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Olympia (Paris)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Olympia, Paris 2 April 2018.jpg
View from Boulevard des Capucines in 2018
Full nameOlympia
Former namesMontagnes Russes (1889–93)
Théâtre Jacques Haïk (1928–1944)
Address28 Boulevard des Capucines
75009 Paris, France
Location9th arrondissement
OwnerVivendi Village
Building owner: Société Foncière Lyonnaise
Capacity1,985 (seated)[1]
2,824 (concert)[1]
Opened26 May 1888 (1888-05-26)
Renovated1954, 1979, 1997, 2001
Closed1916–18, 1944–54
Venue Website (in French)

The Olympia (French: [olɛ̃mpja]; commonly known as L'Olympia or in the English-speaking world as Olympia Hall)[2] is a concert venue in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, France, located at 28 Boulevard des Capucines, equally distancing Madeleine church and Opéra Garnier, 300 metres (980 ft) north of Vendôme square. Its closest métro/RER stations are Madeleine, Opéra, Havre – Caumartin, and Auber.

The hall was opened in 1888 by the co-creators of the Moulin Rouge venue, and saw many opera, ballet, and music hall performances. Theatrical performances declined in the early 20th century and the Olympia was converted into a cinema, before re-opening as a venue in 1954 with Bruno Coquatrix as executive director. Since the 1960s, it has been a popular venue for rock bands.

The Olympia was threatened with demolition in the early 1990s, but saved by a preservation order. Inevitably included in a group of buildings that were part of an extensive renovation project, the entire edifice was demolished and rebuilt in 1997. The venue's facade and its interior were preserved. Vivendi acquired the Olympia in 2001 and remains a popular venue.


The famous red neon facade
The famous red neon facade

Co-founded in 1888, by Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler, the co-creators of the Moulin Rouge, today the venue is easily recognized by its giant red glowing letters announcing its name. It opened in 1889 as the Montagnes Russes but was renamed the Olympia in 1893. Besides musicians, the Olympia played host to a variety of entertainment including circuses, ballets, and operettas. However, following a steady decline in appearances by the great stars, from 1929 until 1944 it served as a cinema. It may have[clarification needed] opened as a music hall under the German occupation of France during World War II, but certainly in 1945 after the Liberation, it was a music hall free to Allied troops in uniform. Attendees had to listen to the playing of four national anthems before the varied programs that always ended with a spirited can-can dance. Thereafter, at times it may have reverted to movies again until Bruno Coquatrix revived it as a music hall with a grand re-opening in February 1954.

After Bruno Coquatrix's death in 1979,[3] it went into another slow decline and was in danger of being torn down and turned into a parking lot but on 7 January 1993, France's then Minister of Culture, Jack Lang issued a preservation order for the Olympia which made Société Générale capitulate.[4]

In 1995, as part of the real estate project initiated in 1993 which required 153 millions ($185,000,000) of investment, the Edouard-VII area in the 9th arrondissement, where the Olympia was located, began to undergo "a radical" demolition and reconstruction.[5][6] On the construction site, only the Haussmann-style facades of the listed buildings were saved.[6]

In Spring 1997, the demolition of the Olympia began. It was rebuilt identically in seven months, keeping its original facade and the grandeur of its famous red interior, next to its original location although the entrance to the venue remained in the same place.[4][6]

On 30 April 1999, the real estate subsidiary of the Société Générale at the origin of the project, delivered the large area of buildings (including the Théâtre Édouard VII) to its buyer, the Société Foncière Lyonnaise, a subsidiary of Commercial Union, for an amount of €328 millions ($397,400,000).[5][6] As a result, the Société Foncière Lyonnaise became the owner of the Olympia building.[5][6] The vast real estate transaction "almost signed the death warrant of the Olympia".[4]

In August 2001, Paulette Coquatrix and Patricia, her daughter, sold the brand L'Olympia to Vivendi chief executive Jean-Marie Messier.[3][4] With the tensions tearing the heirs apart, Messier also bought the fonds de commerce (English: goodwill / intangible assets) from the Société Générale.[4] Messier was the sole initiator of the "astronomical amount" of money that transited, which sparked an investigation by the Fisc.[4]

Since that time, the business unit Vivendi Village owns and operates the Olympia,[7] while the Société Foncière Lyonnaise retained ownership of the building.[4]

On 30 November 2016, Olympia was used for movie projection again, with the premiere of the biopic Dalida. The screening was significant in France and was broadcast live in 220 other venues from the country and Belgium.[8]

Notable performances

Édith Piaf achieved great acclaim at the Olympia giving several series of recitals from January 1955 until October 1962.

Dalida was the most commercially successful solo performer at the Olympia. Her first performance in the hall was in early 1956 at auditions held by Eddie Barclay and Bruno Coquatrix. It was then when she was discovered and chosen to sign a contract. Later that year she supported Charles Aznavour for his concert. Her own first concert there was in 1959. After that she would perform in Olympia every three to four years, singing for 30 nights in row, completely sold-out in 1961, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1981. Her last Olympia appearance was in 1981, and in 1983 the hall went bankrupt. Releasing Olympia 67 after her 1967 Olympia concert, she started releasing albums named for Olympia concerts, a style followed by other singers. She continued doing that until her last concert in Olympia, Olympia 81. Olympia 71, Olympia 74, and Olympia 77 are live albums.

