Find your next favorite book

Become a member today and read free for 30 days
Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate)

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate)

Read preview

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate)

ratings:
3.5/5 (29 ratings)
Length:
270 pages
4 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Feb 1, 2012
ISBN:
9781402264122
Format:
Book

Description

"Feels appropriate to indulge in this sweet and sometimes savory read while filming [in Paris]! I'm loving every tip and recommendation I read and cannot help but feel Emily would too."—Lily Collins, star of Emily in Paris (via Instagram)

Forever a girl obsessed with all things French, sweet freak Amy Thomas landed a gig as rich as the purest dark chocolate: leave Manhattan and move to Paris to write ad copy for Louis Vuitton. Working on the Champs-Élysées, strolling the charming streets, and exploring the best patisseries and boulangeries, Amy marveled at the magnificence of the City of Light.

But does falling in love with one city mean turning your back on another? As much as Amy adored Paris, there was part of her that felt like a humble chocolate chip cookie in a sea of pristine macarons. Paris, My Sweet explores how the search for happiness can be as fleeting as a salted caramel souffle's rise, as intensely satisfying as molten chocolate cake, and about how the life you're meant to live doesn't always taste like the one you envisioned.

Part love letter to Paris, part love letter to New York, and total devotion to all things sweet, Paris, My Sweet is perfect for fans of Emily in Paris and a treasure map for anyone with a hunger for life.

Praise for Paris, My Sweet:

"From the New York cupcake wars to the perfect Parisian macaron, Thomas's passion is palpable, her sweet tooth, unstoppable."
Elizabeth Bard, bestselling author of Lunch in Paris

"Like a tasty Parisian bonbon, this book is filled with sweet surprises."
David Lebovitz, New York Times bestselling author of The Sweet Life in Paris

"Amy Thomas seduces us in the same manner that Paris seduced her—one exquisite morsel at a time."
Nichole Robertson, author of Paris in Color

Publisher:
Released:
Feb 1, 2012
ISBN:
9781402264122
Format:
Book

About the author

Amy Thomas is a New York–based writer who, for two lucky years, got to call Paris home. In addition to working as a copywriter in advertising, she writes about food, travel, design, and fashion for various publications such as the New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Town & Country, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. She is slightly obsessed with sweets.


Related to Paris, My Sweet

Related Books

Related Articles

Related categories

Book Preview

Paris, My Sweet - Amy Thomas

Copyright

Copyright © 2012 by Amy Thomas

Cover and internal design © 2012 by Sourcebooks, Inc.

Cover design by Jennifer K. Beal Davis

Map illustrations © Gary Hovland

Sourcebooks and the colophon are registered trademarks of Sourcebooks, Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

This book is a memoir. It reflects the author’s present recollections of experiences over a period of years. Some names and characteristics have been changed, some events have been compressed, and some dialogue has been re-created.

Published by Sourcebooks, Inc.

P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410

(630) 961-3900

Fax: (630) 961-2168

www.sourcebooks.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Thomas, Amy

Paris, my sweet : a love letter in madeleines, chocolate, and croissants / Amy Thomas.

p. cm.

(pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Pastry--France--Paris--Guidebooks. 2. Paris (France)—Guidebooks. I. Title.

TX773.T494 2012

641.86’50944361—dc23

2011042786

Front Cover

Title Page

Copyright

Author’s Note

Prelude: Le Tour du Chocolat

Chapter 1: A Whole New Batch of Bonbons

Chapter 2: Cupcakes—The Comfort of Home

Chapter 3: Stick-to-Your-Teeth Hot Cocoa

Chapter 4: Bonding Over French Viennoiseries

Chapter 5: The Big Apple Does Macarons

Chapter 6: Crumbling Over Perfection

Chapter 7: Cakes to be Loved and Cherished

Chapter 8: A Good Chocolate Chip Cookie Is Hard to Find

Chapter 9: The Ecstasy of Madeleines and Muffins

Chapter 10: Carrot Cake Is the New Banana Cake

Chapter 11: Resurrection Comes from Baba au Rhum

Chapter 12: French Toast or Pain Perdu, That Is the Question

Chapter 13: One of Life’s Best Surprises: The Baker’s Dozen

List of Bakeries

About the Author

Paris Map

NYC Map

Back Cover

To my dear family and friends in the States, who always supported me and enthused about my life abroad, but lured me back with their love.

To my new friends in Paris, who kept me sane and made the experience richer than ever expected.

To everyone who shared my adventure on the blog, cheering me on, offering support, and writing to me over the years. Your words meant more than you’ll ever know.

To all the brilliant bakers, pâtissiers, and chocolatiers who took the time to share their stories and indulge my curiosity.

