Moulin Rouge Paris – 7 Ways To See The Hottest Show in Town

1889 was a big year for Paris. The Eiffel Tower was built, an International Exhibition was staged, and Moulin Rouge opened its doors. Exactly as old as the Eiffel Tower, this famous cabaret is more popular than ever. You can't miss its signature bright red windmill at the foot of Montmartre, on Place Blanche along Boulevard de Clichy.

Today, Moulin Rouge is still the number-one rated show in City of Night and it sells out weeks in advance. One hundred performers, including the legendary Doriss Dancing Girls, are resplendent in feathers, sequins and rhinestone costumes.

1. Dinner Cruise + Eiffel Tower + Moulin Rouge

A Paris Insiders Guide Favourite

Eiffel Tower Dinner, Seine River Cruise & Moulin Rouge Show

Combine the Moulin Rouge with the best of the city's nightlife. You start on a bateau on the Seine river for a leisurely cruise as you dine on a multi-course French dinner. Then you are spirited to the legendary Moulin Rouge for the evening cabaret.

Everything is included — dinner cruise, Eiffel Tower entrance, Moulin Rouge show, champagne at Moulin Rouge, and transportation back to your hotel at the end of the evening. Note — In August 2019 the evening includes dinner on the Eiffel Tower, a river cruise, and the show at Moulin Rouge.

2. VIP Moulin Rouge Dinner & Show

Moulin Rouge Dinner, Show & Hotel Pickup

We particularly like this option because you're treated as a VIP in the best seats at the Moulin Rouge. In fact, there are only twenty-four of these exclusive seats on the balcony, with clear views to the stage, sets, and dancing. The night also includes skip-the-line entry plus the show, a four-course French dinner, and fine wines and champagne selected by the sommelier.

3. Moulin Rouge Dinner, Show & Hotel Transportation

Moulin Rouge Dinner, Show & Hotel Transportation

This nighttime Moulin Rouge activity is another favorite and we recommend it for a number of reasons — an important one is it includes pickup and transportation back to your hotel at the end of the night, which we consider a must.

The fun starts at 7:00 PM with a leisurely multi-course meal featuring classic French food and champagne. After dinner, settle back and enjoy the amazing cabaret show.

Best part — you don't have to worry about arranging any details. Everything is included — tickets to the show, dinner, champagne and transportation to and from your hotel. (Actually, another advantage to this activity is that it lets you choose either the hotel transportation we described, OR transportation from a central Paris location, OR no transportation at all !) This sells out weeks in advance, so be sure to book early!

4. Paris by Night City Tour + Moulin Rouge Show

Paris by Night City Tour + Moulin Rouge Show

Paris is fantastic by day but it is absolutely magical by night. See the city lights on your way to Moulin Rouge. Your driver takes you on a best-of-Paris route from Place de la Concorde, Place Vendôme, Opera and Champs-Elysées to Pigalle, Montmartre, and everything in between.

Once again, all the details have been arranged — pick-up and return transportation to your Paris address, illuminations tour, tickets to Moulin Rouge, and champagne, of course.

5. Dinner Cruise on the Seine + Moulin Rouge Cabaret

Dinner Cruise & Moulin Rouge

Start your night with a dinner cruise aboard one of the glass-enclosed boats from Marina de Paris on the River Seine. We like this evening activity because you're able to dine at your own private table as you admire the monuments of Paris passing by. Then you are driven to Moulin Rouge for a dazzling show.

Everything is included, as you might expect by now — transportation to and from your hotel, dinner, Moulin Rouge show and, of course, champagne!

6. Moulin Rouge Show with Hotel Transportation

Moulin Rouge Show With Hotel Pick-up

Want to see the cabaret show without dinner? Bien sur! Same great show with transportation to and from your hotel and some bubbly to enjoy while you take in the number-one rated show in Europe. It's the easy way to go, no need to figure out how to get there on the Metro or what to do when you're ready to leave.

Complete with champagne, hotel pick-up and return after the show. Choose the 9:00 PM show or the 11:00 PM show.

7. Moulin Rouge Dinner & Show

Moulin Rouge Dinner & Show

Want dinner and the show but you can manage your own transportation? Pas de probleme! This combination dinner and show includes everything except getting to and from your hotel.

Dress code at the Moulin Rouge is elegant attire. Dress your best, you're in Paris!

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Dining at the Moulin Rouge – What to Expect

Toulouse-Lautrec

Sure, it's a cabaret but you probably didn't know that the Moulin Rouge is also known for its dining. The menu continually changes but here's a sneak peek of what you can expect when you dine at the world's most famous cabaret.

There are several menus to choose from, each is named after a pivotal actress, artist, or époque. Of course, it being France, a half bottle of champagne per person is always included!

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Mistinguett Menu

Mistinguett was a star of the Moulin Rouge in the early 1900s and one of the highest-paid female entertainers in the world. Mistinguett (Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois) started her career as a flower seller and became so popular that she toured the US and appeared in Time magazine.

