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Paris Notebook

8 August 2013
A Gruesome Display

Rats...Rats dancing in a circle, rats holding a lump of cheese in their paws, bleached skeletons of rats and twenty sewer rats that were caught in Les Halles in 1925 suspended on meat hooks. If you enjoy discovering nineteenth century Parisian curiosities, it's worth taking a look at the shop of Julien Aurouze at 8, rue des Halles near Châtelet. Ets Aurouze are the ultimate specialists in pest control and whether you have a problem with rats, mice, pigeons, cockroaches, slugs, wasps, moles or whatever, they will find a solution. But although their web site is ultra modern, their macabre window full of dusty stuffed rodents seems scarcely to have changed since they first opened in 1872 and it attracts a crowd of fascinated passers-by. Scattered amongst the rats and mice are the various products destined to destroy them with dramatic names like Pate du Diable and also something called Viperyl 'pour éloigner les serpents'. In a second window there is a collection of small furry animals which are presumably considered to be pests - one of them is certainly snarling ferociously - and glass cases containing some extremely nasty looking insects including an enormous cockroach. If you are sufficiently interested, you can even buy a book called Mémoires d'un rat des Halles!

Book cover, front

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