Friday 15 December 2017

'Bobos' turning off red light in seedy Paris district

Landmark: Pigalle is home to the famed Moulin Rouge club
Landmark: Pigalle is home to the famed Moulin Rouge club

Henry Samuel

Booming property prices are killing off Paris's notorious red-light district of Pigalle, as the area morphs into a sanitised but fashionable hang-out for the upwardly mobile.

Long reputed as a seedy den of vice, the increasingly chic district has been rebranded "South Pigalle" or SoPi, a take on Soho in other major cities.

An influx of organic supermarkets bear testament to the rise of "bobos": young, moneyed bourgeois bohemians.

Real estate prices have risen by 25pc in the past five years while the hostess bars plummeted from 84 in 2005 to a handful today.


Rue Frochot was long the epicentre of Pigalle's "bar a hotesses", where scantily clad girls, watched over by a Madame, offered clients drinks and much else if the price was right.

Today, there are none left on the street, with only the bars' names offering a reminder of their recent red-light past. The mysterious facade of the Dirty Dick still stands, but inside, it is now a Hawaiian cocktail bar.

The last was Le F'Exhib, where in late December workmen were busy transforming it into a trendy bar and nightclub in time for the new year.

The change has been so abrupt that Pauline Veron, the local Socialist deputy mayor, wants the town hall to step in and buy up closing hostess bars to avoid the district ending up with wall-to-wall nightclubs and retain some of its "libertarian and roguish spirit".

However, Volkan Sukan (32) who bought Le F'Exhib, denied Pigalle was losing its soul.

"There's something for all tastes: gay and lesbian clubs, cocktail bars, discos, restaurants, theatres, concert halls, music shops, sex shops on the boulevard. But Parisians will always find something to moan about." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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