The Olympia

Discover the history behind this music venue on the boulevard des Capucines, where the biggest names in music put on their shows.

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L'Olympia, salle de concert à deux pas de l'Hôtel Mansart

The building, instantly recognisable through the red lettering outside, has preserved its 1950s period style and is still one of the most famous musical venues in Paris.

 

The history of the oldest music venue in Paris

The Olympia was opened at the end of the 19th century by Joseph Oller, the founder of the Moulin Rouge, who launched the venue as a circus before changing it into a music hall theatre in 1893. Music hall was a wide-ranging form of entertainment including circus performances, comedy, theatre, ballet, pantomime, acrobats, clowns and singers. The performances were often of a very high quality, impressing audiences with the light show and theatrical machinery. The singer Eugénie Buffet performed on the opening night. In 1896, Joseph Oller resigned as manager to work on other projects. He was replaced by Oscar de Lagoanaire, who was himself replaced two years later, due to low audience numbers, by the Isola brothers, the founders of the Folies Bergères, who brought success back to the Olympia. Under the management of Jacques-Charles, who had learned the trade from the Isola brothers, the venue had a golden period before being transformed into a cinema and experiencing a downturn between the world wars. Bruno Coquatrix, the director of the Bobino music hall theatre, then took over the reins and turned the venue into a world-famous show business centre, which has since drawn in the crowds with its 2000 capacity. The first artist to take to the stage under his management was Lucienne Delyle, with Gilbert Bécaud as the opening act, performing his song, Il est à moi l’Olympia ("The Olympia is mine").

 

Legendary artists

Some of the greatest artists have played here, including Bécaud, The Beatles, Edith Piaf, The Rolling Stones, Zazie, Georges Brassens, Michel Sardou and Jacques Brel, who was a big hit at the venue, particularly thanks to Bruno Coquatrix, the director of the Olympia at the time. Johnny Hallyday, who launched the twist craze in France, played his first concert at this mythical venue, which was sold out for the occasion. Open 320 days a year, the venue is just a two-minute walk away from the Hôtel Mansart, where the artists regularly stay. The Olympia offers an eclectic programme, ranging from pop/rock/electronic music to French pop via comedy theatre, jazz/blues/classical concerts, hip hop and reggae, as well as shows for children.

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