As metro stations go, Châtelet is probably one of the worst. It is a dirty, busy labyrinth of a station. It is also one I regularly pass through on Tuesday evenings.
Châtelet’s one saving grace at around 7pm on a Tuesday is an opera singer called Christophe Ménager, who for some years now has been putting on very entertaining performances. Even in the unpleasant setting that is Châtelet, it’s enough to make you wish you didn’t have somewhere to be.
Mr Ménager is able to offer such animated performances thanks to Les Musiciens du métro. In 1997 RATP, the Parisian public transport operator, founded Espace Métro Accords (EMA). Every six months, EMA holds auditions for those who wish to become part of Les Musiciens du métro and as such to gain authorisation to perform in Parisian metro stations.
Since its inception EMA has received more than 10 000 applications, organised over 4000 auditions and accredited more than 3000 artists. An article on the RATP website points out that “the musicians you meet in metro stations are a reflection of metro passengers: all styles, ages, rhythms and nations are represented.”