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The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  8,782 ratings  ·  987 reviews
Like so many others, David Lebovitz dreamed about living in Paris ever since he first visited the city in the 1980s. Finally, after a nearly two-decade career as a pastry chef and cookbook author, he moved to Paris to start a new life. Having crammed all his worldly belongings into three suitcases, he arrived, hopes high, at his new apartment in the lively Bastille neighbo ...more
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Les Misérables by Victor HugoA Moveable Feast by Ernest HemingwayMy Life in France by Julia ChildA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Books About Paris
23rd out of 433 books — 426 voters
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
63rd out of 682 books — 1,310 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"

If you love Paris, you'll enjoy this book.
If you hate Paris, you'll enjoy this book.
If you've never been to Paris (c'est moi) and you're weary of hearing your Francophile friends gush about how absolutely everything French is better simply because it's French, you'll enjoy this book.

Annoying, a bit.

Not my kind of book to begin with, but it was interesting enough for me to finish. Lebovitz has such an interesting way of describing his view of the Parisians. Very funny most of the time.

I didn't read his recipes--they're not why I read the book in the first place--which made the book that much faster to read. He likes things like creme and milk and butter and sugar. I willing to bet his food is delicious and dangerous.

But let's get down to the real point here: he needs to grow
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
The Sweet Life in Paris is the moving-and-starting-over story of Lebovitz’s venture into Parisian life. It’s a story we have heard many times before, of the trials of dealing with French bureaucracy, of figuring out how to get service in French stores, and of trying to fit into a world that secretly scorns everything that is not French. Yes, we have heard this story many times before, but it is a story we will never tire of, a story we want to read again and again, until maybe, one day, we tell ...more
Très délicieux !

After 12 years of working as a pastry chef at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, David Lebovitz moved to Paris, where he has now lived for several years. His book is an amusing and entertaining chronicle of becoming a Parisian — from getting along with other Parisians to finding the most delicious food, especially baked goodies, in the city. It means living in cramped quarters, being pushed and shoved in lines, dealing with grumpy sales clerks, learning how to dress, and what to do when
Instead of April in Paris, I spent it in Vermont, savoring David Lebovitz's wonderful romp through the city. Following the death of his partner, Leibovitz makes the decision to move to Paris. Note, he was NOT running away, despite what many of his friends thought; instead it was an opportunity to “flip over the Etch A Sketch” of his life (I love that) and start over. A pastry chef at the lauded Chez Panisse for ten years and a well-known cookbook writer for several after that, he moved to the Ci ...more
I really enjoyed this, but the author is a pastry chef, not a writer, so he got docked for some seriously so-so writing. The whole thing reads like the annotations in a good cookbook. Now, I personally like to read cookbooks cover to cover. That said, most other people don't. The book is an earnest and funny account of a pastry chef's life abroad and if it is a bit repetitive, the story is told with quite a bit of humor and some recipes that I'll be making this week (before the book goes back to ...more
This book hit me wrong when I first bought it. I had started in the the assumption that it was going to be something else. But, after having it sit for about a year I picked it up again as a bedside read as going to sleep filler. The short chapters with vignettes about David Lebovitz life in Paris as an ice cream maker and baker were fantastic reads. David's view of Paris is not fully in-line with the one I have had on my much sorter ventures there, but he uncovers a lot of gems and provides und ...more
I love David Lebovitz's blog and not a single of his recipes has failed me yet. His blog is and I highly recommend it! I was kind of dreading his book because often times bloggers turn out to be terrible authors (shocking, I know!) and I didn't want enjoy his blog less for a lousy book. Happily, he was an author before he was a blogger and is a pro the whole way through.

This book is part Jeffrey Steingarten, part Peter Mayle. He has a wry sense of humor about Parisians, a p
Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: this book will make you hungry. It will make you hungry for hot, crunchy baguettes... frisee salad with melting rounds of goat cheese... and, of course, for chocolate. This book will make you especially hungry for chocolate. Case in point: I hardly ever drink hot cocoa. I generally find it to be too sweet and not my cup of tea. (See what I did there?) But after reading David Lebovitz's rhapsodizing about Parisian hot cocoa, I had two cups at ...more
In the book description the question posed was "When did he (the author) realize he had morphed into un vrai parisien?" The answer came to me after reading the first few chapters - when he started to COMPLAIN about everything. Just like Parisian, the author complains non-stop. Complaints about the service, the pedestrians, the coffee, the water, the small apartments... On and on he goes. I was so disappointed in this book. I was expecting to be transported into the "Sweet Life in Paris" but inst ...more
This was a light, funny, and quick account of a pastry chef who decided to move to Paris, without knowing the language or culture, after having lived in San Francisco for twenty years. It's often quite amusing and is ordered in chapters that focus on simple anecdotes. Each chapter is followed by at least one, but usually two or three, recipes, which all look VERY good. The book would have been much more interesting to me had it not consisted mainly of incessant complaining about Parisians. The w ...more
Alison G.
I was fully prepared to hear how fabulous life for a pastry chef could be in Paris. I was surprised, however, to learn that even for him, living in one of the world's most revered destinations can be...challenging. I loved his humorous anecdotes that I could picture vividly. Many of the customs and faux pas he describes could easily be applied to Brazil, and living overseas made his tales not only funny, but totally relateable. And where he describes his visits back to the States, and comes to t ...more
The Sweet Life in Paris reads more like a compiled series of expanded blog posts, combined with lots of recipes, than it does a sustained book. I don't know that that is necessarily a problem, 'cause it's still fun to read (especially for someone who once lived in Paris and just came back from another trip there). Here's how I see this book coming into being:

David Levovitz's Agent (DLA): "David, you should really write a book about your experiences in Paris. You're so observant and funny!"

