It’s one of the most unusual boutiques I’ve visited anywhere. Since 1831, Deyrolle (46 rue du Bac, 7e) has been selling everything you need to outfit a curio cabinet in the best 19th-century meaning of the word. It was considered important for cultivated people to have a collection of natural specimens – shells, coral, birds’ eggs, and maybe even a stuffed beast or two. At Deyrolle, you still can, even if your idea of a stuffed beast includes a bison or a giraffe. If you don’t believe me, you can go on a virtual visit. The first time I saw their window, it was Easter, and they had an enchanting display of bunnies and chicks. When I thought about the fact that they were all stuffed, I was a little less enchanted.
The boutique had fallen on hard times until a prince came along and awoke it from its slumbers. In 2008, a fire in Deyrolle devastated the cabinet of curiosities, entomology room, and a large part of the historic collection of stuffed animals. Prince Louis Albert de Broglie is known as le Prince Jardinier for his love of heritage vegetables. He also has a line of high-end gardening tools and casual clothing marketed under that label. De Broglie moved his boutique into Deyrolle and restored the whole place.
It’s kind of a cross between a natural history museum and a shop, except all of the exhibits are for sale. Yes, you can buy that gorgeous butterfly mounted in a glass case and bring that marvelous iridescence home, or if that’s not enough, how about a stuffed peacock, glorious tail feathers on display. (I can just imagine how it would look after my cats got at it!)
Deyrolle has also long been known for its planches pédagogiques (plahnsh paid-ah-goh-zjeek), or posters with highly detailed drawings of specimens of the natural world, like the parrots, above. They were so accurate that artists, such as André Breton, Salvador Dali, or Robert Doisneau, collected them for study. Every French classroom was equiped with Deyrolle charts of the natural world. Now you can buy wallpaper adorned with classic Deyrolle images. I think it could look pretty amazing in a study or a child’s bedroom.
- Reference Tool: Handy List of Nobel Prizes Awarded in Physics (longstreet.typepad.com)