Notes from a Jersey Girl

by Lisa G Westheimer

Paris, France, November 13, 2015: during….

1 Comment


The greeting menagerie on the main landing of Deyrolle

On “that fateful day” Bill and I spent the day visiting one of our favorite places on the planet,  Deyrolle.  How do I explain this place?  Well, it’s a store.  You can buy things in it, mainly taxidermy, stuffed dead things and books about stuffed dead things.  It is fascinating!  Now before you get your panties all in a bunch please note that except for antiques (it’s been around 100 years or so) all the animals for sale have provenance, mostly from zoos, and most met their demise from old age or illness (or so my command of French leads me to think from reading the posted sign.)


The posted sign

After having “my hair done” in one of the rooms, we set about shopping.


Having my hair done by one of the occupants


I was not going home empty handed, but what to buy, what to buy?  All the really cool stuff was way too expensive, mostly because it was made by the artist Damien Hirst.  I have this terrible but useful habit:  the favorite thing in every venue I frequent is the first thing I see.  Sometimes it serves me well, sometimes it doesn’t, but I try to give the entire venue a fair shake before making up my mind when I shop.  In keeping with tradition, the first thing I saw when I climbed the stairs to the taxidermy floor was a meerkat standing sentry on a desk next to a computer.  Not only was he cute, had a personality and looked a little ratty (covers all my taxidermy bases.) He seemed to have a jaunty attitude AND was somewhat affordable (cheaper than a Damien Hirst but more expensive than a bee)  Let’s just refer to the little beast as a thousand dollar rat and call it a day.  Sorry, they wrapped him before I could take a picture.

When we told the shop keeper we wanted to buy him she became a bit upset.  It seems that he is her mascot.  She said the staff names all their “occupants,” and they called him “Gofret” so we named him Fred.  They kind of ceremoniously nestled him in a big white cardboard box full of soft paper and tied it up with string.  We carried Fred for the entire day.  He joined us at Musee D’Orsay, but hung out in the cloak room while we looked at the art.  I must say that I had to my wear my slack jawed demented old lady look to get him past security and if we had tried to enter 1 hour later I think we would have been strip searched and thrown in the brig for trying to enter carrying a large white unmarked box.  Thus began our journey on foot along the Seine carrying a very expensive dead rat in a large box.

It was a very pleasant day.  We stopped in many galleries, had a fabulous lunch and enjoyed the Musee D’Orsay and its contents (the two didn’t exactly fit together,) but the artwork was amazing and the building impressive.


One of the restaurants in Musee D’Orsay


Another spot to eat, check out those amazing chairs



Cool museum foot traffic


Reminded me of the movie “Metropolis”

We walked back to the hotel along the Seine, looking forward to a glass of wine before meeting up for dinner with friends, maybe a spot of window shopping and procurement of gifts to bring back to the States.  But what were all those sirens about???


Author: Lisa G Westheimer

I am a ceramic and glass artist living and working in West Orange, NJ, USA. I have a masters degree in ceramics from Montclair State University and teach at the Montclair Art Museum, both in Montclair, NJ. Prior to this I was co-owner of "The Manhattan Expedition Inc" and was a NYC Building Code and Zoning Specialist in Manhattan, my main claim to fame as a Loft Conversion Specialist in Soho and Tribeca in the 1980's and 1990's, and a specialist in Landmarks Preservation and Special Places of Assembly, particularly the Fashion Shows in Bryant Park and any weird sort of thing happening in Manhattan worthy of getting thrown out of the Commissioner's office. But mostly I'm a Jersey Girl, born in Rutherford, schooled in a private school in Montclair, did a stint living in Greenwich Village then Soho before fleeing to Llewellyn Park in West Orange, NJ where I learned how to clean and restore stuffed bald eagles!!!! I can mostly be found in my studio or on the campus of The Montclair Art Museum (where I teach) or on the back of my horse Buddy, either in my backyard or at a farm in Sussex County.

One thought on “Paris, France, November 13, 2015: during….

  1. New name for your abode, ” Meerkat Manor”! Can’t wait to meet Fred!

    Liked by 1 person

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