Guide to Pigalle in Paris

What to Do in Pigalle Neighborhood?

The neon-lit streets of Pigalle are the enduring image of Paris by night. Home to the Moulin Rouge, the red-light district, and raucous cafés, it has long been a nightlife destination for thrill-seeking Parisians. But with an intriguing legacy as a natural home to artists and musicians, beautiful architecture, and some charming specialty museums, there is something for everybody to enjoy in Pigalle, whenever you visit.

My TOP 5 Highlights in Pigalle

  • Stroll down Rue des Martyrs: Filled with shops, artisanal food outlets, and a hive of activity, the long and slender rue des Martyrs leads you right through the heart of Pigalle to Montmartre. It feels very local yet very Parisian at the same time and is an entertaining route to meander down while soaking up the atmosphere.
  • If you want a romantic dinner with delicious Italian food, Pink Mamma is the place to go. This restaurant is located on the top floor of a house and offers a picturesque view over Paris (20 Rue de Douai, 75009).
  • Musée national Gustave Moreau : The enchanting setting inside Moreau’s studio and home, the unforgettable spiral stairways, and wall to wall of detailed symbolist art make this a local treasure and one of the most captivating specialty museums in Paris (14 Rue Catherine de La Rochefoucauld, 75009).
  • Experience Paris by night – Pigalle’s nightlife is legendary, and whether you enjoy bars and nightclubs or just want to get a flavor of good time Paris, exploring the neighborhood at night is a must. Selfies at the Moulin Rouge are obligatory (Boulevard de Clichy, 75018).
  • Musée de la Vie romantique – Charmingly eccentric and located in a cute, photogenic building, this intriguing diversion is full of heart and soul (16 Rue Chaptal, 75009).

General information about Pigalle

Sitting just under the Butte Montmartre, Pigalle is a small district centered around the boisterous Place Pigalle. Sitting across the 9th and 18th arrondissement, it is a magnet for visitors wanting to catch a glimpse of the seedy side of Parisian life. Despite a somewhat deserved reputation for debauchery, the red-light district has reformed its sleazy character to become tourist-friendly. While SoPi, or South Pigalle, is a welcoming neighbourhood far removed from licentiousness nearby.

Nonetheless, this is still a busy area where people come to have fun. This does give the district an edge not found in more genteel quartiers. But busy and heavily policed, there is little to worry about unless you plan on going into a club when you should be alert to hidden charges. Pickpockets and the inebriated are encountered here, but basic precautions at night let you relax and enjoy the animated and colorful scenes of Paris’s nightlife district.

How to get to Pigalle

Pigalle is served by four Métro stations:

  • Line 2: Pigalle (in the heart of the neighborhood), Anvers
  • Line 12: Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Trinité – d’Estienne d’Orves

Bus lines serving Saint-Germain-des-Prés:

  • 30, 54, 68, 85
  • Linking up Montmartre, La Basilique du Sacré Cœur, and Pigalle is a frequent and convenient bus service, better known as the Montmartrobus.
  • My Tip: You can also reach the neighborhood very comfortably with one of the Hop on Hop off buses in Paris. These are also included in many Paris Sightseeing Passes, with which you can save money on sightseeing during your visit to Paris. Take a look!

Attractions, activities and tours in Pigalle

Pigalle’s red-light district is infamous, and there is much to see in the home of the can-can. Step away from the area around Place Pigalle and head into South Pigalle, aka SoPi, you discover the ancient Greek-inspired architecture of New Athens. This area became popular with artists, actors, and musicians associated with the Romantic Movement and proves there is plenty to see beyond the notorious parts of Pigalle.

Top attractions

In this district there are many attractions that you should visit. You can find the best ones here.

  1. 01

    Duperré Playground

    Playground in Pigalle
    Our highlight
    spielplatz
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    It might be unusual for a travel guide to recommend a basketball court, yet this kaleidoscopic sports space is world famous and worth a visit. Sandwiched between two buildings, the arresting colors and patterns make this basketball court one of a kind. A cool place to watch locals and tourists taking entirely different shots. It is located in the 9th arrondissement.