To Jessica Papin and Shana Drehs, who, through a special confluence of forces, made sure this book happened.

And to Allyson and Fred, without whom there would never have been a story to tell.

Merci.

Nine of every ten persons say they love chocolate. The tenth lies.

—Anthelme Brillat-Savrin

"And I have the firm belief in this now, not only in terms of my own experience but in knowing about the experience of others, that when you follow your bliss, doors will open where you would not have thought there were going to be doors and where there wouldn’t be a door for anybody else.

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track, which has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living."

—Joseph Campbell

Your good friend has just taken a piece of cake out of the garbage and eaten it. You will probably need this information when you check me into the Betty Crocker Clinic.

—Miranda to Carrie on Sex and the City

Some names have been changed to protect people’s privacy.

I guess you could say my story began with a bicycle and some bonbons. At the time, it just seemed like a fun summer vacation: it was 2008, and I did an apartment swap with someone in Paris. I had already visited earlier that year, but what can I say? When the invitation to spend time in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) comes knocking, my first response is "pourquoi pas?"

I’ve just always been one of those girls. I spent a college semester in Paris, and it was then I fell in love with the city’s beauty and grace—and Nutella street crepes. When I returned to the States, I wore silk scarves and a black beret; the only thing missing from my clichéd uniform were the Gauloises cigarettes.

I binged on French films, schooling myself in nouvelle vague directors, falling especially hard for Eric Rohmer, before contemporary movies like The City of Lost Children and Amélie seduced me. I studied the Lost Generation, reading Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Janet Flanner, and built a mini-library so I’d never be far from Paris. I had books about cats in Paris, dogs in Paris, expats in Paris; Parisian interiors, Parisian gardens, and Parisian cuisine, organized by neighborhood; bistros of Paris, pâtisseries of Paris, and shopping in Paris. I became a regular at a café in my neighborhood in San Francisco simply because it served café au lait in little bowls instead of mugs, and I had more Eiffel Tower tchotchkes than I am comfortable admitting.

I was just another Francophile, like you. Until that summer of 2008.

That trip was the first time I was in Paris during the summer, and it was absolutely amazing. I loved that it was light out until after 10:00 p.m., giving me several extra hours to roam back-alley streets and sit by the Seine. I was excited to discover new neighborhoods like Bercy and Canal Saint-Martin and new bistronomy restaurants like Le Verre Volé and Le Comptoir du Relais. I got sucked into the semi-annual sales, les soldes, and hooked on Vélib’s, the public bike-sharing system.

And then there were all the chocolatiers.

By that time, I was just as obsessed with sweets as I was Paris. I had a column in Metro newspaper called Sweet Freak and a blog by the same name. I knew every bakery, dessert bar, gelateria, tea salon, and chocolatier in New York City. When I traveled, I built my itinerary around a town’s must-visit sweet spots.

So naturally during that week in Paris, I researched the city’s best chocolatiers, mapped out a circuit, and then Vélib’ed between eight of them. It was exhilarating and exhausting, not to mention decadent. It was a chocoholic’s dream ride. I wrote about my Tour du Chocolat for the New York Times, and it went on to become a top-ten travel story for the year. As I was secretly plotting a way to spend more time eating chocolate in Paris, the in-house recruiter of the ad agency where I worked casually walked into my office one day and asked if I wanted to move to Paris. I was getting transferred to write copy for the iconic fashion label Louis Vuitton. It all happened so suddenly, and seemed so magical, that I had to ask: was Paris my destiny or sheer force of will?

I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you. You search for answers. You wonder what it all means. You stumble, and you soar. And, if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while. Here’s what happened when I did.

Can one question change your life? I’m willing to bet a twenty-five-piece box of Jean-Paul Hévin bonbons on it.

In the fall of 2008, I was sitting in my office, living what I considered to be a pretty great life. I was single, owned a cute apartment in the East Village, and I was braving New York’s dating scene. I had the best friends in the world and a jam-packed social calendar. I enjoyed my job as an advertising copywriter. But what I really loved were my moonlighting dalliances: exploring bakeries, dessert bars, gelaterias, and chocolate boutiques and documenting my delicious discoveries for my Sweet Freak blog and Metro newspaper column, along with other local magazines and newspapers. You could say my life was good: easy, fun, comfortable.