David Lebowitz is a pastry chef (trained at Chez Panisse in California) who cooks, writes and blogs in Paris. He's one of my husband's favorite food bloggers and has been reading his web postings for about ten years. This book about his life in Paris is a delight. is essays on the bureaucratic nightmare of the French national and Paris municipal governments made me laugh out loud and his descriptions of the wonderful food markets, boulangeries and fromageries made me want to hope onto a plane an ...more
Very enjoyable and entertaining memoir by chef David Lebovitz on his time in Paris following the death of his partner. Some of the recipes included in the book sound great (so far, I've only made the Mousse au Chocolat from it), but what i enjoyed most were the descriptions of his daily life and experiences, the snooty Parisiens and how the author went to great lengths to assimilate.
Sarah Mck
I have always had an indifference towards the French. Never been there personally, but the stories I've heard from many people whom have traveled do not really encourage me to ever go. This book in many ways confirmed my suspicions that the French are an arrogant people whom only think of themselves. But yet towards the end of the book, I also now have a growing curiosity to go there and see for myself. Is it worth holding my bladder all day and suffering the line pushers to try the famous Choco ...more
This was a light, enjoyable read. Despite my love of baking and chocolate, I had never heard of David Lebovitz until I picked up this book at Barnes and Noble a couple weeks ago. The introduction, where Lebovitz wryly states that he knew he was a Parisian when one Sunday when he was lounging around he “shaved, changed into a pair of real pants, tucked in a clean wrinkle-free shirt, and slipped on a pair of shoes and socks” just to take out the trash, caught my attention and made me laugh. I saw ...more
This book made me hungry!! I probably gained a few pounds just dreaming about the food he talks about - the pastries, the cheese, crepes, chocolates. I loved the the everyday anecdotes of the author's life in Paris, becoming assimilated into the culture and nuances of life there. I also learned how to properly slice different kinds of cheeses, which is always good to know.

I loved his chapters on chocolate and coffee- two of my favorite things. It seems that while Paris has amazing chocolate, and
Lorin Kleinman
David Lebovitz is rightly renowned for his dessert cookbooks--just ask anyone who's tried the chocolate/guinness ice cream I make following his instructions. And as his blog makes clear, he's an engaging, affable narrator. But until I read The Sweet Life in Paris, I hadn't realized quite how laugh-out-loud funny he is.

Ten years ago or so, Lebovitz was leading a happy existence in San Francisco, following a long stint as a Chez Panisse pastry chef with a series of acclaimed cookbooks. Then his bo
I'm going to be in Paris for 48 hours in a few weeks, and I decided to cram by reading memoirs. It's a way to procrastinate cracking the French textbook to brush up, I guess. David Lebovitz's story of moving to Paris and navigating the culture is perfect for my situation-- I need to practice not smiling, prepare for way more intrusions on my personal space than normal, and order café creme, not café au lait. Got it. Although he is in places critical of the Parisian attitude, he respects their cu ...more
Chef and cookbook author David Lebovitz moved from San Francisco to Paris years ago. Often baffled, sometimes frustrated and sometimes indulging in the quirkiness of Les Parisiens, he managed surprisingly well turning the city into his home.

The book is a collection of entertaining slice of life anecdotes, that actually happened, followed by several recipes. An excellent storyteller, David is also a gifted cook and his recipes sound fabulous. I will admit that I can't wait to try some of them.

Jan 23, 2013 Gwen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Gwen by: David Lebovitz's blog
Shelves: biography-memoir
In the past week, I've read two "fish out of water" memoirs: Lebovitz's and Bill Bryson's I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away, and "The Sweet Life in Paris" is by far the more entertaining, more earnest, and more introspective. (And significantly less curmudgeonly.) As a pastry chef, Lebovitz is not a professional writer, but his writing completely engrossed me, keeping me up far later than I should, and his tales of living in Paris amused this former (a ...more
I worked a job with women who were all at least 30 years older than me. I heard this joke all the time: "I'm looking for a guy with a bulge in his pants. BUT IN THE BACK HAHAHA!!@!!!!" meaning his wallet. They were, by and large, nice ladies who dealt pretty gently with a frustrated dread-bag who cried at her desk and ate all the candy (me). Something about that joke made me want to desperately walk around, put my hand on someone's arm and softly say "am I alone?" That kind of joke is dumb. No b ...more
he Sweet Life in Paris – David Lebovitz

There is a theme of late with books I am selecting: food. Not all have yet been posted but I am finding a strange attraction to audiobooks about food being read to me. Who would have thought listening to recipes and gory food details would be so fun and conducive to the audiobook world.