  2. 02

    Musée national Gustave Moreau - Museum Gustave Moreau

    Museum in Pigalle
    Our highlight
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    The preeminent symbolist painter in a pan-European movement, the Moreau museum houses over 6,000 of his works. Built within his own enchanting home, Moreau created the museum to showcase his work. You can feel the labor of love as you visit his studio, shimmy down pretty stairways, and admire intricate works covering every wall. The museum is located in the 9th arrondissement.

  3. 03

    Notre-Dame de Lorette

    Religious Site in Pigalle
    Our highlight
    Pigalle. Sacre-Coeur Basilica in the morning, Paris, France
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    A neo-classical gem built by Louis-Hippolyte Lebas, this church is pretty inside and out. Take a break on the church steps beneath the soaring columns of this 19th century church before enjoying the serenity inside. Claude Monet and the composer Bizet were baptized here, adding an extra layer of interest. You can admire this church in the 9th arrondissement.

  4. 04

    Rue des Martyrs

    Street in Pigalle
    Our highlight
    Rue des Martyrs, Pigalle
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    This long, historic street is lined with shops and restaurants and finishes at Montmartre. It buzzes with character and has a true Parisian feel, while also being a place to find all the gourmet delights you dreamed of tasting when visiting France.

Best tours

There are many things to do in this district. Here you can find the best tours.

  1. 01

    Harlem in Paris: the Birth of Jazz in France (Small Group Walking Tour)

    Walking Tour in Pigalle
    viator walking tour2 pigalle
    Source: viator.com
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    Jazz clubs thrived in the Pigalle during the Roaring Twenties. This small group tour aims to unlock the secrets of that golden age for jazz music and Pigalle in the 9th arrondissement. The tour starts at Place de Clichy and ends at the Cotton Club, a popular jazz club.

  2. 02

    Paris Evening Experience Seine River Cruise & Moulin Rouge Show with Champagne

    Boat Tour in Pigalle
    viator Moulin Rouge Tour Pigalle
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    Enjoy the twinkling lights of Paris from the Seine, followed by a glass of champagne and a show at the legendary Moulin Rouge in the 9th arrondissement. On the river cruise, you will also pass illuminated waterfront sights such as Notre-Dame Cathedral.

  3. 03

    Scandalous Paris - Private Audio Guided Tour

    Walking Tour in Pigalle
    viator walking tour pigalle
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    A fun and convenient way to discover the myths and legends of Pigalle. Explore the area around the 9th arrondissement at your own pace and avoid missing points of interest. The tour includes the following 8 stops: Place Saint Georges, Rue Saint-Georges, Rue Saint-Lazare, Rue des Martyrs, Rue de Navarin, Rue Frochot, Rue Victor Massé and the legendary Moulin Rouge.

Eating & drinking in Pigalle

The restaurants in this neighborhood offer immense variety. International cuisine has a presence, but there are plenty of classic bistros and vibrant cafés serving French classics. A fashionable neighborhood with a buzzing nightlife, you can also find hip new eateries, old-time venues serving shows and dinners, and some down-to-earth restaurants. Day or night, there is a wide choice of places to eat and be merry.

Top restaurants

  1. 01 brEAThe Restaurant Pigalle

    brEAThe is an Asian fusion cuisine, located in the 9th arrondissement, that makes every vegan’s heart beat faster. But even for non-vegans, this restaurant is definitely worth a visit.

  2. 02 Restaurant Can Alegria Paris

    A cozy and relaxed restaurant in the heart of Pigalle in the 9th arrondissement, serving an inventive Mediterranean-inspired menu and much-loved cocktails.

  3. 03 Restaurant Le Pantruche

    A modern bistro in the 9th arrondissement with a short menu of well-executed dishes. The cozy surroundings and bargain menu (especially the lunchtime offering) make it a satisfying place to stop after exploring Pigalle.

  4. 04 Restaurant Pink Mamma

    Pink Mamma is a wonderful Italian restaurant and one of the most visited in the Pigalle district. Reservations are mandatory if you want to eat there. The restaurant is located on the top floor of a house and offers a picturesque view over Paris. The perfect place for a romantic dinner.

Pigalle
A panoramic view over the neighborhood of Pigalle in Paris.

