With tapestry walls and crystal chandeliers, the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature may seem like any old palace-turned-museum in Paris, that is until you realize you’re surrounded by weapons and dead animals. Is Paris to die for?

Opened in 2007, in the Hôtel de Guénégaud, an opulent 17th-century palace, the Musée de la Chasse is filled with art relating to the hunt — taxidermy, antique weapons, and art dominated by critters, both alive and well, not. The Trophy Room has examples of nearly every animal you can imagine, from cheetahs and rhinos to boars and reindeer. There’s even a polar bear standing guard in the one of the rooms, but no worries, he’s quite friendly for photo ops. Which is what I love most about the museum — there’s a sense of whimsy everywhere, from the thorny thistle that keeps you from sitting on the decorative furniture, to interactive multimedia displays of chickens. Everything is slightly unexpected. For a space that’s largely filled with dead animals, it doesn’t feel dark or dreary, but rather seems more a celebration of the arts and the lives of aforementioned beasties.

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