Sweet Life in Paris: It’s sweet, but there are quirks…


There are some books that just have to find you at the right moment to be loved. The Sweet Life in Paris is like that, a bit. But I’m pretty sure I would have felt like author David Lebovitz–with his social awkwardness, love for chocolate, and baking passion–was a kindred spirit even if we didn’t both live in Paris. Now, though, I have this idea that if we bumped into each other on the streets of Paris, we’d be best buds. Maybe I’ll see him some time eating tacos at Candelaria, the one decent Latin-infused spot we’ve found.

Obviously–for anyone whose been to Lebovitz’s awesome website and blog–the recipes are fantastic. They’re classy but not snooty or overly complicated. And they all tie into the various stories he shares in some way.

But what I really loved were all the anecdotes about daily life in Paris–complete with all its complications, contradictions, and even annoyances. One cranky reviewer complained that the book is not really about a sweet life at all; Lebovitz makes living in Paris look like hard work. As someone living in Paris, I have to say that it can be hard work–especially at first. Let me add bewildering, too, as you can probably tell from my arrival post and my list of Paris surprises. I found myself giggling and muttering “amens” as Lebovitz described his failures and occasional successes.

Another quick note in response to Lebovitz’s few detractors (one called him the updated version of the “Ugly American”). That strikes me as very unfair. One thing I loved about the book is how you could tell that Lebovitz hasn’t become a new person living in Paris–he’s his old self in a new location. The very idea that it’s okay not to be transformed by Paris is a bit of a relief.  Lebovitz left me feeling that it’s okay not to blend in 100% and pass for Parisian all the time. That’s a relief for me as an adult who will probably never perfect my French accent–or my scarf-tying abilities.

Here’s my favorite bit:

The image people have of my life in Paris is that each fabulous day begins with a trip to the bakery for my morning croissant, which I eat while catching up with the current events by reading Le Monde at my corner café. (The beret is optional.) Then I spend the rest of my day discussing Sartre over in the Latin Quarter or strolling the halls of the Louvre with a sketchpad, ending with my sunset ascent of the Eiffel Tower before heading to one of the Michelin three-star restaurants for an extravagant dinner.

Let Arnie and me tell you this together with DL: it is so not like that. Because, really, people, how glamorous do you think our life in Paris is with a toddler? We’re having a good time, but it’s more sandboxes and baguettes than fancy dishes. Anyway, read The Sweet Life in Paris and imagine things a bit closer to the expat life in the city of lights.


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