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Summer in the Cities

The crowd at Fête de la Musique at Place des Vosges


Official Poster for Fête de la Musique 2023I went back to Paris in time for Fête de la Musique, one of my favorite festivals. It takes place annually on the Summer Solstice, June 21st, the longest day of the year. Sundown that day was 9:58 p.m., although even at that hour, it wasn’t actually dark…just hazy.

While Jack Lang, the Minister of Culture in France at the time, is often credited with launching the first Fête de la Musique in 1982, the true origins of this celebration can be traced back to 1976. It was during this year that Joel Cohen, an American musician working for the France Musique music channel, conceived a special musical program called the “Saturnales de la Musique” to commemorate the winter and summer solstices. The inaugural edition took place on June 21, 1976.

A few years later, on June 10, 1981, the “Fête de la Musique et de la Jeunesse” was organized to celebrate the election of François Mitterrand. A remarkable free concert held at the Place de la République in Paris attracted around 100,000 attendees. Inspired by the festive spirit of this event and Joel Cohen’s “Saturnales de la Musique,” Jack Lang and Maurice Fleuret, former director of music and dance at the Ministry, joined forces to create the Fête de la Musique. Initially titled “Faites de la musique!” their aim was to encourage amateur musicians to showcase their talents across France. Their efforts proved successful.

Various performers around Paris for Fête de la Musique

On June 21, 1982, the first official Fête de la Musique took place, captivating the public as musicians took over bars, parks, and streets, bringing delight to all. Today, this celebration has been embraced by over 110 countries worldwide, with more than 350 cities and 120 countries participating in the festivities.

Various performers around Paris for Fête de la Musique

As is my tradition, with a small group of friends, we wandered around Place des Vosges and other parts of Le Marais where musical talent was everywhere. Under the arcade of the 400 plus-year-old square, the acoustics reign and is the perfect spot for choral groups. There are always several “sing-alongs” for everyone to join in, but my favorite was a gospel group with a very animated conductor and a bevy of serious voices that had us all yelping for more.

Various performers around Paris for Fête de la Musique

People dancing to the music for Fête de la at Place des Vosges Musique

The band at the end of my street blasted for hours into the night, long past sundown. So, while sleep was near to impossible, it was a reminder of the good spirits of the festival and why I prefer to be in Paris to celebrate it where it’s impossible to ignore.


One thing about which I often complain is our (expatriates) lack of representation in the U.S. While as individuals we have the right to vote absentee, and pay taxes, as a group of expatriates living outside of the U.S., we have no direct representation.

The American Citizens Abroad (ACA) is one organization that lobbies on our behalf. On June 15th, the ACA submitted a filing with the Federal Elections Commission to establish the “American Citizens Abroad Political Action Committee, Inc. PAC” (ACA-PAC). The primary objective of ACA-PAC will be to engage with members of the Americans Abroad Congressional Caucus, as well as other Representatives and Senators in the House, who can support and advocate for the interests of U.S. citizens residing overseas. Additionally, ACA-PAC intends to make independent expenditures in alignment with these objectives.

“After carefully considering this step, we have concluded the community needs to ‘up its game.’ The time has come to provide tangible support to Members and candidates who will help US citizens abroad with real things—legislation, hearings, communications with Treasury Department and the IRS, and the like,” said Marylouise Serrato, Executive Director, ACA.

The ACA's Mary Louise Serrato

The ACA’s MaryLouise Serrato

According to a recent extensive and well-regarded study conducted by ACA, the number of U.S. citizens residing abroad is approximately 3.9 million, based on 2022 data. Furthermore, as reported by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, the estimated count of U.S. citizens living overseas in 2018, which includes government employees and contractors, was around 4.8 million. Out of this population, approximately 2.9 million individuals exercised their right to vote. If this group was considered a state, its population would rank 25th, surpassing Louisiana but falling below Alabama.

“We need to wake up to this fact and make our presence known in ways that Members of Congress and others in practical ways will appreciate,” commented Jonathan Lachowitz, Chairman, ACA. “Just complaining will not get the job done.”


Accidental Americans in France protesting

Help ACA keep up the momentum by making a donation to the organizations’ important work or become a member of ACA. Join ACA’s write-in campaigns, Americans Abroad Fight for Tax Fairness! and Call on House Ways and Means Committee Chairman to hold hearings on Americans Abroad. These campaigns work! Offices that hear from constituents come to ACA to learn more and request meetings with our staff. Let’s get more offices on Capitol Hill involved. It’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes. Be sure to share their write-in campaigns with others! See all their write-in campaigns.

American Citizens Abroad, Inc.
2001 L Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036


Nice has as almost as many events taking place as Paris has museums. This past weekend was no different with the Ironman Triathlon along the Promenade des Anglais: “Mediterranean magic on the Côte d’Azur—Experience one of Europe’s premier triathlon playgrounds as you race from the Mediterranean to the mountains in the glamorous French riviera city of Nice. Marvel at the beautiful old town architecture and azure coastline and enjoy a memorable French race-cation after finishing France’s most iconic triathlon.”

Meme for the Ironman France in Nice 2023

As I was heading to the beach on Saturday afternoon, I mainly noticed the large numbers of good-looking, very buff young men (and a few women) all over town, and then on the beach. In a city where grayheads are the norm, seeing all those beautiful bodies was a real treat. These are folks who can swim, bike and run…and all well! What a feat!

A buff man on the beach in Nice, competing in Ironman France

The swimming portion of the event takes place in the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea, starting at Plage des Ponchettes in front of the Quai des Etats-Unis. It is a two-loop course covering a distance of 3.8 km (2.4 miles).

For the cycling segment, athletes embarked on a challenging and visually stunning journey. The course spanned 180.2 km (112 miles) in a single loop, taking participants through the scenic hinterland of Nice and the picturesque villages of the Parc Naturel des PréAlpes d’Azur.

The staging area for Inronman France in Nice

The staging area for Inronman France in Nice

During the running portion, athletes completed four loops along the Promenade des Anglais. The course covered a distance of 42.2 km (26.2 miles) and offered a scenic route with the beach in close proximity. Participants were told to be prepared for a hot run in the sun as they ventured out to Nice Airport and back to the finish line.

Fortunately for me, there were certain points along the route where one could access the sea…as NOTHING gets in the way of my beach time on weekends!


A lavender field in the South of France

Stay tuned for next week’s Nouvellettre® after a weekend chasing the (hopefully) full-blooming lavender in Provence. It’s always both eye and nose candy!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds at the beach in NiceAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. Curious about who will be presenting at next month’s Aprés-Midi? 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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