February 10, 2010
A wee trip to Paris, part 1
I spent a glorious weekend in Paris towards the end of last year. In the past I've tended to gravitate towards Le Marais, but this time around I explored more of Saint Germain and the Left Bank. It was by no means a comprehensive tour (I preferred lingering in cafes and strolling down sun-dappled boulevards) but I thought you might be interested in some of these wee gems…
Admittedly Deyrolle may not be everyone's cup of tea (in fact, you may find dead animals dead creepy), but I spent a good couple of hours completely submerged in the sheer beauty of this historic shop. Downstairs looks like any other bourgeois gardening/interiors store, with a rather lovely collection of enamel pots and handsome tools. In fact, the only hint of the spectacle that awaits upstairs is the odd taxidermied animal in the window, or the deer wearing an apron.
I had heard a little bit about Deyrolle's impressive collection of taxidermied animals, mounted insects, shells and minerals, but I was still completely gobsmacked as I discovered what can be best described as a Darwinian collection of natural history at the top of the stairs.
Row upon row of brightly coloured birds fill the dark-wooded Victorian cabinets, and the most beautiful butterflies are laid out in 19th century display cases. It's like walking into a natural history museum – except every bug, bear and butterfly is for sale.
I was fascinated by the humungous black rhinoceros beetles, stick insects and scorpions, but couldn't draw myself away from the glass trays of butterflies in astonishingly vivid hues of irridescent turquoise.
Choosing your bugs to mount is an exciting (and extremely satisfying) experience, akin to a child in a sweet shop, except you're pointing to exotic insects, not sherbet fountains. Your choice of butterflies and insects are mounted on a special display case, and prices for individual insects start at a few Euros. It's a wondrous place to browse, and kids will be equally fascinated.
46 rue du Bac
Tel. 01 42 22 30 07
Métro: Rue du Bac
Les Deux Magots
I know, it's a bit touristy these days but I couldn't pass up the
chance to have a latte in Sartre, de Beauvoir and Wilde's old hang-out.
Except I didn't have coffee, I went for the hot chocolate instead. And it was rich, luscious and quite simply The Best Hot Chocolate Ever. Nice old tiles, too.
Les Deux Magots
6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés
Tel. 01 45 48 55 25
Pierre Herme is everything that Laduree is not: modern, minimalist and a wee bit sexy. With not a hint of gilt in sight. But we're still talking about macaroons here, and Monsieur Herme's are very lovely indeed with big bold colours and delicate flavours. A perfect take-away treat to enjoy in the nearby Jardin du Luxembourg.
72 rue Bonaparte
Tel. 01 43 54 47 77
Monday to Friday 10am-7pm
Part 2 coming tomorrow.