Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
Come at night to Place Blanche at the foot of Montmartre and you will understand what’s it all about: You’ll feel the excitement in the air looking at the flickering wings of the Moulin Rouge turning in immutable continuity. Hundreds of people stop here to take at least a picture of the most famous cabaret of the world. Many of them come to see the show. The Moulin Rouge is a real myth, still alive, still fascinating and attracting the whole world.
Even if the mill is not the original one, the Moulin Rouge is quite a landmark. To the point, that if you asked a French person to quote a Parisian monument, the Moulin Rouge comes on the third place. It opened its doors in 1889 together with another huge symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower. At the beginning some amateur dancers, mostly washerwomen, linen maids and laundresses, transformed themselves in Quadrille dancers and performed at night. They have been imortalized by nobody else than Toulouse Lautrec, the painter, who largely contributed to the myth of the Moulin Rouge. The Quadrille later became better known under the name of French Cancan.
Every night at 21 and 23 o’clock, 800 people are queuing up to get into the temple of Parisian nightlife. They come from Australia or the US, from Russia and China (among the foreign visitors they are number one), but half of the clientel is actually French. Strangely, a true Parisian would never ever come up with the idea to pay the Moulin Rouge a visit. They are wrong.
Féerie, the spectacle that runs since 1992 with enormous success, is a mind-blowing experience: It’s high professional Music Hall, entertaining, beautiful, amazing. In some scenes you have 70 artists on scene in perfect synchronisation with the most glittery and kitschy costumes. There is a girl diving in a huge aquarium together with five pythons and, honestly, compared to her the Olympic performances of the best-synchronized swimmers look like a cakewalk. Not to mention the 12-minute of French cancan when numerous girls and boys cavort on scene in faultless synchronisation. Even the artists performing between the scenes, the juggler, acrobat and ventriloquist are world class. Don’t get me wrong, this is of course not No Exit from Jean-Paul Sartre, it’s just good, very good entertainment.
Behind the scene are hiding 11 couturières (tailors) and 21 habilleuses to help the girls getting into their ever changing costumes of feathers, rhinestones and sequins. Without these people and helping hands the show wouldn’t go on: You need a lot to make the spectacle look perfect. Apart from the 80 dancers, 60 Doriss Girls, 20 boys, another 350 employees are making the machine run. The Moulin Rouges invests 8 Million Euros in this kind of shows; 4 Million are going into the costumes! But with 600 000 visitors annually, no doubt, they are not really in the red, or, let’s put it like this, only literally.
No idea why most of the foreign guide books speak quite disrespectful about the Moulin Rouge that attracts “viewers and voyeurs by busload”. Doe’s 1600 people every night can be wrong? They definitely don’t’ come only to see topless women, because breasts, today, you can see for free everywhere. May be the authors of guide books like to feel a bit like true Parisians and don’t really dare to venture out on touristy paths.Moulin Rouge 82, boulevard de Clichy 75018 Paris 00 33 (0)1 53 09 82 82 Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Métro: Blanche or Pigalle