You probably know the Moulin Rouge as Paris’ most famous cabaret – but do you know what really goes on behind the iconic windmill? Read on for a backstage look into the Paris Moulin Rouge. We have insider tips on the famous cabaret’s history, dancers as well as practical advice on Moulin Rouge packages, tickets, show times, Moulin Rouge dress code, accessing the Moulin Rouge by metro and how to best enjoy a night at the Moulin Rouge.
The Paris cabaret first opened its doors 1889 and built its reputation on Champagne-filled parties and the famous French Cancan dance. The quaint red windmill houses many secrets. Located at the foot of Montmartre, the Moulin Rouge is an icon in Paris.
Along with visiting Versailles, the Louvre and getting the perfect shot of the Eiffel Tower, no trip to France is complete without visiting the famous cabaret. The Moulin Rouge is first and foremost an amazing show. The Doriss girls are recruited from all of the globe and the spectacular troupe is graceful, athletic and glamorous. The extravagant, intricate costumes and elaborate set will make you feel as if you went back in time.
Best cabaret in Paris – Paris Moulin Rouge
The Moulin Rouge Show – Féerie
The Féerie is one of the Moulin Rouge’s most iconic shows. It was first created by the famous Doris Haug and Ruggero Anglette. The current version was choreographed by Bill Goodson. The one-of-a-kind show features 80 artists and 40 Doriss Girls. Thousands of feathered and rhinestone-clad costumes designed by Corrado Collabucci are necessary to create the Féerie magic. Over 4 years and 8 million euros were invested to create the show. The result is an unforgettable evening.
The Féerie is composed of four different acts. When the first curtain is raised, the entire troupe is on stage to welcome guests to the Moulin Rouge “Garden”. You’ll then be transported to the Moulin Rouge of yesterday, today and forever. We don’t want facto give away too many details, but we can definitely say that you won’t be disappointed by the marvelous show! You can book your tickets directly through here!
The French Cancan – The Quadrille
The French Cancan is known for its provocative leg-kicking that caused a stir when it first appeared in the 1830s. However, that didn’t stop the dance from becoming an international hit! Originally called the Quadrille, the dance spread to Britain in the 1860s and globally from there. The Moulin Rouge opened its doors to the Cancan dancers for the first time in October 1889. The dancers also worked part time as linen maids, laundresses or seamstresses and working at the Moulin Rouge at night quickly launched them to stardom!
The Moulin Rouge Cancan was an immediate success and contributed to the cabaret’s famous reputation. The dance is not easy for everyone, even highly skilled dancers! It requires both artistic and athletic qualities. All Moulin Rouge dancers needs at least five weeks of training before they’re ready to hit the stage. The one and only original French Cancan will forever be the one performed at the Moulin Rouge.
Shining gems of Moulin Rouge – The Doriss Girls
The Moulin Rouge would not be the same without their famous Doriss Girls. The German Miss Doriss joined the Moulin Rouge in 1954 and created the famous troupe. From just a couple in the 50s, the troupe is now made up of 80 elite dancers.
The Doriss girls have always been recruited from all over the world – from Las Vegas to Sydney and of course Paris. All potentiel Doriss Girls need solid training in classical ballet and the physical capacities that the Moulin Rouge show requires. Being a Doriss Girl comes with a lot of glamour but it’s mostly hard work! Dancers train regularly to be in top shape for the two nightly shows – and in the words of the Moulin Rouge director, “the show must be perfect every night!”. They are constantly taking dance lessons and learning new techniques. All of their hard work and sweat is definitely worth it!
Secrets behind the beauty of Moulin Rouge
Exceptional French feather craftsmanship – Maison Février
The Moulin Rouge show would not be the same without the famous feathered outfits. The Maison Février, created in 1929, is the craftsman behind the prestigious feathers. Their workshop is located in the heart of Montmartre, on rue Lepic, where the expert fingers of the master feather makers are busy at work. From music-hall to high-fashion, Maison Février has worked with Chanel, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint-Laurent and Louis Vuitton. However, the Maison has always been closely associated with the Moulin Rouge. In fact, their history is so intertwined that the Moulin Rouge actually acquired Maison Février in 2009, to continue their efforts of preserving fine French know-how.
