L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home

L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home

Bestselling author and world-renowned chef David Lebovitz continues to mine the rich subject of his evolving ex-Pat life in Paris, using his perplexing experiences in apartment renovation as a launching point for stories about French culture, food, and what it means to revamp one's life. Includes dozens of new recipes.When David Lebovitz began the project of updating his a...

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Title:L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home
Author:David Lebovitz
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L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home Reviews

  • Jill Hutchinson

    If you like the author David Sedaris, you will enjoy this book as well since the delights and disasters of buying an apartment in Paris are somewhat reminiscent of his work. World famous chef, David Lebovitz, decides to move to Paris from the US and make it his home.....a place to write his cookbooks and become immersed in the ambiance of the city of his dreams. But he was in for quite a surprise and his descriptions of the process of becoming a homeowner in France are priceless.

    It seemed easy

    If you like the author David Sedaris, you will enjoy this book as well since the delights and disasters of buying an apartment in Paris are somewhat reminiscent of his work. World famous chef, David Lebovitz, decides to move to Paris from the US and make it his home.....a place to write his cookbooks and become immersed in the ambiance of the city of his dreams. But he was in for quite a surprise and his descriptions of the process of becoming a homeowner in France are priceless.

    It seemed easy enough.....buy an apartment in Paris, have it renovated to your own specifications, and move in. He was unaware of the rules that governed living in France such as saving every receipt from everything you ever bought in case someone comes back four years later and asks to see it. Customer service seems to be practically unknown in Paris and merchants don't seem to want to sell you their products or will make you wait for hours to see a representative who then tells you that the item is not available. Finding a contractor for the renovations is very iffy and in Lebovitz's case, he made the wrong choice. The crew showed up only when it suited them, did the work their own way not listening to what he really wanted (such as electric plugs in certain locations) and were generally inept.

    His story is a humorous nightmare (if there is such a thing) and he certainly has more patience than most people possess when faced with crooked kitchen cabinets, curling floorboards, and bathrooms that flood the lower floors. This book is a delight of mishaps and misunderstandings which will have the reader laughing and wondering what will go wrong next.......and it will. Recommended.

  • Randal White

    Will blow away your House Hunters International fantasy! Lebovitz is an American chef and cookbook author who moved to Paris to advance his career. I have read his previous books, and he is a talented and engaging author. This particular book is about his search for, purchase of, and renovation of a home in Paris. And what a great story it is!I found myself surprised at the difficulty in even locating a property for sale in Paris (House Hunters International makes it look so easy and fun on TV!)

    Will blow away your House Hunters International fantasy! Lebovitz is an American chef and cookbook author who moved to Paris to advance his career. I have read his previous books, and he is a talented and engaging author. This particular book is about his search for, purchase of, and renovation of a home in Paris. And what a great story it is!I found myself surprised at the difficulty in even locating a property for sale in Paris (House Hunters International makes it look so easy and fun on TV!). Upon finally finding the property, the author experienced the infamous Paris bureaucracy in the purchase of it. And then, just when you think it should all be smooth sailing, the real trouble begins in the renovation stage! I cannot believe what Lebovitz went through. His stamina and perseverance are amazing. I am sure that I would have gave up many times, escaping back to the safety of the United States. Kudos to him for his overcoming of all the obstacles thrown at him. I found the book to be fascinating, and could not put it down. I literally devoured it in two evenings. The author is very engaging, writes extremely well, and manages to keep the reader "pulling for" him. I highly recommend this book, even if it does lay to rest my "House Hunters International" fantasy of moving to France!

