Author Interview: Amy Thomas of ‘Paris, My Sweet’

Amy Thomas (photo by Lindsey Tramuta)

I always love tucking into a new book, but there’s an extra special thrill when the author is a friend. I was delighted (and amazed! and overwhelmingly happy!) when I received my review copy of Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by the très-talented Amy Thomas. Her book just came out February 1.

Besides being a successful advertising copywriter, popular blogger, and oft-published journalist with articles in The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler, Amy is also a self-described Sweet Freak. Her book winds its way through the City of Light in search of perfect pastries and also points us to the best sugary addresses in the Big Apple, too.

What I really adored about Amy’s book, however, was how seamlessly she wove her own personal journey alongside her quest for the tastiest of treats. This is a memoir, you see, and it delves into the sometimes bittersweet realities of being a fish out of water – even when land is Paris and so heartbreakingly beautiful.

Any expat will relate to the excitement and challenges of finding yourself in a new place.

And anyone with a sweet tooth will agree Amy makes a great case for eating dessert for dinner. I devoured her book in two days.

I am thrilled that Amy was willing to answer a few questions today.

Amy, we both share a common condition: we are in love with both Paris and New York! This yearning for one place while living in the other takes up a large part of your book. How do you reconcile having these two loves now?

When I moved back to New York, I did so with the knowledge that Paris would always be in my life somehow. Having lived there for nearly two years, Paris is now more than a cherished city or dream destination; it’s part of me. It’s in my heart and blood. So whether I invest in a pied à terre at some point, end up moving back as an old lady, or simply keep visiting multiple times a year, I will always be connected to and enmeshed in the city, my friends there, and the life I built. That’s the hope anyway!

Paris and New York seem to have a love affair with each other, too – macarons popping up in NYC, the cupcake craze in the City of Light. What do you think each place/tradition admires about the other – and what do they still have to learn?

There are few cities in the world that can put you under a spell like these two world-class capitals. Paris and New York just get under your skin. So while they’re so different, it makes sense that there’s this transatlantic love affair going on.

I think the general passions for fashion, food, art and culture play a big role in that. In both cities, you’re surrounded by beautiful people, can eat the most amazing food, see incredible, inspiring art and just be moved. You can literally sit in one of these cities and be awed, enchanted and mesmerized. The cities are “peers” in that way, if you will. The great challenge is to accept the differences in each city. That it’s okay to slow down and “do nothing” in Paris, just as it’s okay to let loose and break a rule or two in New York.

Paris has such a romantic reputation. Yet you experienced the city as a single woman and discussed how very difficult dating was here. (I agree!) Do you have any theories as to why it’s so hard? Have you cracked the cultural code?

[big belly laugh] No, I never did crack that cultural code. I can’t even tell you how many people told me I was going to fall in love with a Frenchman and never come back when I was getting ready to move to Paris. So by the time I arrived, I was pretty excited: not only I was going to Paris to live my dream but, inevitably, I was going to meet the love of my life, too! Needless to say, it didn’t happen.

I guess it comes down to the general norms in Paris. It’s the most visited city in the world and there are boatloads of expats. The locals don’t necessarily want to invest time in relationships—platonic or romantic—that are so transient. And besides that, I learned that the French stick tight to their friends from childhood or school. They already have well-established social circles, with whom they spend most of their time, and these are hard circles to break into.

Mostly though, I’m just really bad at flirting and can be shy around someone I like, so, Paris, New York, it’s been par for the course in my life!

This book had me almost licking the pages, the sweets you describe sound so amazing. When in New York, what are the top 3 sweets you miss from Paris? And in Paris, what are you pining for from New York?

When I visit Paris now, I am absolutely shameless. I go on a sweets rampage. So, Sion, picking just three is very difficult! I would say, though, I’d go for the praluline brioche at Pralus, a good old Nutella street crepe, and either a pain aux raisins from Stohrer or some delectable croissant from Boulangerie Julien. And these days, I must always sample something from Lola’s, too.

In Paris, I missed the general absurdity of the sweets—things like a cornflake-marshmallow chocolate chip cookie (Momofuku Milk Bar), a chocolate chip-pecan-butterscotch-coconut-graham cracker Hello Dolly (Billy’s Bakery) or banana peel hot chocolate (City Bakery).

Your dream was to live in Paris and to publish a book. Now you’ve done both! What’s next for you? What are your dreams now?

