The year 1889 was the year of birth of two of the main symbols of Paris. One was the Eiffel Tower, and the other that concerns us today is the Moulin Rouge. At the foot of Montmartre, at the foot of Montmartre, rose this peculiar entertainment venue that over time has become the most famous cabaret in the world.
On the outside, its famous red windmill is one of the most photographed icons of Paris, but what goes on behind its doors? What is the show like? Well, if you join me we'll find out what the show is like and all the information you need to know about it.
How to get your tickets to see the Moulin Rouge
The first thing you should know is that the Moulin Rouge show is so famous that they hang the "sold out" sign on each and every show they do. So the best and almost the only way to get your Moulin Rouge tickets is to buy them online. And as far in advance as possible if you want a seat on the dates you want.
My recommendation is to get your tickets at least a month in advance. And if you are going on a Friday or weekend, even more in advance. As a last minute resort you can try to get tickets at the box office, but it is almost impossible to find seats on the same day.
How much do tickets for the Moulin Rouge show cost?
There are several options with different add-ons that make your tickets more expensive. The most basic is between 70-90 euros depending on dates and passes and includes the ticket plus half a bottle of champagne. On that basis you can add a dinner to your ticket, or choose VIP seating which increases the cost to approximately 150 euros or even more on some dates.
What to expect at the Moulin Rouge show
Although the name Moulin Rouge is known the world over, the truth is that the show it hosts has a different name. Féerie is its official name and it is a show of rarely seen proportions. It is made up of more than 80 performers including dancers, jugglers, acrobats, etc. The so-called "Doriss Girls" or "merry girls" popularised the famous Parisian Cancan.
Costumes also play a major role in the show. The performers wear more than 1000 Italian-designed dresses with feathers, rhinestones and sequins, all to the beat of a soundtrack performed by 80 musicians and 60 backing singers.
The show lasts almost two hours and is divided into 4+1 acts, each with its own theme:
- Act 1. The Moulin Rouge yesterday, today and forever.
The show begins with the lights off as the curtain opens and we are introduced to the entire company. The first number is a variety of music and dances that faithfully represent the essence of what the Moulin Rouge was, is and will always be.
- Act 2. Sandokan and the pirates
This second act revolves around the figure of Sandokan, the character created by the Italian Emilio Salgari. Through dance and pirate-themed scenes we are told a story of adventure, danger and romance.
- Act 3. The circus
Here acrobats, clowns, jugglers and even miniature horses enter the stage with a circus show full of movement, lights and a great soundtrack. This act ends with the grand parade of the Doriss Girls and Doriss Dancers.
- Act 4. The Moulin Rouge from 1900 to...
This part is a tribute to Parisian women from the early 20th century and culminates with the famous French Cancan. It was this dance that launched the Moulin Rouge to absolute fame for its acrobatic and sensual movements that have delighted the audience for over 100 years.
- Act 4+1. International artists
To round off the evening after watching the whole show, the Moulin Rouge invites international artists to delight the audience with their performances. From acrobats to dancers and singers have taken to this historic stage.
All in all, the "Féerie" is a show of incredible proportions. It certainly lives up to the expectations generated by the historic fame of the Moulin Rouge and its Cancan.
Moulin Rouge performance schedule
The Moulin Rouge has 2 performances a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year except on rare occasions. The first show is at 21:00 and the second at 23:00.
If you want your dinner pass included dinner is only offered on the 21:00 show although dinner is served at 19:00 before the show starts. If you choose this option you should arrive between 18:45 and 19:30. For all other passes it is advisable to arrive at least half an hour before, but please note that seating, except for VIP seats, is on a first come, first served basis.
Brief history of the Moulin Rouge
The Moulin Rouge was opened in 1889 by Joseph Oller, a Spanish businessman, and Charles Zidler. Like the Eiffel Tower, it was opened to take advantage of the international exhibition held that year in the French capital.
In its early days the business was known as a nightclub with the nickname of the "women's palace" and although it didn't start badly, the bad reputation it gained soon began to take its toll. To reinvent the venue and give it a new lease of life, its owners renovated it by adding the famous red mill that crowns its façade, in honour of the old mills that once populated the hill of Montmartre, and changed their business strategy.
It changed its name to the Moulin Rouge, began to host the most popular cabaret shows in the city and became an entertainment venue. It soon established itself as the number one in Paris. This was the era known as the "belle epoque" in Paris where lust and spectacle were the order of the day.
Since then and always backed by its fame, the Moulin Rouge has gone through several stages adapting its shows to the times but always maintaining its status as a Paris icon.
Can I see the Moulin Rouge with children and is it suitable for children?
Surprisingly, and contrary to what you might think, the Moulin Rouge show is suitable for children in Paris. Children from the age of 6 are allowed, always accompanied by an adult. The downside for the little ones is the show times and the price of the tickets.
It is not common for children to go, so there are no discounts for minors. However, the menus do include a children's option. You should also bear in mind that the atmosphere in the area surrounding the Moulin Rouge during the hours after the show may not be appropriate.
What level of French do I need to speak to see the Moulin Rouge?
Language is no barrier at all to enjoying the show. The show enters through the eyes and ears without the need to make an effort to understand what is happening on stage. The costumes, the set design, the dancers and the whole ensemble speak for themselves.
What is the dress code for this show?
The Moulin Rouge dress code is not very strict and simpler than you might think. Stick to the word "formal" and you won't have any problems. Just don't wear tracksuits or shorts.
Should I have dinner before or after the show? Will the restaurants be open all around?
This depends on whether you have chosen the dinner ticket or not. If you choose to dine at the Moulin Rouge you will be offered different options with mythical names related to the place, such as the Toulouse-Lautrec menu. The cuisine is on a par with the show and consists of a starter, main course and dessert, always accompanied by a bottle of champagne. Remember that the dinner option is only available with the 21:00 pass.
If you prefer to dine out, there are a variety of dining options in the surrounding area close to the Moulin Rouge. Restaurants in the area serve between 19:00 and 22:00, so whichever pass you go to, you should always dine before then.
Why do we recommend this show?
It's easy to point out that this is the most famous cabaret show in the world. But the reality goes far beyond that. It's a more complete experience. Starting with the venue itself, whose Belle Epoque aesthetics are worth seeing per se. As for the show itself, there are few shows like this one, due to the deployment of resources: the costumes, the lighting, the scenery, the soundtrack and, of course, all the performers are of the highest level.
The way of experiencing it is also unique. There are few places where you can enjoy a show like this sitting at a table, accompanied by a bottle of champagne or a fine dinner if you prefer. For all these reasons, and more that I encourage you to discover, the "Féerie" show at the Moulin Rouge is highly recommended if you visit Paris.
Tips about the Moulin Rouge
To get the most out of the Moulin Rouge show, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your Moulin Rouge experience:
- The most important thing is to buy your tickets as far in advance as possible as demand is very high, especially on weekends.
- Once you have your tickets and go to the Moulin Rouge to enjoy the show, keep in mind that seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. If you want the best view, get there at least half an hour in advance. However, this does not apply to VIP tickets, which are already reserved.
- The Moulin Rouge has its own left-luggage service. It costs 2 euros and you will have to leave your bags and cameras there.
- You can leave your coat in the left-luggage office if you want, but I recommend you take it with you if you are cold, as it can get a bit chilly in the auditorium.
- Inside you are not allowed to take photos or videos due to copyright issues of the show. But there is an official photographer who will come to your place if you want to immortalise the moment. However, the cost of the photo is high, about 20 euros.