Curiouser and curiouser! So goes the famous phrase from Alice in Wonderland, as she descends into a world that becomes increasingly stranger by the second. Paris, too, has a collection of odd establishments that are worlds away from your usual fare of pop-up shops and concept stores. If you’re up for a pretty unusual afternoon of sightseeing and shopping, then this little guide should get you started.
Deyrolle’s Animal Farm
On Rue du Bac is Deyrolle, a taxidermy shop established in 1831, and remains a well-loved fixture in Paris. Hovering somewhere between a shop and a museum, its two floors host stuffed figures of almost any animal you could think of — from a full-sized giraffe, down to miniscule beetles. In the mint-green colored rooms stand taxidermied lions, crocodiles, bears, ostriches and owls in mid-motion, never ceasing to impress children and adults with their strange concoction of beauty, danger and death. Deyrolle is known to have inspired artists like André Breton and Robert Doisneau, and when a fire ravaged its collection in 2007, it was rebuilt with the efforts of people whose lives it had touched, including Prince Louis-Albert de Broglie, Gerard Depardieu, Damien Hirst, and artist Sophie Calle. Not everyone needs (or can afford) a stuffed tiger for their home, but their anatomy posters and beautiful book editions make great and original gifts.
Deyrolle is at 46 Rue du Bac, 75007.
Julien Aurouze’s Rats
People come to Paris with a long list of items on their shopping list, but I’m guessing that rat poison isn’t often included in it. Still, if ever you’re up for an original storefront display, I suggest you stop by Julien Aurouze & Co., the pest exterminator shop on Rue des Halles that has been around since 1872. It seems like its main advertising tactic is to intimidate you with its gruesome display of stuffed rats in various states of torture scenarios — hanging by their necks in rat traps, stuck on rat pads, keeled over from rat poison — so much so that you’ll end up buying a trap or two to be sure to never again cross paths with those pesky critters in your own home.
Julien Aurouze & Co. is located at 8 Rue des Halles, 75001.
Tombées de Camions’ Plastic Eyeballs
Unexpected curiosities abound at Tombées du Camion, which literally translates to “fallen off a truck.” These unwanted items — old factory stocks that come in bulk — have been rescued by its charismatic owner Charles Mas since 2006. Each crate is filled with not-so-useful yet amusing items: plastic eyeballs, skeleton keys, steel typographic plates, coffin handles, tin cars, plastic whistles, thousands of colorful beads, and even packets of toilet paper from the 1930s. Adorning the walls in a repetitive pattern are dolls heads, empty poison jars, and wartime postcards. It could very well be a museum of Art Brut. Yet as useless and insignificant as these things may seem, you’ll most likely find yourself leaving the store clutching a bag of treasures, happy and confused with your purchased loot.
Tombées du Camion is located at the Marché aux Puces de Saint Ouen, Marché Vernaison, Allée 3 Stand 107.
A Haircut On A Full Moon
If you’re lamenting the fact that your hair doesn’t grow fast enough, Djélani Maachi may have the answer for you: a haircut during a full moon. Known as le coiffeur de la pleine lune (full moon hair stylist), Maachi operates on the belief that going for a haircut during a full moon will result to one’s hair growing faster than usual, prompting him to keep his shop open from 10PM to 6AM during these nights. Sound silly to you? Probably, but judging from the difficulty in getting an appointment at his salon during a full moon, a lot of people seem to think that it isn’t. Don’t diss it until you’ve tried it.
Visit Djélani Maachi at 40 Rue Coquillère, 75001.