The Moulin Rouge, with its red windmill pop culture prominence, is probably one of the most famous landmarks in Paris. On our first trip to France, we visited this iconic show. By “visited” I mean that quite literally, as we went to the location but didn’t go to an actual show. In the process, we learned a few things that I thought I’d share here.
For starters, the area itself is interesting and worth a visit in itself, so long as you aren’t traveling with your family. Moulin Rouge is surrounded by sex dens and other nefarious markings of a red light district. While we certainly did not partake in any of this “entertainment” it was interesting to wander the streets and see. The closest we had ever been to a red light district before was in New Orleans, and I don’t think what we saw there really qualified. (Subsequent to this trip, we ended up in the red light district in Shinjuku, Tokyo…totally different and another unique experience for different reasons.)
As for the Moulin Rouge show itself, I’m not really sure why it’s so popular. My guess is due to its place in the pop culture vernacular, and the eye-catching windmill outside. I’d hazard a guess that most of the world has heard of Moulin Rouge thanks to pop culture, and that kind of name recognition is a valuable thing–that often allows substantive experiences to rest on their laurels.
It’s that philosophy (and a host of reviews that are spotty) that have made us decide to forgo the experience. Since it’s a global tourist draw, I suspect it’s not all that racy, but you’re probably not going to want to take your kids to the red light district regardless, so there’s that. Of course, I could be totally wrong–but I’m not willing to take this expensive on a gamble to find out one way or the other.
As far as general info goes, Moulin Rouge is the most famous cabaret in the world, having run since 1889. Two shows are performed nightly at the Moulin Rouge–one at 9 p.m. and another at 11 p.m. Prior to the first show, there is an optional dinner at 7 p.m. This is touted as a gourmet meal of French cuisine by the Maison Dalloyau, served with champagne.
The Moulin Rouge show itself begins after dinner, and is performed by a troupe of 60 artists from all over the world (in the revue ‘Féerie’). The show is made up of four acts and features and array of feathers, rhinestones, sequins, sparkling decor, acrobats, original music, and of course the famous fast-paced French Cancan.Moulin Rouge’s website indicates that kids are welcome (we’d take them to the earlier show, if at all); however, casual attire (like shorts and flip flops) are not.
You can purchase tickets in advance on a variety of different websites, and they seem to run just over $100 without dinner, or just over $200 with dinner. Again, we did not attend Moulin Rouge, so we’re not entirely sure, and are just passing along what we found when researching the show.
Personally, if we were going to participate in any Parisian deviance, I want it to be an underground tunnel party. I recalled reading about these in National Geographic (article) a while back, but didn’t know how to get invited to such a party or how to stumble into one. Instead, we just devoted a lot of effort to looking “cool” and not at all like “phonies,” and hoping that would get us an unsolicited invitation.
Unfortunately, I don’t know how to look cool, so we didn’t receive any such invitations. I suspect Sarah might have received a couple dozen, but didn’t say anything to me for fear of hurting my feelings. Any Parisians in the underground scene out there who are reading this…we’d love to go to one of your tunnel parties the next time we’re in Paris. Please contact us. Seriously.
Planning your own trip to Paris, France? Check out our posts about Paris for more ideas of what to do in the City of Lights. If you’re venturing beyond Paris, you’ll also want to consult our France posts, which cover a variety of places, from Normandy to the Loire Valley. In addition to these posts, I recommend planning with Rick Steves Paris and Rick Steves France guidebooks.
Have you ever been to the Mouline Rouge? If so, is it worthwhile, or am I better off just watching the movie? 😉 If you haven’t been, does it interest you at all? Share your thoughts on this topic of the day…or anything else…in the comments. One lucky commenter might grow a Rollie Fingers mustache!