L’Appart by David Lebovitz: A Book Review

L'Appart by David LebovitzHave you ever dreamed of living in Paris? Of having your own little pied a terre in the City of Light? Perhaps even moving there and settling down?

If that’s you, I have some good news and bad news about L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making Paris My Home, the latest book from expat pastry chef and food blogger David Lebovitz. The subtitle says it all.

Let’s deal with the bad news first. Unless you have limitless patience to go along with your limitless bank account, you probably don’t want to follow in Lebovitz’s plaster-begrimed footsteps. As he tells it, renovating an apartment in Paris is a never-ending nightmare. Just buying the place to begin with is no picnic either.

The good news is that Lebovitz is an engaging writer who makes a delightful Virgil for this harrowing tour of the many circles of renovation hell. Far from being a boring, whiny slog, which it could easily have become, Lebovitz makes his story something of a page turner. There are plenty of laughs along the way and Lebovitz is not too proud to make himself the butt of the joke.

Along the way, you will gain insights into some rather mysterious corners of the Parisian psyche and pick up some invaluable tips for how to deal with French workmen. My favorite: don’t get chummy with anyone you hire and always use the formal ‘vous’ form of address. You are the boss and they expect you to act that way!

You will also be treated to some terrific recipes, since each horror story seems to inspire Lebovitz to prepare a recuperative dish. Many of them are for pastries and other baked goods which, timid cook that I am, I found rather intimidating. But a few look easy enough for me to tackle. I’m looking at you, cervelle de canuts!

Lebovitz’s great virtue is that, while he fell in love with a Frenchman, he hasn’t allowed himself to be blinded by Paris’s abundant charms. As for moving to Paris, I’m waiting until I have the wherewithal to take out a long-term Airbnb rental on an exquisitely furnished flat with a drop-dead gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower. I’m close. Just a few more million.

L’Appart is published by Crown Books. $27.00, 254 pages with an index of recipes.