Paris cabaret guide
Your guide to cabaret, burlesque and variety in Paris
© Eric Deniset
There's more to Paris cabaret than the get-your-glitz-out-for-the-boys genre with frilly drawers, fishnet stockings and lingerie that twangs to the rhythm of the music. There's the art, the synchronization, the wild costumes and, bien sûr, the inter-act performers who do interesting things with animals and ventriloquist dummies (though rarely at the same time). Cabaret in Paris is traditionally served with champers and a meal, turning the four 'B's (boobs, bums, boas and bubbly) into an all-evening extravaganza. Make a night of it with our Paris cabaret guide...
Recommended cabaret venues in Paris
More risqué than the other cabarets, Le Crazy Horse, whose art du nu was invented in 1951 by Alain Bernadin, is an ode to feminine beauty: lookalike dancers with provocative names like Flamma Rosa and Nooka Caramel, and identical body statistics (when standing, the girls' nipples and hips are all the same height) move around the stage, clad only in rainbow light and strategic strips of black tape. In their latest show, Désirs, the girls put on some tantalising numbers, with titles such as 'God Save Our Bare Skin' (a sexy take on the Changing of the Guards) and the sensual 'Legmania', for anyone with a leg fetish. The Crazy Horse doesn’t have a restaurant...
- 12 avenue George V, 8e, Paris, France
This is the largest cabaret of all: high-tech touches optimise visibility, and chef Philippe Lacroix provides fabulous gourmet nosh. On stage, 60 Bluebell Girls and a set of hunky dancers slink around, shaking their bodies with sequinned panache in breathtaking scenes. For a special treat, choose the brand new 'behind the scenes' tour which, before the show, takes you into the heart of the action. For a glam night, opt for premier service (€280) with free cloakroom, the best tables in the house and free water and coffee with your meal.
- 116 bis avenue des Champs-Elysées, 8e, Paris, France
Toulouse-Lautrec posters, glittery lamp-posts and fake trees lend guilty charm to this revue. On stage, 60 Doriss dancers cavort with faultless synchronisation. Costumes are flamboyant and the entr'acte acts funny. One daring number even takes place inside a giant tank of underwater boa constrictors. The downer is the space, with tables packed in like sardines. There's also an occasional matinée.
- 82 bd de Clichy, 18th, Paris, France
This is the most authentic (and cheesy) of the cabarets, not only because it's family-run (the men run the cabaret, the daughter does the costumes), but also because the clientele is mostly French, something which has a direct effect on the prices (this is the cheapest revue) and the cuisine, which tends to be high quality. Show-wise you can expect the usual fare: glitter, live singing and kitsch entr'acte acts performed in a stunning belle époque room. There's also a thrice-monthly matinée: lunch and show from €65.
- 28 rue Cardinal Lemoine, 5th , Paris, France
If you’re hanging around the south bank opposite Nôtre Dame at night, chances are you’ll hear the muffled sounds of music and shouting from underground.This is Aux Trois Mailletz, a former jazz club that now also holds regular revues. Although this wonderful little joint isn’t well known by tourists, it has played host to some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Sidney Bechet, Bud Powell, Bill Coleman, Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong. It’s certainly not as slick as other venues around Paris, and doesn’t go out of its way to have all the performers looking the same. Instead you’ll find a tiny joint crammed with a real mix of eccentric characters...
- 58 Rue Galande, 5e
One of the true survivors of Monmartre's bohemian heyday, Au Lapin Agile has weathered its illustrious 150-year history remarkably well. When tracing its past, it can be hard to separate fact from legend – in its infancy, the venue was known as the 'Cabaret des assassins' for the band of killers who supposedly broke in and killed the owner's son. What's more certain is that its current name derives from its insignia: a rabbit jumping out of a saucepan, painted in 1875 by André Gill (whose surname was later corrupted to 'agile'). By the turn of the 20th century, Au Lapin Agile was the preferred spot for struggling local artists including Picasso, Utrillo and Modigliani...
- 22 rue des Saules, 18e