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Last updated on 25 April 2022 by Lena

What are the best Cabarets in Paris and Which Ones Should You Visit?

When you think of Paris, what are some of the first things that come to mind? Wine, the Eiffel Tower, and Cabaret, of course. No trip to Paris is complete without taking in a cabaret performance. Who can resist the beautiful costumes, incredible dancing, and acrobatics?

If you’re unfamiliar with cabarets in Paris, they are an important part of Parisian history. Cabarets are theater shows that involve singing, dancing, humor, acrobatics, and comedy.

Cabarets in Paris are a must visit. The Cancan in in the Moulin Rouge is world famous
Cancan at the Moulin Rouge @ Chris Barmat

They did not, however, begin as the stunning performances that we know today. There’s a long history that brought cabarets to the glittery spectacles that keep these theaters alive and thriving.

So, if you’re going to visit, what’s the best cabaret in Paris? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for in a show, as there are many cabarets throughout the city. Let’s look at the history of cabarets in Paris, and which ones you should visit during your stay.

 

The best Cabarets in Paris at a quick glance:

Cabaret
Dinner Options
Cancan
Prices
Moulin Rouge
yes
yes
Lido
yes
yes
Crazy Horse
amuse bouche
no
Le Paradis Latin
yes
yes
Au Lapin Agile
no
no

 

What is a Cabaret?

To start, a cabaret is defined as a form of theatrical entertainment utilizing music, song, dance, and drama. Most modern cabarets also include topless women in their performances. Typically, cabarets in Paris are performed in elaborate theaters, and they are a huge event involving dinner and drinks. Going to a cabaret is great for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions. Or, you can just go for the fun of it, of course.

Seeing a show is a great way to spend a night in Paris.

Cabaret venues range from large theaters such as the Moulin Rouge to tiny pubs hosting smaller events with poetry and other acts. What you won’t see at a cabaret is audience members getting up and dancing. It’s a seated event meant for the audience to appreciate the outstanding performers.

 

Cabarets are wonderful evening entertainment in Paris

A traditional cabaret will have an equally entertaining master of ceremonies that hosts the event. Cabaret performances embrace the history of Paris along with the theaters themselves. Each one will have a different theme, and you can even learn about the buildings while you visit as well, and dive deeper into the spirit of Paris.

Think of a cabaret as a hybrid between a concert and a fantastic theater production. It’s intimate, swanky, sensual, and a must-do activity when you visit Paris.

 

A brief History of Parisian Cabarets

Cabarets originated in France in the 1880s, primarily in Paris. This is one of the reasons getting to see one in Paris is so special. The original cabarets were not full of the intricate costumes and theater sets we know and love today.

The first version of the cabaret took place in a pub or tavern. There was an underground nature to the event, and they were set apart from local watering holds by serving dinner as well.

They didn’t have elaborate entertainment, but every so often there may be someone playing the piano. These cabarets were meeting points for creative types and provided an intimate setting for socializing.

 

Cabarets in the Belle Epoche

In the 19th century, during the Belle Epoche, cabarets in Paris started to evolve. Cafe-concert and cafe-chantant were affordable for all and allowed to overcome social barriers for a while. The cafés offered food along with entertainment. Outings designed to drink, smoke, and to have fun.

Cabarets are having a long tradition in Paris. Black and White photo with woman dancing in a bar in Paris

 

The first cabaret similar to what we know today was the Le Chat Noir, which resided in the Montmarte neighborhood.

Le Chat Noir was opened in 1881 by Rodolphe Salis, who became a well-known MC at events. The entertainment at this cabaret included poetry, shadow plays, and comedic skits. The success of Le Char Noir led to an influx of other cabarets throughout Paris. By 1896, there were around 56 cabarets in the city. They were places for people from all walks of life to mingle and share ideas.

The continued success of cabarets brought around the opening of the Moulin Rouge. This cabaret is probably the most well-known, due to the movie of the same namesake. Moulin Rouge is the birthplace of the famous dance, the French Cancan. With the opening of the Moulin Rouge, cabaret performances started to become elaborate productions that were moving above ground and becoming the main steam forms of entertainment.

Cabarets are having a long tradition in Paris. Woman in the 20's in paris

 

In 1946, Avenue des Champs-Élysées opened with a bigger production style, and cabaret venues were competing to have the most extravagant performances. Among the cabarets that opened was Le Lido, which is still operating today.