  • Holly

    More David Lebovitz on life in Paris.

    concerns exactly what the title suggests - his experiences in buying and renovating a Paris apartment. It's a years-long process that he occasionally regrets embarking on, but it's told with humor and interesting details and portraits of real estate agents, builders, and contractors. He is completely taken advantage of by all of these parties, and the building contractors are so awful - so lazy and hostile, even - that I was feeling actual physical

    More David Lebovitz on life in Paris.

    concerns exactly what the title suggests - his experiences in buying and renovating a Paris apartment. It's a years-long process that he occasionally regrets embarking on, but it's told with humor and interesting details and portraits of real estate agents, builders, and contractors. He is completely taken advantage of by all of these parties, and the building contractors are so awful - so lazy and hostile, even - that I was feeling actual physical anxiety by the later chapters.

    ! I am glad that this was not read by the author, because I don't know how he could have relived his trauma - yes, I'd call it trauma! - by rereading the book for an audio production. Instead, reader Matthew Halstead strikes just the right tones of fatigue, worry, incredulity, and at the end, anger, all without displaying rancor.

    I enjoyed this more than

    because this memoir didn't try as hard to be amusing or to cover everything about French life; it felt less forced, and the subject matter was more focused (recipes notwithstanding, and the dishes usually had something to do with the prose).

  • Beverly Swerling

    Obviously my friends and family know I adore memoir in general and chef/food/cookery memoir maybe most of all. I got two such for Christmas. (Will review the second shortly.)

    The author of L'Appart is David Lebovitz whose blog, Living the Sweet Life in Paris, is one of the best food sites on the net, and I am a frequent visitor and a faithful reader of his newsletters. Add to that the fact that I too was an American expat for many years, and I've bought and remodeled property in a foreign langua

    Obviously my friends and family know I adore memoir in general and chef/food/cookery memoir maybe most of all. I got two such for Christmas. (Will review the second shortly.)

    The author of L'Appart is David Lebovitz whose blog, Living the Sweet Life in Paris, is one of the best food sites on the net, and I am a frequent visitor and a faithful reader of his newsletters. Add to that the fact that I too was an American expat for many years, and I've bought and remodeled property in a foreign language, not once but three times, and you'll know I was predisposed to love this book.

    I almost did.

    Bottom line, I didn't love it, but I liked it a lot.

    David, or Daveed as his Paris friends (and enemies) have it, moved to Paris a decade before the misadventure he describes in these pages: buying an appartment in Paris, and having it remodeled to suit the needs of an American (a dryer and a large refrigerator and a decent shower being must-haves). Just finding and acquiring the property--he settled on the up-and-coming but not yet fashionable eleventh arrondissment--took a couple of years, complicated by their being no such thing as multiple listing services, nor real estate agents with any interest in hustle. But at last he acquired a large two level space and set about hiring a contractor.

    I was with him 100 percent up to that point.

    What seems hard to believe given that he'd been doing things the French way for some time, and had a French partner (a long time relationship but not one where they shared a roof), is that he hired the first guy who was recommended by a friend and began paying him upfront - definitely not how one operates in France, or with contractors anywhere else, come to that. But that's what he did.

    There followed a long and so-awful-it's-funny series of disasters, detailed here in Lebovitz's easy-going and disarmingly frank writing style. Spiced up with his knowledge of food and cooking/baking, evocation of Paris markets, and a recipe at the end of each chapter. It all ends happily, though apparently at great expense.

    I read the book in an afternoon (snowing and cold and huddling under a duvet reading about someone else's troubles was exactly what I needed) and enjoyed it enough to give it four stars. If this kind of thing is to your taste (as it is mine) you'll probably enjoy it as well. But I felt cheated by the lack of pictures -- a glaring ommission since his excellent photography is one of the reasons his blog is so terrific -- and a little more creative effort to entwine his food and food philosophy with the saga would have gotten me to go for five. That latter complaint may be a bum rap. Lebovitz is about straightforward and down-to-earth baking and cooking so expecting a more cerebral approach to that aspect is probably my hang-up not his. But the pictures...

