Top 5 Fun Facts about Au Lapin Agile

Au Lapin Agile, Montmartre

Au Lapin Agile, Montmartre by David McSpadden – WikiCommons

Au Lapin Agile is an infamous cabaret and bar located in the also infamous Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre! You may recognize the name from your wanders through the quartier, as it is located just next door to the Clos Montmartre, the vineyard nestled in the hills of Montmartre, and the bust of Dalida, the famous French pop singer.

Have I mentioned how much I love this area of Paris?! If you’ve read any of my other Paris articles, you probably remember me saying so. I have had so many lovely days and evenings in this part of the city, and it still feels so magical for me! Montmartre was once a village outside of the Paris limits, and the neighborhood still gives off that vibe of being a place apart.

Between the incredible Sacre Coeur, the artists’ Place du Tertre, and the winding cobblestone streets…Montmartre is just waiting for you to explore.

But, enough about the rest of Montmartre! Today, I’d like to tell you my 5 fun facts about Au Lapin Agile.

Address: 22 Rue des Saules, 75018 Paris

Closest metro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt, line 12

Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 9pm-1am

Website for reservations and pricing

1. Au Lapin Agile was once called the Cabaret of Assassins

Au Lapin Agile between 1880 and 1890

Au Lapin Agile between 1880 and 1890 – WkiCommons

This cabaret and bar opened it’s doors in 1860 under the name of Au rendez-vous des voleurs, or, “At the rendez-vous of thieves” in English. Montmartre was a bit of a seedy area at this time in history, and so it doesn’t surprise me that there was a bar named for the thieves that used to hang around.

Twenty years later, the name changed to the Cabaret des Assassins. There are a few different rumors as to why Au Lapin Agile was named as such. One version cites that it was because the walls were covered with paintings and portraits depicting famous murderers.

Another version tells the tale of a group of assassins who broke into the bar to rob the place, and ended up killing the owners son in the process. I’ll leave it to you to decide which story you think is true!

2. Au Lapin Agile was renamed for a sign painted by André Gill

Reproduction of Le Lapin Agile

Reproduction of Le Lapin Agile by André Gill – WikiCommons

One thing that I can tell you for sure, is the cabaret gets its current name from a sign which was painted by the artist André Gill in 1875. The sign features a rabbit with a top hat jumping out of a large pan holding a bottle of wine, all with the greatest of ease!

Once the cabaret debuted the sign, many Montmartre residents began to call the place “Gill’s Rabbit”, or Le Lapin à Gill in French. This quickly morphed into Au Lapin Agile, which is quite fitting as this translates to “The Nimble Rabbit.” That’s pretty appropriate as you’d have to be a nimble rabbit in order to jump out of a saucepan with a bottle of wine in your hand, don’t you agree?!

I love this play on words!

3. Au Lapin Agile was the place to be for artists

Interior Au Lapin Agile

Cabaret of the Lapin Agile with the artists (Francisque Poulbot, Raoul Dufy, Adrien Barrère, Maurice Neumont, Auguste Roubille) listening Frédé Dad playing guitar (Paris 18th arrond., France). Circa 1905. Preserved in Montmartre museum – WikiCommons

As you may or may not know, Montmartre was the stomping grounds for artists in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Rent was cheap, there was ample space for studios, and who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by other artists in order to gain inspiration?!

Heavyweights such as Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent Van Gogh and Maurice Utrillo were all known to spend quite a few evenings here, mostly discussing “the meaning of art.”

The artists were joined by other Montmartre residents, some down on their luck folks (tariffs were cheap!), and even gangsters and pimps were known to come to the bar to enjoy a few. In the mid-twentieth century, even students from the Latin Quarter made their way up to Au Lapin Agile to soak in the interesting vibes.

4. Au Lapin Agile has inspired art from the start

Le Lapin Agile by Raphaël Toussaint

Le Lapin Agile by Raphaël Toussaint – WikiCommons

Not only did artists hang out at Au Lapin Agile, they also produced paintings showcasing the locale! Picasso’s is probably the most famous, bearing the fitting name, Au Lapin Agile.

Raphaël Toussaint also painted the cabaret, calling his work Le Lapin Agile, and Utrillo has a painting by the same name.

American actor, comedian, and playwright Steve Martin penned a show called Picasso at the Lapin Agile in 1993. The story is a “what if?” tale of Picasso and scientist Albert Einstein meeting at the cabaret.

5. You can catch a live music show nearly every night at Au Lapin Agile

Today, Au Lapin Agile continues to celebrate French music. The cabaret boasts that it is a “conservatory of French song, talented artists, authors and composers .” English speakers are welcome, but it is recommended that you understand a bit of French, as the shows are done completely en français.

Au Lapin Lagile by Pablo Picasso

Au Lapin Lagile by Pablo Picasso – WikiCommons

Inside, you’ll find a reproduction of Picasso’s Au Lapin Agile hanging in the cabaret, alongside many other impressive paintings. The interior is just as you may imagine, a bit dark, a bit moody, with wooden tables and a piano under a spotlight.

The bar tends to become very crowded, as it is famous for Parisians and tourists alike! I definitely recommend reserving a table before you show up, to avoid waiting outside. Get ready for a real show, with performers putting on acts of poetry, song and dance, and of course…piano and accordion playing!

Admission is 28 euros, and it includes a complimentary glass of their famous homemade cherry wine.

Please note that admission is 28 euros at the time of publication of this article, and prices may change. Please see website for more information.

Conclusion

Have you ever been to Au Lapin Agile? After reading this article, would you like to go now? I hope so! It is definitely worth it to spend an evening in this cabaret, especially if you’d like to feel like a real Montmartrois!

We offer many walking tours here at Discover Walks, and that, of course, includes a few different Montmartre options. Click here to learn more, and explore this iconic Parisian neighborhood with us!