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

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  14,047 ratings  ·  1,510 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 12th 2009 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  14,047 ratings  ·  1,510 reviews

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Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

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.

Feb 10, 2012 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
What a thoroughly unpleasant memoir. I don't know what Lebovitz was going for here, but he managed to make Paris sound like a place where you are going to be pushed into the street and everyone is nasty to you no matter what. I read his other memoir and thought it was so good and I loved the recipes. This memoir includes recipes at the end of each chapter and they just don't fit. I don't know what he was going for here with this one, but it just missed it's mark entirely. ...more
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
Nov 29, 2011 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
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
Jul 06, 2011 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
Dec 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
I gave up after 50% as can’t take any more of the author’s whining and complaining about Paris.
May 14, 2014 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
* as fun as any sitcom joke on cultural stereotypes
* makes a good present for a foodie and i'm not being sarcastic
* bad puns
Divyasree P K
Jan 30, 2021 rated it liked it
Having unabashedly binged the Netflix show Emily in Paris just for the city visuals, I wanted some sort of literary escape to Paris which led me to this piece of travel literature-cum-cookbook.

The Sweet Life in Paris is a sarcastic take on the Parisian experiences that the chef-turned-author had after moving there from San Francisco. It brings to focus the typical traits of Parisians that markedly stand out for an expat in Paris. The anecdotes draw upon the author's varied experiences - procurin
Nov 09, 2011 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
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
Dec 07, 2009 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 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
Mar 25, 2013 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
Lubinka Dimitrova
I first got to know David Lebovitz through his amazing recipes, so I subscribed to his blog and follow his posts with great interest. I eagerly expected this book, and now that I've read it, I must admit that it was a delicious experience. While nothing close to humble, he's not the typical arrogant American, and he's funny as hell. I never expected to laugh so much while reading a chef's memoir. His remarks about life in France, and Paris in particular, were insightful, informative, and I suppo ...more
Jan 10, 2010 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
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
3 main takeaways: 1. Parisians are jerks, and I’m scared to go there, 2. French pastries and chocolate are amazing and better than anything you could ever find in the US, and 3. David Lebovitz finds many, many men attractive. (He is gay and literally every chapter will hint and hint at that like someone hitting you in the head with a baguette a million times.) I finished it because I have an upcoming trip to Paris and just wanted to know some tips but as you can probably tell, not my favorite bo ...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. ...more
Jan 23, 2013 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
Aug 11, 2014 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!"

Jordan Lynch
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2017
While I appreciate this true, firsthand account of life in Paris, I didn't really care for the book overall. Some of the chapters were just fine, and I found myself laughing from time to time, but for the most part, the chapters felt long complaints. I'm sure that adjusting to life in a foreign county is difficult, but there have to be some good things about it, otherwise why would you stay? In this case, the good things are the food, and I did enjoy reading about all the fantastic fare Paris ha ...more
Apr 12, 2011 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.
Mar 07, 2012 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
Sep 23, 2015 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
Oct 03, 2015 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. ...more
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Funny, and so tasty too!
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was quite fun to read in transit to Paris and while in Paris. Highly recommended prior to a Paris trip!
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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 o
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Around the Year i...: The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz 1 16 Jan 23, 2016 11:50AM  

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David Lebovitz is a sought-after cooking instructor with an award-winning food blog ( Trained as a pastry chef in France and Belgium, David worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California for twelve years. He now lives in Paris, France, where he leads culinary tours of the city.

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His Favorite Cookbooks: The author of My Paris Kitchen, a Choice Finalist for Best Food & Cookbooks, offers some mouth-watering picks.
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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.” 4 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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