Au Lapin Agile existed circa 1860 under the name Au rendez-vous des voleurs. Twenty years later the walls were decorated with portraits of famous murderers and the place became known as the Cabaret des Assassins,, later evolving into Cabaret au Lapin Agile. It became a favourite spot for struggling artists and writers, including Picasso, Modigliani, Apollinaire, and Utrillo.
The cabaret was situated at the heart of artistic Paris at the turn of the XXth century, thus, there was much discussion at the cabaret about "the meaning of art." The venue was also popular with pimps, eccentrics, poorer people, local anarchists, as well as with students from the Latin Quarter and a sprinkling of upper-class bourgeoisie.
Located in a stone building on the steep and cobbled Rue des Saules, the cabaret presents visitors with French songs, some melancholic and dreary, other cheeky and suggestive, humorous ballads, classic French love poems set to music, dating back as far as the XVth century. It’s preferable to make a reservation in advance.
Upon arrival, you’d be escorted up a steep staircase to a large room on the second floor. A piano player was already playing a lively tune under 2 light bulbs, covered in bright red vintage lampshades. The walls were decorated with sketches, paintings, and sculptures, attesting to the cabaret's long tenure. Perhaps the most striking work was an oil painting depicting a flapper and a patron at a bar, gripping their drinks, and gazing longingly in different directions. It was Picasso's Au Lapin Agile from 1905 which helped to popularize the cabaret.
The windows on the other side were painted over to resemble stained glass windows. One would squeeze into a wooden bench before being handed a glass of the house special, cherry wine, complete with cherries.
As the show began, the performers gathered at a table in the middle. The room immediately took on a familial feel and went back to the time when families would sit for hours around a piano singing songs together. Nostalgic songs, old songs, love songs and funny ballads were part of the repertoire. Each of the entertainers had also prepared a solo performance.
Time flew and one really had the feeling of truly being transported back into another era. Its authenticity was almost palpable. We headed out into the cold overcome with gratitude for the most magical 3 hours we had ever had!