    I suspect the publisher is the reason for there absence; including photography considerably increases the cost of making a book. But they sprang for endpapers (also an expensive extra in publishing) and he's got a wide following which probably wouldn't be put off by an extra couple of bucks on the price. Maybe it's something to do with the labyrinthine legal system in France. Or Lebovitz's unwillingness to give up still more of his privacy. In any case, it seems to me a bad decision. But read the book and decide for yourself.

  • Kristin

    I have read a number of "My Life in Paris and or France" books and cookbook combinations over the years, but this is the first that has not painted the City of Lights with glassy eyed adoration. This is also the first story that gave me a close-up look at Parisian society and culture

    raving about boulangeries, patisseries, charcuteries, name your "ies".

    And I appreciated the book all the more for it.

    Premise of the book is David moved to Paris from San Francisco, and after 10 years of ren

    I have read a number of "My Life in Paris and or France" books and cookbook combinations over the years, but this is the first that has not painted the City of Lights with glassy eyed adoration. This is also the first story that gave me a close-up look at Parisian society and culture

    raving about boulangeries, patisseries, charcuteries, name your "ies".

    And I appreciated the book all the more for it.

    Premise of the book is David moved to Paris from San Francisco, and after 10 years of renting an apartment, he's ready to buy. Wanting to prove to himself and Paris he's ready for this transition, he embarks on what becomes nearly three years of heartache, headache, and painful lessons in navigating the bureaucracy known as Paris. He admits his naivety, cultural expectations, and language barrier played a huge part in the trials and tribulations. Interspersed between the chapters are a fun assortment of recipes.

    I found this a fascinating and painful read. When authors wax poetic about Paris, it's about the bakeries, the butchers, the cheese shops, the cafes, the wine, and more. I came to realize with David's story, there is a whole aspect of Paris that is never written about: how to actually live there as an expat. Where customer service is first in the US, the customer is there at the convenience of the service in France (I wasn't clear if this was the

    of France or mostly Paris). Where we have legal protections against fraudulent builders, David had...nothing. Where the nuances of the language is something you have to be grow up learning. This was facinating.

    Where it was painful, was watching David write check after check, knowing that this is a

  • Deanna

    Not sure if I’m giving this 3 stars because I want it to be at least 3 stars, or if it actually belongs there. Ok, I’ll say it does. It doesn’t belong in my collection of 2 star reads. But I was disappointed.

    I enjoy his blog writing and enjoyed his earlier memoir well enough. This one lacked a sense of the personal.

    It’s perhaps unfair to compare it to Frances Mayes’ Tuscany memoirs, which are rich in personal reflection and inner life while depicting lush territory and agonizing ex-pat-making-

    Not sure if I’m giving this 3 stars because I want it to be at least 3 stars, or if it actually belongs there. Ok, I’ll say it does. It doesn’t belong in my collection of 2 star reads. But I was disappointed.

    I enjoy his blog writing and enjoyed his earlier memoir well enough. This one lacked a sense of the personal.

    It’s perhaps unfair to compare it to Frances Mayes’ Tuscany memoirs, which are rich in personal reflection and inner life while depicting lush territory and agonizing ex-pat-making-a-home challenges. Different writers, perhaps different aims.

    But I would have been a lot more engaged in the angst and successes of the Parisian home-making journey if it hadn’t felt superficial. While I sympathized with the recounting of the all the woes, I didn’t empathize even though I wanted to. He just didn’t feel real on these pages. The problems were real enough, but he and his partner felt flat, as though he didn’t want to reveal their story, only talk about what happened to them.

    It didn’t help that I have a sense of him from his other writing. Here, I mostly felt tired from the recounting. I wish an editor had encouraged a deeper path with this, because I would love to read a do-over of this book. The story is there, it just didn’t come through for me.

    I will read future books and continue to enjoy his blog. This one just didn’t quite hit home.

  • Danielle

    I have one of David's previous books, "The Sweet Life" but I haven't gotten around to reading it. So this is my first book that's been written by him. I am a total sucker for all things French and especially Parisian, so of course I was thrilled to read a memoir set in Paris.

