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The Moulin Rouge: Icon of Belle Époque Paris Celebrates 135 Years


In the bustling district of Montmartre, Paris, amidst the euphoria that followed the Franco-Prussian War and the subsequent economic revival, the Moulin Rouge emerged as an emblem of celebration and frivolity. Against the backdrop of a resurgent France and a city in the throes of reconfiguration, this legendary cabaret threw open its doors on October 6th, 1889, marking the birth of a cultural icon.


table at dinner show at the moulin rouge

Table at the dinner show at Moulin Rouge.

Photo Credit: ©Moulin Rouge®


Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler, visionary businessmen with a pulse on Parisian society, conceived the Moulin Rouge as a venue for vibrant and daring entertainment, accessible to people from all walks of life. Its immediate success was a testament to their foresight, drawing bourgeois seeking entertainment, artists seeking inspiration, and patrons seeking the thrills of the Belle Époque.


The Moulin Rouge, adorned with its iconic red windmill, stood out amidst the Montmartre skyline, a beacon of glamour. Within its walls, mirrors reflected the light of grand chandeliers, while Adolphe Willette’s extravagant décor transported visitors to a world unlike any other. The cabaret’s formal garden, complete with a colossal model elephant, provided a whimsical backdrop for diners and dancers alike.


outside exterior club moulin rouge cabaret Paris France

Photo Credit: ©Moulin Rouge® – D.Duguet


At the heart of the Moulin Rouge experience was the French Cancan, a dance form that captivated audiences with its cheerfully charmingly daring allure. Originating from the Quadrille and popularized by dancers such as La Goulue and Miss Jenny, the Cancan epitomized the frenetic energy of Parisian cabaret, immortalized in the works of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec.


French cancan dancer cabaret moulin rouge

Photo Credit: ©Moulin Rouge® – S.Bertrand


A Stage for Icons

Throughout its illustrious history, the Moulin Rouge has welcomed a constellation of stars, from celebrated singers and dancers to avant-garde performers and cabaret luminaries. Icons such as Josephine Baker, Edith Piaf, and Maurice Chevalier and later the amazing Line Renaud graced its stage, captivating audiences with their talent and charisma. Today, this tradition endures with spectacular revues that showcase the pinnacle of Parisian entertainment, weaving music, dance, and theatricality into a mesmerizing tapestry.


moulin rouge cabaret french cancan

Photo Credit: ©Moulin Rouge®

Join the Celebration

As we raise a glass to toast the Moulin Rouge on its 135th birthday, let us honor the legacy of this beloved institution and the countless memories it has inspired. Whether you’re a longtime admirer or a first-time visitor, the Moulin Rouge invites you to join in the celebration and experience the magic of Parisian glamour firsthand. Here’s to 135 years of beauty, brilliance, and boundless inspiration. Santé!


Header Photo Credit: ©Moulin Rouge® – S.Franzese



About the Author

Geraldine Provost is a Paris-based freelance writer with a diverse portfolio of blog contributions covering travel, gastronomy, entertainment, and more. She specializes in sharing her experiences in luxurious hotels and has a keen interest in the art-de-vivre à la française. When she is not writing, she can often be found enjoying the sun of the southern region of France.

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