On the suburbs train ride, look out the window: greyish sky, but nothing to worry about. Then take the underground in Paris, get out at the Bastille station: uh-oh, it's raining. Come on, it's only light rain. See? It just stopped. The staff looks a bit unsure, but we'll start anytime soon. Do you know Madness ? English ska band from the 80's. One song they made that's among my favorites: It's raining again. So that's what happened. Ride cancelled ;_;

Just had a one hour trip, gonna have a one hour or more trip back, only got a half an hour dreadful wait... I can't be happy with that, can I?

Yet all is not lost. On the way back, changin at Châtelet station, I stumbled upon an unexpected sight:

mini-concert in the subway station Châtelet (Paris)

I'm not so often in the underground in Paris these days, but I think this set of musicians is the most successful I have ever seen (at some point, there was more people watching that what is shown on my pic). I've never seen that many photoflashes in the subway before! True, they got themselves a very good spot (large place, with staircases and a kind of balcony for more people to watch, just on the path between lines 1 and 14...) and it was on a Sunday.

As the young lady on the right of the picture[1] told me, this group of students and teachers give such mini-concerts at this same spot every Sunday from about 2 p.m. to about 6 p.m.

About musicians in the subway

I always thought that musicians in the subway came, made their show[2], took whatever money people would give them and had to avoid patrols of the RATP[3] as much as can do. But have a fast check-out with that kind of instruments and that many people... fat chance!

Actually, musicians in the parisian underground can be entitled to a license. The RATP started giving out a few licenses to musicians and other artists in the 80's. Since 1997, there is an organism dedicated to managing ~400 licenses a year. Auditions are held every six months and are attended to by about 1000 people.
The EMA[4], as it is called, even arranged for 14 of its artists to publish a compilation called Correspondances[5] in 2003.

More info/sources (only links to french language pages, I'm afraid)


[1] she was diving into the public to sell their CDs

[2] some of them quite aggressively

[3] This translates approximately as: Autonomous Manager of Paris Transportation. That's the enterprise that handles all subway lines and most buses lines in Paris.

[4] Métro is the subway; there is a pun on Accords, as it can mean either chord or agreement in French. Thus the name conveys the idea that the RATP have come to an agreement with the musicians

[5] best translation here: Connections