We moved to Paris on Feb 1. A few days later the kids had a 2 week holiday and then we were back just in time to celebrate Easter. After a brief, brutal (we’re from California) winter, spring had sprung and it was wonderful. Still knew to the area and trying to get the lay of the land, I’d spend many afternoons strolling the neighborhood. Which is how I fell into the dusty, musty shop that was Deyrolle.
Taxidermist since 1831, Deyrolle is a treasure chest of the natural sciences. Famous for their educational posters that illustrate anatomy and biology, this once sleepy little store front was acquired by the Prince de Borglie, aka Le Prince Jardinier and revitalized into a luxury gardening store, with a still fantastic collection of taxidermy-ed animals, mounted insects and collectible seashells. And then it caught fire and he lost nearly everything. The community stepped in, artists donating work, Hermes creating a scarf and everyone trying to bring the place back to life. No longer lost and forgotten looking, the place is still magical.
As you head up the uneven wooden staircase at Deyrolle, it is not unusual find yourself unexpectedly facing a horse’s head, or a pack of wolves staring down looking like they’d like to eat you. There may be an elegant table with fine china and fragile crystal set up, with wild animals all around, including baby zebras frolicking on the table, or a monkey swinging from the rafters. In other rooms rabbits juggle, or dramatically sprout peacock tails. You never know what you’ll find in the menagerie.
A few steps further and there are glass cabinets full of stuffed tropical birds, and tables with long, thin drawers you can pull out to search for exotic minerals. In the very back of the shop are the mounted insects. I love the iridescent butterflies and beetles, which can be purchased framed, or just mounted on a pin. I’ve been known to gift a scorpion, and a Deyrolle ostrich egg has decorated my home ever since that first visit. This year I purchased a handful of heart shaped seashells (2€) as a sentimental gift for Mr French, reminding him of our love for the seashore.
Some seashells, ostrich eggs and printed art are available at the Deyrolle e-boutique. But on our last trip to SF, I’ve noticed that taxidermy is enjoying a resurgence in the US and you can probably find something special near you. If not, my 2nd favorite taxidermist in the world is Paxton Gate, and they’ve got everything you need from the hard to find, glass bird’s eye to an articulated bat skeleton, making the perfect gift for someone who truly has everything.