Paris at night twinkles with illumination. Brimming with white light, its street lamps mirror the glow of the Eiffel Tower and glitter upon the Seine.
Amid the evening's sparkles--beyond Paris's prized obelisk and the hushed lights of Notre Dame--lies a glitzy and bold tradition that can out glitter the city's most scenic spot: the cabaret show. With its leggy show girls and dazzling pyrotechnics, today's cabaret show perpetuates the traditions of Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet mixed with a slightly Las Vegas flavor. Some of the most well-known venues for this tourist treat follow.
LE MOULIN ROUGE
The original home of the can-can, Le Moulin Rouge had quite the racy reputation during the days of Toulouse-Lautrec. Today the show, less cloaked in iniquity, still titillates with its feathered Doriss Girls and petticoated beauties performing high kicks.
Modeled somewhat after Italy's Lido beach, Le Lido began as a jazz club and water spa. Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary as a night club, the Lido offers a high-tech show, including lasers and spurting water. Shows are conducted in English and French and feature the famous dancing Bluebell Girls. LE CRAZY HORSE
Starring the crazy girls outfitted as high-kicking cowboys in G-strings and epaulettes, the Crazy Horse was the first establishment in France where girls took off their G-strings. Its late owner, impresario Alain Bernardin, saw them as moving sculptures, and much of the lighting and costumes is designed accordingly.
LE PARADIS LATIN
Pierre Eiffel used the same iron girders underpinning this building as he did in his famous tower. At the turn of the century, Le Paradis Latin was the place to go to see the newest and hottest acts; today's show specializes more in an ice-capades style with sequin-garbed dancers and an emcee performing parlor tricks.
Often dubbed the most traditional of all cabarets, these art-decoed doors closed last year as customers dwindled. Now the former stage of Josephine Baker and Maurice Chevalier is back with a brand-new revue overseen by Argentine director Alfredo Arias.
L'OPERA DE PARIS
L'Opera, although not a cabaret venue, is France's first home of opera, and worthy of a visit for just its ornate workmanship alone; its high ceilings and marbled staircase inspired the designers of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera." The Grand Foyer, the Principal Facade and the Grand Staircase are remarkable, constructed with marble of every hue--white, pink, red--culled from quarries in France and a central chandelier so big it weighs over six tons. After being closed for two years for renovations, the theatre portion of the Opera House reopens March 2.
THE LOVERS VACATION
Celebrate Valentine's Day in the city of lights and among the resorts of the Riviera with an American Express Vacations tour of Paris and Nice. Package includes six nights accommodations, rental car for three days, metro and museum passes and six breakfasts--from $899; call 1-800-241-1700.
-- By Sandra Mardenfeld