Video:Tips for Visiting Pigallewith Nathan Buck
Want to learn about things to do when visiting Pigalle in Paris? This video will show you some great tips for sights you shouldn't miss in the Pigalle district.See Transcript
Transcript:Tips for Visiting Pigalle
Hi! My name is Nathan Buck for About.com and today I am going to give you a few tips for visiting the Pigalle district of Paris.
History of Pigalle
Pigalle is named for an 18th century sculptor who had his studio in the area. But this district at the foot of Montmartre in the North of Paris really achieved it's notoriety in the 1880's when a series of racy cabarets opened here along the boulevard de Clichy.
Famous Places in Pigalle
The most famous of these clubs was, of course the Moulin Rouge which was immortalised by the great French painter Toulouse Lautrec and has been the subject of many Hollywood films. Toulouse-Lautrec's depictions of scantily clad dance hall girls helped seal Pigalle's image in the public as being synonymous with what the French call the "demi-monde". This term literally translates as the half-world and roughly refers to the hedonistic life and contrasts with traditional, respectable Bourgeois values.
This is the world of drugs, gambling, petty crime, and most of all, sex. In the early part of the 20th century the racy but relatively benign nightclubs gave way to bordellos and gambling parlors, and increasingly organized crime and prostitution rings began to take over the area. By the 1930's it is said that over 2000 women worked as prostitutes in the 177 known bordellos. The first sex shops and pornographic movie theaters and live sex shows began appearing in the 1970's and created the seedy look that has defined the area ever since.
Pigalle District Reputation
Pigalle's reputation as a Shangri-la for sensual pleasure has been further augmented by the Musee de l'Erotisme and the proliferation of exciting sex shows. Be warned though, that entrance to these enticing spectacles can be deceptively inexpensive. There is usually a nominal cover charge for entry. But in order to keep watching the shows patrons are expected to order drinks which can be very costly. And if a charming young lady, or young gentleman comes to sit at your table, you are expected both to offer to buy a drink and if you initiate any kind of physical contact with your new friend, one must remember that these individuals are working, and, in most cases expect to be paid for their sudden great interest in you.
Cultural Hotspots in Pigalle
But Pigalle is much more than simply a destination of sex tourism. La Cigale and L'Elysee Montmartre are two old ball rooms that have now become major musical venues where many of the great French and International stars perform regularly. And the old cabaret tradition from the heydays of Toulouse Lautrec is still alive and well in the Moulin Rouge as well as other thriving musical venues such as le Divan du Monde, La Boule Noire, Les Trois Baudets and le Trianon. And, if you happen to be a musician - most of Paris' music stores can be found right here interspersed with the sex shows and nightclubs.So those are a few tips for visiting the Pigalle district of Paris.
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