I was enjoying my afternoon bonbon (a piece of 78 percent dark chocolate, hand-delivered by my boss who had brought it back from a business trip to Germany; it had these lovely little bits of cocoa that added a nice semi-crunchy texture to the sharp flavor). I was definitely coasting. My creative directors at Ogilvy & Mather, the agency where I worked, always made sure I wasn’t overloaded. Which was a good thing since my best friend, AJ, and I were often in the habit of lingering over kir royales at Keith McNally’s fabulous Meatpacking District bistro, Pastis, until 2:00 a.m. On that particular autumn day, I was wondering if Rafaa, the Romanian gazillionaire I had met the night before, was going to call when Allyson, the agency’s in-house recruiter, walked into my office.

What do you think about Paris? she asked, pausing in the doorway to adjust her Ugg boot. I was surprised to see her. I had been with Ogilvy for two years, so there was rarely a reason for her to come into my office. I put the chocolate aside—already looking forward to getting back to its thin, almost-bitter bite later—and gave her my full attention.

Why, are you going over for vacation? I asked, her visit suddenly making sense. A few months prior, I had spent a week in Paris, touring the best chocolatiers on the city’s Vélib’s—three-speed bicycles stationed all over the city that, for just a euro a day, were there for the taking and leaving. It was genius because it not only allowed me to hit up multiple chocolatiers each day, but also kept my annihilation of the bonbons from going straight to my ass. After my return, three colleagues who were planning trips to Paris had asked me for my must-eat-sweets itinerary. I thought Allyson might be a sweet freak too.

No, she said, brushing her bangs out of her eyes, still all nonchalant as she took a seat in front of me. Well, actually, they’re looking for an English-speaking writer in the Paris office. Pause. Our eyes locked. I thought of you. We both started to smile. On the Louis Vuitton account, she finished dramatically.

I spun myself around in my Aeron chair and laughed. "What? They’re looking for an English-speaking writer in Paris? To work on Louis Vuitton? And you’re asking me?" That elicited three nods from Allyson, and suddenly my life was changing.

The next few months were a blur of interviews, portfolio reviews, negotiations, and paperwork. They were also an emotional roller coaster. Of course I wanted to go live in Paris and work with one of the best fashion houses in the world. What Louboutin-loving, Coco-worshipping, macaron addict wouldn’t? But what about my cute East Village co-op that my dad, an interior designer, and I had just finished decorating? What about my New York-based freelance network? And my Sweet Freak column? What about my circle of friends who, after having graduated from our roaring twenties to our (more or less) refined thirties, were now my modern family? And my crazy black tabby cat, Milo? What about him? Would I have to leave him behind, or could I get a French work visa pour deux?

As I waited forever for an official offer—a little preview of the maddeningly slow pace in Paris—my enthusiasm ebbed and flowed. When I wasn’t mentally plotting shopping sprees in the Haut Marais or sunset picnics in the Jardin du Luxembourg, I was hoping the whole thing would fall apart. That way, I wouldn’t have to make a decision at all and I could stay in New York, not because I was too chicken to leave, but because circumstances beyond my control kept me there. I read the same ambivalence in my friends’ faces. Every time I told a close friend—for, being slightly superstitious, I had been guarding the potential move to Paris from most people in case it fell through—I felt a pang as I watched their face cycle through the emotions: shock, awe, thrill, disbelief, despondence, acceptance, and, finally, enthusiasm.

Although, when I told Rachel Zoe Insler, the chocolatier who had just opened a chocolate boutique in my neighborhood, Bespoke Chocolates, her face immediately shone with envy.

The first time I bit into one of Rachel’s truffles, I was instantly smitten. But the first time I met her, I was charmed. She’s got the smarts and talent of a chocolatier trained in London, but the cool, down-to-earth vibe of someone who can cop to loving Tasti D-Lite frozen dessert. How could someone who produces such exquisite specimens of chocolate be so…ordinary? I wondered. Every time I visited her chocolate shop, tucked in a hidden alley off First Street, she’d be wearing yoga pants and clogs, hair pulled back in a bandana, Jack Johnson playing on iTunes. Shortly after she opened her boutique, we had bonded by sharing our childhood sweets obsessions: hers, Baskin-Robbins bubble gum ice cream, and mine, cream-filled Hostess CupCakes. So ordinary.

Rachel had lived in the East Village for years—the only thing that gave her edge. Or so I thought, until I learned about her European training and tasted her amazing chocolates. Here, she said on one of my early visits, handing me a 70 percent Colombian dark chocolate truffle. Let’s start simple.

It was impossibly creamy, a real melt-in-your-mouth gem. Good grief, that’s amazing, Rachel. She smiled and nodded in agreement. I guess she knew she had a hopeless devotee on her hands. She indulged my insatiability and curiosity by feeding me new flavors on every subsequent visit.

