Bars and nightclubs exist everywhere in all shapes, sizes, and selectivity but only in Paris can you find such a staggering array of quality cabarets. The 10 venue names on this list, some of which you’ll recognize and some of which you won’t, provide the cream of the musical comedy crop and are dead certs for an unforgettable night out.
Le Crazy Horse
The legendary Crazy Horse is, and always has been, about three things: glamour, daring, and impertinence. The enchanting and immersive Totally Crazy show encapsulates these elements and the best of the cabaret’s 65-year history in one 90-minute performance, in which its most iconic acts and audience are complicit in creating unforgettable moments. Spectators are welcomed and guided through the evening by the Belgian duo George Bangable and Lolly Wish, whose glorious crooning expertly revives the spirit of the 1920s. TotallyCrazybills itself as the perfect remedy to melancholy, just what’s needed in these gloomy times of ours.
At the Lido , breathtaking sets, costumes, and choreography combine to create a show that dazzles and redefines guests’ conception of the French capital. While the stage is brought to live by exceptional machinery, taking spectators on a fantastical journey through Paris, the famous Bluebell Girls and Lido Boys spin, kick and leap through the shifting landscape in uplifting routines that proceed at an unrelenting and exhilarating pace. Their extravagant hats and costumes, which whip through the air and sparkle under a thousand lights, have been created by a team of no less than 11 prestigious designers.
There’s no Parisian cabaret with more global recognition than the Moulin Rouge, that’s for sure. Since 1889, the Pigalle institution has devised its own distinctive imagery and performance style, which has never been successfully replicated outside its doors. Its Féerieshow brings together 80 international artists, including 60 incredibly talented Doriss Girls; 1,000 costumes, made in Paris ateliers and with tens of thousands of feathers, rhinestones, and sequins; exquisite sets imported from Italy; and one gigantic aquarium. All of this blends together in a whirl of fantasy to an original soundtrack recorded by 80 musicians and 60 vocalists.
Located on Paris’ Left Bank in a venue attributed to Gustave Eiffel, the Paradis Latin is a cabaret with an almost mythical status. It invites spectators into an extravagant and amusing pleasure garden, where they will be entertained by charming dancers and an inimitable master of ceremonies, a darling dandy among dandies. The show, which whisks guests through a variety of scenes, includes a magic roundabout, masked ball, and fine displays of modern ballet. Of course, old favorites like the French cancan are not forgotten, and the performances mix the best of the cabaret tradition with the coolest elements of its future.
Another must-visit on the Left Bank, Aux Trois Mailletz can be found in the medieval cellars of the building at 56 rue Galande in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Since the early 1950s, this restaurant and club has been a destination for lovers of traditional jazz and its unique cabaret has widened its appeal to all those looking for an evening of music and merriment.
Exterior of Au Lapin Agile | Courtesy of Au Lapin Agile
If you cross over the crest of the hill of Montmartre, past the Sacré-Coeur, the neighborhoods stone water tower, and its somewhat out of place but all the more magical for it vineyard and you’ll find the Au Lapin Agile , one of the oldest and most beloved cabarets in Paris. Its show, Songs, Music, Poetry, features artists and songs of all varieties, including traditional French folk tunes, Edith Piaf classics, chansons françaises, and drinking songs that involve the whole audience. This intimate venue represents the truest incarnation of the artistic cabaret, where those in the spotlight learn from the best teachers in town – their audience.
Another distinguished veteran of the Paris cabaret scene, La Nouvelle Eve was originally opened in 1898 under the name Faintaisies Parisiennes.Its current show, Paris je t’aimewas conceived and staged for the first time in 2010 and features an original score by Nicolas Skorsky and choreography by Lianne Scrivener. The city’s artistic heritage is repeatedly celebrated, and particular homage is paid to Edith Piaf, an extraordinary woman and exceptional singer whose timeless songs still give voice to Parisian working class life and ideals. Highlights include a 12-minute cancan and a tango restyling of La Vie en Rose.
In another of Paris’ most artistic and bustling neighborhoods, you’ll find Le Zèbre de Belleville – a circus-cum-cabaret that occupies a converted cinema, first opened in 1945. At the center of its newest show, Cabaret Cirque Russe,is a young and multitalented artist: singer, dancer, puppeteer, magician, trapeze artist, contortionist, and aerial acrobat. Alyona is accompanied in the arena by JB the magician, Pavel the musician, and Francis, the boss.
The latest show at the Cabaret César Palace Paris, Paris-Parnasse, transports its spectators back to the heady days of the early 20th century in the Parisian neighborhood of Montparnasse, when artists like Picasso, Chagall, and Matisse called it home. It features unforgettable characters like Kiki de Montparnasse, who lights up the cafés and music halls with her songs, and a host of satirical comedians ready to pulls laughter from the depths of the diners’ bellies.
Le Divan du Monde et Madame Arthur takes its name from the 1946 song of the popular artist Yvette Guilbert and its current review has been totally transformed by a new troupe of transvestites. Mr. K, Charly Voodoo, Miss Morian, Patachtouille, The Man Inside Corrine and L’Oiseau Joli all perform live and by lip syncing classic and contemporary French music. The history of the Divan du Monde stretches back to the beginning of the 19th century and this eclectic and energetic show is keeping it a part of Paris’ nightlife.