As an artist with a sweet tooth who loves to explore Paris, no book was more likely to catch my eye than Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (And Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas (Sourcebooks 2012). First, there’s the whimsical cover art by illustrator Gary Hovland who captures the essence of Paris on a watercolor map. And then of course there are . . . the sweets.
Amy Thomas is a self-admitted sweet freak who landed an advertising job in Paris for two years, and who used her spare time to explore the patisseries and boulangeries of Paris. The story of her search for a rich and sweet life, along with all of her mouth-watering recommendations can be found in Paris, My Sweet.
I kept this book in my tote bag for a several weeks, right along with my never-leave-the-apartment-without-it blue book of Paris Arrondissements. I used it like a guidebook to Paris, calories be damned. After several months living in Paris now, I’ve learned that it often makes sense to skip lunch and indulge in a mid-afternoon snack with some café and some pastries instead. That way I can make it until dinner, which at 8-9pm, starts awfully late for my midwestern habits. (At least that’s now I’ve justified it to myself . . . just work with me here.)
Not only have I discovered streets and neighborhoods I might have otherwise missed, I feel as if I’ve had a wonderful introduction to French pastry tasting. The choices in Paris patisseries, while eye-poppingly beautiful, can be overwhelming. But thanks to Amy Thomas’ book, I’m learning.
And what a fun education it’s been. From Jean-Paul Hévin’s on rue St. Honoré, to Stohrer’s on rue Montorgueil, my sweet tooth and I are having a great time learning about France.
The thing I loved about Paris, My Sweet was that it was so much more than just a guidebook and a list of pastry shops. It also tells Amy’s story about the joy and challenges of settling into a Paris life, and then once you do, the difficulty of figuring out where you really belong. As Amy put it: “I was an American in Paris – an American in love with Paris – and yet I still couldn’t decide where my heart, my life, belonged.”
Ah yes, the Paris life. I’m tasting as much as I can while I can.