ENTRÉE
• Terrine of foie gras with fruit chutney, or
• King prawns with smoked spices & herb vinaigrette

PLAT
• Sautéed chicken breast with morel cream sauce & fresh pasta, or
• Baked salmon filet with French white butter sauce & roasted grape tomatoes

DESSERT
• Compote of red berries, meringue & raspberry sauce, or
• A trio of chocolate creations garnished with chocolate pearls

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Toulouse-Lautrec Menu

Dedicated to the artist who popularized the gaiety of Moulin Rouge. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec accomplished a lot in his brief 36 years. You'll probably recognize his popular Moulin Rouge posters — Reine de Joie, Aristide Bruant and La Goulue.

ENTRÉE
• Norwegian smoked salmon & caviar with toast points, or
• Stuffed dover sole on a bed of baby greens

PLAT
• Steamed sea bream with champagne sauce & dauphinoise potatoes, or
• Sautéed veal with suprême sauce & rice pilaf

DESSERT
• Moulin Rouge Opera cake with chocolate hazelnut sauce , or
• Compote of red berries, meringue & raspberry sauce.

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Belle Épôque Menu

Opera Cake Opéra gateau is an elaborate almond sponge, soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache, coffee buttercream, and chocolate glaze. A French invention, it makes for a showstopping dessert.

Belle Épôque is French for the "Beautiful Era". This menu is dedicated to the period between the Prussian War (1870) and World War I (1914) when France's economy flourished and the arts, restaurants, culture and entertainment gained recognition.

MISE EN BOUCHE
A little appetizer specially prepared by the chef to tease the palate

ENTRÉE
• Foie gras with mango vinaigrette & roquette salad , or
• Lobster à la Parisienne with baby greens

PLAT
• Sea bass filet with porcini mushroom sauce & risotto , or
• Sirloin steak with French beans, fresh butter & pan-fried baby potatoes

DESSERT
• Saint Honoré cake with raspberries, whipped cream & caramel, or
• Moulin Rouge Opera cake with chocolate hazelnut sauce, or
• A trio of chocolate creations garnished with chocolate pearls

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The Top Seine River Dinner Cruises

Privilege Dinner Cruise with Hotel Pickup
This romantic dinner cruise includes pick-up from your hotel a 4-course classic meal, and live music. #1 Traveler Choice.
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Marina de Paris Dinner Cruise on the Seine
Cruise down the Seine on a bateau while being served a 3-course gourmet meal prepared by a French chef. Hotel transportation included.
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History of the Moulin Rouge

History of the Moulin Rouge

Founders Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler had a vision of creating a place where rich and famous Parisians could let their hair down in the shabby/chic part of town, Montmartre. Their extravagant design included a gigantic elephant sculpture in the garden and the early shows were inspired by circus acts. Instantly, Moulin Rouge became a magnet to tout le monde — women, workers, artists, the bourgeoisie, businessmen and tourists.

Enter Parisian artist Toulouse-Lautrec. It was his posters and paintings that boosted the Moulin Rouge to international fame.

The Moulin Rouge has been the spot for entertainment in Paris since it was built at the height of the Belle Epoque, the re-flourishing of Paris after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. The French Cancan with its furious rhythms and scintillating costumes, along with a champagne-fueled audience, made the nightclub a sought-after destination.

Controversy has also been a part of the Moulin's history. Colette's 1906 performance Egyptian Dream caused a sensation. The Chief of Police threatened to close down the cabaret if the two-minute act was ever performed again. What was all the fuss about? A long kiss between Colette and her fellow performer, Missy, AKA Yssim, AKA the Marquise de Morny.

Moulin Rouge Timeline

Moulin Rouge, 1890s

The Moulin Rouge, the birthplace of the can-can, has entertained Parisians and pleasure seekers from around the globe with its risqué and elaborate shows for 130 years. Those years haven't all been easy — over the decades the cabaret has faced many trials, from scandals and a major fire, to world wars and near bankruptcy.

Established during the Belle Époque, the Moulin Rouge made its debut the same year as another Paris icon, the Eiffel Tower. Both were launched in 1889, a time when the bourgeoisie was creating the art of travel, leisure, dining, and entertainment.

Decades passed and Moulin Rouge continued its famous revue, but it was not drawing the same size crowds. Bankruptcy loomed in the 1990s. Then something unexpected happened, a deus ex machina in the form of Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. The film brought new audiences to the night spot and new energy to the team. Since then Moulin Rouge has continued to be a top destination in the City of Light.

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The Most Popular Ways to Visit Versailles

Best of Versailles. Skip the Line, with Hotel Pick-up & Lunch
This day trip from Paris gets you inside the royal estate without waiting in the long lines. Included is a 3-course traditional lunch by the Grand Canal.
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Skip-the-Line Guided Tour to Versailles, with Hotel Pick-up & Return
Small-group or private tours in the morning. The best of Versailles including the King's Apartment & the Hall of Mirrors. Stroll in the magnificent gardens.
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130 Years of Highlights

  • October 6, 1889 – The world's most famous cabaret, the Moulin Rouge opens at the foot of the hill in Montmartre in the Pigalle district.
  • October 26, 1890 – When the Prince of Wales takes his front row seat, La Goulue catches sight of the the future king George V of England, and calls out, "Hey, Wales, the champagne's on you!"
  • 1891 – Toulouse-Lautrec's first poster for the Moulin Rouge is printed, featuring La Goulue. She is the first star of Moulin Rouge — born Louise Weber (1866-1929) and nicknamed The Glutton because she had an insatiable thirst for customers' drinks. She also becomes known as the Queen of Montmartre.
  • 1893 – The Bal des Quat'z'Arts, a famous annual arts ball, causes a sensation when a nude Cleopatra dances, surrounded by a troupe of naked women.
  • November 12, 1897 – For the first time in its history, the Moulin Rouge closes, for the funeral of Charles Zidler, the cabaret's cofounder.

