The Moulin Rouge, the most famous Parisian cabarets

The Moulin Rouge cabaret is undoubtedly the most famous of the Parisian cabarets. An essential part of French culture for more than a century, the Moulin Rouge continues to entertain spectators from all over the world every evening. Founded in 1889 by entrepreneur Joseph Oller and artist Charles Zidler, the Moulin Rouge has become a legendary place where many stars of French song have performed, such as Yvette Guilbert, Mistinguett, Jean Gabin, Maurice Chevalier, Edith Piaf and Dalida. The history of the Moulin Rouge is fascinating and its legacy is still felt today. In this article, we are going to look at the birth of the Moulin Rouge, its incredible shows, its dancers, not to mention the French Cancan that made it famous!

The beginnings of cabaret

The Moulin Rouge cabaret opened its doors on October 6, 1889 at 82 boulevard Clichy, in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, at the foot of the Montmartre hill. The year 1889 also corresponds to the year of the Universal Exhibition in Paris, which coincides with the opening of the Eiffel Tower to the public. This period is called the Belle Epoque, a period of peace that France has been going through for a few years. Montmartre and the painter Toulouse Lautrec also contribute to making this corner of Paris a bucolic village.

The word cabaret comes from the Picardy region and means “establishment where drinks are served”. At the beginning, the Moulin Rouge proposed “the review”, a small comic and satirical piece on current events and originally, the Moulin Rouge cabaret was intended for the richest, so that they could have fun in a neighborhood fashionable and in an extravagant place. At that time, the garden of the establishment allowed all categories of the population to meet, whether they were artists, bourgeois, foreigner passing through or businessman.

Nicknamed “the first women’s palace” by its creators, the Moulin Rouge quickly enjoyed great success. The architecture of the room and its ability to quickly change scenery contributes to the notoriety of the cabaret. Famous attractions such as the “Pétomane” are organized every evening to entertain customers while the champagne flows. A new dance performed by dancers in alluring costumes then appeared and became increasingly popular: the famous French cancan!

The Moulin Rouge and the famous French Cancan review
The Moulin Rouge and the famous French Cancan review

The famous artists of the Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge cabaret is known worldwide for its magnificent dancers but also for its artists. All were a real attraction and helped make the shows so special. The artists who have performed at the Moulin Rouge are legendary, and many of them have become stars in their own right. The most famous are:

La Goulue : real name Louise Weber, this famous dancer owes her nickname to her teenage years when she dried glass bottoms in cabarets. La Goulue remains to this day the queen of the “cancan”.

Mistinguett : Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois made her Moulin Rouge debut in 1907. Spotted for her talent, Mistinguett becomes Max Dearly’s partner in the triumphant spectacle of the waltz swaying.

Edit Piaf : nicknamed the kid, she took over the Moulin Rouge stage as a cabaret singer in the spring of 1944. Yves Montand is chosen to open for the singer.

Jean Gabin : before becoming an actor, Jean Gabin began his career on the Moulin Rouge stage as an operetta singer. At that time, he also frequented Mistinguett, who had become single following her breakup with Maurice Chevalier.

Line Renaud : she appeared at the Moulin Rouge in 1954 for a 4-month show that sold out.

Over the decades, many singers and artists have performed at the Moulin Rouge, such as Zizi Jeanmaire, Dalida, Charles Aznavour and Lisa Minelli.

Moulin Rouge reviews

Since 1889, many revues and shows have been created to entertain Moulin Rouge cabaret audiences. Today, the review of the show entitled Féérie offers the following tables:

  • The Moulin Rouge today and yesterday: a nod to nostalgia, this show with its magical setting immerses spectators in the garden of the Moulin Rouge. The costumes of the Doriss Girls and the Doriss Dancers are absolutely elegant!
  • The Pirates : This show tells the story of a pirate ship anchored in Indonesia. Will Sandokam the pirate be able to offer his treasures to the woman of his dreams?
  • At the circus : a circus in town, with its troupe of clowns, acrobats and jugglers, a colorful scene that ends with the parade of the Doriss Dancers and the Dorris Girls.
  • The Moulin Rouge from 1900 to…: a tribute to the women of Paris through time. Unmissable moment of the show when the Doriss Girls dance the famous French Cancan.
  • International attractions : high-flying artists provide a show as funny as it is moving via different duos: the balance duo, the destiny duo (acrobatic dance), roller pilar and the show by artist Willy Weldens.

The Féérie show is made up of a troupe of 80 artists, including 60 Doriss Girls of all nationalities. 1000 costumes adorned with feathers, rhinestones and sequins were made by Parisian workshops to ensure the various reviews of the show.

The dining room facing the Moulin Rouge stage
The dining room facing the Moulin Rouge stage

The different evenings proposed

Different evenings are offered such as VIP evenings which offer a privileged welcome, a personalized dinner and optimal seating in the cabaret hall. The price for an exceptional evening is €420 per guest (price as of 01.03.2022). Dinner-show evenings offer seasonal menus that can be viewed on the Moulin Rouge website.

  • The spring menu : valid from 23.03 to 21.06 offers 3 menus (and a children’s menu),
  • The summer menu : valid from 22.06 to 21.09 offers 3 menus (and a children’s menu),
  • The autumn-winter menu : valid from 21.10 to 22.03 offers 2 menus (and a children’s menu).

Evening shows at the Moulin Rouge Cabaret (without dinner)

It is possible to attend the shows at the Moulin-Rouge without having dinner there. Two schedules are offered:

  • 9 p.m.: duration of the show 2 hours. Price: 87€
  • 11 p.m.: duration of the show 2 hours. Price: 87€
  • Price of the place for a VIP evening: 210€

All information and ticket reservations are available on the Moulin Rouge website The site also offers an online store allowing the purchase of derivative products such as jewelry, t-shirts, posters and many other souvenirs!


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