Breakfast in Paris
For those interested in participating in “Resistance Summer,” Democrats Abroad is now in full swing conducting a world-wide campaign to stand up for democratic values getting out their message in the U.S. and around the world when U.S. President Donald Trump comes to Paris to participate in the Bastille Day celebrations. Democrats Abroad France will be gathering to demonstrate their support for the fight for freedom and their opposition to the policies of the Trump-Pence Administration as well as Speaker Ryan’s Republican Congress on the evening of July 13th at 7:00 p.m. in front of the Memorial to American Volunteers in the Square Thomas Jefferson, Place des Etats-Unis in Paris XVI. They will meet in front of the Memorial to American Volunteers near the Avenue Iéna and Place de l’Amiral de Grasse, a fitting place to defend liberty, as it symbolizes the fight made manifest by the participation of hundreds upon hundreds of American volunteers and the thousands upon thousands of American soldiers, nurses and others, who fought in the Great War to protect liberty and democracy. Join them in this demonstration!:
July 13th at 7:00 p.m. In front of the Memorial to American Volunteers in the Square Thomas Jefferson, Place des Etats-Unis in Paris XVI
I will be there — please join me!
One of the things I used to bring back to France from the U.S., like most Americans living here who miss certain things from “home,” was pancake mix and maple syrup. These commodities simply didn’t exist here at the time and we liked making pancakes on Sunday mornings, particularly with a fried egg on top, bacon on the side and toast. Craig Carlson missed an American breakfast more than most, and as a result, set out to open his own restaurant devoted to such delicacies, appropriately named “Breakfast in America.”
Craig had no idea that opening and running a business in France would be so difficult, compared to the same endeavor in the U.S. Regardless of how often the budding entrepreneur hears the warnings, someone as passionate about an idea as Craig doesn’t heed them and finds themselves in the muck and mire of French bureaucracy and steep taxes and fees. Craig opened “BIA” with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, then landed in a pile of “merde” thanks to a series of issues, one of which was an savvy employee who understood very well how to use and abuse the system designed to protect him, but which put the screws to this budding enterprise.
Not to be deterred, Craig overcame all odds, survived it all, ran a successful restaurant and ended up opening a second location of BIA and then subsequently began a franchise. To top it all off, he wrote a memoir about his experiences and titled it “Pancakes in Paris.” Yesterday at Après Midi, he brought us pancakes and syrup to taste for ourselves, offered up a slide presentation, gave us a synopsis of the story, read from the book and answered our questions.
I think both Craig and I agree, we wouldn’t wish business ownership in France on our worst enemy! But in spite of all the trials and tribulations, we still love Paris and France and wouldn’t have changed a thing. This summer you will find me in Nice as of next week and for the next five weeks after. While in Nice, when not on the “pebbles” enjoying the sun and surf, I will be writing my own memoir based on a similar experience, but rather than focused on a restaurant, my story focuses on a “viager” property I once set out to purchase, owned, renovated and rented (See The Viager if you wish to read some of the story, but note this is not the memoir!).
Thanks to newly elected President Emmanuel Macron, France’s corporate startup scene is beginning to boom with venture capital funds and a business-friendly government. Financing for such budding companies is up 13 per cent over last year by Bpifrance, the country’s state investment bank, notably in biopharmaceutical companies, online and mobile booking platforms, wireless low-energy networks and high-tech audio devices. Foreign investors have begun considering France as potentially lucrative new turf.
Macron has also promised to clean up the labor market with reforms that will make it easier to hire and fire. He believes that the key to reducing unemployment (currently about 10 per cent) is by making the current rigid labor laws more flexible — something Craig dealt with that got close to ruining his enterprise. Macron may be in for a fight with the labor unions, but that’s a given since the workers have so much power. Expect to see the protests all through this period and I personally hope he can hold tight.
I have my own crystal ball on the future of France, given the current circumstances:
Both Brexit in the U.K. and Donald Trump in the U.S. have already greatly benefitted France and will continue to do so, as long as their policies to isolate their countries from the rest of the world continue. Immigration-phobic regulations threaten an international perspective on education and business, restricting both individuals and enterprises from prospering from the talent of those born or living outside of these native countries.
French nationals living outside France has grown over the past 10 years, increasing by over 60% since 2000 at an average annual growth rate of 4%. Today, more than 1.6 million French are living abroad, many due to the lack of opportunity for them to find jobs or start new businesses. (See diplomatie.gouv.fr/) There are estimates that about 270,000 are living in London alone.
Now, those resident in the U.K. and U.S. are faced with a prejudice previously unforeseen. On the other side is Emmanuel Macron with open arms. When Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement on climate change, he offered refuge to American climate scientists in France: “To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland.” And joked at the U.S. president’s campaign slogan to “make America great again” urging American scientists to “make our planet great again.”
These young French who left France now find themselves with a kind of enemy where they are living as immigrants in the U.K. and U.S. while on the other side there is a kind of “come to papa” at home, where they would really prefer to be. I predict that they will find their way home in France, but armed with the English they learned, the entrepreneurial spirit and skills they couldn’t have gotten on home turf and a whole new way of looking at life and law. That injection into the French could make the biggest difference to Macron’s new and different France — more than we could ever imagine — as they right the wrongs and build a better world for themselves and their children.
Craig Carlson may well be wishing he had waited to start up his restaurant till M. Macron was in office! Note: Après Midi is not meeting in August, but reconvenes in September!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. After over 20 years living in France, we have learned the ins and outs and the inside information on moving, living and working here. We would be happy to help you make your living in France dream come true. Have a look at our Working and Living in France page and contact us today!