No. 110: Musicians on the Métro
I ride the métro a fair bit, especially when I am taking French classes. It’s not my preferred form of transport, that would be my feet or the Velib (the fantastic bike share program found throughout France). If those options won’t get me where I need to be, than I try to hop on a bus before heading underground.
But when I do have to head down under, the Paris métro is fast and efficient. It could be a little cleaner and I’d like it if it was less crowded, but all in all, it’s a marvelous system. Some days though, like in any big city, jumping on the métro in Paris can just be a slog. Everyone is cranky, no one smiles, and sometimes people smell.
It always cheers me up though when I open a carriage to find a musician entertaining the commuters. I’m not sure how the French feel about them. Not many travelers open their wallets when the musicians pass their cup, but they always brighten my day, and if I have cash, I toss something in.
Sometimes they are just singers alone with their speaker and microphone. Sometimes one musician may have six instruments. I have even seen a five-piece band. I was completely devastated when I missed the Hungarian sting quartet struggling to get their cellist off the métro just as I was getting on.
And in case you are wondering, there is absolutely no shortage of accordion maestros in this town.
I’ve heard a lot of really bad Frank Sinatra, some so-so Edith Piaf, some crazy, lyrical poetry jam, some pretty decent opera, and a lot of average Paris café music.
I give these people a lot of credit, we are not the friendliest crowd. But I for one am glad they choose to get up every day and try to earn a living. The good, the bad and the great, they all make me smile.
Agree – at least they are entertaining (or trying to) the masses for a few centimes or Euros and not just asking for a handout. Some are very talented = I once saw/heard an excellent harpist and wondered how she lugged the instrument into the metro!
This morning there was a piccolo player on ligne 9.
I would definitely love this about France!
I know you would. Some people find it annoying, but it always makes my day.