Oh, that’s a good one, I responded to the zingy and aromatic Southampton tea truffle, picking up on hints of apricot in the Ceylon tea. Heaven, I moaned, gripping the marble countertop where she mixed and tempered her bonbons, after tasting the strawberry balsamic truffle, made with strawberry purée, eight-year-old La Vecchia Dispensa Italian balsamic vinegar, and 66 percent dark chocolate, which was then dusted with freeze-dried strawberry powder.

It wasn’t until I knew for certain that I was trading the East Village for the Right Bank that I sampled Rachel’s masterpiece: her signature pretzel-covered, sea-salted caramel that had crackly, salty pretzel bits coating the 66 percent cocoa shell and creamy caramel center. Pop the whole thing in your mouth since it’s really liquidy caramel inside, she instructed. I obliged, her eager guinea pig. Sweet-salty had by then become a really popular combination, practiced by everyone from fellow chocolatier Rhonda Kave, who had a small shop, Roni-Sue, in the Lower East Side’s Essex Street Market, to Pichet Ong, who had once been Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s pastry chef and had gone on to open a succession of bakeries and dessert bars downtown. But Rachel’s salty-sweet, one-two punch was absolutely sublime.

It’s the caramel, I gushed. The texture. It sort of blends both extremes into a big gooey mess of deliciousness that melts on your tongue. She laughed at my professional explanation. Do you think they have anything like this in Paris? I asked, licking flicks of caramel left on my fingertips.

It’s probably a little too messy for the French.

True, I said, while Rachel kindly pointed to her chin, indicating to me that I had a string of caramel there. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, I continued, dotting my face clean. It’s going to be hard being so prim and proper all the time.

She was looking at me, slightly confused. What are you talking about?

So I shared my back-and-forth, wait-and-see drama of the past several months, and she started buzzing with excitement. Oh my god, that’s incredible! You have to promise you’ll sample every last chocolate in Paris, she said. "No, every last chocolate in France. In Europe!" she laughed. Deal, I told her. Fifteen minutes later I said good-bye, buoyed by her enthusiasm and my box of six assorted bonbons.

When I shared the news with AJ, my best friend of twenty-five years, that I had finally received a formal offer, it was a whole different story. I could barely even look at her.

Seriously? she choked, both on my news and on a cupcake crumb.

I know, can you believe it? We were sitting on a bench outside Billy’s Bakery, a Magnolia Bakery spin-off (or rip-off, depending whom you asked, seeing as it was started by an ex-employee of the famed West Village bakery and had the same retro vibe and menu going on, right down to the ratio of Nilla Wafers in the giant vats of creamy banana pudding). The advantage of Billy’s was that the Sex and the City tour buses didn’t stop here, so we weren’t confronted with our embarrassing Jersey alter egos. It was also right around the corner from AJ’s Chelsea walk-up. We often treated ourselves to a Sunday sweet, either doing new recon for my Sweet Freak column or indulging at one of our old faithfuls: City Bakery or here at Billy’s. It was our time to catch up on the week and recount the previous night’s antics if we had been brave or desperate enough to take on Manhattan’s Saturday night scene.

Every time we were at Billy’s, AJ got the banana cupcake with cream cheese frosting, a house specialty. I usually felt it my duty to try something new—like the Hello Dolly, a graham-cracker-crusted bar, layered with a tooth-achingly sweet mélange of chocolate chips, pecans, butterscotch, and coconut, perhaps a big old slice of German chocolate cake, or just a modest sugar-dusted snickerdoodle. But today—out of alliance or nervousness, I wasn’t sure—I had also ordered a banana cupcake: a wise choice, as it was especially spongy and fresh. I was licking the frosting off my fingertips, watching the stream of yellow cabs zooming down Ninth Avenue, while AJ quietly contemplated my news.

Wow. No. She sat gazing down at her empty cupcake wrapper, the nutty cake and creamy frosting long gone. Of course I had told her months ago they were looking for writers in Paris and that I was the lead candidate. She had been privy to the blow-by-blow interviewing, negotiating, contract drafting, and waiting over the past few months. But it had taken so long, I don’t think either of us thought an official offer letter would ever come through and the move would actually happen.

