I cautiously approach them. Hands trembling, I always want to touch them, but I fear the snap of their jaws—maybe they are alive and they’ve been faking all along. It’s more than a suspension of disbelief; it’s a true internal argument that I have with myself. The grown-up half of my brain knows the animals are frozen in time, but the child half of my brain (which is alive and well in contexts like this), says “If it looks like a tiger and acts like a tiger, it’s probably a tiger. Duh.”

I’ve spent many a rainy afternoon walking stealthily among Deyrolle’s upper rooms, daring myself to get near the bigger beasts and then retreating to the butterfly room for respite. When I finally step out of the shop onto the Rue du Bac, I feel like C.S. Lewis’s four siblings tumbling out of the fabled wardrobe—I’ve just been somewhere that has nothing to do with this quotidian reality.

Alas, the majority of life does not consist of encounters with wild beasts, but it’s a great comfort 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.

Deyrolle, 46 rue du Bac, Paris, 75007, 01 42 22 30 07

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Written by Tory Hoen for the HiP Paris Blog. All photos by Julien Hausherr. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Written By

Tory Hoen

After attending Brown University and spending two years in New York, Tory bought a one-way ticket to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer (and of drinking wine at lunch). During her time in the City of Light, she chronicled the euphoric highs and the laughable lows of ex-pat life on her blog, A Moveable Beast. Though she's now based in New York, she travels frequently to Montreal and Brazil, and she'll use just about any excuse to jet to Paris ("I ran out of fleur de sel"). A regular contributor to Hip Paris, Tory also writes for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, and she is a co-author of Gradspot.com's Guide To Life After College. View Website

12 comments on “Favorite Paris Spots: The Magic of Deyrolle’s Parisian Taxidermy

[…] reflection, though, it sounded like an adventure, and featured favourably in a few trendy blogs and guides (but none of the mainstream guide books). Within six hours of being in Paris we had […]

[…] completely decked out in holiday gorgeousness! The pictures below are from one of my favorite Blogs Hip Paris and taken by Julien Haisherr where I originally read about Deyrolle. While they are not of the […]

[…] completely decked out in holiday gorgeousness! The pictures below are from one of my favorite Blogs Hip Paris, where I originally read about Deyrolle. While they are not of the amazing holiday set up it at […]

a wonderful world ! and a little eery, i should think.. I’m enjoying your blog very much.
Jane (owl’s house london)

I had this place on my list the most recent time I visited Paris..I regret so much not having enough time to visit it!!

Wow I would love to take my children there someday!

This place is fab…..and so is the Musée del Chasse et de la Nature….I was blown away when I visited…quirky, extremely beautiful and sooooo much more than stuffed animals. I wrote about this Musée on my blog which you may like to have a squizz at. A bientot.

This is one of the BEST places…!

I want to go here so badly! Love the photos-Thanks for taking your readers with you 🙂

Wow,

that place looks awesome 🙂 I will definitely head down there for a peak 🙂
x

I finally made it to Deyrolle after four years of living down the street and fell in love. And I was surprised to discover that this is actually a good place to buy gifts. Who wouldn’t want a giant stuffed zebra, after all? 😉 No, seriously, they sell some lovely posters and art books of the Leçons de choses.

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