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:
A Review Of The Moulin Rouge In Paris
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.
As no photos are allowed during the show, all photos in this post are courtesy of the Moulin Rouge. We were guests of the Moulin Rouge. We were not asked to write a positive review.
We are going to Paris and I definitely want to see the Moulin Rouge regardless of its touristy features so was rapt that you also agreed to accept it for what it is. While Gordon gave me one of those looks when I said it was on my must see lists I am sure the entertainment will enthral him :)
Contented Traveller recently posted…5 hedonistic things to do in Chiang Mai
It’s a pretty unique experience and I’m sure Gordon won’t have any problem staying entertained :-p
The woman swimming in tank of bower constrictors sounds pretty crazy to me… I don’t know that I could bear to watch!
Charlie recently posted…Living Well for Less in Costa Rica
That one got our heart rates up for sure!
Thanks for the heads up, me and Xtina are going to Paris this summer and I was wondering if this was worth it… Your review will be helpful.
Hoping to meet you again somewhere. Or let us know if you come to Montreal.
Thanks for your comment Chris! I hope you enjoy your trip to Paris :-) We’ll be sure to let you know if we are in the area.
I’ve never seen a review of the actual show before so thanks for sharing! I loved the Moulin Rouge movie and think the show itself would be right up my street, even after a queue!
Jade recently posted…Comment on Castles, Carpaccio and Cats in Jinju by Kayaks, Camping and Chicken on Namhae | Journey Count
No problem Jade! Thanks for commenting :-)
Nice post Casey. I’ve passed by the Moulin Rouge and was curious what the show would be like and like Jade said, I’ve never seen a review of it either. It’s nice to have a peek inside!
Christine | GRRRLTRAVELER recently posted…Bali Travel Guide: How to Eat, See, Love… Ubud
Thanks Christine :-) It’s a lot of fun and definitely worth seeing for yourself!
Like most women, I LOVED the movie Moulin Rouge, and so would love to see a show at the original, even if it is a very touristy thing to do. It seems absolutely “balls to the wall” (or maybe that should be “boobs to the wall”?) crazy, and French decadence at its very finest. My only concern is that I’ve read it can be very expensive to purchase tickets—especially if you do the dinner & show combo option. Do you know how much tickets are for the late show?
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…Why Weâre Going Home, Why We Havenât Written About It & What Comes Next
The tickets for the late show including Champagne (which you’ll probably want because it’s that kind of atmosphere :-p) are 112 Euros on their website but sometimes you can find discounts. I think with the dinner it is a bit expensive, but the show alone is certainly worth it!
I’ve never been but the experience sounds fantastic. Usually I avoid
James recently posted…Basketball World Cup Spain 2014
It is a very unique show and certainly something we would recommend while in Paris.
Usually I avoid going to tourist traps but in case of the Moulin Rouge I’d be prepared to make an exception. If only to see the woman swimming with snakes. Looks like a wonderful experience.
James recently posted…Basketball World Cup Spain 2014
It is one-of-a-kind for sure. We’ve seen a couple of different shows and this is definitely one we will always remember.
This kind of reminds me a bit of the mixed reviews about seeing tango shows in Beunos Aires – lots of tourists and mixed quality of food but yet it is one of those “must do” experiences – and just like you felt with the trip to Moulin Rouge, I was so glad I went to see a tango show despite all that so I would definitely be up for seeing the Moulin Rouge on my next trip to Paris!
Shikha (whywasteannualleave) recently posted…A Football Tour at Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro (pre world cup!)
I would LOVE to see a tango show in Buenos Aires! That sounds like something we would really enjoy :-) Glad to hear you found it worthwhile!
I’m a HUGE fan of the movie and I have been dreaming of seeing the cabert show for years. I’ve been to Paris twice and missed it each time! For my next trip to Paris, The Moulin Rouge is the #1 thing on my Paris bucket list!!
Karisa recently posted…Trashy, Guilty Pleasure Beach Reads: The Ultimate Guide
I hope you get the chance next time around! Just make sure you get those tickets early because they sell out quick!
Thanks for this write up. It is quite useful. Have heard a lot about it.
I am visiting Paris this July end and have booked my seats for 9 am show.
Myself and my wife are on our first trip. Looking forward to this trip