6 Best Traditional Cabarets in Paris

Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris.
••• Especially on a first trip to Paris, a cabaret show can be fun. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
  • 01 of 07

    For Great Classic Shows in the City of Light

    Ah, the traditional Paris cabaret. A show that has little to do with contemporary Parisian culture and everything to do with nostalgia, a good heaping of kitschy fun and a love for longstanding erotic codes. You won't, admittedly, find many Parisians lined up to catch a show at one of these places. But if you're hankering for French can-cans, Vegas-style glitz and lots of skin, these top traditional Paris cabarets will provide delicious cliches up to your elbows-- for a hefty price, of course. There are plenty of more subdued, serious or arty cabaret-theatres in Paris, too, but we're focusing on the classics here. Click through for the most legendary among these. 

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  • 02 of 07

    #1: Moulin Rouge

    Pigalle, the Moulin Rouge
    ••• Maremagnum / Getty Images

    For romantics, no visit to the city of lights would be complete without a night at the original Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris. Built in 1889, the club was the essence of a bohemian, Belle Epoque Paris, where artists converged to produce and attend colorful and avant- garde performances. The Moulin Rouge in Paris has inspired scores of Hollywood homages, the most recent being director Baz Luhrman’s 2001 glitz fest starring Nicole Kidman. It also provided inspiration for 19th-century painter Toulouse Lautrec, whose portraits of Moulin Rouge performers are today housed in Paris’ Musee d’Orsay.

    Read more:  Full review of Moulin Rouge

    Reserve now: Book Moulin Rouge shows & dinner packages (via TripAdvisor)

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  • 03 of 07

    #2 Lido: A Very Adult Classic Cabaret on the Champs-Elysées

    Lido Paris
    ••• Courtesy of Lido

    Located on the Champs-Elysées, the Lido opened its doors in 1946, shortly after the end of World War II and the liberation of Paris. The ambiance of exhilaration and a distinctive Parisian classiness has stuck. Often cited as the preferred cabaret of local socialites and celebrities, the Lido has hosted a score of renowned performers over the years, from Elton John to Shirley Mac Laine. The mainstay revue, famed for its elaborate, elegant costumes and multicultural twists, features 60 dancers, 600 costumes and 23 different sets.

    Reserve now: Read traveler reviews and book direct (via TripAdvisor)

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  • 04 of 07

    #3: Crazy Horse, for Arty Burlesque Shows

    Dita Von Teese To Guest Judge First American Auditions At MGM Grand's Crazy Horse Paris
    ••• WireImage / Getty Images

    One of the racier traditional Paris cabarets, the Crazy Horse prides itself on its distinctly burlesque aesthetic and more contemporary style. It's seen a surge in popularity recently thanks to revues from burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese (who returned for a second show in 2009) and from French bimbo-slash-intellectual-slash-actress Arielle Dombasle. This one's strictly for adults, whereas older teenagers might be brought along for a show at the Moulin Rouge or Lido.

    Reserve now: Read traveler reviews and book direct (via TripAdvisor)

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  • 05 of 07

    #4: Le Zebre de Belleville

    A performer at the Zebre de Belleville
    ••• A performer at the Zebre de Belleville. Courtesy of the Zebre de Belleville

    If you're looking for a Paris cabaret in an artier, more contemporary vein, the Zebre de Belleville is a good choice. Located smack in the middle of ultraurban, multicultural Belleville, the Zebre (whose facade is graced with a large signpost featuring the eponymous animal) regularly puts on revues that stray from Parisian cancan standbys to explore themes more fitting of contemporary dance and circus acts. There's also a nightclub on certain evenings. Aside from the zany, offbeat cabaret revues, you can also expect to pay around half of what you would at the Lido or the Crazy Horse for a dinner and show-- a significant advantage by any count.

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  • 06 of 07

    #5: Au Lapin Agile, Traditional Cabaret in Montmartre

    Au Lapin Agile as seen from Montmartre.
    ••• Au Lapin Agile as seen from Montmartre. Courtney Traub

    Dating to around the mid 19th-century, and the former haunt of struggling Montmartre artists from Modigiliani to Toulouse-Lautrec, Au Lapin Agile is situated in a now iconic pink cottage, nestled on a quiet street in the heights of the hilly district. If you're looking for a slice of very traditional Paris, this cabaret is for you: chanson francaise and other classic tunes reign here, and visitors sing and raise their glasses in the cramped upstairs room, the walls plastered with paintings from some of the aforementioned artists. Zero glamour; lots of spirit.

    Read more: Full review of Au Lapin Agile

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  • 07 of 07

    #6: Folies Bergère

    A cabaret show at the Folies Bergere
    ••• A cabaret show at the Folies Bergere. BIPS/Getty Images

    Another lesser-known cabaret among tourists but beloved by Parisians, this gem has hosted the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Josephine Baker. It also has run musicals including, fittingly, Cabaret. 

    Read more: Our full profile and review of Les Folies Bergère

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