 

Cabarets around the world

While cabarets remained popular in Paris, they started to spread around the globe. In Germany, Kabarett was established by Baron von Wolzogen in Berlin, and it kept the intimate atmosphere of the cabarets of Paris.

In the United States, elaborate shows were being performed in places like Las Vegas, with bright costumes and risqué performances. After a visit to the US, a Parisian by the name of Alain Bernard decided that cabarets in Paris could use this type of performance, too.

Cabarets in PAris - stage with red lights

 

This led to the opening of Le Crazy Horse, which focused on striptease, and more sensual performances. Cabarets in Paris have continued to evolve, and performances typically involve topless women and burlesque shows. You can still see shows that embrace the evolution of cabaret in Paris today!

 

Why Should You Visit a Cabaret in Paris?

Sure, you can see cabaret in many large cities across the world, but seeing cabaret in Paris is seeing history. You’ll get to experience seeing cabaret in the very venues that started it all.

Visiting a cabaret is a fabulous way to end a day in Paris. Most venues are located near popular tourist spots, so it won’t be too difficult to add them to your itinerary. That way, if you are overwhelmed by the choices of nightlife in Paris, your evening is spoken for. You’ll be able to go home and tell your friends you saw a real cabaret at a piece of history in Paris!

 

Best Cabarets in Paris - the Lido Paris - photo of topless women dancing in the Lido
Lido @Julien Benhamou

What are the Best Cabarets to Visit in Paris?

 

Lido de Paris

click here for tickets

Lido de Paris has been operating for 75 years and continues to be one of the most famous cabarets in the city. The performers are known as The Bluebell Girls and Lido Boys, and they have been on stage ever since 1958. You can expect to see fabulous costumes and be wowed by the set design and incredible light show.

 

Since Lido de Paris cabaret is one of the best in the city, tickets can sell out quickly. If you have a specific day in mind, plan to purchase them as soon as possible to ensure you get the time slot you want.

Options
Booking
Lido Cabaret Show with Champagne
Lido Cabaret Show with Dinner
Lido Cabaret Show
Package: Lido, Dinner, and Seine Cruise

 

The Lido in Paris
Lido @Julien Benhamou

Lido also claims to be the inventor of the dinner show, so you don’t want to miss the meal. You can purchase packages to have dinner with drinks or no drinks. The meal includes 3 courses, or there are gastronomic dinner packages. You can see all the options here.

 

 

The Moulin Rouge

Click here for tickets, prices, and dinner or Champagne options

The Moulin Rouge is probably the most famous cabaret in Paris and opened in 1889. It was the first cabaret to focus on elaborate performances outside the underground tiny pubs that originally housed cabaret shows.

You may be familiar with the namesake film, Moulin Rouge starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan Mcgregor. When walking by, you can’t miss the building with its red roof and the iconic windmill, which is typical for the neighborhood: Montmartre.

Moulin Rouge in Paris - the birthplace of the french cancan dance
Plumes Rouges @Moulin Rouge B.Royer

 

At the Moulin Rouge, you can choose to see just the show, or also have dinner. Click here to see all your options.

 

The Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge is not only the oldest cabaret in Paris, it is also the most popular. A memorable way to spend an evening in Paris!

 

  • See the famous French Cancan dance
  • Sip delicious sparkling Champagne (The Moulin Rouge is the world’s biggest buyer of Champagne!)
  • Dinner options available
  • watch the troupe of more than 60 artists in stunning costumes

Book your evening at the Moulin Rouge here
→ Book your evening at the Moulin Rouge here

 

The Moulin Rouge should be on your list to at least see the outside of, as it is a staple in Parisian history. It’s also neat to see if you’re a fan of the movie. The Moulin Rouge is a larger theater, and you will be experiencing a large theatrical production including breathtaking customers, wonderful dancers, and of course: the French Cancan!

The facade of the Moulin Rouge with its iconic windmill
Façade Moulin Rouge @ Philippe Wojazer

Le Crazy Horse

reserve your seat here before it sells out

If you’re seeking to visit a cabaret in Paris with an intimate setting, Le Crazy Horse provides just that.  This legendary cabaret in Paris is one you shouldn’t miss, and it’s the artsiest cabaret you’ll find in Paris. The show is called Totally Crazy! And  the goal was to “make your eyes sparkle in technicolor at every performance.”

The setting is very intimate, and you will be pretty close to the performers. Performances are 90 minutes long, and there are several showtimes a day. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped right back into the 1920s, but with more technology.

