Red lights and Paris are seemingly inseparable ideas. Many think that Paris has a street, a quarter, or even an entire district of red lights. It's partly true and partly not. Let's figure it out.
Red Light District in Paris
There's a red-light district in Amsterdam, but not Paris. There aren't brothels with girls in windows as outlets for lust and debauchery.
The small village Montmartre, which beame a neighborhood of Paris in the 19th century, received artistic praise. Picasso, Modigliani, Toulouse-Lautrec, poets, actors, writer, painters and more moved there. Many rich people lived there and threw excellent parties.
Soon, Montmartre was known for having the cheapest alcohol, the noisiest gatherings and the most open dancers and prostitutes. The artists themselves promoted this. Toulouse-Lautrec himself drew several brothels.
Montmartre had the first cabarets: places where they drank local wine and absinthe and girls lifted their skirts. The fun French can-can was born in the famous Moulin Rouge. The playful girls kicked their legs and showed everyone their panties.
Unlucky girls would get 20 visitors a night, and some even had 40! That's where the local red-light street's reputation comes from.
Soon after, the revolution happened in Russia and a flood of white emigres flooded into Paris. Several Russian bars and restaurants opened on Montmartre, with gypsies and bears, as they say. This only reinforsed the exciting reputation of the area.
But soon the poor artists became rich and left Montmartre for other more fashionable parts of Paris. The fun didn't end, but it quieted down.
Today, Montmartre is one of the must-see parts of Paris. Of course the cabaret Moulin Rouge is still there, and they still dance the can-can. It doesn't cause the same furor, but it's still a unique cultural, historical and very interesting show. Escape the buzz of tourists and imagine that you're sitting with Freud, modernists, the prince of Wales, and Charles Aznavour himself is on stage. Everything changes immediately. The cabaret has 2-3 shows an evening and uses the most champagne in the world. You can find tickets to Moulin Rogue with or without dinner here.
And there are even more small cabarets in the area. Moulin de la Galette turned into a restaurant, but the quick rabbit is still a modest retreat for beginner singers and poets.
As far as brothels go, it seems there are none left on the red-light street.
Where is the red-light street in Paris?
The "street" is the base of Montmartre. It goes from Moulin Rouge and the Blanche metro station to Pigalle square and then to the Anvers metro station.
There are a few boulevards with sex shops, saunas, hamams, pornographic theaters and the huge "Sexodrome." But it's not worth being tempted. It's not at all what you think. It's just a huge store.
The situation with prostitution in France is very complicated. The profession itself isn't forbidden. But there's a fine for users. So, if you are caught committing a "crime" then you'll have to pay 1600 Euros to the French Republic. So be careful. Additionally, pimping is illegal, so there aren't any public houses and girls can't offer their services.
There aren't any brothels on Montmartre. But! There are hamams and saunas. If a man is walking late at night, he will be persistently invited to come and see what's inside. The police know about this, but for the sake of tourists, they close their eyes on these striptease bars and secret brothels.
This isn't like Amsterdam. And there's a new law that if someone has a sex shop at the base of the hill, a new owner can't open a similar store. So the street is slowly dying out. And the place of former adult theaters now has pharmacies, make-up stores and tourist traps.
Is the red-light street dangerous?
It's completely safe during the day and is almost completely acceptable. You can even bring your kids on a walk. And at night it isn't really dangerous, but loud and fun. All the bars and cabarets remain. And the hill Montmartre itself is picturesque and even romantic.
Is it worth staying on Montmartre?
In many countries, such neighborhoods have cheap hostels and hotels. Paris is no different. The red-light street itself is quite good for young people who want to save money and have fun in the center of the city. Look at hotels and hostels on Montmartre here.
Montmartre is a great place for young romantic couples and other romantic people. There's a view of Paris, its roofs and sometimes the Eiffel Tower, and the bright streets can make anyone smile.
But under no circumstances should you stay in a hotel near (within a 300-500-meter radius) Barbes metro station or further toward the north station.
» READ MORE - 5 Places to Avoid Staying as a Tourist in Paris
So the red lights in Paris are completely gone?
If you're looking for prostitutes, those girls have been in the Boulogne forest for a long time. Don't go there at night unless you're looking for French love, and be ready for 50 Euros every 30 minutes, plus possibly that huge fine that we talked about and a night in jail.
The red-light street in Paris has turned into something fun and historic. We unconditionally recommend going to Montmartre, it's worth it.
Have a good time!