Paris’s Moulin Rouge loses windmill sails overnight

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By Nadia Ragozhina
BBC News

The windmill on top of the world famous Moulin Rouge cabaret club in Paris has lost its sails.

The blades fell onto the street below in the early hours of the morning. The cause of the collapse isn’t clear.

Police say there were no injuries. The first three letters of the “Moulin Rouge” sign have also fallen off.

The club has been a fixture of Parisian nightlife since its opening in 1889, and is known as the birthplace of the can-can dance.

The incident comes just months before the French capital hosts the Olympics.

Initial mages on social media showed the sails lying on the street below, with some of the blades slightly bent from the apparent fall.

The structure has since been secured against the façade of the cabaret and covered up by green tarpaulin for safety.

Paris firefighters said there was no risk of further collapse.

It was not an especially windy night and a Moulin Rouge official told AFP news agency that the cabaret’s technical teams check the windmill mechanism every week and did not note any problems.

Jean-Victor Clerico, the director of the cabaret, said there was no sign of “foul play”, adding the cause was “obviously a technical problem”.

The only serious accident the landmark has endured was a fire that erupted during works in 1915, when the original Moulin Rouge burned to the ground.

The cabaret, with its distinctive red windmill blades, is located in the northern Paris district of Pigalle and is one of the most visited landmarks in the city. It opened its doors in October 1889 at the foot of the Montmartre hill.

Moulin Rouge has been a fixture of Paris’s nightlife for more than 100 years

It quickly became synonymous with crazy Parisian nights and a stop to look at its façade or catch a show inside is a must-do on many tourists’ lists of things to do in the French capital.

On Thursday morning, some Parisians came to see what had happened.

Speaking to Le Parisien newspaper, local resident and head waiter at the Moulin Rouge in the 1980s, André Duval, said: “Paris without its windmill is like Paris without its Eiffel Tower”.

Another resident, Raphaël, said it was “quite disturbing” to see the windmill without the sails, but the main thing was that there had been no injuries.

The cabaret is due to celebrate its 135th anniversary on 6 October.


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