 

famous cabarets in Paris

 

Shows play with lighting, and you’ll get to experience outstanding dance numbers by the cast. Currently, during the show, you cannot have dinner, but there are dinner packages available to eat after at the restaurant “Ginger.”

You can purchase tickets for the show that include a 1/2 bottle of champagne. If you purchase a ticket with no drinks, you can always order them during the show at an extra cost. You can see their list of show prices and packages here or see the table below for an overview:

Show
Option
Booking
Crazy Horse
only show
Crazy Horse
show + 1/2 bottle of Champagne
Crazy Horse
show + 1/2 bottle of Champagne & Amuse Bouche

 

As for the dress code,  elegant outfits are appreciated, and flip-flops, shorts, and sneakers should be avoided. This show does state on their website that it contains nudity.

 

 

Le Paradis Latin

check here if tickets are available for your travel dates

Le Paradis Latin is the oldest cabaret still operating today and has an interesting history. The first Paradis Latin was built by Napoleon Bonaparte (!) but burnt down in 1870. Laying in ruins for many years, it was reconstructed for the Paris Exhibition in 1889. By no one less than Gustave Eiffel himself. At the same time as he built the Eiffel Tower!

Anyway, today, the Paradis Latin is one of the most popular cabarets in Paris. During the show, you can expect dancing, singing, and acrobatics from a talented cast. There are several show options including just the show, dinner, drinks, or snacks. Le Paradis Latin has also various shows running.  Currently including a special show for Ukraine.

 

The elaborate showroom is a beautiful place to experience one of the best cabarets in Paris. Le Paradis Latin is located near Notre Dame and the Pantheon, so it’s a great place to end a day of sightseeing.

At this cabaret, you can expect to see an array of different performances depending on which show you choose. From acrobatics inside swinging balls to sensual dance numbers, Le Paradis Latin has something for everyone.

 

 

Au Lapin Agile

While some of the best cabarets in Paris are inside big, beautiful theaters, sometimes you want a more intimate setting. Au Lapin Agile offers just that type of atmosphere.

The cabaret is put on in a nondescript little red house, half-hidden behind trees and just beneath the vineyards of Montmartre.  It can be easy to miss if you’re not looking for it but remains an incredibly popular spot and one of the best cabarets in Paris.

Au Lapin Agile in Montmartre
Au Lapin Agile in Montmartre – a traditional cabaret in Paris

 

It is nothing like the big theatrics show productions that you find for example at the Moulin Rouge or the Lido. The Au Lapin Agile is a traditional and informal Cabaret where singers and poets are performing French songs that bring you back to the roots of the French cabaret culture. 

This venue does not serve food, only drinks. Thus,  you’ll need to grab a bite elsewhere before or after the show. As far as cabarets go, Au Lapin Agile is on the cheaper side. Tickets are less than half the price of other shows and include one alcoholic drink. You can purchase more drinks for an additional charge, as well.

The venue is informal, so wear whatever you’d like. The atmosphere is much more laid back than other cabarets in Paris.

 

 

What to expect from seeing a cabaret show in Paris?

You may be wondering what to expect when you visit a cabaret in Paris. Typically, a cabaret is a  theatrical show with music, songs, dances, and drama. You will be served drinks and/or dinner depending on the venue, and it is a seated event.

 

What Do I Wear when visiting a Cabaret in Paris?

Most cabarets in Paris will list a dress code on their website. When in doubt, follow the Parisian rules of dress. No shorts, no jeans at night, and no flip-flops. It would be advisable not to dress down, but cabarets are not extremely formal either. You can, of course, dress up if you’d like. You are out on the town, in Paris, after all.

 

Do I Have to Drink?

No, not at all! If you prefer not to partake, you do not have to. Yes, cabarets in Paris tend to focus on champagne and wine, but it’s not necessary to have a good time. Keep in mind that some venues may require you to purchase a drink package along with your ticket, however.

The Lido is one of the most popular Cabarets in Paris. There is some nudity though
Opening Lido @Julien Benhamou

Will There be Nudity in the Parisian Cabarets?

Again, depends on the cabaret. Most of the famous cabarets in Paris do involve topless women in their performances. Depending on where you go, there may be full nudity, but it will be listed on the website. Do not always expect nudity at a cabaret in Paris. Do expect many flashy costumes, lights, and incredible dance numbers with acrobatics.