Is it a museum? Or a shop? All the animals and birds are stuffed, labelled and for sale. But you can wander as you please, getting up close and personal with a gigantic brown bear or a taxidermy unicorn (seriously). Established at 46 rue du Bac since 1888, Maison Deyrolle knows how to combine serious natural science with fantasy. Specialising in taxidermy and entomology, it’s the eccentric staging of these fabulous beasts that makes it so original. Not only is it a mecca for enthusiasts and collectors, but also an unforgettable attraction for intrigued beginners.
Expect to brush shoulders with exotic animals (a giraffe, pink flamingo, zebra, toucan, lion) and domestic pets (a fox, chicken, pig, peacock and a small white rabbit). There’s also mounting boards pinned with butterflies, insects, shells, giant clams and skeletons of small animals. And for anyone who finds this mad scientist’s den cruel, keep in mind that none of these animals were killed to be stuffed. According to the Washington Convention, all protected species come from zoos, circuses or farms where they died of old age or illness.
This echanting mélange has earned the Maison Deyrolle a reputation among the greatest artists of its time, from the Dubuffet painters to Salvador Dali. Woody Allen even filmed a few scenes here for ‘Midnight in Paris’.Many famous personalities supported Deyrolle during restoration after a fire in 2008, including Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Bettina Rheims and Nicolas Darrot. And quite rightly, it would have been a tragedy to lose this little gem.
TRANSLATION: MEGAN CARNEGIE