The most beautiful cafés

Hip and urban, Pigalle is dotted with modern coffee shops that thrive alongside a smaller number of traditional cafés with animated terraces. Along rue des Martyrs and side streets, you don’t have to walk too far to find one, but we’ve picked out some of the best spread across the quartier.

  1. 01 Café Marlette Martyrs

    A contemporary coffee house right on Pigalle’s vital rue des Martyrs in the 9th arrondissement. Take a moment to unwind after a late night in lounge-like surroundings and sample their pricey but beloved brunches.

  2. 02 Cafe Matisse

    A no-frills establishment, ideal for a friendly cup of coffee or simple homecooked food that won’t break the bank. The handful of seats outside the corner café look out on a busy street in the 9th arrondissement and are a welcome addition.

  3. 03 Café Père Tanguy

    A humble café with a rare spacious terrace that welcomes diners looking for hearty meals and tired explorers looking to unwind in the sun and enjoy a drink with a neighbourhood view in the 9th arrondissement.

  4. 04 KB CaféShop

    This hip coffee shop sits on a corner overlooking a lively square in the 9th arrondissement. Perfect for grabbing one of their famously good coffees and taking a moment to soak up the community atmosphere.

  5. 05 The French Donuts

    Do you love donuts as much as I do? Then the French Donuts in the 9th arrondissement is the place for you. Here you’ll find a monthly changing selection of donuts, bagels and smoothies in a small café with exposed brickwork.

Shopping in Pigalle

Urban and densely populated, this district is crammed with shops ranging from everyday essentials to niche oddities. It is also an established home for good musical instrument shops. Meanwhile, rue des Martyrs is lined with independent shops leading up to Montmartre. It is a great place to roll along, picking up gourmet goodies and quirky gifts before stopping in one of the many restaurants clustered around the area.

  • l’Ange Rouge (natural wines and artisan spirits) – 25 Rue Henry Monnier, 75009
  • La Bonne Composition (cosmetics) – 75 Rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, 75009
  • Major Pigalle (delightful instrument store) –  3 Rue Duperré, 75009
  • Monop’ PIGALLE (supermarket) – 1-3 Pl. Jean Baptiste Pigalle, 75009
  • Fromagerie Crèmerie Frescolet (acclaimed cheese shop) – 42 Rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, 75009
  • KEUR (African homewares) – 39 Rue Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, 75009

The finest art galleries and museums

Gustave Moreau lived in Pigalle, as did Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh and Picasso. Yet it is fair to observe that Pigalle is short of standout galleries and museums compared to other historic districts. But that’s not to say that aren’t some local gems, like the ones we’ve highlighted.

  1. 01 Musée national Gustave Moreau - Museum Gustave Moreau

    The preeminent symbolist painter in a pan-European movement, the Moreau museum houses over 6,000 of his works. Built within his own enchanting home, Moreau created the museum to showcase his work. You can feel the labor of love as you visit his studio, shimmy down pretty stairways, and admire intricate works covering every wall. The museum is located in the 9th arrondissement.

  2. 02 Galerie La Nouvelle Athènes

    Located in the historic district of Nouvelle Athènes in the 9th arrondissement, near the Musée de la Vie Romantique and five minutes from the Musée Gustave Moreau, the Gallery offers a selection of 19th century drawings, paintings and sculptures in a salon-like atmosphere. Throughout the year, the Gallery presents thematic or monographic exhibitions accompanied by catalogues, alternating with a display illustrating the wider 19th century artistic universe.

  3. 03 High Art

    A boutique gallery in Pigalle in the 9th arrondissement with ever-changing exhibitions for art connoisseurs.

  4. 04 Musée de la Vie romantique

    Housed in a picturesque villa once owned by Dutch painter Ary Scheffer in the 9th arrondissement. Scheffer used to host events in the early nineteenth century with a litany of famous friends, including Chopin, Dickens, and the romance writer George Sand (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin).
    Incorporating neighbouring studios, the museum is dedicated to a collection of George Sand’s personal possessions on one floor, while the second floor houses an eclectic collection of Romantic art.

