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Originally published August 15, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 15, 2007 at 2:06 AM


"Ratatouille" makes a star out of Paris rat-trap shop

In a key scene from "Ratatouille," the father of RRémy, a rat who wants to be a chef, shows him a pest-control shop and tells him humans...

Bloomberg News

PARIS — In a key scene from "Ratatouille," the father of Rémy, a rat who wants to be a chef, shows him a pest-control shop and tells him humans do nasty things to rodents.

To eerie background music and in the light of a street lamp on a wet night, the father points to the scores of dead rats hanging by strings in the window. The store's shelves have medieval-looking traps and boxes of rat poison.

The animated film and Rémy have made Aurouze, the real-life rat-trap shop in central Paris featured in the film, something of a tourist attraction. Rabie Cheklat, 20, a student from the Paris suburbs, made a detour on a recent trip to the city to visit the shop.

"I vaguely remember seeing the shop as a kid and when I saw the film I said, 'I know that place,' " he said. "I wanted to come have another look."

Aurouze has been killing rats for 135 years. In its window hang 21 dead rats, their necks crushed by steel traps. They've been there since 1925.

"We'll never take them down," said Cécile Aurouze, 34, who along with her brother Julien, 30, runs the business founded by their grandfather in 1872. "They are the emblem of the store."

While traps make for a more impressive window display, most rats these days are dispatched with anti-coagulants that cause them to die from internal bleeding, Cécile Aurouze said. Old-fashioned rat traps are fine for people's houses, not for major urban infestations, she said.

By law, every basement in Paris must have rat poison sprinkled about. Some of Paris' best-known restaurants and food stores are important customers, Aurouze said, but "they would die from shame and be very angry if I gave out their names."

In "Ratatouille," Rémy's attempts to become a gastronomic success at a Parisian restaurant almost get him killed by the kitchen staff, until he joins up with a struggling apprentice and directs his cooking from under his toque. And oh, Rémy helps the apprentice win the girl.

Neither Aurouze, nor Pixar, would give details of the contract allowing use of the store's 19th-century facade.

Aurouze said that although the movie has brought curious tourists to the shop, she doesn't expect it to bring more business. "You come to us because you need to," she said, "not because you want to."

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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