Street musicans Paris Metro guitar player

Photos of the street musicians of Paris

by Michael on September 20, 2012

I’ve always had a soft spot for street musicians of Paris. It seems like after room and board our highest travel cost is the coins I toss into their instrument cases as I pass by. Maybe it’s because many years ago my fantasy was to move to Paris with my guitar, sit on a park bench in the Luxembourg Gardens and strum vintage American blues tunes. I’d live off what I earned so I likely would have starved but that doesn’t happen in dreams, does it?

While strolling around the streets of Paris we’ve seen a wide array of musicians performing, a few even go to the trouble of setting up an upright piano on the sidewalk. In the Metro they proliferate like champignons. It seems like every station has a musician assigned to it. The acoustics of the cavernous tiled tunnels apply an eerie bass sound to whatever they are playing.

One of the toughest aspects of being a street musician is being totally ignored by the audience, many of whom just wish they’d go away. In London it was the opposite, there the crowd would burst into polite applause when the musical set was finished. I guess that’s just another difference between the French and the British. Here are some of the musicians we’ve come across around Paris.

Street musicians of Paris guitar player park bench

This cool dude was hanging out in the Bois de Vincennes on a Sunday afternoon.

Street musicians of Paris piano player

I wonder if piano players ever wish they had taken up an easier instrument to lug around.


Street musicians of Paris piano player street

Same goes for this guy.


Street musicians of Paris metro sax player man in suit

This saxophone player provided a bit of Dixieland jazz for the afternoon commute. 


Street musicians of Paris guitar player metro Dylan

Close your eyes and he could be Bob Dylan.


Street musicians of Paris guitar player metro open case

Street musicians are used to being ignored by most of the people passing by.

Street musicians of Paris metro Asian instrument case open

 This Asian instrument provided some treble notes on the normally bass sounding Metro.

The video showcases several of the above musicians including a guitar player who stepped into a Metro car and announced in his French accent, “And now something from Robert Zimmerman.” This led one knowledgeable commuter to yell out “Dylan!”



Lynn September 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

Larissa & Michael – love following your travels – very inspirational!

I love street musicians too – always fascinated by them and love to stop and listen. I am just a bit surprised they let them play IN the metro cars…there’s no quick escape if you’re not in the mood to hear Dylan or whatever!

Michael September 20, 2012 at 10:38 pm

They’re pretty much on subway cars all over Europe and Latin America.

Carl September 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I was in Paris this summer and actualy saw two of these guys. way cool!

Barbara September 27, 2012 at 6:49 am

Hi Michael & Larissa,
Ah, what a great video you did!
There is all sorts of talent going on underground and on street level. I plead “guilty” to passing the musicians inside the stations when I am in a rush.

Next time you come back to Paris, Michael can do a jam session in the Bois de Vincennes, too!! 🙂


Brian March 27, 2016 at 7:27 am

Street musicians are a way of life in France, even our local food market plays host to a new band each week, well perhaps not so much in the winter. They are usually of the jazz variety or it might just be someone playing a saxophone. It doesn’t really matter to be honest, they are all great and really add to the ambiance as you wander around the food stalls searching out your favourite little tidbits for lunch.

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