Horse butchers

The movement to promote the consumption of horse meat, which was considered inexpensive, low in fat and rich in iron, led to the enactment of an order on 9 June 1866, which authorized the consumption of this meat. The first butchers opened the same year and the first horse butcher in Paris was inaugurated on July 9 in the 13th arrondissement. By 1870, the capital had fifty of them.

We kept part of a horse-butcher environment to sell jewellery. It has an attractive look: this mosaic on a beige background and red horse standing on its hind legs (...) The dynamism and the visual quality of the decor outweigh any morbidity. Plenty of material, and the paint around the woodwork is now just a warm red hot without any connection to blood

Philippe Delerm, Traces, Fayard, 2008, about the old horse butcher on the corner of the Rue du Roi de Sicile and rue Vieille du Temple in Paris.

Horseflesh butchers grew frequent on the shopping streets until the mid-20th century, to such a point that the National Federation of House Butchers itself considered that the outskirts of Paris were saturated in the 1950s They are characterized by an easily recognisable decor, although there are many variants. The shop sign consists of one or more horse busts highlighted by a thin red neon light. The façade may include a perforated cast-iron grate, which is sometimes painted dark red. Often very simple and unlike the decor of contemporary bakeries, the inside may be decorated with white or coloured faïence tiles.

With the consumption of horse meat decreasing, the horse butchers began to cease operations starting in the 1970s. However, many of them were remodelled while respecting decoration.

< >