Paris, city of art, of history and gastronomy… but also of glamour! What would the City of Light be without its mythical cabarets, such as the Moulin Rouge, the Lido and Crazy Horse?
They’re the centre of entertainment and frivolity, showcases for dazzling feathered- and sequined-costumes. And there are more than twenty of them in the capital, each with its own individual take on cabaret.
From the most “French Cancan” to the most offbeat, we offer an overview of the essential Parisian cabarets to help you choose the right one for you.
The most “French Cancan”: the Moulin Rouge
Immortalized by Toulouse-Lautrec and featured in Baz Luhrmann’s eponymous film, the Moulin Rouge is famed worldwide for its eye-catching red windmill (moulin rouge in French), positioned high above its entrance in the Montmartre district.
For 130 years, this celebrated showcase for the French Cancan has immersed us in a magical world of music and dance. Every evening, nearly 80 artists perform dance numbers and encaptivating acts. But the show is also impressive by its figures: there are 1,000 costumes, 800 pairs of custom-made shoes, 200 metres of frilly frou-frou per petticoat, 62 splits and 720 high kicks performed each evening by the Doriss Girls for the French Cancan, the highlight of the evening.
A special mention must go to the scenery: from pirate ship to secret garden and the streets of Paris, the show takes us on an unforgettable trip!
Currently playing at the Moulin Rouge: Féerie
The most impertinent: Crazy Horse
Located on the chic Avenue Georges V, Crazy Horse is probably the French capital’s most glamorous cabaret.
The venue is adorned with red velvet, mirrors and soft lighting, and the audience is positioned close to the stage. The atmosphere is intimate and hushed. It’s the perfect setting for this audacious, graceful show, enlivened by a cohort of exceptional dancers with exotic names.
Using an interplay of light and shade, the dancers’ silhouettes are outlined on the stage for a magnificent strip show, an ode to femininity with a sensuality that is fully assumed.
During the evening, you can expect original creations as well as some of the most emblematic numbers of cabaret, including “God Save our Bareskin” and “U Turn Me On”. Let yourself be transported, let yourself be won over by an evening that is…”Totally Crazy”.
Currently playing at Crazy Horse: Totally Crazy
The most magical: the Lido de Paris
Just a short distance from the Arc de Triomphe on the emblematic Champs-Elysées, the Lido de Paris has been attracting and amazing visitors from all over the world since 1946.
Its latest show Paris Merveilles is a declaration of love to the City of Light, created by Franco Dragone, artistic director of the Cirque du Soleil.
As ever, the show is carried by the famed BlueBell Girls, the dancing embodiments of Parisian glamour. From beginning to end, the sets, costumes and original music will enthral and delight you. The show also has a few surprises up its sleeve, with unexpected numbers such as a hip-hop routine or a skating duet. The result is grandiose and the evening is unforgettable!
Paris Merveilles at the Lido de Paris
The most historical: the Paradis Latin
Located in the legendary Latin Quarter on the Left Bank, Paradis Latin is the oldest cabaret in Paris, a place steeped in history.
In its former life as the Théâtre Latin, commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803, this venue was a hotspot for the Paris literati and artists throughout the 19th century.
During the War of 1870, it burned down and was reborn in 1887 as part of the Exposition Universelle (World Fair). Its reconstruction was overseen by none other than Gustave Eiffel. By building on the foundations of the old theatre, he established the new building in the continuity of the old one – while adding his signature style with characteristic elements like metal columns.
Inaugurated in 1889, the new venue had a new objective, redefining the art of cabaret as pure entertainment – and so it has remained so ever since.
Today, this perfectly-renovated period venue continues to bring together all the ingredients for a fun evening with its latest show Paradis à la Folie. You’re in for a night of dance, tap dancing, French chanson songs and trapeze artistry – not to mention the unmissable French Cancan in the purest tradition of Parisian cabaret.
The most complete: Oh! César
It may be less well-known and more recent than other shows, but Oh! César is definitely a place to put on your list of must-visit cabarets.
This multi-purpose place is a cabaret, restaurant and club all in one – the perfect combination for an enjoyable night out!
During the day, Oh! César offers a lunch show followed by an afternoon dance. In the evening, it’s all about the traditional dinner show. On stage, you can expect dancers and musicians, of course, but also comedians, acrobats and even magicians. The show is superbly crafted with plenty of originality and variety. Throughout the evening, it mixes glamour and humour in a warm, friendly atmosphere.
Once the show is over, the stage turns into a dance floor and the cabaret gives way to a club vibe until 1.45am. What better way to extend your Parisian adventure through the night?
The most offbeat: French Collection – Madame Arthur
Led by Monsieur K, the Madame Arthur troupe takes you on a quirky and irreverent journey with its French Collection evenings.
This burlesque show features eccentric drag queens reinterpreting some of the classics of French chanson. From Gainsbourg to Dalida and today’s hits, the artists of the French Collection have plenty of fun revisiting the genre with just a piano, their voices – and a good dose of humour.
With the same ticket, you can get entry to the Divan du Monde, a club next door to the cabaret that is popular with Parisians. Take to the dance floor until the early morning hours!
French Collection – Madame Arthur chante la musique française at the Divan du Monde / Madame Arthur