Working as a journalist in New York City, Amy Thomas is given a job offer dreams are made of. A year to work on a marketing campaign for Louis Vuitton in Paris, France. As a self-proclaimed Francophile, Thomas only slightly hesitates before accepting a position that takes her across the ocean. Despite her wanderlust with the city of light, Thomas’ love affair with Paris isn’t 100% as sweet as promised.
I think it was this paragraph that first drew me into this book:
…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, patisseries of Paris, and shopping in Paris.
I think I’m about a few books shy of mirroring her collection of books on Paris in my own little California apartment. Much of Thomas’ love for Paris is driven by her sweet-tooth, namely for chocolates. Although I’m not really a sweets type of girl, I did admire her ardent determination to explore and sample from nearly every single patisserie in both Paris and New York. This book is chock-full of cafes and bakeries in both New York and Paris. It’s definitely a wonderful resource for anyone traveling to either of those two cities with the intent of gorging on sweets.
I’m more of a pastry girl, I’ll take a croissant or danish over a chocolate cake any day. I still remember wandering the Rue Cler, going to a different bakery every morning until I found one right on the corner of Rue Saint Dominique and Blvd du Tour-Maubourg that had the best apricot croissants. That’s the fun of Paris. There is good food, everywhere. Not to mention the Rue Cler had one of the best open markets in the city. That’s where I ate my first macaron. I’ve been searching endlessly for bakeries in the Bay Area that sell macarons. They are very few and far between and nowhere near as good as the ones in Paris. The best that I’ve found come from Le Boulange Bakery, and Masse’s Pastries. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.
What I really liked about Amy’s memoir is that it provided a very new perspective to Paris. As a single girl in her 30s, Thomas didn’t move to Paris because of love, or marriage. She moved there for work, and her experiences of trying to fit in were more interesting as she had to figure everything out on her own. From disastrous dates, to a complicated work-environment, Thomas shows us that living in Paris isn’t always as romantic as we think. There are ups and downs, and soon she finds herself in a cultural limbo, not quite a Parisian, but no longer a typical American either.
Most chapters alternated between Thomas’ life in Paris and New York. Most chapters focused mainly on various comfort foods that Thomas relied on to get herself through the tough times in both cities. There are a number of paragraphs describing foods so rich and sweet that I thought I might develop second-hand cavities from her descriptions. My only complaint was that Thomas made several mentions of living in San Francisco for 7 years, but never once mentioned or listed any bakeries or cafes of note. Living so close to San Francisco, I would have loved to have gotten her recommendations for places nearby.
I can happily say that Thomas does actually have recommendations of bakeries in San Francisco, New York and Paris on her two blogs, God I Love Paris and Sweet Freak. I’m also happy to note that she still regularly updates both blogs. Nothing bugs me more than when a blogger abandons their blog after snagging a book deal.