We’d had a nearly identical conversation earlier that year when AJ interviewed for a job in Venice. In fact, our lives had been eerily parallel since we met on the first day of seventh grade, skinny eleven-year-olds in the Connecticut burbs, sitting near each other during gym class roll call. AJ’s family had just moved to town from Iowa. At the time, I didn’t know that her giant blue eyes and impossibly friendly attitude were

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1

Reviews

What people think about Paris, My Sweet

3.5
29 ratings / 26 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    Paris: City of Light, macarons and perfect baguettes. Transplant a New Yorker to Paris and you get the the juxtaposition of madelein to muffin, gateaux to cupcake. Each has a place in the orbit of the universe (most readily in my tummy.) Amy Thomas takes the reader along as she lives abroad, in what could be viewed as the perfect job, and explores the city of her dreams, one bakery at a time. Yet she also loves New York, and having lived, written, and nibbled there, invites the reader on that journey, too. The book folds Amy's memoirs into a layered delight with exploration of places to find the most tempting taste treats in both cities. Her own story is the ganache between the two, with a decorative flourish of some of her favorite establishments in each city,capping the end of each chapter like a perfect dark chocolate swirl.I'll admit it: there were moments when the memoir grabbed me more, others where my stomach lusted for sipping chocolate, or a rich, buttery, flaky croissant. I even put down the book and baked a batch of cookies at one point. But I came away less satisfied, in general, than I thought I would at the beginning of the book. Perhaps if tucked between the pages were tickets to either city? Or perhaps if I had the opportunities to retrace some of the travels? I've never been good at reading guidebooks for places I couldn't visit, so this was a bit frustrating. However, I live in a city of gastronomic wonders, and I have plenty of exploring left to do.
  • (4/5)
    Reading this memoir, it’s easy to fall in love with Paris as Amy Thomas sees it. She has a way of describing food not just as the fuel the body needs to survive but rather as something to be savoured and revered.As a lover of all things sweet and a desire to travel all over the world, at times it felt like this book was speaking directly to me. Amy Thomas, a thirty-five year old career woman who enjoys the single life in New York City gets the opportunity to live in Paris for a year. With the help of a Vélib, Amy travels all over Paris and experiences all the chocolate shops, bakeries and pastry stores that the City of Light has to offer. This book is part memoir, part guidebook. At the end of each chapter Thomas gives a brief selection of venues in both New York City and Paris that offer some of the delicacies mentioned previously in the chapter. There are a lot of French terms mentioned in story. I was over eager and looked up what they meant only to find a definition of sorts in the next paragraph. Whilst some may say there was too many foreign terms, I appreciated the chance to indulge my inquisitive side and felt better educated by the end of it. D’accord?Amy as a narrator is fantastic. She’s romantic and shows Paris off in a way that you the reader can tell it’s a place she treasures. The beauty of the food and the city are written about with such passion and detail that I could almost believe I’d been there. At the same time, she doesn’t gloss over the negatives – like the pigeons and the unsmiling locals. She describes it in it’s whole. I also liked her attitude towards life – she’s practical and doesn’t take her situation for granted. I love how brave she was to take this chance and I also adored that despite the indulgence of the food, she doesn’t take it for granted.Whilst reading this book I kept going online and sneaking peeks at Thomas’ blog, SweetFreak. Between the pictures there and the way the chocolates, cupcakes and other delicious morsels were written about, I was in food heaven. It’s a good thing that window shopping (so to speak) is fat-free. It was enough to both make me extremely hungry and at the same time dissatisfied with all the food options I had in my house. I was craving a Pain au chocolat from Paris, a banana cupcake from New York or another of other sweets that I’d just read about.If I lived in New York or Paris (or was planning a trip to either city in the future) I’d be including at least one or two of the stores Amy Thomas wrote about!
  • (4/5)
    (I’ve read so many great books about Paris during this wonderful month of Paris in July that I’m a little nervous about mixing up my plots. Paris My Sweet is yet another one.)Amy Thomas (get ready for the swell of covetousness that is about to overtake you) goes to Paris to write ad copy for Louis Vuitton. That’s an actual job, people. And the job is in Paris. But if you have read a single moving-and-starting-over book about Paris then you know the sad truth is that even in Paris one has trials. Even if one is making one’s living writing ad copy for Louis Vuitton. Even if one is living in an amazing apartment with a view of Sacré-Cœur. Even if one works from an office on the Champs-Élysées. Even if one spends one’s after work hours perusing the wonderful sweet shops in Paris. Yes, poor Amy Thomas can’t find a decent French boyfriend. We all have our trials.Fortunately, she finds consolation in the amazing sweets and she shares all that deliciousness in this little memoir. Read it. It is yummy.
  • (3/5)