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Universal Exhibition

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  • 1900 – Visitors flock from around the globe to the Universal Exhibition in Paris (above) to see the latest advancements in technology. And they adore the Moulin Rouge, giving the city its reputation as a place of decadent pleasure.
  • January, 1903 – Moulin Rouge re-opens after a lengthy renovation under the direction of the famous Belle Époque architect Édouard Niermans. His other projects include Brasserie Mollard, Folies Bergère, and Hotel Negresco in Nice. Now, the elite of Paris can meet for dinner and a show in elegant surroundings.
  • January 3, 1907 – French writer Colette kisses the Duchess of Morny on stage during the show Le Rêve d'Egypte. Declared scandalous, the show is banned. You can see Keira Knightley reenact this scene in the 2018 film, Colette.
  • July 29, 1907 – A dancer known as Mistinguett makes her first appearance in La Revue de la Femme. Born into poverty as Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois (1875-1956), she transforms herself to become the star of Moulin Rouge and the highest-paid female entertainer in the world.
  • February 27, 1915 – The Moulin Rouge burns down, making the news worldwide. The International Herald Tribune reports the popular cabaret has been reduced to ashes due to a short-circuit-caused fire.
  • 1921 – Moulin Rouge reopens after a long restoration process.

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Mistinguett

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  • After World War I – A new manager takes charge and hires a top choreographer to reinvigorate the cabaret. The Moulin Rouge regains its audience, thanks to Mistinguett and a very young singer, Maurice Chevalier. (Her photo above.)
  • 1929 – Mistinguett retires from the stage; the Moulin Rouge loses its biggest star.
  • 1929 – A new revue, Lew Leslie's Blackbirds, opens as a huge hit. It stars American jazz singer and Broadway star Adelaide Hall (1901-1993), with a hundred black performers along with the Jazz Plantation Orchestra.
  • World War II – Nazi occupiers flock to the Moulin Rouge. The cabaret flourishes during the occupation with German officers as the main audience.
  • August 1944 – Days after the liberation of Paris Edith Piaf performs with newcomer Yves Montand.
  • June 22, 1951 – Georges France, founder of another Paris cabaret, Balajo on Rue de Lappe, purchases Moulin Rouge and starts another major renovation.
  • 1955 – Moulin Rouge once again has new owners, brothers Joseph and Louis Clérico, who also own Le Lido, the cabaret on Champs-Elysées.
  • 1957 – Doris Haug, a dancer from Germany, creates the Doriss Girls troupe, originally with four dancers. The dance company eventually grows to sixty performers and endures to this day as the centerpiece of the show.
  • 1962 – Jacki, the son of Joseph Clérico, takes control of the Moulin Rouge, ushering in a new era by making the auditorium larger and installing a giant aquarium for the first ever aquatic ballet.
  • 1963 – With the success of the Frou-Frou revue, Jacki Clérico, a superstitious man, will only choose subsequent show titles that start with the letter F. You think we're kidding?
    • 1963 to 1965 – Frou-Frou
    • 1965 to 1967 – Frisson
    • 1967 to 1970 – Fascination
    • 1970 to 1973 – Fantastic
    • 1973 to 1976 – Festival
    • 1976 to 1978 – Follement
    • 1978 to 1983 – Frénésie
    • 1983 to 1988 – Femmes, Femmes, Femmes
    • 1988 to 1999 – Formidable
    • Since 1999 – Féerie

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The Village People

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  • September 7, 1979 – Moulin Rouge celebrates its 90th birthday with a star-studded line up including Ginger Rogers, Dalida, Charles Aznavour, Zizi Jeanmaire, and of course, The Village People.
  • November 23, 1981 – Moulin Rouge closes for a private performance for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
  • September 25, 1984 – Frank Sinatra appears at a special gala.
  • October 6, 1989 – Moulin Rouge turns 100. Gala stars include Charles Aznavour, Lauren Bacall, Ray Charles, Tony Curtis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dorothy Lamour, Jane Russell, Charles Trénet, and of course, the Gypsy Kings.
  • November 14, 1999 – It's the final night of the centenary revue and Formidable will have been seen by 4.5 million spectators.
  • December 23, 1999 – The new revue, Féerie is performed for the first time. It is still performed today (2019).
  • August 10, 2014 – Doriss Haug, mistress du ballet since 1957 and founder of the Doriss girls, dies.
  • October 6, 2019 – Moulin Rouge celebrates its 130th anniversary. Its twin icon, the Eiffel Tower, is the same age.

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