Perhaps the world’s most famous cabaret show, the Moulin Rouge is a must-see for many visitors to Paris—even if just to snap a photo in front of the iconic red windmill. It’s no wonder why the dance hall is a hot spot on the tourist trail: since opening its doors 120 years ago, the risqué venue has cemented the popularity of the French cancan, while also inspiring countless paintings, posters, and films all attempting to capture whatever seedy yet romantic notions of extravagance the Moulin Rouge encompasses.
Even today, most of the cabaret shows at the Moulin Rouge sell out, especially during high season. But for all the talk, reviews of the dinner and show are just about as mixed as they come. So is a visit worth it? Here is our candid take on the Moulin Rouge experience:
The Feerie Show
While the Moulin Rouge is a burlesque cabaret (yes, you’re going to see lots of boobs), the show is by no means ‘erotic’. Rather, gifted artists take to the intimate stage and dazzle the theatre with their dancing, singing and costumes. Similar to Cirque du Soleil, it can be a bit confusing trying to follow along with the plot, so it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the entertainment instead; with sensational talent, interesting choreography and thousands of feathers, sequins and rhinestones, it’s an easy thing to do.
While the main acts of Feerie were captivating, we found the specialty performances in between the acts to be some of our favorites. These performances featured acrobatics on roller-skates, a comedic ventriloquist, and—perhaps the most memorable—a woman, dressed only in a nude thong, swimming around a giant water tank with boa constrictors. Did we mention the show was entertaining?
There are a few places in Paris that offer cabaret experiences, but nowhere can you find the French cancan like at the Moulin Rouge. While it’s only one of the numerous dance styles performed, there’s something romantically nostalgic about watching the Doriss Girls take to the stage in their fluffy red, white and blue dresses, kicking and squealing in unison.
There are two shows offered nightly: one at 9:00pm, the following at 11:00pm. If you’d like to pair the show with dinner, then you’ll go at 7:00pm and stay for the earlier show. Like all things in Paris, arrive early to get a good spot in line.
What we loved most about our Moulin Rouge experience:
The Costumes: Just one look at the magnificent feather headpieces these girls dance around in is enough to leave anyone in awe. The artists change often throughout the evening, meaning plenty of razzle-dazzle.
The Iconic Setting: For those obsessed with Luhrmann’s movie adaptation, seeing a show at the Moulin Rouge in real life might be a dream come true. But even if you’re not a devoted fan, just being in the historic Moulin Rouge is a unique and memorable experience.
What others might not love about the experience:
The Dinner: We’ve heard that the dinner served prior to the show is quite overpriced for the quality of the food that is served. However, we’ve also heard that the food is great. We only went for the late show, so we cannot comment on this from our own experience. Of course, we did try the champagne, and that was bubbly delightfulness.
The Tourists: It’s true: the Moulin Rouge is for tourists. It’s the same way that most shows in Las Vegas are for tourists.
The Queue: Be prepared to arrive at the Moulin Rouge early and spend some time waiting in line. That was the only complaint we heard from other members of the audience.
So is seeing a show at the Moulin Rouge worth it?
We say absolutely.
Do go for the experience of watching talented groups of entertainers sing and dance in a historic Parisian dance hall; don’t go for a sampling of everyday Parisian life. The Moulin Rouge isn’t the same as it was in the 1920s, and that’s probably a good thing.
Despite whatever mixed reviews we read before the show, we were extremely impressed by Feerie. We would not hesitate to see the show again should we ever return to Paris. Whether you’re with a bunch of friends or out with that special someone (just maybe not your children) you’ll be hard pressed to find a cabaret experience as historic and entertaining as the Moulin Rouge.
Have you been to the Moulin Rouge? What’s the most memorable show you’ve ever been to?
We were guests of the Moulin Rouge. We were not asked to write a positive review. As no photos are allowed during the show, all photos in this post are courtesy of the Moulin Rouge. The thoughts and opinions though? Still our very own.