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.


Tory Hoen

Tory Henwood Hoen has been published by New York Magazine, Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, Fortune, and others. She was Creative Director of Brand at M.M.LaFleur, where she founded the brand’s digital magazine, The M Dash. Her debut novel, The Arc, is available in bookshops near you and online.


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

  2. you can tour it via google streetview now:,2.326537&spn=0.000004,0.003082&hq=deyrolle+taxidermy&t=m&z=19&layer=c&cbll=48.856516,2.326505&panoid=j2gg50DfcL90J0dWnnwBcg&cbp=12,331.68,,0,0

  3. 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!!

  4. 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.

  5. 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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