Welcome to MoulinRougeParis.co.uk, where we provide you with all the information you need to visit the original home of decadence, glamour and Belle Époque morals in the city of lights! We created this unofficial guide after visiting the Moulin Rouge and loving the show! Learn about the history behind the extravagant facade, experience the carefree atmosphere conjured in the paintings and sketches of Toulouse-Lautrec and be dazzled by the glittering spectacle of Féerie, the latest in a long line of magical shows taking place at the theatre. Additionally, we have put together a list of our recommended hotels, budget alternatives to the Moulin Rouge and recommended fancy dress links so you can recreate the look back on home soil.
The Moulin Rouge opened in 1899, on the cusp of a new century and amid the atmosphere of excitement and progress that had been engendered by the construction of the groundbreaking Eiffel Tower in the same year. The Industrial Revolution in France was smashing social barriers and encouraging a new, less rigid kind of class system, and it was in this modern era of loose definitions and morals that the Moulin Rouge was to carve itself into the decadent fabric of the new liberal Parisian society. Upon its official opening on the 6th October the theatre was established as an extravagant and wild home for music hall entertainment, and the Moulin Rouge has clung on to this reputation and evoked the spirit of the Belle Époque decades ever since.
The theatre was built by Joseph Oller, a Spanish entrepreneur who later opened Paris’ first music hall, the Olympia. Charles Zidler was his business partner and the manager of the theatre, and together they set out to create a place that would cater for the changing tastes of the public in the new Belle Époque era, imagining a venue where classes could mingle side by side and specialising in an over the top kind of luxury that could be enjoyed by all. These aims were borne out in the extravagant quirks that characterised the theatre, such as the gigantic elephant in the garden, the glitzy whirling windmill on the roof or the plush interior. The two businessmen nicknamed the entire endeavour ‘Le Premier Palais des Femmes’, or ‘The First Palace of Women’!
Since its debut performances the Moulin Rouge has hosted and created stars from the worlds of music hall, dance and singing. In its formative years the theatre was defined by the personalities on its stage, from Queen of the Can-Can and Toulouse-Lautrec’s muse La Goulue, to the creator of music hall Mistinguett and the blazing star Edith Piaf, who first found fame on the stage of the Moulin Rouge (as well as love in the form of singer Yves Montand). In later years a number of famous French artists and singers would grace the stage, including Charles Trénet and Bourvil, and many world renowned artists have performed at the theatre including Ginger Rogers, Lauren Bacall, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Juliette Binoche and Elton John.
The Moulin Rouge is open every day of the week from 7pm to 1am. Guests can have dinner at 7pm before the first show starts at 9pm. There are two shows per night, the first at 9pm and the second at 11pm.
Smart attire is required to visit the Moulin Rouge. This does not mean formal wear or that a suit and tie are necessary, but sportswear, trainers and shorts are not permitted and you will not be allowed in wearing these.
Children under the age of 6 are not allowed into the theatre, but this is the only age restriction on visiting the Moulin Rouge as a family. Under-12s are entitled to a 50% discount on the show alone. It is entirely at the parent or guardian’s discretion as to whether the show is suitable for their children; there is some mild nudity but the majority of the show should not be offensive, particularly for older children.
The show at the Moulin Rouge is in French, but it is not necessary to speak the language to get the full enjoyment out of the show! A lot of the performance is taken up with singing and dancing, and even if you don’t understand exactly what is being said some of the tunes will be familiar and you should be able to understand what is happening. The Moulin Rouge is visited by thousands of tourists of all nationalities every year, suggesting that not speaking French is certainly not a barrier to having a good time!
You can book tickets in advance online both through our Tickets and Tours page or through the official Moulin Rouge website at www.moulin-rouge.com. Tickets are often cheaper when booked online and guarantee that you will get to see the show of your choice, as well as allowing you to skip the queues which can be quite formidable if you try to book on the night, especially in high season.
The Moulin Rouge is located in the area of Montmartre, which can best be described as seedy but relatively safe! The theatre is right in the middle of the city’s red light district, with sex shops and peep shows abounding. Like any busy tourist distrcit, pickpockets do operate in the area and visitors are advised to keep a close eye on their belongings, and single women can be the subject of hassle from some of Montmartre’s less salubrious residents. Nonetheless, the vibrancy and popularity of the area mean that the streets are normally thronged with tourists, particularly before and after a show, and to encounter anything other than unwanted attention would be rare, so you can visit the theatre without worry! You can find out more about the area that the theatre is situated in (including how to get there) by checking our Map page, and our Hotels section contains a list of recommended hotels nearby.
There is no pre-assigned seating at the Moulin Rouge; when you arrive the ushers place you in seats on a first-come-first-served basis. The theatre is quite small and curves in a horseshoe shape around the stage, meaning that wherever you sit you should get a decent view of the show: seats at the very front of the stage will get a better detailed view of the dancers, but those in the middle or further back can see a wider panorama of the whole stage and get an entirely different (but certainly not worse) experience.