About 5 years ago I had the joy of visiting Paris. On that very brief visit, I was told that I MUST stop in to see Deyrolle while I was there. For those of you that have never visited, it’s a natural science “Cabinet of Curiosities” shop started in 1831 that is filled to the brim with taxidermy, etymological specimens, shells and coral, beautiful instructional charts, classrooms, etc…and all displayed with a nod to whimsy. (This is evident from the first moment you look in the window and see an antelope dressed in gardening clothes.) Unfortunately, I had other appointments to attend to while I was there, but I literally could have stayed in Deyrolle for the entire day. It left me feeling sad to leave because I wanted to explore every nook and cranny of this incredible place, and felt as if I’d only scratched the surface.
Fast forward a few years, and I heard that Deyrolle had experienced a terrible fire and most of it had burned. Thankfully the owners and volunteers were able to save a great number of specimens…and today the shop has been rebuilt.
In 2009 Assouline Publishing released a book of photographs by Laurent Bochet called 1000 degrees Celsius that captured the remains of what happened after the fire. It’s a captivating book that I would recommend to anyone who loves animals and the spirit of survival. The portraits section at the end is my favorite part for it’s vitality against the blackened walls of the shop. It features volunteers posing with specimens that survived the fire from Deyrolle. My favorite quote from that section is, “Amid all this carbon, they [the specimens] had never looked as much like survivors. We gathered them together so that they could rub each other, nuzzle each other – a kiss.”
See more photos from Laurent Bochet’s 1000 degrees Celsius after the jump.
Apparently this little boy, a neighbor of the shop, asked “The little donkey, did he die?” That was the wonderful feeling that I got when I visited Deyrolle. Not that the animals were dead, but that they were all alive in this beautiful menagerie. Very strange to see a lion and a lamb lying next to one another. (No, this is not a Twilight reference, but an actual display where they have all types of animals lying or sitting next to each other.)
At any rate, thankfully the owner has rebuilt it for future generations to come back and enjoy. (I truly can’t recommend this place highly enough.) And thankfully Laurent Bochet has documented these touching images for the world to remember. You can purchase the book on sale (while supplies last of course) for only $69.95 here. Afterwards, you can purchase it here for full price or used. I’m so happy to finally own a copy of the book for myself!
all images by Laurent Bochet.