Last week in Paris I made my way up to Montmartre to visit the most famous cabaret in the world. The legendary Moulin Rouge opened in 1889 in a building marked by a large red turning windmill on the roof in the 18th arrondissement. Today, the 100 dancers and musicians put on two shows a day, 365 days a year, hosting 630,000 spectators from around the world and popping 240,000 bottles of Champagne a year.
The venue has been a concert theatre, ballroom and nightclub over the years and has had some considerable stars on the bill including Edith Piaf, Ginger Rogers, Liza Minelli, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Mikhail Barischnikoff and Ella Fitzgerald. The decadent Belle Époque-style music hall was designed by Henri Mahé in 1951, furnished in red and gold and filled with clinking glasses of Laurent Perrier as the curtain went up.
The Féerie show premiered in 1999 and is a sparkling razzmatazz affair filled with feathers, rhinestones and sequins, acrobats, an aquarium filled with five pythons, tiny falabella horses, multiple costume changes, clowns and big dance numbers with the whole troupe. Known as the birthplace of the French cancan (or quadrille realiste), the raucous routine has been presented in every show in the 126 years since, with screams and dancers' legs kicking out from under frilly, flowing skirts in the colours of the tricolore. The Moulin Rouge purchased two workshops to preserve the savoir-faire of their elaborate costumes and the show features feathers by Maison Février (which also dresses Dita Von Teese) and handmade shoes by Maison Clairvoy. If you're a fan of cabaret and glitzy nights out, it's a must-visit when in Paris.