Interesting Facts About France

Part 3   Facts 41 - 60

41.  Le Moulin Rouge (meaning- The Red Mill) is a very famous cabaret club in Paris.  It is situated in the Montmartre area of Paris on a road called le boulevard de Clichy.    It was opened in 1889 - the same year as the opening of the Eiffel Tower!  It is recognised by an imitation, red windmill on its roof.

Image by Lola Delabays

42 Le cancan is a very energetic and acrobatic dance that first appeared in Parisian ballrooms in the 1830s.  It is performed by dancers who have to kick their legs high, perform cartwheels and the splits.  They squeal and screech whilst they dance.

The word cancan means 'scandalous gossip'.  The original name for the dance was le chahut - meaning: the uproar / the racket.

Painting below by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: La Troupe de Mlle. Eglantine, 1896. 



43 The two most famous cancan dancers were Jane Avril and La Goulue.  They were regular performers at Le Moulin Rouge.

Below (left) is a photo of La Goulue.  Her real name was Louise Weber and she lived from 1866 to 1929.
Below (right) is a photo of Jane Avril.  Her real name was Jeanne Louise Beaudon and she lived from 1868 till 1943. 


The most famous piece of music that is used to accompany the dancing of the cancan was composed by Jacques Offenbach in 1858.

It is called le Galop Infernal and it is from his operetta Orphée aux Enfers - Orpheus in the Underworld.

Click to listen.

Jane Avril.jpg

44 The famous artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted the two famous dancers. In fact, he painted many pictures of life at Le Moulin Rouge.  His paintings are printed as posters that everyone recognises!

45 A very famous singer from Paris was Edith Piaf.   She was very small and usually performed wearing a black dress.  It was said that she looked like a little sparrow, so she was given the nickname la Môme Piaf which means 'little sparrow' in Parisian slang. 

Her real name was Edith Gassion and she was born in 1915.  She died in 1963.  She sang in Parisian nightclubs, including Le Moulin Rouge. 
Go to the Vintage French Music Zone.


Image from Wikipedia, source  
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