A Dazzling Night at the Moulin Rouge

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Moulin Rouge at Night

When I was 17, I saw the movie that would become my obsession for the next year — a tale of romance and deception, a light-hearted comedy slowly descending into tragedy, filled with zany music and wild and colorful costumes, bearing one message: The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

Moulin Rouge.


I played the soundtrack nonstop.  I danced to the “Like a Virgin” scene with my friend’s little cousins, hoping they didn’t get the meaning of the song.  Moulin Rouge and Paris at sunset were the decoration themes in my first college dorm, and dreamed of the day I would return to Montmartre and see the Moulin Rouge for myself.

And for 11 years, I never made it.  Until the perfect opportunity presented itself.

“What do you want to do for your birthday?” I asked my boyfriend, Mario.

“Go to Paris, go up the Eiffel Tower, and go to the Moulin Rouge,” he replied without missing a beat.

Excellent.  I would make that happen.

C'est Feerie!

Soon, however, I learned that booking tickets to the Moulin Rouge can often be a challenge, and the shows on Mario’s birthday were already sold out — so I turned to GetYourGuide.

GetYourGuide is a site that offers activities, tours, and fun things to do all over the world, all of them easily bookable from the site.  I met their representatives at TBU in Innsbruck last year and was very impressed with what they had to offer.

Want to take a cooking class in the Tuscan countryside?  You can do that with GetYourGuide.  You can also see the Grand Canyon from a helicopter while drinking champagne outside Las Vegas or go on the Sex and the City tour in New York.  The sheer variety of activities they have is stunning, and I recommend taking a look wherever you book your next trip.

And, naturally, they had a Dinner and Show at the Moulin Rouge package on offer!

Bal du Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge truly is an experience from beginning to end.  We were picked up from our hotel by a lovely driver who showed us his personal take on Paris.

After a short wait in line, we were shown to our seats in the elegant ballroom — and to our great delight, we were seated in THE FRONT ROW!  GetYourGuide made no mention of that!

Moulin Rouge Crowd

First up is the three-course meal.  There were a few different choices and I had foie gras, followed by salmon poached in butter, finishing with a “tendresse” of red raspberries — a lovely cakelike concoction.  The menu included a bottle of champagne to share.

During dinner was the first round of entertainment — two cabaret singers who were delightful imports from the lounge days of the 1980s, one of them rocking Lionel Richie’s hairstyle from the “Hello” music video.

After dinner, there was time for dancing.  (This also made for entertaining people-watching — a sixty-something couple dominated the dance floor with a wild cha-cha, and a woman danced with her 10-year-old son by squishing his face into her cleavage.)

Moulin Rouge Dancers

Image: GetYourGuide

The Show

We were then seated to watch the show.  As much as I’d dreamed of visiting the Moulin Rouge, I hadn’t given much thought to the show itself, other than there being great dancing, gorgeous costumes, and lots of boobs.

The truth?

The Moulin Rouge blew me away.  It was SO much more than I ever thought it would be.  The dancing was incredible.  The costumes were absolutely sensational, especially one set of 1920s-inspired costumes complete with giant Derby-style hats.  The boobs were universally tiny and lovely.  (I mean, come on — who doesn’t love boobs?)

After a few dances, the front stage disappeared — and a giant water tank rose up in its place.  The tank was filled with LIVE SNAKES.  BIG SNAKES.  BOA CONSTRICTORS.  And then a woman wearing nothing but a flesh-colored thong dove in the middle of the water and swam with the snakes, winding them around her body and hoisting them up in the air.

There wasn’t a single person in the ballroom that didn’t have his or her jaw hanging open.

Moulin Rouge Dancers

Image: GetYourGuide

Additionally, in between the dancing, there were different kinds of entertainment.  The world’s fastest juggler performed, spinning seven pins at a spellbinding rate.  Two acrobats performed some wild feats.  A comedian acted out a skit and invited audience members to take part on stage.

The Féerie show smashed two myths about the Moulin Rouge into the ground.  First of all, not all the women were topless — there seemed to be two castes among the dancers, with about two thirds of the dancers wearing little more than beads, and one third either wearing flesh-colored bras or actual bras throughout the show.

Secondly, there were men in the show.  Seriously.  There weren’t as many men as there were women, but they were dancers and were major parts of the show as well.

Can Can Dances

Image: GetYourGuide

And finally — the can-can!  The show concluded with the girls in blue, white and red ruffled petticoats, kicking higher and higher, filling the air with so much energy that you couldn’t help but shout, “Vive la France!” at the end of it all.

I then realized why they seated all the men at our table on the side directly next to the stage — the skirts swished right over their heads.  Mario enjoyed that!

Our Moulin Rouge experience lasted four hours, but it felt like it went by in a flash.  I really can’t emphasize just how much I enjoyed this show and what a special experience it was.  The Moulin Rouge is one of the few travel cliches that ABSOLUTELY lives up to the hype.

And, of course, there was the fact that I got to share it with this guy.

Kate and Mario at the Moulin Rouge

Essential Info: Our experience was part of the Dinner and Show at the Moulin Rouge package, which costs 195 EUR ($255.90) per person and included the Féerie show, the three-course Toulouse-Lautrec meal, half a bottle of champagne per person, and private pickup and drop-off from a central Paris hotel.