The most beautiful hotels in Pigalle

Pigalle offers a mix of budget-friendly and homely boutique hotels with ready access to a buzzing neighborhood combined with easy access to Paris via Métro links. It is a great place to stay if you enjoy staying out late or looking for well- placed, budget-friendly, and reliable accommodation.

  1. booking Hotel Rochechouart Pigalle
    Source: booking.com

    01 Hotel Rochechouart

    4 Stars| A rooftop bar with stunning views is the crowning glory of this art-deco hotel. Renovated with a clean and understated décor, rooms are well-equipped, and the location is handy for Pigalle and Montmartre.

  2. booking Grand Pigalle Hotel
    Source: booking.com

    02 Grand Pigalle Hôtel

    4 Stars| Tastefully decorated rooms and fully equipped rooms help this boutique hotel shine. Handily positioned between Pigalle Métro station and the lively rue des Martyrs, this is a good base for exploring the area and the wider city.

  3. booking Hotel Eden Opera Pigalle
    Source: booking.com

    03 Hotel Eden Opéra Paris

    3 Stars| A budget-friendly hotel in the 9th arrondissement that does all the basics flawlessly. Providing clean and modern accommodation in a great location for exploring nearby quartiers.

  4. booking Hotel George Pigalle
    Source: booking.com

    04 Hotel George - Astotel

    3 Stars| A bright and breezy hotel with big comfortable beds, attentive service, and a lovely neighbourhood location in the 9th arrondissement. An inexpensive boutique experience that guests love.

  5. booking Hotel Le Pigalle
    Source: booking.com

    05 Hotel Le Pigalle

    3 Stars| As the name suggests, this hotel is located in Pigalle in the 9th arrondissement.Leaning into the quartier’s libertine reputation, this hotel is close to the red-light district and offers nightlife and comfort. A bar with entertainment, a roof terrace, and designer rooms make this a good value stay in the heart of the action.

History & Facts

The Pigalle quartier is named after Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, the celebrated French sculptor. Once named “Pig Alley” by soldiers resting in Paris after the 1944 liberation, Pigalle’s reputation was built around the red-light district. Although not the only cabaret in the district, the legendary Moulin Rouge opened in 1889 and quickly became a symbol for the Belle Epoque, that golden age before the dark events of the 20th century. Perhaps the defining image of that period was the cancan dance popularized by the Moulin Rouge.

Pigalle
The most famous sight in the red-light district: The mill of the Moulin Rouge.

Pigalle’s seediness contrasted with the elegant buildings of the surrounding neighbourhood, making Pigalle attractive to artists ever since the Belle Epoque. Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, and van Gogh all lived or worked in the quartier during their lives. And it was also home to Gustave Moreau, whose home and studio are open to the public today. Pigalle was also a magnet for musicians and dancers. The American jazz singer Adelaide Hall briefly lived there, while the dancer and actor Josephine Baker opened her first club there.

FAQ

Is Pigalle easy to explore on foot?

This neighborhood is hilly and many of its attractions are spread over the district. This can be tiring, especially if you plan on visiting neighboring Montmartre which is even steeper (although funicular railways will get you to the very top). The Montmatrobus is a convenient way to give your feet a break and still explore the two quartiers.

Do I need a map to explore Pigalle?

Helpful. On the one hand, walking down rue des Martyrs covers some of the best of Pigalle and is impossible to get lost on. On the other hand, if you plan to explore the arresting architecture and history of New Athens, a map may be useful.

Is Pigalle safe?

Yes. Bar a little seediness and late-night rowdiness around Boulevard de Clichy and the red-light district, this neighborhood is safe and welcoming to visitors.

Neighboring districts

Popular Montmartre sits on the border of Pigalle, making this area attractive to daytrippers and people looking to stay near one of Paris’s most-visited quartiers. South of Pigalle into the Opera quartier sits the majestic Palais Garnier and the quirky waxworks at Musée Grévin.West of Pigalle is the trendy Batignolles, which has a laidback village vibe to rival Montmartre but with fewer tourists.

About the author
Laura Schulze

I love traveling! Whether it's the Australian outback, the fjords of Norway or city trips to the most beautiful cities in the world like Paris, Singapore, Barcelona or New York - I'll write down my best tips so that your trip will be a very special highlight.

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