    Always great to read about living in Paris, although after reading this and Rosecranz Baldwin's "Paris, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" and Gopnick's "Paris to the Moon", I long for a story of someone more like me - not a well-to-do, thirty-something, Manhattanite with a glamourous job in Paris. The thirty-something part is OK as at least I have been that. How about a person eager to stay in Paris, even without a decent apartment or a real job, trying to extend their carte de sejour and make enough money to enjoy sitting for hours at a cafe nursing one grande creme?
  • (3/5)
    I think my experience with reading this book is much akin to a crumble; I somehow expected the story to end with a tidy bow wrapped up in an exquisite architecture of sugar. Alas, the messy, jumbled ending reminds me that real life is often like that - imperfect, unrefined, and haphazard. I appreciated the honesty of her struggles to fit in and could almost feel the pull of each of her lives waiting to be claimed across the Atlantic. I would love to see a Part Two to get a peek at where she is now!
  • (4/5)
    A must-read if you love bakeries, sweet treats and exploring European cities
  • (3/5)
    2-1/2*Memoir written by an American woman who had the opportunity to work for Louis Vuitton and live in Paris for two years. She shares her doubts as a mid-30s woman who has always put career first and now faces some angst in being single as she sees all of her friends pairing off and starting their families. She has an obsession with pastries and sweets and turned that into a blog and eventually this book. This falls into the same genre as Eat, Pray, Love. I knew this going into it. I wish I would have followed my instincts and put the book back down. The cover drew me in. This was not my cup of tea. I found it quite boring, unfortunately, although it would have made a great travel guide for foodies visiting NYC or Paris...back in 2008. A lot of the bakeries and boulangeries she mentions are probably out of business by now.
  • (4/5)
    The author's descriptions of the pastries she loves so much are sensual and evocative, and at times rhapsodic. So are her descriptions of Paris, a city she adores. This memoir avoids being sticky sweet, though, because of Thomas's sharp wit and self awareness, making for a thoroughly enjoyable read, even for someone who doesn't like cupcakes.
  • (3/5)
    When Thomas talks about food, especially the sweets she loves so much, the book held my interest (even if some of her thoughts, especially those about places in New York, seem more like excerpts from her other writings than part of an integrated narrative). But when she focuses on herself and her pre-mid-life crisis, the story drags. I can understand feeling lost and alone in a foreign country, but going on at length about her issues doesn't solve anything (as she concludes at least 50 pages too late). I also wish she devoted more attention to some of her side trips to the countryside, instead of citing them in passing as reasons to be happy about her Parisian life ... but that could be just me being a greedy Francophile!
  • (3/5)
    If you're a foodie you are going to enjoy this book. If you love New York and/or Paris (even if you've never been there!), you're going to enjoy this book. I loved all the foodie references and and the little peeks into little known parts of both cities. I wish I could have warmed up to the writer a little more. For someone with all she has going for her, she seemed pretty immature and whiny to me which distracted from this lovely little book.
  • (4/5)
    Amy Thomas's descriptions of sweets throughout Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate)are absolutely mouth watering. Given the chance to return to Paris for a job opportunity, Thomas packs her bags and moves her life from New York to Paris. Throughout the book, she does a tantalizing job of describing the bakeries she visits throughout Paris and the numerous sweets she enjoys. I enjoyed reading about her experiences of living in Paris and her exploration of the sweets Paris has to offer. She also provides stories of bakeries and sweets in New York, and it was interesting to read the similarities and differences between desserts and bakeries in Paris and New York. While some of the narrative surrounding her personal life dragged, the love affair she has with Paris and sweets shown through and made for an enjoyable read.
  • (4/5)
    What seemed at first like a little slip of a book about eating wonderful sweets in Paris, was actually about not just that, but her life in NYC, eating sweets, where her heart truly lies in regards to most any life topic, eating sweets, her health woes (hit pretty close to home, I have to say), and oh yeah, eating wonderful sweets! At times I wanted to shake her to "snap out of it", but I can't say that being in similar situations myself that I haven't felt the same way. It was a great way to visit NYC and to re-visit Paris from my little couch; all in all, it's a real treat!
  • (4/5)
    Amy Thomas was living in New York City, working for an advertising agency, writing a blog and a newspaper column for The Metro (one of NYCs free morning newspapers that is handed to people when they leave their subway stations on their way to work). Her blog and column were about the many bakeries, chocolate shops, cookie and cupcake places and desert bars in NYC that she would visit to sample their wares. Her job transfers her to Paris to write copy for their Louis Vuitton ad campaign. She will be working out of the Louis Vuitton offices.Thomas had been in love with Paris since her junior year semester abroad that she spent there. She decides that she will spend her free time in Paris biking to as many patiseries and chocolate shops as she possibly can. Between descriptions of mouth watering desserts and chocolates Thomas complains about being lonely, being single, going through early menopause and being unable to afford the 3,500 Euro Louis Vuitton bag she wants (because she doesn't get an LV discount). Thomas compares the pastry and chocolate shops of Paris to their NYC counterparts. The best part of the book is the list of shops in Paris (where I plan to visit) and NYC (where I live). I've lived in NYC most of my life and have only heard of 20% of the places discussed in the book. I'm definitely going to be checking out some of these shops (if they're still in business). The Paris list will come in handy when traveling to that city.Recommended for the food parts of the book
