Known throughout the world for its cancan, the women’s dance famous for splits and legs raised in the air, the Moulin Rouge never ceases to fascinate and attract attention with its world of sequins, rhinestones, feathers, original music together with the most beautiful girls in the world.
For more than 110 years, the Moulin Rouge theatre has welcomed millions of spectators, who come to admire its famous revue, a show with 60 dancers and more than 1,000 costumes parading before your eyes.
Immortalised countless times by the painter Toulouse-Lautrec, the Moulin Rouge is by far the most famous of Parisian cabarets, a temple of the Belle Epoque and a place for wild and libertine evenings.
Located at the foot of Montmartre in the 18th arrondissement, in the heart of the former red light district of Pigalle, the Moulin Rouge has become a true monument of Paris, a must-see on a trip to the capital. For more than a century, it has offered visitors from all over the world astonishing shows, always in the name of luxury, art and colour.
Inaugurated on 6 October 1889, the Moulin Rouge quickly became one of the most famous and libertine theatres in Paris, following in the footsteps of the fame and success of another of the capital’s iconic venues, the Moulin de la Galette, a restaurant with a dancing show, housed in an old 17th-century windmill in Montmartre.
By recreating the image of the fake red windmill (the colour clearly identified the sensual atmosphere of its shows), the Moulin Rouge cabaret soon achieved almost instant success, thanks to its incredible repertoire of dances and shows that were licentious for the time, such as the famous cancan, an unrestrained, sensual, flirtatious and transgressive dance that won over even the well-thinking spectators of Paris.
The cancan soon became the signature of the Moulin Rouge, decreeing its international success: the beautiful and enchanting dancers, arranged in rows, raised their legs in the air to the rhythm of the music, mischievously lifting their lace skirts and showing their garters to the spectators, in a markedly racy and sensual gesture.
But the Moulin Rouge is not only cancan: over time it has also hosted big names in show business and music, who have contributed to increasing its fame and notoriety: the likes of Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli and Elton John, to name but a few, have trodden its stage.
Throughout its more than 130 years of history, the Moulin Rouge has been able to evolve and renew itself, adapting to the changes in the world of show business and spectator tastes, while maintaining its retro charm and its picturesque but less and less sensual performances.
The Moulin Rouge’s most important show is the Féerie: 60 beautiful Doriss Girls, selected from all over the world, perform on stage every night, sporting around 1,000 costumes made of feathers, rhinestones and sequins from the most prestigious Parisian workshops, embellished with glittering decorations and unique designs created by Italian artists.
The dancers, named after Dorothea “Miss Doris” Haug, the famous choreographer who created and signed the Moulin Rouge shows since 1957, are the result of a very tough selection process. They must meet two mandatory requirements: they must be strictly ballet dancers and be 1.75 metres tall. Only girls with a unique charm can perform in this timeless theatre, in a riot of costumes, glittering props, colourful sets and original choreography, amidst rivers of champagne consumed by the spectators.
Normally you can choose from several daily shows, lasting 1 hour and 50 minutes. In addition to the matinées, i.e. the daytime shows (at 13.00 and 14.45), the most popular are of course the evening shows, which always take place at 21:00 and 23:00. With your ticket, you also get half a bottle of champagne included.
There is also a VIP version, which will provide you with a privileged welcome, with a series of special attentions such as Premium Champagne tasting, privileged seating, priority access, small souvenirs, to name but a few.
We would like to remind you that the Moulin Rouge’s programme also includes shows by international singers or artists, who perform on this famous Paris stage.
Would you like to have an unforgettable experience, in perfect Belle Epoque style in Paris? Then we suggest you dine at the Moulin Rouge while waiting for the evening show. You will be projected into the magical atmosphere of the late 19th century, with the small, intimate tables, each equipped with the traditional red lamps, the unmistakable signature of the world’s most famous cabaret.
Dinner starts at 7 p.m. and you can choose from several menus, created by the trendiest chefs of the moment: the Toulose-Lautreque menu and the Belle Epoque menu, consisting of three courses and half a bottle of champagne. You will also find a children’s menu and one dedicated to vegetarians and vegans.
Attending a Moulin Rouge show is not cheap, the cost of admission starts at around 120 euros for a ticket that includes only the show and a glass of Champagne, but easily exceeds 200 if you add dinner as well.
Some savings can be made by purchasing a combined ticket with other attractions, for instance with a cruise on the Seine.
The Moulin Rouge has always had a libertine, sinful and mischievous reputation. In fact, over the course of its history, the cabaret has slowly lost its subtly erotic character and has become in effect a live performance and entertainment venue.
Evolving over the years while retaining the warmth, atmosphere and quality of the performances, the Moulin Rouge has lost none of its past lustre and continues to put on impeccably choreographed, glitzy shows. Today, it is also a popular venue for families with children, although the costs are decidedly high.
