The Cirque d’Hiver is located Rue Amelot, a stone’s throw from Place de la République.
You could almost miss it as you stroll on Boulevard du Temple, because the street is slightly below the level of Boulevard.
The reason is that it replaces the ditch that once protected Louis XIII rampart.
This rampart was pulled down in the 17th century and has indeed given way to Boulevard du Temple, Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire and Boulevard Beaumarchais.
Two centuries later, Emperor Napoleon III commissioned the architect Hittorf with the construction of the Cirque d’Hiver.
The Cirque Napoléon was inaugurated on December 11, 1852 and is the oldest circus in the world!
Cirque d’Hiver – Lavish decoration
The Cirque d’Hiver may be slightly set back from the main boulevard, however, it stands out from the neighbouring buildings for its lavish architecture and decoration!
The outside of the oval 20-side polygon building is indeed painted in straw yellow and adorned with a wealth of Corinthian columns and sculptures.
James Pradier sculpted the low-reliefs that represent Amazons.
The interior decoration is just as prestigious.
It indeed includes paintings by Gosse and Barrais and sculptures by Guillaume, LesQuesne, Husson and Dantan.
In short, the most talented artists of the Second Empire contributed to the creation of this masterpiece!
The Cirque d’Hiver was very popular with the Parisians and the great artists of the era.
The painters Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Georges Seurat indeed often went there to seek inspiration for their paintings, drawings and posters.
Cirque d’Hiver – Bouglione
The Bouglione brothers took over the circus in 1934 and renamed it Cirque d’Hiver-Bouglione.
Their descendants have kept the tradition alive.
The circus continues indeed to draw crowds to their traditional shows, but the building is also let to the fashion industry.
This is an original way of monetizing it and diversifying the shows in order to attract different crowds, who would otherwise have never set foot in the Cirque d’Hiver.
The Cirque d’Hiver is a very compact building; the spectators’ seats are indeed laid out around an oval stage.
The number of seats was also reduced from 4000 to 2090 in order to comply with the fire safety regulations now in place.
Regardless of whether or not you like this sort of entertainment, the Cirque d’Hiver is worth the detour, if only for its astonishing architecture!
Directions: 11th district – no110 Rue Amelot
Metro: Filles du Calvaire on Line 8
Coordinates: Lat 48.863478 – Long 2.367263