The Pigalle District is Notorious for its Sex Shops, Adult Shows and Raunchy Nightlife:
Except for a visit to the Moulin Rouge, the Pigalle district is not high on the list of many visitors’ must-visit Paris destinations, unless of course if you’re one of those visitors for whom the sex shops, adult entertainment, video stores, sex shows and theatres are of particular interest. The Pigalle is Paris’s red-light district and a hotspot for the risque crowd. When you visit the area in the evening, all the gaudy and bright neon signs scream out one common theme – sex!
The district was named for Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, a celebrated sculptor during the mid-18th century. If Pigalle were alive today, he most certainly wouldn’t be pleased that his name is linked to Paris’s red-light district. However, to be fair to the Pigalle neighbourhood, the area is not just about all things x-rated. The area was once a hub for many artistic types. Toulouse Lautrec had his studio here. Edgar Degas lived at No. 6 Boulevard de Clichy. Other painters like Picasso, Van Gogh and Maurice Neumont also once lived here. And up the hill of Montmartre is the Espace Dalí Montmartre where an impressive collection of Salvador Dalí’s works can be enjoyed.
To the south of Place Pigalle and especially along rue de Douai, there are many stores selling musical instruments and accessories. The Musée de l’érotisme (Museum of Eroticism) is at 72 Boulevard de Clichy. There are also plenty of cafes, brasseries, restaurants, souvenir shops and money change agencies in the area.
Nightlife in Paris
From the summit of Montmartre and the sacred environment of the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, we made our way downhill to the “sin city” of Pigalle to photograph the night lights of the raunchier and seedier side of Paris nightlife. From the Pigalle Métro, we walked along Boulevard de Clichy which was lit with the bright neon lights of sex shops, strip clubs, cabarets and adults-only shows. We were there a little early in the evening, so the area was still quite subdued. But the Pigalle is probably less wild these days than during World War II when it was frequented by Allied soldiers who nicknamed the area “Pig Alley”.
At the Moulin Rouge, the red windmill and bright red neon signs were just hotting up to make an impression against the early evening skies. This is a favourite spot with visitors and many gather in front of this famous cabaret to take pictures of themselves with a Moulin Rouge backdrop.
For those looking for adult entertainment and a risque night out, the Pigalle neighbourhood has plenty to offer. But, it’s a case of buyer beware – the excitement level may be high in the sex establishments, but so too are the prices for their drinks.
How to Get There
The Pigalle can be easily reached by metro. Exit at Métro Pigalle (Lines 2 and 12) and enjoy a stroll down to the Moulin Rouge or exit at Blanche (Line 2) or Place de Clichy (Line 13).