    Overall, I thought the book was okay. L'Appart is all about the trials and tribulations of buying and renovating a Paris apartment when you are an American. Of course I, like countless others, would gladly move to Paris but

    I have one of David's previous books, "The Sweet Life" but I haven't gotten around to reading it. So this is my first book that's been written by him. I am a total sucker for all things French and especially Parisian, so of course I was thrilled to read a memoir set in Paris.

    Overall, I thought the book was okay. L'Appart is all about the trials and tribulations of buying and renovating a Paris apartment when you are an American. Of course I, like countless others, would gladly move to Paris but this book has me thinking otherwise. Most of the book focuses on David having to deal with a shady contractor and the endless workings on his apartment. Sometimes it got hard for me to want to read the endless ways things went wrong. I know it must have been awful for him but it really doesn't make for fun reading when nothing goes right. And it doesn't matter whether it's in Paris, France or in some small town in the US, renovations rarely go smoothly. I was kind of frustrated that David let the lazy work go on for as long as he did. I ended up skimming some pages after awhile.

    I did like some of the recipes that are at the end of almost every chapter. And even though it got to be too much somewhat, I did like seeing what it takes to buy an apartment in Paris. So it wasn't complete l'amour for me but I didn't hate it either.

    *Book received through the Amazon Vine Program*

  • Ang

    There's good material here, I think. But this needed a MUCH tighter edit. There's a LOT of repetition of phrases, and even of little anecdotes. And while I understand that Lebovitz is a noted recipe author, the recipes tacked onto the chapters didn't flow AT ALL with the story. If you're going to include recipes, talk about them in the chapters. And be consistent: either all chapters have recipes or all don't. The book really doesn't flow because of the inconsistency.

    Thanks to the publisher and

    There's good material here, I think. But this needed a MUCH tighter edit. There's a LOT of repetition of phrases, and even of little anecdotes. And while I understand that Lebovitz is a noted recipe author, the recipes tacked onto the chapters didn't flow AT ALL with the story. If you're going to include recipes, talk about them in the chapters. And be consistent: either all chapters have recipes or all don't. The book really doesn't flow because of the inconsistency.

    Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the ARC.

  • Maggie

    I really liked David Lebovitz's first book set in Paris so I was looking forward to reading this advanced copy. Unfortunately I did not enjoy this book and found it very forced.

    Lebovitz recounts his adventures in buying an apartment in Paris. He starts off by telling us that looking for an apartment in Paris is different than looking for an apartment in the U.S. Then he tells us buying an apartment in Paris is different from buying an apartment in the U.S. We hear the same about buying flooring

    I really liked David Lebovitz's first book set in Paris so I was looking forward to reading this advanced copy. Unfortunately I did not enjoy this book and found it very forced.

    Lebovitz recounts his adventures in buying an apartment in Paris. He starts off by telling us that looking for an apartment in Paris is different than looking for an apartment in the U.S. Then he tells us buying an apartment in Paris is different from buying an apartment in the U.S. We hear the same about buying flooring, stoves, dish drainers etc. For more than 10 chapters it is a constant whine.

    Then he starts in on the French language and how difficult it is to ask for things when you don't have a full grasp of the language. This is when I felt he stretched the story to make it more funny or interesting but it comes across as a big whine and very 'ugly American'.

    He has a French boyfriend who I would imagine would have helped him out with the language issue.

    To be honest I only read a little over half of this book because when his struggle with the language made buying a sink difficult because the word for dish drainer is similar to the word for a woman's halter top; he commented and I quote: "The only connection I could see between the two was they both had racks". I was done and DNF'd it. The one star I gave the book is for the recipes after every couple of chapters.

  • Mister Moose

    I'm sorry to say so but this is a terribly dull book, and I'm frankly amazed that a good editor didn't collar the writer and get him to tell a better and less willingly self-involved story.

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