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Perhaps you’ve heard of the infamous Paris red light district Pigalle? Unlike other Paris must do’s like visiting the Louvre Museum and shopping at Carrousel du Louvre, this neighborhood isn’t exactly as advertised like others because of its reputation. But the Pigalle area is more than just its sex shops and adult theaters! So INSIDR has created a guide on everything you should know before visiting the Paris red light district! Read on and discover Paris most secret district and why it’s been dubbed as Paris red light district. We’ve got historical facts, preparation tips, and best recommendations!If you’re interested to learn more about what goes on in Paris at night, check out our 2019 INSIDR Paris Night Guide!
PREPARE YOUR VISIT OF PARIS RED LIGHT DISTRICT
Paris red light district stretches along Boulevard de Clichy in the North of Paris. The red light district is exactly at the border of the 9th district (“arrondissement” in French) and the 18th. Just South of Montmartre. It starts on the famous Pigalle square and goes all the way until Place de Clichy. Most of the adult theaters, cabarets, and sex shops can be found along the boulevard and in the perpendicular streets.
SAFETY IN PARIS RED LIGHT DISTRICT
Paris red light district is a lot safer than it used to be, the area has changed a lot in the past 10 years. It is now one of the trendiest spots in Paris to go out on the weekend. And most of the filthy bars have been taken over by cool and trendy cocktail bars.
As everywhere in Paris, you should always keep an eye on your personal belongings and avoid going in bad looking hostess bars and adult cabarets where you can get easily scammed.
It is completely fine for a solo traveler (female or not) to explore the Paris red light district.
PARIS RED LIGHT DISTRICT HISTORY
One of the most influential and interesting periods of the history of the Parisian red light district was La Belle Epoque – the golden age. During the French Third Republic, arts flourished and Paris became the world’s capital for sex, known as the city of pleasure.
Napoleon himself lost his virginity to a prostitute in the walls of Palais Royal in the center of Paris in 1787. By 1812, Paris had about 900 registered prostitutes. In 1832, the number was 3,500. From the 1850s, it’s estimated Paris had a 34,000 prostitutes all told. The number of prostitutes in London at the time was estimated at 24,000, though London had twice the population of Paris.
Paris’s red-light district is located in Pigalle. Originally an area for artists, a list of former inhabitants includes Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Maurice Neumont, Andre Breton.
You needed to be careful when exploring the area as it’s never been known for its safe atmosphere. A famous riot took place in the area when Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was staring in Rêve d’Égypte at Moulin Rouge in 1907, kissed her girlfriend Mathilde de Morny. Causing an angry mob to attack the stage and actors which then spilled onto the street.
Today a resurgence of the area is taking place, its offbeat tempo is attracting trendy new bars, romantic restaurants, and quirky love hotels. All playing into the areas of deep history and maintaining its gritty edge.
HOW TO EXPLORE PARIS RED LIGHT DISTRICT
GUIDED TOUR OF PARIS BROTHELS, BOUDOIRS, AND COURTESANS WITH LOCALERS
With cameos from significant characters of history including Napoleon, Chopin, King Edward VII (spoiler alert – AKA Dirty Bertie), Colette “willy” and Josephine Baker.
Comparable to the 19th-century version of 50 Shades of Grey – hear the secret stories that shaped Paris and influenced historical celebrities.
The walking tour takes you throughout the city to visit landmarks of sexual history in Paris including obvious names such as Moulin Rouge, le Folies bergère, and Le Chabanais – The home of King Edward’s infamous “loveseat”.
The list includes surprises along the way, the world’s first condom shop, a less well-known side of Palais Royal as well as the dark history of Opera house of Paris, reputable Love Hotels and infamous brothels of painters and poets. Finishing in the area Montmartre, a location with many romantic restaurants or cool bars to visit when you finish!
As a solo-traveler or a group, for travelers looking to explore the city, it is a side of Parisian history that is not often told, and rarely with a guide so knowledgable! It truly demonstrates how the reputation of Paris has evolved from “the city of pleasure” to what we know today as “the city of love”.
Here’s how to get tickets for the tour!
We only push and promote service we have genuinely tried and loved. In fact, we loved it so much that we have negotiated a special discount on their tour to make sure most of our INSIDR travelers can benefit from it too! Get 10%off your tour when booking online using the code “INSIDR”.
PARIS RED LIGHT DISTRICTS ATTRACTIONS
CHEZ MICHOU – Paris RED LIGHT DISTRICT CABARET
If you to assist to something unique and sing out loud to international hits, that’s the place to go to!
Address: 80 rue des Martyrs, 75018 Paris
Opening hours: 8:15 pm for the dinner-show, the show starts at 10:30 pm; open daily
Price range: €45 for the show without drinks, €145 for the dinner and show. More info
PARIS RED LIGHT DISTRICT COOLEST BARS
Lulu White is a speakeasy cocktail bar serving delicious absinthe liquor drinks and located in a former hostess bar on Rue Frochot in Pigalle.
Rue Frochot was the main street for girl’s bar in Paris. It has changed a lot over the past 10 years and it is now one of the trendiest streets to have a drink on the weekend.
- Address: 12 Rue Frochot, Paris 75009
- Opening hours: 7pm – 2am / Wed – Mon
- Price range: 12€ for a cocktail – More info
Le Carmen is an exquisite cocktail bar and club located within a “hotel particulier” with typical architecture of 19h century building. The French Opera composer Georges Bizet lived them, and it is said that he created the opera Carmen when he was living there.
The bar has a fantastic interior design, it really feels like being in a private Parisian apartment with huge velvet furniture and rococo style paintings and sculptures. The signature drinks are Gin based cocktails. Their Gin selection is one of the nicest in Paris.
- Address: 34 rue Duperré, Paris 75009
- Opening hours: 6pm – 4am / Tues – Sat
- Price range: 16€ for a cocktail – More info
WHERE TO STAY IN PARIS RED LIGHT DISTRICT
Hotel Amour is a beautiful boutique located in the fancy South Pigalle area – SoPi. Every room has a different theme and everything is about love. It is for sure one of the coolest places to stay and hang out in Paris red light district.
The restaurant with its private patio is the favorite Sunday brunch place for local Parisians.
- Services: Wifi / Elevator
- Address: 8 rue Navarin, Paris 75009
- Price range: 175€ for a standard room
Two red lights hanging above the front entrance are clue for the public that through the doors of Maison Souquet another world is waiting. From the moment you walk through the door you are transported into a time capsule of La Belle Epoque era Paris. Red velvet covers the space, with intimate booths and plush seating.
The ambiance is relaxed and intimate, with incredible cocktails all dedicated to famous courtesans.
BEST RESTAURANT IN PARIS RED LIGHT DISTRICT – BUVETTE GASTROTHÈQUE
Buvette Gastrothèque is one of our favorite restaurants in Paris red light district. Located in SoPi – South Pigalle in a vivid street full of great restaurants and bars.
Get ready for delicious and creative French classics such as steak tartare, onion soup. The portions are quite small, so we recommend to order a few different dishes and to share. They have a great wine selection and the staff is super friendly! Their Sunday brunch is truly incredible too. The restaurant doesn’t take the reservation, we recommend to get there early – before 8 pm.
- Address: 28 rue Henri Monnier, Paris 75009
- Opening hours: 10am – 12am / Mon – Sun
- Price range: 12€/15€ per dish – More info
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