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Celebrating Independence Day, But Which One? Or Both?

Photo by Carol Gillott, Paris Breakfasts Blog

It really saddened me that this year I didn’t have the same spirit as in years past of celebrating the U.S. Independence Day. Traditionally, I’d organize a group of friends to go to an American-style restaurant for hamburgers, and break my no bread/no cheese diet just for the occasion. But this year, it just wasn’t in me.

The truth is that the kind of freedom we imagine as Americans isn’t quite what’s actually happening Stateside—women no longer have the right to their own bodies, the average American is fearful of being in public where a mass murderer might gun him down for no reason whatsoever, healthcare is only for the rich or the aged and children must pass through metal detectors to enter their own schools…which are underfunded and therefore less than adequate quality. This is not the U.S. I would want to live in and am thankful that I don’t. So, you can understand why July 4th just didn’t strike my cord this year.

Then, we were invited by Breakfast in America’s, Craig Carlson and his husband, Julien Chameroy, to celebrate the restaurant’s 20th anniversary on July 4th. I couldn’t pass that up. In order to be there, I changed my return from Nice a few days earlier and thought this would be the best way to celebrate the American diner’s presence in Paris and what it represents for us expatriates.

Julien Chameroy, Craig Carlson, with new BIA owners

Julien Chameroy, Craig Carlson, with new BIA owners

The diner is way more than just a place to have American pancakes, burgers you can eat with your hands or have unlimited coffee refills. It’s a testament to Craig’s American entrepreneurial spirit and his ability to overcome all odds in a very French world and to succeed in it without, as he said himself in his speech there, any knowledge or experience running a restaurant! Now, that’s the American spirit I’m happy to celebrate!

And in that spirit, I did break my diet to eat a cheeseburger (or two), while schmoozing with many friends and acquaintances from the American community who came for all the same reasons. Among them was Carol Gillott, blogger of Paris Breakfasts, who posted a complete story of the event the very next day. You can read all about it.

One July 4th years ago, our group of friends picnicked on the Seine near the Vedettes du Pont Neuf on the Square du Vert Galant. A few minutes before a boat was scheduled to embark we quickly gathered up our picnic goodies, bought tickets, and hopped on for a one-hour cruise on the Seine at just the perfect moment —sundown. Even for our group of seasoned Parisians, the moment was particularly special and spectacular.

July 4th at Sundown in Paris from the Vedettes du Pont Neuf

July 4th at Sundown in Paris from the Vedettes du Pont Neuf

July 4th at Sundown in Paris from the Vedettes du Pont Neuf

July 4th at Sundown in Paris from the Vedettes du Pont Neuf

Normally and traditionally, I host a picnic on the Champ de Mars for July 14th—Bastille Day, France’s Independence Day…but not this year. When my daughter, Erica asked, “Do you want to go to a wedding in Greece on July 14th,” I quickly said “YES!” We had given up our Greece vacation a couple of years ago when Covid-19 made it near to impossible, so passing this up was not going to happen. Her friends are getting married on the island of Symi. Even though I’d never heard of it, it seemed a perfect replacement for the trip we missed in 2020.

The Greek Island of Symi

The Greek Island of Symi


In order to get there, we’re flying from Paris to Rhodes and then taking a ferry from there, and that’s the only way off the island, too! It is sure to be an adventure. The island only boasts of a permanent population of about 2,500. But of course, that swells during the summer. Once upon a time, the economy there was based on the shipbuilding and sponge industries, but now it’s tourism that keeps it afloat. It’s for its unique small shrimp that are pan-fried and eaten whole with the shell, which are okay on my diet, so guess I’ll be wallowing in shrimpy shrimp!

Exploring Greece and Shrimp

The wedding and our stay in Symi will last five days. Then we (perhaps stupidly) decided to spend three days in Athens to see the sights. The weather report is not looking good for us, with temperatures well above 100°F. So, are we nuts? Could be! You’ll hear more about it next week as I hope to be writing about our experience in Greece…

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds 4th of July at Breakfast in America in Paris (by Carol Gillott, Paris Breakfasts) Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Adrian, 4th of July at Breakfast in America (photo by Carol Gillott, Paris Breakfasts)

P.S. Curious about who will be presenting at the next Aprés-Midi in Paris or Nice? You don’t have to wait until we announce it, you can look into the future right now! Visit our Aprés-Midi page to see who will be there 2023.


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