  • (4/5)
    Really enjoyed this one, & not just because I'm going to Paris on vacation & appreciate all the sweet recommendations! The only thing that struck me as slightly odd was that it's called "Paris My Sweet" & it's really a comparison of Paris & New York. The dessert tips for both cities are mouth-watering, though, so I'm not going to quibble too much. I really got caught up in Amy Thomas' story. As a single 40+ woman, it was good to read about someone else with the same kind of lifestyle & the same kind of worries - & to have the book not wind up with the author meeting the man of her dreams was so heartening to this reader. What I'll take from this book is the yummy memories & this quote: "..at thirty-seven my life clearly looked nothing like the one my younger self had envisioned. But sometimes you want things just because you think you're supposed to. & sometimes it's the things you never even knew you wanted that give your life the most meaning."
  • (2/5)
    Amy, a 37-year old writer, gets the opportunity of a lifetime: an invitation to move to Paris to copywrite for a prominent advertising agency's Louis Vuitton account while also pursuing her passion for sampling--and writing about--the city's best sweets. On page 199 of this memoir, Amy is given the advice to enjoy the sweetness of her life in Paris. I only wish that she had taken this advice to heart prior to the book's final chapters. In the first two thirds of the memoir, Amy paints an atrocious portrait of herself that is unpleasant to read. She's a snob who detests tourists who flock to Magnolia Bakery because they were inspired by Sex and the City, while in the same breath idolizing the show, recapping scenes from certain episodes in detail. She is full of self pity and self loathing. She whines endlessly about her life, while reminiscing about the Jetta she drove in high school. She hems and haws about whether to head to Paris, because she'salready cozily established in a professionally decorated apartment in New York's pricey Greenwich Village neighborhood. The cost of abandoning her apartment for two years never seems to factor into her pro and con lists. She has a cushy, albeit somewhat unsatisfying, Madison Avenue ad writing job and she cringingly compares herself to friends who are unemployed, as though they suffer the same lot. There are a number of difficult-to-read digs at loved ones and ugly jealously toward loyal friends who find happiness in relationships while Amy remains single (having chosen to have left several long term relationships). These elements are sure to turn many readers off, especially given that Amy's growth into optimism and nascent self-awareness arrives so late in the narrative.This is unfortunate because Amy's narrative about learning to understand Parisian culture bit by bit is compelling. She succeeds in making the experience of exploring Paris by bike, and sampling each arrondissement's artisanal food shops, come alive. Her writing about food is confident and significant; foodies with a sweet tooth, who can stomach all the negativity, will enjoy joyful and colorful descriptions of innumerable desserts consumed in both in New York and Paris. I loved her written portraits of prominent chocolatiers and bakers. Travelers will enjoy her recommendations of where to go and what to try in both cities.
  • (4/5)
    MY THOUGHTSLOVED ITAfter getting her dream job in Paris, writing copy for Louis Vuitton, Francophile, Amy Thomas, finds that the grass may not be as green as it should be. Oh, it is green alright, but like all good things, even chocolate, you can overdose. So when Amy's dream job starts to dump on her, she tries to stand up for herself and well, she finally realizes that her golden ring of a job is more brass. She discusses using a bike as transportation around town and her descriptions of the major bakeries and their wares will make your mouth water. I was dying for some chocolate truffles, maybe some tarts, and for sure a nice loaf of French bread. I never knew there were so many different kinds! Of course, at 36, no 37, years old, her friends are married and having kids, so when a health crisis develops she really must decide if children are in her future. Her parents come to visit and there are some really funny moments. She does become very introspective at this point. Where the book truly shines is when she raves about the sweets and how she hunts them down. Her searches around New York are amazingly descriptive and it would be wonderful to plan a trip around some of the places she mentions. Some of the things she talks about (cupcake bubble anyone?) are really insightful and I would weigh a billions pounds by eating all of the things she writes about. Truly a wonderful read about sweets and how to get through life in a new country by yourself.
  • (4/5)
    Wow!!! Can you say sweet??? This book was delicious, not only the book but the descriptions of all the deserts, especially the chocolate ones. But then the cupcakes sounded pretty good too. I guess I have to say that I am glad that I don't live in New York or Paris, the temptation would just be way to much for me to bear...I loved this book and if you like the sweet side of life you need to read this book too!!
  • (4/5)
