Moulin Rouge. Opera House in Paris, France

Moulin Rouge

Opera House in Paris, France

Moulin Rouge Photo © Riccardo Cuppini

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Moulin Rouge

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	the day - Moulin Rouge
During the day - Moulin Rouge. Photo by Michael Schaffner
The world-famous Moulin Rouge opened its doors about 125 years ago and has set the standard for cabaret ever since. It is the birthplace of the modern can-can dance, a seductive dance performed by a line of female dancers wearing costumes, high heels, long skirts, stockings, and petticoats. The dance features lifting of the skirts, high kicking, and suggestive body movements. The dance has now evolved into its own type of entertainment and has led to the opening of other cabarets all over Europe.

Located in the 18th arrondissement in the district of Pigalle and close to Montmartre, the Moulin Rouge is an important tourist attraction in Paris. It offers nighttime entertainment and is easily recognized by the red windmill – a moulin rouge – on its roof.


The Moulin Rouge was opened on October 9, 1889, in the Jardin de Paris at the foot of the hill of Montmartre. It is no coincidence that it opened right in that period of time. It was the middle of the Belle Époque, a period of optimism, peace and industrial innovations. Culturally, the mentality was extremely open-minded and exuberance was typical of the time. Elaborate designs and wealthy decorations were the main feature of the 1889 and 1900 World Fairs that took place in the city as well. Another new building was dedicated in 1889, for the World Fair: the Eiffel Tower. The Montmartre area was particularly bon-vivant, home to artists, progressives, and many events and festivals.

Moulin Rouge - Moulin
Moulin Rouge - Moulin Rouge. Photo by Riccardo Cuppini
So, it was no surprise that a new music hall opened in the area. The creators were two brilliant businessmen, Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler, who saw the need for a place where rich Parisian could go and splurge. They chose the official name ‘Moulin Rouge’ and called it the First Palace of Women. The design was extravagant and consisted of a red windmill on the roof and an enormous elephant in the garden. The Moulin Rouge was an immediate success. It quickly gained a reputation for being the place where men could watch young Parisian girls show off their amazing dance moves. The first decades of the establishment weren’t classy though. Sometimes the acts performed there were downright vulgar and caused public outrage. A famous visitor during these early years was Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (Wikipedia Article), who went on to create now world-famous paintings depicting scenes in the Moulin Rouge.

Later on, the managers cleaned up the place and it eventually lost its reputation of a brothel. It became a fashionable music and entertainment hall, known for its exuberant cabaret shows.

Moulin Rouge Girl -
	Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge Girl - Moulin Rouge. Photo by N. M

Visiting the Moulin Rouge

A visit to the Moulin Rouge is still a very popular thing to do among adult visitors to Paris. Although not all tourists catch a show, you will always see several people snapping pictures of the famous red windmill on the roof.

Modern shows feature can-can dances performed by no less than one hundred dancers. The women wear the most extravagant costumes imaginable. Their costumes are made up of feathers, sequins, and rhinestones made in the most famous workshops in Paris. Even the décor is spectacular. A Féerie Show, as they are called, includes numerous artists, a thousand costumes and music recorded by 80 musicians and 60 singers. Usually an evening at the Moulin Rouge also includes a three-course dinner. Popular dinner concepts are the Belle Époque Evening, the Blanche Evening, and the Toulouse-Lautrec Evening. The interior of the place will take you back a hundred years, to the heydays of cabaret. There is a shop on site as well, where you can buy souvenirs and merchandise.

Although the acts have been cleaned up, it is still adult entertainment, so it is advised to find a babysitter for the kids if you want to go see a Moulin Rouge show. Children older than six are allowed though. Prices depend on the time and date of the shows and whether it is a special performance or not. Visitors are required to dress up accordingly. Jackets and ties are appreciated, shorts and sports clothing aren’t allowed.

How to Get There

People who are staying in Montmartre can get to the Moulin Rouge on foot by walking down the hill to the district of Pigalle. It can also be reached with the subway. The nearest subway station is Blanche and is served by the M2 line. By bus it can be reached on lines 30, 54, 68, and 74.

Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur

Nearby and Similar Landmarks

Montmartre is still one of the most free-spirited areas in Paris and home to many artists and performers. A major highlight there is the Sacre Coeur Basilica. Other Parisian landmarks are The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower; the Champs-Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe; the Notre-Dame de Paris, and Centre George Pompidou.

Similar entertainment complexes and theaters elsewhere in the world are the Sydney Opera House, Radio City Music Hall, and the Amazon Theatre.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Jan 09, 2015

Pictures of Moulin Rouge

Moulin rouge - Moulin Rouge
Moulin rouge - Photo by Never House


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