Attending a Moulin Rouge show cannot be improvised: tickets must be booked well in advance, as they often sell out very quickly.
Moreover, buying your ticket in advance gives you access to discounted rates and offers that cannot be found close to the date.
Unfortunately, in order to enter the Moulin Rouge you have to count on exhausting queues at the entrance. We advise you to go to the cabaret at least 20 to 30 minutes before the start of the show. You will thus be able to secure the seats closest to the stage. In fact, there are no numbered and assigned seats at the Moulin Rouge.
Also, to avoid long queues, you could choose the 11 p.m. show, which is the least crowded: in fact, most visitors choose the 9 p.m. show, which is particularly popular with those who also stay for dinner.
Not everyone knows that there are suggestions in terms of dress code. In fact, when booking, a dress code will be suggested to you, i.e. rules in the choice of clothes to wear.
In practice, elegant attire is required, appropriate for such a sumptuous setting. Although evening dress and a tie are not compulsory but only recommended, short trousers, Bermuda shorts, flip-flops, sportswear and trainers are absolutely forbidden.
In general, if you do not want to show off formal suits and dresses, it is sufficient to wear a shirt and long trousers for men (also jeans), evening dress for women. In any case, a look that is as sober and tidy as possible is recommended.
Although over the years the Moulin Rouge has been largely cleared through customs even for minors, we would like to remind you that the type of shows performed are still sensual and are not always suitable for a young audience.
In any case, children are allowed from 6 years of age, unlike other cabarets where the threshold is much higher (the Crazy Horse is forbidden to minors under 13), there is a dedicated dinner menu and the same dress code applies to them too.
One of the most popular occasions to celebrate at the Moulin Rouge is New Year’s Eve. People flock from all over Europe to celebrate the start of the New Year with music, dance and champagne.
On 31 December, as night falls, the evening offers all the effervescent spirit of Parisian festivities, with champagne bubbles, flamboyant feathers, surprises and, of course, the great Féerie show that will make your head spin.
Visible from afar thanks to its flamboyant red colour, the Moulin Rouge soon became, within months of its opening in 1891, the favourite place for lovers of the most sparkling nightlife.
A meeting place for artists and readers, the Moulin Rouge, with its transgressive and libertine atmosphere, was much loved by exponents of various artistic movements who found there a refuge from the strict rules of Parisian social life.
Famous painters, such as the post-impressionist artist Toulouse-Lautrec, became regulars at the Moulin Rouge, from whose sensual and mischievous atmosphere they drew for their scandalous works. Some of Toulouse-Lautrec’s most famous paintings are set in the Parisian cabaret.
The tragic story of the painter who lived on the margins of society was told in the famous 2001 musical Moulin Rouge!, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Nicole Kidman as the glamorous protagonist. The film won 2 Oscars for sets and costumes out of 8 nominations and 3 Golden Globes for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Picture, Best Score.
In the world’s most beloved Ville Lumiere, the Moulin Rouge has become an iconic building in Paris, thanks to its fully illuminated façade, which magically lights up at dusk.
In fact, it was the first building in the French capital to be illuminated thanks to electricity, which helped to make the fiery red of the façade even more garish. It is no coincidence that even today, despite the hundreds of attractions in the city, the Moulin Rouge is the most photographed location in Paris, more popular even than the Eiffel Tower. It has even been included in the list of the 10 most immortalised places in the world.
Invented in 1850 by the dancer Céleste Mogador and later brought to the stage of the Moulin Rouge, making it a worldwide success, at the time the cancan dance was considered vulgar and licentious. The wild dance of splits and legs raised in the air with skill and malice, to show garters and petticoats, over time won over even the most bigoted and became a symbol of Paris.
Not everyone knows that in 2014, the year of the cabaret’s 125th anniversary, the dancers of the corps de ballet entered the Guinness World Records book with an exceptional record: they achieved the greatest number of simultaneous leg lifts performed by a single line of dancers in a row, no fewer than 29 in 30 seconds.
An incredible achievement if you consider that the dancers perform wearing a very voluminous costume, consisting of 200 metres of frou-frou fabric for the petticoat and 32 metres for the panties, weighing a total of about 5 kg.
The Moulin Rouge shows, le Revues, were created in 1962 by Doris Haug, and have always, for superstitious reasons, had names beginning with ‘F’: Frou-Frou, Frisson, Fantastic, Femmes, Formidable and of course Féérie, the current show that has been a resounding success.
Thanks to a troupe of 80 performers, every night this show brings to the stage 1,000 costumes of feathers, sequins and rhinestones worn with grace and elegance by 60 Doriss Girls.
Paris’ Moulin Rouge, open all year round, stands with its flamboyant façade at 82 Boulevard Clichy and is easily reached by public transport.
The nearest metro station is Blanche, on Line 2. Alternatively, the Place de Clichy, Abesses and Pigalle metro stations are about 10 minutes’ walk away.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.