Once called the Montagnes Russes (from the French name for roller coaster), but later renamed to L' Olympia, the performance hall was founded in 1888 by Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler, who eventually went on to construct the grandiose design for the Moulin Rouge. As L' Olympia grew in popularity, this iconic spot in the ninth arrondissement entertained thousands of Parisians with a colorful array of acts that ranged from musical concerts, operas and ballets, to circus performances.
Unfortunately, as the early twentieth century saw the decline of theatrical performances, L' Olympia began to lose its popularity as the main source for exuberant performances and dance spectacles. Instead, from the years 1929–1944, the venue served as a movie theater for the local residents. Following the Liberation of Paris, Allied troops that had served in World War II were treated to an occasional free performance at L'Olympia, which always ended with an energetic can-can dance.
Between the years of 1944 and 1954, L' Olympia was rebranded as a movie theater as people began to prefer the cinema over other forms of entertainment such as the theatrical performances, operettas, and ballets that L'Olympia was known for. It appeared that Parisians had lost interest in this once popular venue — that is, until Bruno Coquatrix stepped in.
Coquatrix bought L'Olympia with the hope that introducing up and coming bands and performers would revive interest in the neglected music hall. With that goal in mind, Coquatrix decided to completely rebrand the performance hall to appeal to a more modern-day audience. His idea for how to grab the attention of young people in the 1950s – live music!
Just a year after L' Olympia’s reestablishment in the world of live performance, one of France’s greatest treasures, Édith Piaf, performed an extremely memorable recital there for the citizens of Paris. She continued to perform at L' Olympia until the end of 1962.
Another singer that brought the crowd back to L' Olympia was Dalida. First auditioning for Coquatrix in 1956, she was immediately signed as a singer. Just three years later, Dalida would go on to perform every three to four years for nearly thirty nights in a row. Dalida was so attached to the music hall, and the concerts that she performed there, that many of her live album titles were actually titled after the venue and the years of her performances.
With L' Olympia beginning to boom in popularity again, another band on the rise was scheduled to play at the venue for eighteen consecutive days of performances — The Beatles. Playing nearly two to three times a day, The Beatles performed at L' Olympia before their famous landing in America, and, even played at the venue just the day before reaching their first number one single with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”
L' Olympia continued in popularity with other rock bands and performers like The Rolling Stones, The Jackson Five, Madonna, Tina Turner, The Grateful Dead Cher, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Blondie, and The Beach Boys until the 1990s when it was at risk of being torn down completely. Arguing the hall's historic impact, Jack Lang, France’s Minister of Culture during that time, stood against the hall’s demolishment. Lang eventually prevailed in preserving the hall and even ordered that the interior be refurbished in order to reflect the original design of the venue.
Since its renovation, L' Olympia has only continued to thrive and entertain new generations of music lovers in Pairs. Today many popular acts, international and local alike, including Lana Del Rey, Banks, Robyn, Vampire Weekend, The 1975, Arctic Monkeys, Partynextdoor, Hozier, Khalid, Miguel, Paramore, Arcade Fire, Jack White, Harry Styles, Lady Gaga, and more, have all called L' Olympia’s stage their home, even if only for a single night.