2023 update: This exact tour is no longer available this tour is similar!

Many thanks to GetYourGuide for making our evening at Moulin Rouge possible.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

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38 thoughts on “A Dazzling Night at the Moulin Rouge”

  1. I went this year too! A French man outside spent 20 minutes telling me how terrible it was and he had me nervous but I LOOOOVED it! So worth the money!

  2. In my naievity, I didn´t know that the Moulin Rouge was really what it was, so my fifteen-year-old self asked my grandfather to take me after obsessing over the movie. Even the earliest show meant quite the surprise for both of us, but it was an incredible end to a three-week trip around France that helped us forge a great friendship.

  3. I have always wondered why more shows didn’t make themselves dinner shows. It’s good to see the tradition still stands at the Moulin Rouge, although the price point is steep.

  4. Though I enjoyed the movie years ago I had never looked into the current state of the Moulin Rouge.

    Your adventures there sound like they actually lived up to the vibrancy and intensity I remember from the movie. Thanks for sharing this exciting experience with all your vivid details! Belated happy birthday to the very lucky Mario;)

  5. Wow, that’s definitely one of the things I have to see in this lifetime. I was also obsessing over the Moulin Rouge musical back when I was little, but unfortunately didn’t get the chance to live it for myself.

  6. Of course this looks amazing, even more so when you share it with someone incredible, but now I can’t get that Moulin Rouge song with Pink and Christina out of my head. I hear the lyric ever time someone mentions Moulin Rouge. Where’s a karaoke machine when you need one? 😉

  7. Wow, the Moulin Rouge has always been on my bucket list, but I have never really known if it was one of those experiences that is really worth the steep price tag…it looks like it is indeed (and booking through Get Your Guide sounds like a great, easy way to make it happen!)

  8. So that’s what Moulin Rouge is like! sounds like a great night out!
    When I visited Paris for 36 hours years ago … my only visit … I had booked a sunset river cruise on the Seine and tickets to Moulin Rouge. I skipped them both and had a crappy veal dinner instead. Ha….I’ll have to return, with a special lady, next time to enjoy it more…

  9. This looks like the perfect thing to do for a birthday or anniversary in Paris. I’ve visited Montmartre before, but since Paris is always a good idea, I know I’ll return and hopefully then I’ll experience the Moulin Rouge for myself!

  10. I’ve passed over the Moulin Rouge both times I’ve been to Paris because I had heard it just wasn’t worth it. Now I need to return and see the show!

  11. I was lucky enough to see the show for my 18th birthday. It was AMAZING! I absolutely love Paris anyway, and this just cemented my feelings of love for this city. An absolutely amazing experience! Don’t pass up the opportunity to go!

  12. Sounds fabulous – except for the foie gras. Considering that your blog is so popular you could possibly make a difference by advertising against this despicable practice by skipping that course. Just my opinion and suggestion.

  13. OMG, I love the film so much as well. Lost count of the amount of times I bored evverybody by listening to the song “come what may” over and over again. Would love to see the show. Looks absolutely spectacular!

  14. Good to read you had such a great experience at the Mouling Rouge. I heard it had become kind of a tourist trap – nothing like how it used to be. Good to read that isn’t the case!

  15. I went last year and I agree that the Moulin Rouge is a great show, but that’s about all I can say for it — they are almost the worst I’ve come across when it comes to duping ‘special needs’ people out of their money. They promised gluten-free food, completely failed to deliver, and were then beyond rude about it. I was violently ill that night and off-colour for a couple of days afterwards, which really wasn’t worth it, even for the spectacular floor show; I would’ve much rather spent my time in Paris out having fun, than back in the hotel room feeling crappy.

    I’d very strongly recommend against it for anyone whose allergies can kill them, since they’d likely end up dead! (And with the snooty waiters telling them off for it.) And it’s definitely not suitable for people with celiac disease or food intolerances, either… or maybe if you ate before and didn’t touch the food??

  16. Sorry to be the big downer; it’s just one of the places I feel like celiac travelers (and anyone else with food allergies or intolerances) need to be warned about — they don’t live up to their promises, and are then awful about it. Not every tourist attraction is suitable for everyone, unfortunately. But yes, an amazing show!

    1. Thanks! That’s my little black dress that isn’t really a little black dress. Tried it on in a boutique in Beacon Hill three years ago and it was so perfect for me that I had to buy it. 🙂 Oh, and you MUST see Moulin Rouge already!!

  17. Finding this blog made my day!!! I’m so inspired! Thanks Kate for being so generous to share your life and travel experience! I contact you later in my life to pay you off 😉

  18. About getyourguide.com

    getyourguide is really bad and the teams there are worse.

    Try to call their customer service or to email them. You will never get anyone on the phone nor will you get a reply.

    Try also to find anything about the people working there or their address or the management. Good luck. It looks more like a scam than a business.

    But the main issue is the low value of their main product: their so called guides. For having lived or visited in some of the place they pretend to know, I can tell you how poorly informed are their guides and how they lack of originality.

    To top it all, it does look like they have copied Lonely Planet in both the content and the appearance of their web pages.

    What’s the use again ? There are already enough player out there. Who needs another one, a very unprofessional and inefficient one moreover.

  19. I didnt do this when I studied in Paris and havent really heard much about the show before… and yes, it is rather expensive, but you make it sound so worth it!

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