Before going to America, the Beatles performed eighteen days (16 January – 4 February 1964) of concerts at the Olympia Theatre, playing two and sometimes three shows a day. They were staying at the Hotel George V and after returning at the end of their first day, they were told that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" had reached number one in America. Jeff Buckley, long an admirer of Piaf, gave what he considered the finest performance of his career there in 1995, which was later released in 2001 on Live at L'Olympia. Jacques Brel's 1961 and 1964 concerts at L'Olympia are legendary and preserved to this day on new CD releases. Marlene Dietrich's 1962 Olympia concert was broadcast. On 3–4 May 1972 the Grateful Dead played two concerts here as part of their first major European tour. Both shows were recorded and songs from each were released on their 1972 live album Europe '72. Dave Gahan's performance was released on the 2004 DVD, Live Monsters.[9]


Poster announcing singer Enrico Macias and Brazilian singer Elis Regina at Olympia in 1968. National Archives of Brazil.

Inaugurated by the biggest artist in France at the time, singer/dancer La Goulue, the venue has showcased a wide variety of performers, including French acts such as Dalida, Alan Stivell, Alizée, Nolwenn Leroy, Édith Piaf, Léo Ferré, Mireille Mathieu Charles Aznavour, Grégory Lemarchal, Joe Dassin, Chimène Badi, Julie Pietri, Adamo, Gilbert Bécaud, Jacques Brel, Yves Montand, Johnny Hallyday, Barbara, Véronique Sanson, Charles Trenet, Yvonne Printemps, Michel Polnareff, and many others.

International artists have included Duke Ellington, Umm Kulthum, Nana Mouskouri, Lola Beltran, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Grateful Dead, Sting, Roy Orbison, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, John Denver, Joan Baez, Lili Ivanova, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, The Nice, The Cure, Coldplay, Lindsey Stirling, Gloria Estefan, Lana Del Rey, Fally Ipupa, Tokio Hotel, Violetta Villas, The Beach Boys, Alla Pugacheva, The Beatles, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Judy Garland, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix, Gary Moore, Sabah, Fairouz, Huda Haddad, Majida El Roumi, Najwa Karam, Tina Turner, Madonna, Ray Charles, Janet Jackson, Björk, Garbage, Tori Amos, Abdel Halim Hafez, Elissa, Free, The Jackson 5, Jorge Ben, Maysa, Liza Minnelli, Lara Fabian, Lluís Llach, Jethro Tull, Amália Rodrigues, Iggy Pop, Led Zeppelin, Linda de Suza, Josephine Baker, Celine Dion, Kelly Rowland Cher, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Nelly Furtado, Tony Carreira, Evanescence, Arctic Monkeys, James Brown and Ahlam, Tereza Kesovija, Oliver Dragojević, Midnight Oil, The Rolling Stones, coldrain, Il Volo, Ajda Pekkan, Bülent Ersoy, Beady Eye, Olivera Katarina, Mashrou' Leila, Norah Jones, Blondie, Monsta X, Aretha Franklin, The Pogues, Julio Iglesias, Bill Haley and His Comets, Taylor Swift,[10] and Khaled.


  1. ^ a b "Olympia La Salle de Spectacle". Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Name of the venue". Paris tourist office. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b Grasset, Alain (25 August 2001). "Vivendi achète l'Olympia" [Vivendi purchase the Olympia]. Le Parisien (in French). Paris. Archived from the original on 16 February 2021. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Collet, Valérie (8 August 2008). "A qui appartient... l'Olympia ?" [Who owns... the Olympia?]. Le Figaro (in French). Paris. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Bauer, Anne (30 April 1999). "La Société Foncière Lyonnaise prend les clefs du quartier Edouard-VII" [The Société Foncière Lyonnaise takes the keys to the Edouard-VII district]. Les Echos (in French). Paris. Archived from the original on 16 February 2021. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e Johannes, Franck (30 April 1999). "Le quartier de l'Olympia est achevé" [The Olympia district is completed]. Libération (in French). Paris. Archived from the original on 16 February 2021. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  7. ^ Diebold, Jean-Baptiste (19 June 2015). "Les grandes ambitions de Bolloré pour Vivendi Village" [Bolloré's great ambitions for Vivendi Village]. Challenges. Paris. Archived from the original on 19 October 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  8. ^ Randanne, Fabien (1 December 2016). "L'avant-première officielle du biopic" [The official premiere screening of the biopic]. 20 minutes (in French). Paris. Archived from the original on 10 June 2020. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  9. ^ "Dave Gahan To Release "Live Monsters" DVD March 1 On Mute Records"
  10. ^ Mylrea, Hannah (September 10, 2019). "Taylor Swift's The City of Lover concert: a triumphant yet intimate celebration of her fans and career". NME. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  • Jean-Michel Boris, Jean-François Brieu, Eric Didi: Olympia Bruno Coquatrix, 50 ans de Music-Hall, 2003, Editions Hors Collection, ISBN 2-258-06234-9
  • Paulette Coquatrix: Mes noces d'or avec l'Olympia, Bordeaux, Le Castor Astral
  • Jeanne Tallon: J’étais ouvreuse à l'Olympia, 2004, Paris, Editions Fayard, ISBN 2-213-61839-9

External links

This page was last edited on 9 April 2021, at 18:36
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