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There are two kinds of cabaret in France : the kind most tourists have heard of, featuring a perfectly choreographed troupe of identical topless dancers, and the intimate, artistic cabaret that celebrates French chanson, humorous wit, and artistic talent. You can enjoy both in Paris if you’re willing to stand in line with tour groups for the former, and potentially understand very little of the French language in the latter.

Crazy Horse
12 Avenue George V, 8th
M° Alma-Marceau
Tel 01 47 23 32 32 32

The intimately small theatre of this cabaret allows for no elaborate special effects, just the enviable perfection of the 20 nude dancers and their elaborate striptease and burlesque show. Like other cabarets of its kind, there are also magic and comedy acts while the ladies change their barely-there costumes. Nightly shows at 8:30pm and 11pm , three shows on Saturday. Show with drinks only, but dinner packages with neighboring restaurants available. Reservations essential, but seating is first-come, first-served, so arrive about 30 minutes in advance.

Bal du Moulin Rouge
82 Boulevard de Clichy, 18th
M° Blanche
Tel 01 53 09 82 82

Opened in 1889 to an enthusiastic public, the Moulin Rouge has remained the most famous cabaret in the world. Its trademark red windmill, lively French Cancan, sumptuous décor and beautiful dancers have been immortalized in Toulouse Lautrec’s paintings and, more recently, Baz Luhrmann’s hit musical film starring Nicole Kidman. Catering to the visiting masses, the Moulin Rouge today feels a bit too commercial to be titillating, like Disney with breasts, but there’s no disputing the beauty and talent of the performers. Dinner from 7pm , shows from 9pm and 11pm daily. No kids under 6.

Le Paradis Latin

28 Rue Cardinal Lemoine, 5th
M° Cardinal Lemoine
Tel 01 43 25 28 28

Set in a theatre built by Gustave Eiffel, the Paradis Latin calls itself the most Parisian of the Paris cabarets. Its Left Bank location gives it a bit of an off-the-beaten-cabaret-track feel, but features a similar style show to the one at the Moulin Rouge, with dazzling choreographed dancing and music. Show tickets €82 (includes champagne), dinner-show tickets €117-€200. Closed Tuesday. Dinner from 8pm , shows from 9:30pm .

Au Lapin Agile
22 Rue des Saules, 18th
M° Lamarck-Caulaincourt
Tel 01 46 06 85 87

This tiny Montmartre country house has been a popular cabaret for over 150 years. The main room is low-lit, with red lampshades, dark walls covered in old paintings and drawings, and set with ancient wooden tables and benches to hold about 60 people. There is a piano, but no stage. The performers sing and play their instruments right in the center of the room, everything from old Edith Piaf songs with an accordion to piano-accompanied poetry. If you can imagine being in a small restaurant where suddenly the group at the next table starts singing – and expects you to join in – you have the idea. This is the perfect place to come if you really want to get a peek into old Montmartre . Make sure to eat first, then show-up anytime between 9pm and 2am . No one expects you to sit for five whole hours on a wooden bench, but you’re more than welcome to try! Shows Tuesday-Sunday 9pm-2am.Entry €24 (includes first drink, the rest are €7). Reservations recommended.

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