On a chilly winter afternoon in Paris—one of our top buzzy destinations for 2012—escape to another time and place by visiting the city’s best taxidermists. Lions, tigers, and bears are just a few of the hundreds of animals on display, along with a treasure trove of posters and books. These superb collections of curiosities are a Paris tradition, and one that keeps interior designers, museums, and collectors supplied with spectacular specimens from the natural world. All of the shops will provide the necessary documentation and packaging to insure that animals, insects, or shells can be transported or shipped safely and legally.
Deyrolle’s Exotic Animal Collection
Deyrolle (46 rue du Bac, 7e; 01-42-22-30-07) has furnished schoolrooms, museums, and private collections with natural history specimens since 1831. After a fire destroyed the original shop in 2008, notable Parisians came to the rescue, raising funds to completely restore the beloved landmark. Now back and better than ever—you can see the revamped space in a party scene in Woody Allen’s 2011 film Midnight in Paris—Deyrolle is stocked with hundreds of specimens, from a towering giraffe and menacing wild cats to exotic birds, shells, corals, and an astonishing array of insects and butterflies. Plus, you can buy beautiful reprints and originals of the botanical posters that once graced every classroom in France.
Design et Nature’s Big Game Specimens
Anne Orlowska's dazzling shop Design et Nature (4 rue d'Aboukir, 2e; 01-43-06-86-98), near the Place des Victoires, presents a handpicked menagerie of birds, beasts, and bugs artfully displayed to highlight their natural splendor. Big game abounds—including rhinos, hippos, tigers, and elephants—but the only shots fired here are from a camera. Everyone from Louis Vuitton to Harry Winston has featured Orlowska's animals in opulent fashion spreads (since they tend to keep still). Displays run the gamut from fearsome to adorable: you may fall hard for the trio of snowy owls or a cuddly marmot.
Claude Nature’s Bug and Seashell Collections
After 25 years learning the trade at Deyrolle, Claude Nature (32 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 5e; 01-44-07-30-79) opened his own gleaming shop on the leafy Boulevard Saint-Germain. More compact than the others, this boutique could almost pass as an art gallery. The small but superb collection of mammals, birds, corals, crustaceans, fossils, exotic shells, and unusual butterflies and insects are ingeniously arranged like sculptures. A friendly staff is happy to elaborate on anything from the history of a long-lashed wallaby to the provenance of a rare seashell. Fanciful display boxes may feature a phalanx of crabs or a single gilded beetle, and make excellent gifts or starter collections.
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Photo credits: courtesy Anne Orlowska of Design et Nature, and Deyrolle