French Tips to Survive the Moulin Rouge

French Tips to Survive the Moulin Rouge

While most Parisian natives stay far away from the Moulin Rouge (mostly because it's located in the 'Boulevarde de Clichy' (a commonplace for the sex trade)), it is a very sought after spot by tourists. To shed some light on the topic, we wanted to take a trip on the wild side & send you a few tips to survive the Moulin Rouge from a native French perspective. We hope you enjoy!

Approaching 'Le Moulin'

You will definitely want to watch your belongings while strolling through the Boulevarde de Clichy. Used heroin needles, sloppy newspapers, and prostitutes roam these streets, but look up towards the sky and all of that seems to disappear as you see the bright red lights and spinning windmill of the Moulin Rouge. The staff at this spectacle tend to wear a chip on their shoulder, so it is best to buy tickets ahead of time. If you happen to arrive without a ticket, you should know that performances are usually held at 7PM, 9PM, and 11PM and it's best to arrive 30minutes prior. Also take note that the tickets are around 115€ for regular seats and about 200€ for VIP seats (which include champagne, macarons & more). When you arrive, try ordering your ticket en Français with 'Une entrée pour le spectacle de ce soir, s'il vous plaît' ('1 ticket for tonight's show please'). You can follow up with 'Le Spectacle dure combien de temps?' ('How long is the performance'). We would recommend paying a few extra euros and grabbing the seats with the champagne.

Getting In

Once you are ready to usher through the crowds and into Toulouse Lautrec's favorite playground, you will be taken to your seats. At this point, most people grab their iphones and try snapping a quick photo of the venue. However, the ushers are on high alert for this as photos & video are strictly prohibited. You will hear this phrase constantly 'Les photos ne sont pas autorisées' ('No photos allowed'), at which you can kindly respond 'Désolé! Je ne savais pas" (Sorry, I didn't know).

The Show

If you are the type of person who enjoys contemporary, avant-garde performances then this might not be the show for you. During its heyday, the show was an arousing display of topless women and dazzling costumes that were innovative. For today's standard, this show is more of a mediocre Broadway, than a flashy modern dance. In any case, you will enjoy seeing what brought some of the most famous paintings in art history to life through the live performances that inspired Toulouse Lautrec. Just take note of the amount of 'foreigners' you see dancing on stage during the performance. If you are expecting a cabaret-style line up of Parisian talent, you might be slightly surprised by the majority of Eastern European performers.


As discussed, the area just outside the Moulin Rouge has some safety concerns. It's best to head directly to a cozy bar in Montmartre, such as the 'Chez Ammad' (formerly 'The Grand Hôtel de Clairmont'). At this point, you can grab a martini with a friend and engage in one of France's favorite activities, 'la critique.' Common phrases might include 'Qu'est-ce que tu as pensé des costumes ?' ('What did you think of the costumes?') 'Tu as aimé les chansons ?' ('Did you like the singing?') and "Tu as aimé ?' ('Did you enjoy it?'). In any case, you will have plenty of time to discuss as most bars stay open until 2AM or later if they have proper dispensation.

There is much to do and see around Paris and, for obvious reasons, the Moulin Rouge is one of the many landmarks to consider. Many tourists often wonder what actually goes on inside, so we hope this post offered some useful insight. Have you been to the Moulin Rouge or are considering going? Make sure to leave a comment below with your thoughts, questions or with any of your favorite tips!