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

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,968 Ratings  ·  1,106 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 HemingwayA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensMy Life in France by Julia ChildThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Books About Paris
25th out of 452 books — 457 voters
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Food-Related Non-Fiction
61st out of 746 books — 1,380 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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.

Marita
Sep 25, 2015 Marita rated it it was ok
This is a mildly amusing account of an American pastry chef's life in a tiny apartment in Paris. O.K. I laughed out loud a couple of times.

However, for the most part the humour is a thin disguise for a great deal of whining. David Lebovitz whinges, amongst other things, about:
The French language and language schools
The lack of manners of Parisians
The hazards of navigating past fellow pedestrians
The poor quality service or complete lack thereof
Strikes
Supermarkets
Coffee
To be fair, he is complimen
...more
Bryan
Feb 10, 2012 Bryan rated it it was ok
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
...more
Sketchbook
Americans, writes the savvy author, don't get out much (Hawaii, the Caribe duz it) and arent good at adapting becos we're rarely in a position that requires this. How come the French in Paris don't speak Americanese? (Can you find an American in the US who speaks French? Gee, it aint fair izzit.) To visit a forn country, you better know the "rules" for the culture. (Americans hate this.) The SF author, a chef, moved to France, started chefing -- and here's a delightful tome on manners avec recip ...more
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
Jaclyn
Nov 27, 2011 Jaclyn rated it really liked it
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
Fabienne
Dec 20, 2011 Fabienne rated it did not like it
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
Antonia
May 15, 2014 Antonia rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
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
...more
Chris
May 01, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lisa
Aug 31, 2009 Lisa rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books, food
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
Thomas
Mar 25, 2013 Thomas rated it really liked it
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
Emily
Dec 07, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
I love David Lebovitz's blog and not a single of his recipes has failed me yet. His blog is www.davidlebovitz.com 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
...more
Benjamin
Jan 24, 2010 Benjamin rated it it was ok
Shelves: recentreads
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
Gwen
Jan 23, 2013 Gwen rated it it was amazing
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
Sarah
Jul 06, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it
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
Mari
Oct 08, 2015 Mari rated it really liked it
Shelves: paris-france
I really loved everything about this book, and apparently food memoirs are a genre I didn't really know existed. Lebovitz is entertaining and his take on the French and French culture had me rolling. Even better were his descriptions of food and RECIPES. I will be making his brownies and hot chocolate regularly. I borrowed this from the library, but I will definitely pick up a copy for keeps.
Jackie
Oct 07, 2015 Jackie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography-memoir
This book incorporates two of my favorite things: humor and food. David Lebovitz's wry comparisons of life in Paris vs. life in just about any American city are giggle-out-loud-worthy, and his adventures in various patisseries, boulangeries, cafes and shops are generally captivating. In particular I got a kick out of the dig on overpriced E. Dehillerin, where my husband and/or I have shopped on every occasion we've been in Paris, to obtain yet another copper pot for our growing collection. Next ...more
Lori
Nov 30, 2011 Lori rated it really liked it
I have read David Lebovitz's blog and various articles by him, but this is the first full book of his that I've ever read and it probably won't be my last. I purchased this as "research" for a recent trip to Paris. I thoroughly enjoyed his musings on the cultural differences an American living in Paris encounters and I can't wait to try some of the recipes which sound divine. At the end he even lists all of his favorite places/resources throughout the city from chocolate shops to bakeries. If yo ...more
Alison G.
Aug 11, 2012 Alison G. rated it really liked it
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
Nicholas
Aug 11, 2014 Nicholas rated it liked it
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
...more
Andie
Apr 26, 2014 Andie rated it really liked it
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
Kats
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.
Megan
Dec 22, 2015 Megan rated it it was amazing
I don't love this book because of the recipes. I love this book because of the wonderful anecdotes David Lebovitz tells between them. I adore the way he personifies Paris. It makes me want to simultaneously live there and run away screaming. This book was fantastic. I loved reading it.
Sarah Mck
May 23, 2015 Sarah Mck rated it liked it
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
Darcy
Jan 09, 2014 Darcy rated it liked it
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
Vylūnė
* as fun as any sitcom joke on cultural stereotypes
* makes a good present for a foodie and i'm not being sarcastic
* bad puns
Erin
Sep 10, 2011 Erin rated it liked it
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
...more
Lorin Kleinman
Jul 28, 2011 Lorin Kleinman rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Sue
Jun 12, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it
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
Chris
Jul 13, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it
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.

H
...more
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Around the Year i...: The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz 1 10 Jan 23, 2016 11:50AM  
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  • Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman's Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker
  • The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School
  • A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table
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  • Paris Was Ours
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  • Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France
  • As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto: Food, Friendship, and the Making of a Masterpiece
  • C'est la Vie: An American Woman Begins a New Life in Paris and--Voila!--Becomes Almost French
  • Shark's Fin And Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China
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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
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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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