For romantics, no visit to the city of lights would be complete without a night at the original Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris. Built in 1889, the club was the essence of a bohemian, Belle Epoque Paris, where artists converged to produce and attend colorful and avant- garde performances. The Moulin Rouge in Paris has inspired scores of Hollywood homages, the most recent being director Baz Luhrman’s 2001 glitz fest starring Nicole Kidman. It also provided inspiration for 19th-century painter Toulouse Lautrec, whose portraits of Moulin Rouge performers are today housed in Paris’ Musee d’Orsay.
...Or Dull Cliche?
- Plush, spacious venue evoking turn-of-the-century Paris
- Talented performers
- Authentic cabaret feel
- Long line, despite reservation
- Overly touristy
- Nudity may be offensive to some
Practical Information on the Moulin Rouge
Tel.: +33 (0) 153.098.282
Metro: Blanche (line 2)
Reservations: Highly recommended-- book via the official website. You can also reserve a basic dinner and show package here: (book direct via Paris Trip). For an all-inclusive package including a dinner and show at the MR with a tour of the Eiffel Tower, see here: (book direct via Paris Trip)
Dinner menus: French Cancan Menu 145 euros; Toulouse-Lautrec Menu 160 euros; Belle Époque Menu 175 euros ; Lunch menu 125 euros (vegetarian options available)
Dress code: Neat, semiformal attire (no sneakers, shorts, etc.)
2008 Prices (shows only): 2:45pm (95 euros); 9pm (89 euros); 11pm (99 euros)
Payment Options: All major credit cards accepted
Visit the official website (in English)
Other: Photography, smoking, drinks and food purchased outside forbidden
Reserving and Settling In
The show opens with spectacular fanfare. Girls are dressed in skimpy beaded costumes while the guys wear silver suits. The scene is dramatic and aesthetically assaulting, but not for the prudish—the initial semi-nudity of the female dancers sets the tone for the entire show. While the score is of an undefinable "European" nature, the music’s lyrics are all in French.
Dancing acts are the main feature of the Moulin Rouge, but the circus element soon rears its head as we are entertained by some fairly dazzling acrobatics. Performers’ moves are impressive but we sensed a weariness in some of the actions – probably a result of the three-shows-a-day schedule. The dancers seem tired too, but only to the trained eye of my thespian companion.
Circus gimmicks continue with the presence of clowns, jugglers and a talented ventriloquist, who succeeds in livening up an otherwise subdued (and travel-weary) audience. He chooses four participants of different nationality from the crowd, which seemed rehearsed but apparently spontaneous.
The faultless choreography traces various periods in history from the Mayans to the Egyptians to the 1940s swing dancers – all presented in a foray of color and music. We have to wait till near the show’s end for the traditional French cancan, though, where the high kicks are immersed in a sea of tricolor.
The show achieves some spectacular moments. About halfway through, the stage gives way to a tank of water, where a female performer swims with snakes. And the larger-than life finale is distinguished by furry pink costumes.