French icons: A visit to the Moulin Rouge
After a year and a half of living next door to the Moulin Rouge, I’ve finally plucked up the courage to buy a ticket.
It wasn’t the very nearly naked female form that scared me away, (although I will confess I’ve never seen so much exposed flesh before in my life) it was the price.
Ninety-five euros for one person. NINETY-FIVE! That doesn’t include a meal. Or a drink. Or a seat with a full frontal, errr I mean, straight on view.
Now, I may have a bit of a reputation for being, let’s say, careful with money. It’s possible that the words radin and Spartan may have been thrown at me in the past. But I maintain that it’s not that I’m tight with money, I just have a solid idea of what I think things are worth.
And a 1h30 minute show is not worth €95 in my book!
Nonetheless, a few weeks ago I found myself on the Moulin Rouge reservations website. A friend was visiting from the UK and really wanted to go. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing.” he said, “Go on. Spend some money for once!”
Grumbling my consent and with my hand shaking from the pressure of spending so much money, I clicked on the Moulin Rouge website and booked two tickets.
Three days and some time spent lying in a dark room later, and we’re in the queue for the 11pm showing. In true Paris style, we’re all bundled into a ‘room’ next to the entrance and forced to wait for nearly an hour. No nice spacious bar area, just a mild sense of claustrophobia and a nagging sensation that €95 really will be too much money to spend on this show.
Finally the queue starts moving, and soon we’re shuffling through the entrance way and into the main hall.
WOW. The room is beautiful. Low lit table lamps, floor to ceiling red velvet, it is exactly what I hoped and expected the Moulin Rouge to look like. I feel like I have walked straight into La Belle Epoque and all of a sudden I’m reminded that it’s over one hundred years old and rich in history as a venue.
Sat down, I enquire where the bar is to buy a glass of wine. “There is no bar, Madam, a bottle of wine or champagne is €60 or a soft drink is €8.”
Heartbreak. If I had booked tickets for €105, half a bottle of champagne would have been included. Oh how my penny pinching ways have let me down!
With no choice but to pay €60 we order a bottle of champagne, which arrives just as the show is starting.
Cheesy dancing, out of time miming, incredible costumes, stunning acrobatics and even a woman swimming with giant water snakes, the Moulin Rouge is definitely an experience worth experiencing.
The time flies by and my friend and I are laughing and bopping away in our seats as the bonkers show plays out on stage.
It’s glitzy, it’s fun, it’s camp, it’s great… but is it work €95? I don’t think so, sorry. Maybe I really am Spartan but for that kind of money I at least expect live singing, right?
“It was brilliant!” My friend declares as we discuss the show over a drink afterwards. “We are definitely going again.” I make a non-committal head movement. I’ve been once, I’m glad I went, but at €95 I think it will remain a once-in-a-lifetime event for me.Image credits:
1, 2. Beth Peters
3. Poster, by mariag on Flickr
4. The Moulin Rouge, by W. Brian Duncan on Flickr