Blog travel

travels: paris, deroylle – a cabinet of curiosities

July 6, 2015

IMG_3784My daughter and extremely competent tour guide, Avia, had already been abroad in Morocco and Paris for a few weeks before I arrived. When one of her study-abroad group said “you have to stop by this shop – the best eclairs ever – and oh, by the way, there is a cabinet of curiosities shop nearby” – off we went! IMG_5665Avia just might be the world’s foremost expert on judging the quality of an eclair. She notices and has a reasoned opinion about every part of the pastry. She judged these as very good – but not the best she had tasted in Paris. The curiosity shop, however, was worth a trip to Paris on it’s own merits.

FAIR WARNING: This post contains images of dead and stuffed animals and taxidermy. And skeletons. And maybe bugs and other stuff.

According to their website: “With few exceptions, the stuffed animals in Deyrolle come from zoos, parks or reserves where they died of old age or sickness. The animals were not killed for being naturalized in Deyrolle. All protected species are sold accompanied by a CITES certificate (issued by the Washington Convention), which ensures traceability.”

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Downstairs is a little shop with books and gardening supplies and a few interesting frames with mounted insects on the wall. Upstairs – is a garden of wonder that strikes the visitor full of awe. The employees/artisans worked their magic in an atmosphere of more hushed reverence than any cathedral we visited.
IMG_5659It wasn’t just the lifelike taxidermy, it was the whimsy and artistry of each arrangement. There was something unexpected around every corner. The people who do this aren’t trophy hunters. They are artists who appear to care a great deal for the natural world.

IMG_3795Taurus – with butterflies. Or Papillon if you want to be French.

IMG_3794Creatures in and out of their nice neat shelves.

IMG_3791-1Lobster anyone? The picture doesn’t do this justice. It was the biggest lobster we had ever seen.

IMG_3789Would you believe me if I told you I’d always wanted a bat skeleton – and bird and frog skeletons too. The history of Deyrolle is very interesting. Begun in 1831 by Jean-Baptiste Deyrolle, it has long been an institution devoted to education. They currently provide scientific wall charts to schools in 120 countries teaching everything from human anatomy to etymology.

IMG_3792Surprise! (um… I did warn you.) In 2008 much of the collection was destroyed by a devastating fire. Even then, art emerged. Artists and photographers documented the remains and effects and if I had room in my luggage I might have purchased the amazing book that resulted. A little creepy and beautiful at the same time.

IMG_3796Does anyone else have heart palpitations when they see cabinets with rows upon rows of drawers of all sizes? The dream studio that lives in my imagination is full of them. It is not full of chickens and elephants. But if it were tall enough it would have a little balcony with a wall to wall library and posters just like these.

Tomorrow I’ll share my photos from the etymology room.

The Deyrolle Website
replete with photos, history, mission, education
46, rue du Bac – 75007 Paris

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