You’ve seen Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman do their thing in the Moulin Rouge but its time you experienced this cheeky, and rather naughty, side of Paris for yourself. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Quartier Pigalle!
Pigalle is a bustling tourist destination that is best known for its world-famous cabaret and is also home to hundreds of sex shops, bars, strip clubs and other X-rated adventures. Located on the border between the 9th and 18th arrondissements, the area has a really interesting history and rich culture that stems right back to the 1800’s. Pigalle was named after the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Pigalle and during the second World War attracted the nickname ‘Pig Alley’ due to its raunchy reputation. Today it is recognised by either name and is still known as the Red Light District of Paris. Even if the kinky side is not your thing, a visit to this unique area is still a must as there are several other attractions that are sure to take your fancy.
The best way to see Pigalle is to start by visiting the village of Montmatre (slightly north of Pigalle), where the famous sugary-white dome of the Sacré-Coeur sits. This beautiful basilica is based on the highest hill in Paris and offers outstanding views of the city and some of the best cafes and restaurants in town. Once you’ve taken in the breathtaking scenery and had your portrait done by one of the hundreds of artists sitting abreast of the hill, you can enjoy a gentle walk down to the foot of Montmatre, where the area of Pigalle lies.
Here, you will instantly recognise the large windmill, a world famous landmark of the Moulin Rouge, as well as the Divan du Monde, which offers a changing selection of cabaret shows. In the streets surrounding these two famous theatre's are a tonne of different bars, clubs, cafes and sex shops, as well as the popular Musee d’Erotisme (Erotic Museum), a space completely dedicated to the act of love-making, woot woo.
The area to the south of Place Pigalle is devoted to music stores and also boasts a rich history with art, having been home to many famous artists over the years. Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Maurice Neumont all once lived here and there are several walking tours operating in the area that will take you to some of their old haunts, and of course, their houses. This area was also home to the Grand Guignol Theatre, which closed in 1962, but is still standing alongside some really interesting museums including the Musée Gustave Moreau and Musée de la Vie Romantique.
So, when in Paris make sure you visit Pigalle and its surrounding areas with an open-mind and let the night unfold. Come what may...