    Amy Thomas is a writer who lives in New York and owner of the blog Sweet Freak©. Paris, My Sweet is her story about how she got to live her dream. Not only living in Paris for a year, but also working for one of the top designers. And along the way checking out some of the best chocolatiers in the world.I don't speak French nor have I ever been to Paris, but I have always want to visit. Like Ms. Thomas I'm a bit of a sweet fanatic. So, while this book isn't my normal genre - it was the perfect read for me.I loved this book! Paris & desserts - what more can you ask for. I pretty much drooled my way through Paris, My Sweet. It was delectably delicious. Ms. Thomas's writing is fresh and fun. I adored the details. The author writes in a way that makes you feel like you are in Paris too. Experiencing everything as she does. This is a must read for foodies and travel fans.
  • (4/5)
    After a semester in France years ago and a summer in Paris in 2008, Amy was, without question, just a little obsessed with all things French. Yet, she loves a great deal about her life working and living in New York City. Her job as a advertising copywriter, her friends, her cat, her cute East Village apartment..not to mention an intimate knowledge of every bakery and chocolatier in the city...makes for a good life. But when the chance arises to take a temporary assignment in the City of Light, and delicious desserts, writing ad copy for Louis Vuitton, of course she can not say no.The question becomes will she even want to come back "home". Or actually, maybe what makes a place home.I am not usually a big fan of memoirs. But, I must say I was won over by the promise of descriptions of all sorts of sweet and delicious treats, on both sides of the ocean, and this book did not disappoint in keeping that promise. I do not share Ms. Thomas love of Paris (OK, maybe because I have never been there) but the descriptions of food in this book are so well done, so wonderful, that it could have me packing my bag and buying a black beret for the trip.Ms. Thomas loves food and she excels at writing about it. The descriptions will have your mouth watering and, without a doubt, those parts are my favorite part of the book. Happily, there are a lot of them.But the author also write some very interesting observation about the city and her life there and about it's inhabitants. Again, she is very good at putting us right there as she peddles around on her Vélib', a bicycle for Paris bike sharing system. We are there as she finds the best macarons in the world or shows the city off to her visiting mother and step-father and while she deals with the difficulties of making friends, let alone finding true love, in a culture with some significant differences from the Big Apple.If you live in New York or Paris, or plan to visit either, and have a sweet tooth, this is a book that you will want to pick up. It is fun..and delicious. The lists of 'must visit' places and the cute little maps will be priceless, whether you search out just one or every single one on the list. But even if you never step a foot in either, this is still a fun read, one best read on a full stomach, and yet one with a bit of a serious note too.What will it be for her, NY or Paris?Will she find true love.Well, you will have to pick up a copy and check it out to find out!
  • (5/5)
    I got this book through Early Reviewers, and I absolutely adored it! Great descriptions, and I liked the recommendations on where to get really good sweets. By the end of the book I really wanted to go to Paris, get a Velib, and sample some of the food she described!
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed the author's style - reminded me of Bryson's travel books, which is definitely a good thing. Reading this made me miss France and want lovely viennoiseries, and inspired a walk to a French bakery in the neighborhood.
  • (1/5)
    I stopped reading this at the 50% point. Too many references to sex and the city. -whine whine whine- my life in Paris sucks. Whatever.
  • (2/5)
    I won this as a goodreads giveaway. Unfortunately I didn't like this book much. I did a lot of skimming. It would appeal to anyone who shares the author's interest in sweets, New York and Paris. Unfortunately, I am not in that category.
  • (2/5)
    Love Paris, but this book just wasn't for me. There were some good descriptions about some of the areas, but, I really thought is was going to be so much more interesting and fun. The comparisons between Paris and New York were cool to read about, how popular items in each city are crossing the ocean. There are many books about Paris that are much better.
  • (2/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I'm a sucker for almost any book about living in Paris, but this one was so lame and so badly written that it was almost painful to read. It really isn't about living in Paris at all. It's about the cosmic angst of a thirty-something woman who seems to have the emotional maturity of a 12-year old. At least I thought the list of restaurants & patisseries would be useful, but on checking them out, mot are nothing to right home about either. If you love Paris avoid this book.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    I've been reading this book on and off for a few months, treating it like one of the fabulous New York or Paris deserts the author is a master of.

    Though I would have preferred more of Paris, and the book is mostly of the City of Light, this is really the story of a coming of self, if not of age ;-)

    There is a tug of war in Amy Thomas' heart, and stomach.

    Because, so there's no doubt, this is also a book about sweets. ALL kinds, beyond what I could have imagined existed. Amy provides history, of the two competing cities in her heart, and of many many of the desert creations she craves.

    Not so much a straight out adventure story set in Paris, as a personal revelation revealed in Paris (via contrast to NY).

    Amy also provides quite a list of sweet shops in both cities at the end of the book.

    All in all, very much enjoyed this very sweetly written book. :-)