Moulin Rouge’s Windmill Blades Fall Off in Paris

The bright red windmill of the Moulin Rouge has been an omnipresent marker atop the famed cabaret venue for more than a century.

But on Thursday, Parisians woke up to an alarming sight: the blades of the windmill bent and lying on the ground after it broke off and fell overnight.

Footage circulating in local news media on Thursday showed the blades tangled on the ground in front of the building. Three letters of the bright “Moulin Rouge” sign also appeared to have fallen.

Firefighters were called to the area after 2 a.m., a spokeswoman for the Paris Fire Brigade said, and examined the structure to make sure nothing else was threatening to fall. With the zone secure and nobody injured, the firefighters quickly left. Workers were cleaning up the debris Thursday morning.

A spokeswoman for the Moulin Rouge said via text messages that collapse had been caused by a “mechanical problem,” and confirmed that nobody had been injured. It was the first time in the venue’s history that such an accident had taken place, she said.

The Moulin Rouge is set to celebrate its 135th anniversary this year. It built a reputation for hosting whirlwind nights and extravagant shows, and its dancers played a paramount role in bringing the frenzied style of the modern cancan dance to the mainstream. In recent years, it has sought to attract a younger crowd, and opened a rooftop bar near the windmill blades.

It has seen damage before: A fire ravaged the venue in 1915, and it did not reopen until nearly a decade later.

The blades would be “repaired very quickly,” the Moulin Rouge spokeswoman said. It was not known on Thursday exactly what mechanical problem had caused the blades to break off.

An external company checks the windmill every two months, she said, and had last examined the blades in February.

But business at the cabaret, which runs two shows a day, would go on as usual.

“The Moulin Rouge stays open,” she said.

Ségolène Le Stradic contributed reporting from Paris.

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