Looking for ideas about what to do in Paris ? Read on for ideas for a night out around Monmarte and Pigalle.
Pigalle is Paris’ red light district. Soldiers during World War II nicknamed the place “pig alley” because of its seedy reputation, but it was actually named after a French sculptor.
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Pigalle has had a long reputation of being a place where prostitutes were stationed on every street corner and criminals abounded, but in our recent visit, we did not many signs of illegal activity.
Perhaps this is due to recent efforts by the French government to clean up this popular tourist destination in Paris.
When you take the Metro to the Pigalle stop, you emerge right in the center of the action, near the world famous Moulin Rouge. My husband and I came here for an evening stroll on our recent trip to Paris. We came mostly out of curiosity and a desire to snap a tourist photo of the Moulin Rouge.
We weren’t sure what to expect. Our only foray into a red light district had been in Amsterdam, and while it has been interesting, the pot smoking and legalized prostitution gave it a little bit of an out of control sort of feeling (probably why people like going there for wild parties.)
Pigalle had a classier sort of feeling than the feeling that we had gotten from Amsterdam. It was cleaner. There were more people walking around that seemed like they were having a relaxing night out with friends for dinner and some drinks and less people that looked like they were hell bent on a wild party.
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There were many normal, middle aged looking couples, dressed up nicely, that looked like they would belong in a classy neighborhood in New York city.
Of course, there were still lots of sex shops, sex shows and the like. It felt like a place where one could straddle the line between normal and risque…like you could dip your toes into the dark pool that is the sultry seductive pool of Paris’ other side.
Reading about Pigalle online, I notice that there have been some safety concerns reported there. I am not sure how recent some of these scams and such have been happening.
I am under the impression that there has been a major effort in the last few years to clean this area up, and indeed, we felt very safe in this area at all times.
As a precaution, I would suggest making sure to take your partner or a friend with you in this area if you are unsure or feel unsafe. Many of the scams seem to involve a single person being lured into a bar or club for a drink by a beautiful woman, then being forced to pay a ridiculously high bill.
Use common sense; if there aren’t any other patrons in the bar or restaurant and all you see is the restaurant’s employees inside, pick a different place. Stay in places where there are other people around you. I have also read that things like this are less likely to happen if you are with a date or your spouse.
Here are some ideas for a what to do in Paris in the Monmarte and Pigalle area (note-this itinerary is not intended for children. If you are looking for a family friendly tour of the area, this walking tour is a great option!)
I would start your evening by heading up to the steps of Sacre Couer Basilica to see the sunset. The view of Paris is amazing from here, and this is a wonderful way to start your evening (you can get to Sacre Couer by taking the Metro to the Anvers metro stop and walking north up Rue de Steinkerque to get to where you can either walk up the stairs to the foot of the basilica or pay a small fee of a couple Euros to take a tram).
The Basilica itself is open seven days a week until 10:30pm, so while you are here waiting for the sunset, you will have time to check it out.
- Address: 35, RUE DU CHEVALIER-DE-LA-BARRE; 75018 PARIS
- Metro Stop: Anvers (walk north up Rue de Steinkerque to get to where you can either walk up the stairs to the foot of the basilica or pay a small fee of a couple Euros)
- Hours: Every day from 6:30am-10:30pm
- Cost: Free entry into Basilica, dome and crypt 5 euros
- Further Reading: Sacre Couer from the Europe for Visitors Website or a post from a friend of mine at Sharing My France: Sacre Couer
Unless you are planning on splurging on dinner and a show at the Moulin Rouge, I would suggest dinner at Restaurant Miroir (a 6 minute walk from the Sacre Couer Baslilca, according to Google maps). This restaurant has gotten great reviews, serves traditional french cuisine and has reasonable prices.
- Address: 94 rue des Martyrs, 18e, Montmartre, Paris, 75018
- Metro Stop: Anvers (a 6 minute walk from Sacre Couer Basilica)
- Cost: Appetizer, main course and dessert for 32 euro, or 25 euro for appetizer and main course or main course and dessert.
- Further Reading: A Review of Le Miroir from the Hip Paris Blog
Here is a link to some great additional information about Monmarte written by Matt Barrett (whose travel guides are an excellent resource): A Paris Guide by Matt Barrett
From here, you can decide which course the rest of your evening is going to take:
Musee de l’Erotisme:
- Address: 72 Boulevard de Clichy; 75018 Paris
- Metro Stop: Pigalle
- Cost: 9 euros (3 euro discount for buying tickets online…look for the link on the website that says “Reservez on Ligne”)
- Hours: Open everyday from 10:00am-2:00am
- Website: http://www.musee-erotisme.com/
While this is technically not off of the Pigalle Metro stop, it is only two stops away and I couldn’t resist listing it as a great stop for a budget evening. 24 Euros for the show and a drink is a great deal by Paris standards. This traditional cabaret show includes singing, comedy in a traditional french cabaret atmosphere. This is not an adult show, there is no nudity, but it promises to be a good time.
- Address: 22 Rue Saules; 75018 Paris
- Metro Stop: Lamarck/Culaincourt (2 stops away from Pigalle)
- Cost: 24 Euros for show and 1 drink (extra drinks 7 Euro)
- Website: http://www.au-lapin-agile.com/
The Moulin Rouge:
A splurge for sure, dinner and the cabaret show will run you approximately 175-200 Euros. This is the mother of all French cabaret shows (and something that I haven’t experienced, but would like to, at least once.)
- Address: 82 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
- Cost: 172-200 euros for show with dinner and champagne; 95 euro for show without beverage,
- Hours: Dinner is served at 7pm followed by the show at 9pm
- Website: http://www.moulinrouge.fr (english translation button on the bottom left corner
What are your favorite tips for what to do in Paris?
If you enjoyed this post, check out these other posts about Paris:
- Travel in Focus: What to do in Paris
- Strategies for Budget Dining in Paris
- Reverse Culture Shock: 8 Things that are Annoying Me Since I left France