Previously known as the Montagnes Russes due to the wooden roller coasters installed by Joseph Oller (founder of Le Moulin Rouge) – this music hall has launched musicians since 1893. French singers like Edith Piaf fast-tracked “La Vie en Rose“, Gilbert Bécaud’s “Mister 100 000 Volts” electrified his audience, and Johnny Hallyday rocked right on this stage. Georges Brassens was also a regular at Olympia, as were other international artists, often making their debut at here. Did you also know that a secret underground passageway leads to behind the stage” Regular guided tours are offered on a first-come, first-in basis.
La Cigale (The Cicada)
Contrary to La Fontaine’s fable The Ant and the Grasshopper, this cicada does not only sing in summer. Situated in Paris’ Red Light District, French singers such as Mistinguett, Maurice Chevalier and Arletty have showcased here over the years. La Cigale has entertained darlings of the intelligentsia such as French writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, as well as Vaudeville operettas (a theatrical genre of variety entertainment) who have relished many a soirée here. Chirping annually is the InRocKs Festival, helping upcoming artists hop from anonymity into the spotlight.
La Flèche D’Or (The Golden Arrow)
Café-restaurant and concert hall, La Flèche D’Or was inaugurated in a former train station by former students from the École des Beaux-arts de Paris (National School of Fine Arts). Swift as an arrow, La Flèche D’Or became the epitome of Parisian night-life concerts and clubbing venues for promising DJs, only to suffer being temporarily shut down due to noise pollution and financial difficulty. Completely soundproofed and with more than one string to its bow, concertgoers can mingle, enjoy a beverage, snack, or simply chatter away either at the bar, on the terrace out front, or grab a seat adjacent to the stage.
Opéra de Paris – Palais Garnier
Behind its sumptuous facade is more than meets the eye. This opera house was moved and scored its new name after French architect, Charles Garnier, won the architectural design competition organized by Napoleon III. Garnier’s motto for this prima donna was ‘desire for much, hope for little’. Gaston Leroux used its setting for his novel The Phantom of the Opera, which was later adapted by English composer and impresario of musical theater Andrew Lloyd Weber into a popular 1986 musical. Adjacent to the Palais Garnier is the L’Opéra Restaurant where you can also enjoy a Brunch à l’Opéra every Sunday.
Théâtre du Châtelet
The Théâtre du Châtelet (châtelet translating to small castle) has donned its shining armor for drama performances since 1876 along the quays of the river Seine. Jean Cocteau couldn’t help but parade his ballets’ costumes and sets designed by Pablo Picasso here. A stage version of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days circumnavigated through 2,195 performances, traversing 64 years too. The César Awards (the French equivalent of the United States’ Academy Awards) have been held here every February since 1976. En garde – the theater’s blog holds the fort by taking center stage, setting the scene for upcoming events.
Le Zénith Paris
Built to replace a circus-style tent venue which hosted numerous musical performances (particularly touring rock bands) back in the day, this indoor arena was inaugurated in 1984 by French singers and songwriters Charles Trenet and Renaud. This current-day circus act juggles concerts, tournaments, one-man shows and musical comedies amongst others. The pinnacle of the events held here is the yearly charity concert by Les Enfoirés (French for ‘The Idiots’). A jamboree of French actors, singers and artists entertain in order to raise money for the French charity association Les Restos du Cœur (Restaurants of the Heart), founded by the late French comedian Coluche.
Landscaped into the garden of another Parisian music venue, l’Elysée Montmartre, in 1894, its architect plucked the design from the Trianon at the Château de Versailles, salvaged steelwork from the Eiffel Tower’s designer Gustave Eiffel, and so it germinated. One of its seedlings, French singer and star at Le Moulin Rouge, Mistinguett, had her career blossom here. Among the regular visitors who harvested inspiration at Le Trianon was French painter, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, famous for his paintings of French can-can dancer La Goulue, Queen of Montmartre. This is not your garden variety music halls offering just concerts; dinners, cocktails, movie premiers, product launches and fashion shows are also fruits of its labor.
Casino de Paris
Former prisoner of the Bastille and godchild of Louis XIV of France, the Duke of Richelieu set the scene for shows at this venue, called La Folie Richelieu, or the Richelieu Madness. After the French Revolution it was renamed Tivoli Gardens which became an amusement park with regular fireworks displays. It was relocated at the request of Baron Haussmann, the master-architect behind modern Paris. It started off with a bang when it hosted the Paris Carnival with a shower of confetti in 1891 and at the throw of a dice established itself as a music hall. This venue is no risky gamble: be it concerts, ballets, operas, musicals or stand up shows, performing here is akin to striking the jackpot – tickets often sell-out within minutes.
Inspired by German-born French composer, cellist and impresario of the romantic period Jacques Offenbach (and his Operetta Ba-ta-clan), this chinoiserie-style singing café has hosted iconic rock musicians for decades. It is with a heavy heart that we write about Le Bataclan, deservedly on the list but famed now for altogether different reasons. Despite the shocking attacks on this theatre on November 13th, 2015, the venue reopened almost one year later.