Hand-made shoes masters – Maison Clairvoy
The collaboration between Maison Clairvoy and the Moulin Rouge dates back to the 60s, though Maison Clairvoy was first created in 1945. The famous shoemakers soon made a name for themselves thanks to the outstanding quality of their handmade footwear. Each pair of shoes takes between 20 and 50 hours and requires five specialized boot makers to complete. The exquisite boots are an essential part of the Moulin Rouge show. Not only do they perfectly match the flamboyant costumes, they are specifically designed with the dancers in mind. The Moulin Rouge Cancan just wouldn’t be the same without a pair of Maison Clairvoy boots!
Art of embroidery – Atelier Valentin
Another crucial part of the Moulin Rouge show is the elaborate costumes worn by the dancers. The magnificent creations are hand stitched by the highly-skilled craftsmen of Atelier Valentin. The Atelier was founded in 2003 by Caroline Valentin. They’re known for producing only the highest quality, handmade, unique pieces. They work for all of the major Parisian cabarets, operas, theaters as well as circus performances. The Atelier uses sequins, pearls, rhinestones and metallic thread to create elegant, eye-catching costumes. Enjoy the magnificent embroidery work as you admire the Moulin Rouge dancers on stage.
Tips for a perfect experience in Paris Moulin Rouge
Paris Moulin Rouge dress code
Going to the Moulin Rouge does require you to respect the dress code. The official website suggests “elegant attire”. However, jackets and ties are not required, but if you feel like getting decked out to fully get into the spirit of the evening you’re of course welcome to. Shorts, flip flops and sportswear are not permitted inside. The Moulin Rouge does have a reputation to protect! We recommend casual evening wear. For men, chinos or dark pants as well as a buttoned down shirt or any collared shirt is perfectly acceptable. For women, slacks and a top or a dress are great choices as well.
What to eat in Moulin Rouge
The Moulin Rouge’s gourmet dinner is the perfect pairing to the glamorous show!
Executive chef David Le Quellec is in charge of the 120 person brigade and 25 cooks. The menu includes classic French dishes with a modern and creative twist. The restaurant uses only the freshest ingredients and was selected by the prestigious Gault & Millau guide as one of the city’s best dining experiences.
Champagne is of course the official drink of the Moulin Rouge. Over 240,000 bottles of it are opened each year! They also have a great selection of wines chosen by their house sommelier.
Don’t forget to visit the Moulin Rouge souvenir shop!
Can’t get enough of the Moulin Rouge? Looking for a gift for a friend or family member? Or maybe you didn’t have the time to catch a show? You should definitely stop by the official Moulin Rouge souvenir shop. From clothing, to tote bags and candles, you’re sure to find the perfect embodiment of the famous cabaret that you can bring home with you.
Moulin Rouge souvenir shop
Address: 11 rue Lepic, right next to metro Blanche
Metro: Line 2 Blanche
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 10AM to 2PM and 3:15PM to 7PM
Paris Moulin Rouge package
Paris Moulin Rouge Dinner & Show
To get the full Moulin Rouge experience, we definitely recommend going for the dinner and show option. As mentioned, the Moulin Rouge restaurant has been crowned one of Paris’ top dining experience.
Choose from 3 different menus:
Le Mistinguett, Toulouse-Lautrec, or splurge on the Belle Epoque menu! All 3 menus feature a 3-course meal with drinks like Champagne. Dinner is accompanied by the Moulin Rouge orchestra who play lovely tunes until the show begins. It’s the best way to get in the mood for the show! You can book your dinner and show package through here!
Paris Moulin Rouge Show
The Moulin Rouge has two shows daily, 365 days a year. You can choose between the 9PM show that ends at 11PM, or the 11PM show that ends at 1AM. Expect bright lights, period music and extravagant costumes. As the number 1 shows in Paris and Europe, you’ll need to book tickets early as the legendary cabaret tends to sell out. A staple in Parisian nightlife, the Moulin Rouge show is an unforgettable evening and should definitely be on your life of must-dos in France!
