Sally, I have been listening to French musette since the 50s and it has undergone a lot of changes in that time. I remember the big name players used to compile tea dance records, but I bet most of them never really liked some of the tunes they had to play. It was the same when they recorded folk tunes. Their hearts were never really in it, even if guys like Verchu made a fortune out of playing them.
Jo Privat was probably the last real musette player with a Parisian background. He hung on for as long as he could to the "musette pur", but eventually ditched the three voice musette, especially when he became hypnotised by the "Manouche" music. His playing was a revelation at the time, full of gypsy influenced runs. He was also influenced to a degree by classical music, and some of his compositions reflected that. Towards the end of his playing career he hardly played anything other than manouche tunes on his Piermaria Gala, which became his signature instrument and his son now plays occasionally. To be perfectly honest I began to tire of his style, as it drifted away too far from the mainstream musette genre. Regardless of my feelings, some of his compositions were legendary and will obviously remain musette classics for a long time to come.
Appreciate you have only been in France for 20 years, so the musette would already be well down the road by that time. Interesting that it is still played at dances, even although they stop playing before it gets dark! Guys like Jerome Richard had their work cut out to keep people interested in the accordion, although they are lucky that the instrument still has a degree of popularity in France. In a lot of countries even the best accordionists can do no better than play part time professionally.
I haven't kept up to date with the modern musette scene at all, as I'm afraid I don't really like it. The music has become very technically orientated, compared to the popular accordion in Italy, the repertoire of which is still "do-able", even if your name isn't Manu Maugain or Ludovic Beier. Both of them have exceptional ability, but it would take me about a year to have any chance of working through some of their compositions. I usually play most stuff by ear, but I'd need better ears than I've got to follow these guys. Musette used to be fairly simple easy going music, but it isn't any more. It probably needed bringing up to date, but I just wish they had given it a makeover, rather than demolishing it and starting again!
One of the few places in France where the musette hasn't changed drastically is in the far north, where they still seem to persevere with the old fashioned stuff. Or am I wrong there? You also get some trad sounding stuff in Limousin and The Auvergne, and I like listening to Basque players like Louis Camblor, even if his playing is not exactly electrifying. The Spanish influence makes a change. I could go on and on, but I'm sure you've got the picture.
Start learning those sea shanties and be careful you don't go "overboard" with them. I'm sure you like playing other styles as well!