Sporting bright-rouge lipstick, sparkling Swarovski earrings and a diamond-encrusted bikini, by night Claudine Van Den Bergh looks every inch a showgirl. Yet by day, this Moulin Rouge principal dancer is scouring the streets of her second home in search of the best consumer goods, culture and cuisine. Below she shares her secrets for enjoying an action-packed Parisian life.
Can you tell us your top three favorite shops in Paris for a glamorous purchase?
* My favorite clothes shop for glamorous, elegant designs is Claudie Pierlot. I absolutely love Claudine collars. I can wear Claudie Pierlot pieces to any event or occasion.
* My number one shoe shop would be Jimmy Choo, La Vallée Village. Jimmy Choo shoes are beautifully designed, comfortable and give your feet an elegant line.
* Galeries Lafayette caters for all my makeup and skincare needs. Estée Lauder Advanced night repair serum is a must buy.
Can you recommend your top three attractions to visit in the city and why you like them?
* Musée d’Orsay – The museum itself is a work of art! Not only is the building magnificent, the works that can be seen and the way in which the gallery leads you from one work to the next is breathtaking.
* Eiffel Tower – I have visited this masterpiece many times and every time I revisit the Eiffel Tower, it is as impressive to me as the last.
* Le Moulin Rouge – The most famous cabaret in the world, who wouldn’t want to see the show? Original paintings of the great Toulouse Lautrec, a fabulous history, an amazing theater, a cast of sixty professional dancers, a wonderful show, fine dining and of course the best champagne. The Moulin Rouge has it all!
Is there anywhere unusual or off-the-beaten-track that you enjoy in the city?
* La Recyclerie – built on the old Ornano train station. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the food is good. It is my favorite place to sit in summer along the old rails and enjoy a fresh juice.
What are three musicals that you like to watch the most or that inspired you in your journey as a dancer?
* Chicago – My favorite musical of all – I absolutely love the plot, the score and above all Bob Fosse’s choreography, which I am passionate about!
* Cats – I really enjoy the costumes and makeup created for this musical. I also appreciate the challenging choreography here and how the dancers choreography really does mimic our feline friends.
* Phantom of the Opera – The dramatic score and impressive staircase scene deeply inspire me. This musical really captures the emotions.
What are your top three favorite restaurants in the city and why?
* La Coupole – I enjoy the art-deco feel to this stunning restaurant. The nice ambiance paired with a traditional French menu make this a special dining venue.
* Mama Shelter – This is a trendy spot to meet with friends, with super cocktails and a satisfying brunch.
* Klay Saint Sauveur – This restaurant has amazing cocktails, great French food, a nice atmosphere and wonderful indoor terrace not to be missed. PS. Order dessert!
Finally, Claudine believes there is no substitute for wandering the Parisian streets, keeping an eye out for unexpected treasures. Set at least a day aside from your itinerary to simply enjoy the city at your own pace.
That was an introduction to the glamorous side of Paris, from the perspective of a seasoned showgirl who for the past six years has called the city ‘home’.
If you’d like to know more about life behind the scenes at one of the world’s most famous cabarets, check out Part 1 of my interview with Claudine here, or check out my recommendations for the top hotels within walking distance of the Moulin Rouge here.