Paris Moulin Rouge VIP package
If you’re looking to treat yourself or celebrate a special occasion, the Moulin Rouge VIP experience is a great option. And let’s be honest, even if you don’t have anything particular to celebrate, the Moulin Rouge is the perfect place for an evening of pure indulgence. Enjoy your seat on the private balcony reserved for just 24 guests. The table features perfect views of the stage. You’ll also be delighted by the VIP menu. It includes appetizers, a main course, dessert and decadent extras including delicious macarons, chocolate and, you guessed it, Champagne! Your VIP experience awaits for you right here.
How to get to Paris Moulin Rouge
Paris Moulin Rouge by metro
The exact address is 82 boulevard de Clichy. The closest metro station is Blanche, on line 2. Get off at Blanche and you’ll arrive right outside the famous windmill. You can also take line 13 to Place to Clichy, the Moulin Rouge is only a five minute walk. Both line 2 and 13 have multiple connecting stations and hop on them from Saint Lazare, Charles de Gaulle Etoile or Blanche.
Paris Moulin Rouge by bus
If you’d rather take the bus to enjoy the views of Paris, you can also easily access the Moulin Rouge. Lines 30, 54, 74, 80 85 and 95 all have stations in the Montmartre and red light district. Line 30 goes from the Arc de Triomphe directly to Moulin Rouge, you’ll want to get off at Blanche. If you’re in the city center, hop on line 95 and get off at Place de Clichy. Be aware that traffic can be pretty bad in Paris at rush hour. If you plan on taking the bus, make sure you give yourself enough time and you’re not late for the show!
Hotels near Paris Moulin Rouge
Paris Moulin Rouge area
Paris is of course home to hundreds of lovely hotels, but some of our favorites are just a few steps from the Moulin Rouge. The South Pigalle neighborhood, or SoPi as trendy Parisians have taken to calling the area, is full of delicious restaurants and fun bars. It’s also just a few minutes walk to Place de Clichy, making it super accessible via public transportation. South Pigalle has a particularly good selection of small, stylish, boutique hotels. We’ve picked two of favorites that you should check out for your time in Paris and enjoy being just a short walk from the iconic cabaret!
1er Etage SoPi
The 1er Etage SoPi is a fabulous boutique hotel just a few minutes from the Moulin Rouge. Despite its central location on a busy street, the hotel is both quiet and peaceful. Housed in an 18th-century, two storey-building, rooms are impeccably decorated with private bathrooms and air conditioning. 1er Etage SoPi also has two lounges you can relax in, with a kitchen area where you can enjoy coffee or tea in the afternoon. A delicious continental breakfast is served daily. Numerous restaurants and bars are within walking distance – the lovely multilingual staff provide excellent recommendations.
Hotel Joke – Astotel
Another one of our favorite hotels near the Moulin Rouge is the Hotel Joke Astotel. If you’re a fan of original and unique design, this is definitely the hotel for you. The Hotel Joke is ideal for an unforgettable, unusual holiday in the heart of the 9th arrondissement. Hotel staff are super friendly and the reception is open 24 hours a day, perfect if you have a late flight. The buffet breakfast is fantastic and served in a lounge flooded with natural light. Grab an afternoon or evening drink at the onsite bar.
Restaurants near Paris Moulin Rouge
Place to go before the Moulin Rouge show
If you’re looking to grab a drink before heading to your show, our best tip is to hit Le Bar à Bulles. This hidden bar is actually located on the roof of the Moulin Rouge itself! Not only do they have delicious tapas, Le Bar à Bulles also has a great selection unique cocktails. Personally, we love the “Mojito Moulin Rouge” and “Le Harry”. It’s by far the most convenient place to grab a drink before heading downstairs to catch your show.
One of the most popular restaurants in Montmartre, Le Poulbot does traditional French food right. The kitchen is run by chef Lorenzo Torrini, a Tuscany native but specialized in all things French cuisine. House specialties include sliced salmon with diced bacon, venison stew and veal tongue. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the creamy lavender crême brûlée or gooey moelleux au chocolat. They also have a great selection of artisanal beer and some are even brewed right in Paris! Poulbot’s warm and inviting interior is a modern take on the classic French bistro.