This is a must read for anyone bound for Paris. I have only visited once thus far and found David’s observations true and some of the items would have been good to know a lit
Certain books demand an accompanying snack. This book called out for unlimited bowls of Salted Salli (those twee matchstick-shaped potato chips) followed by a just-adequately-melted chunk of Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk : Fruit & Nut.

Ergo, any blame for the consequent kilos that settled on my hips can be placed squarely on the shoulders of David Lebovitz.

The Sweet Life in Paris describes aforementioned chef (and master of wry observations), David Lebovitz' topsy-turvy stay in the enchanting and
One has to wonder why Lebowitz is so enthralled with Paris given that a good 85% of his book is complaining about the city and it's inhabitants. As an American expat to Europe myself, I certainly can identify with his frustration, but sometimes this book feels more like a rant than a memoir. With recipes. It definately feels like it was culled from a blog, which doesn't help the book. Lebowitz attributes a lot of things (rudeness, inability to walk properly, terrible grocery stores) as if they'r ...more
I enjoyed Lebovitz's humor for the most part, although by the time I was two-thirds of the way through the book, humor dished up the very same way over and over again became somewhat tedious. However, what really rubbed me the wrong way was having to be subjected to another's obsessive infatuation with his own sexual predilections. Nobody wants to know what turns you on. It's just awkward. The author's recipes appearing between chapters is the aspect that I enjoyed most about the book. They comp ...more
I'm not even half way through but really enjoying this. Lebovitz is very funny and charming and the recipes sound amazing. I keep bookmarking all the ones I want to try. For this book, I recommend a hard copy rather than kindle, particularly for flipping back to recipes. I already made a salad inspired by his warm goat cheese salad and it absolutely overshadowed the main course that night!
Final Review:
I wish you could give half stars since this is definitely 3.5 for me. I would want to be frien
Audrey ❦❦❦
I enjoyed David Lebovitz's anecdotes about his life in Paris. As an devout Francophile, I find myself drawn to the minutiae of life in a French city. The recipes were a trove of decadent food porn and I would recommend to all that this be a book you own, not borrow from a library, as I did, because you will want to take the time to source the ingredients and make some of the many deliciously-sounding recipes included in this book.
Reading this book was like having a coffee and warm, flaky croissant in Paris, satisfying but not heavy. Lebovitz's descriptions were vivid without being overdone. His story was interesting and I loved the little bit of naughtiness he added (I'll let you read to figure that out). Perhaps I was able to get more out of this because I've been to Paris, but even still there were many things he discussed that I had not experienced. It did make me wonder if I had annoyed any Parisians because I didn't ...more
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American pastry chef living the sweet life in Paris! Author of several cookbooks, including The Perfect Scoop, the complete guide to making the best ice cream and frozen desserts at home, The Great Book of Chocolate, a guide - with recipes - for everything about everyone's favorite ingredient, and Ready for Dessert, a compilation of baking favorites, from an extra-moist Fresh Ginger Cake, to crunc ...more
More about David Lebovitz...
The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories The Great Book of Chocolate: The Chocolate Lover's Guide with Recipes Room For Dessert : 110 Recipes for Cakes, Custards, Souffles, Tarts, Pies, Cobblers, Sorbets, Sherbets, Ice Creams, Cookies, Candies, and Cordials

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“Parisians are always in a big hurry, but are especially frantic if they’re behind you. They’re desperate to be where they rightfully feel they belong: in front of you. It’s a whole other story when you’re behind them, especially when it’s their turn: suddenly they seem to have all the time in the world.” 2 likes
“Shaping the mounds of dough is easiest to do with a spring-loaded ice cream scoop, although you can use two spoons or a pastry bag with a large, plain tip. 1 cup (250 ml) water ½ teaspoon coarse salt 2 teaspoons sugar 6 tablespoons (90 g) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks 1 cup (135 g) flour 4 large eggs, at room temperature ½ cup (85 g) semisweet chocolate chips ½ cup (60 g) pearl sugar (see Note) Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Heat the water along with the salt, sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan, stirring, until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and dump in all the flour at once. Stir rapidly until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Allow the dough to cool for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to release the heat; then briskly beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the paste is smooth and shiny. Let cool completely to room temperature, then stir in the chocolate chips. If it’s even slightly warm, they’ll melt. Drop mounds of dough, about 2 tablespoons each, on the baking sheet, evenly spaced. Press pearl sugar crystals liberally over the top and sides of each mound. Use a lot and really press them in. Once the puffs expand, you’ll appreciate the extra effort (and sugar). Bake the chouquettes for 35 minutes, or until puffed and well browned. Serve warm or at room temperature. STORAGE: Choquettes are best eaten the same day they’re made. However, once cooled, they can be frozen in a zip-top freezer bag for up to one month. Defrost at room temperature, then warm briefly on a baking sheet in a moderate oven, until crisp.” 0 likes
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