That’s a good question! I would love to write another book (maybe about sweets and/or bakers, but definitely not more memoir!). And do more travel writing. And maybe launch some sort of sweets company of my own. I don’t know. There’s no one ‘must do’ idea anymore so I’m trying to channel my thoughts, passions and outside forces to point me down the right path. I don’t know exactly what the next chapter is but, oui, hopefully it includes many more sweets, exotic destinations and great people.

Thanks, Amy, and congratulations, again! I am so, so happy for you, my friend.

Read more about Amy’s adventures in her wonderful book, Paris, My Sweet (highly recommended!). You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and check out her blogs, God, I Love Paris and Sweet Freak.

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24 Responses to “Author Interview: Amy Thomas of ‘Paris, My Sweet’”


  1. 1 Lindsey February 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    We got the scoop! “a sweets company of my own” – my, what would that look like? Go, Amy, go! Brilliant interview. Love her;

  2. 3 Andrea Delumeau February 8, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    so nice to read of your “soul mate”!

  3. 5 Connie Wood February 8, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Fabulous article, well done! Love the interview approach. Great questions, fabulous answers. Thank you!

  4. 7 ParisienSalon February 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Great interview, Sion! I’m so excited for Amy, and this book was a sweet treat to read.

  5. 9 Andrea February 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    I love reading about Paris and I love reading about/eating sweets. Can’t wait to get Amy’s book.

  6. 11 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) February 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    What a terrific interview, Sion! I love how I got to learn more about Amy through your questions. Amy, thank you for responding in-depth and with thought. This part especially made me laugh because it really made me think about the absurdity of many American sweets:

    I missed the general absurdity of the sweets—things like a cornflake-marshmallow chocolate chip cookie (Momofuku Milk Bar), a chocolate chip-pecan-butterscotch-coconut-graham cracker Hello Dolly (Billy’s Bakery) or banana peel hot chocolate (City Bakery).

    And to this, I can only say “hear, hear!”

    I don’t know exactly what the next chapter is but, oui, hopefully it includes many more sweets, exotic destinations and great people.

    And here is the best news of all!! I JUST got this message in my email in-box from Amazon.fr:

    “Nous avons reçu de nouvelles informations concernant la date de parution pour cette commande. Nous sommes donc heureux de vous informer que le ou les articles suivants seront expédiés plus tôt que ce qui était prévu.

    Amy Thomas “Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (And Dark Chocolate)” Date d’arrivée précédemment estimée : 06 mars 2012
    Nouvelle date d’arrivée prévue : 13 février 2012 – 15 février 2012″

    SQUEEEEEEE!!!! Thank you, Amazon. I bet that they started to see the great number of pre-orders and decided to up their game and get the book out to all of us eager to eat, um, I mean read the book. I am especially looking forward to it as I have to live vicariously through the sweet-eating since most of them have gluten and dairy! Although, now that there is a new gluten-free pâtisserie in the 10th, I can indulge in some classics. Amy, if you catch this comment, and want to head over there with me the next time you are in town, let me know. :)

    Best to you both — I know soon we’ll be doing book reviews and interviews of Sion, too. :)

    xx
    Karin

  7. 13 Amy Kortuem February 13, 2012 at 4:27 am

    Hi Sion – what a lovely interview this is about such a beautiful book! I felt like I was sitting over really good coffee and eating like crazy the entire time I read it (also, in 2 days). I’m so happy for Amy.

    And I’m always so interested to hear about YOUR writing endeavors. So don’t forget to keep us (i.e., ME) posted about them, too. One day we’ll be celebrating the release of your book, non?

    • 14 paris (im)perfect February 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Hi Amy! I know, I’m so happy for Amy! She did good ; )

      Also, gosh, I *hope* one day I’ll be celebrating the release of my book. As it is, I’m in the tortuous query and wait cycle. So don’t think I’m being stingy with news. Just unfortunately, not much news to share at the moment.

      Meanwhile, on to other things. I’ve started playing the piano again! Ok, that’s not strictly writing news, but in some strange fashion, I feel like the two *are* tied together. Creative pursuits, whatever they may be, add color to my life.

      Hope all is well.

      • 15 Amy Kortuem February 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm

        Music and writing are indeed tied together – it’s exactly what I do (writing and playing the harp) and the two balance each other out so beautifully. Because sometimes, what can’t be said in words comes through perfectly in music. Good luck – happy practicing!

  8. 16 http://finkymadethis.tumblr.com/ February 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Sion, I gobbled this book up as soon as I saw your mention of it. And of course I loved it. Paris + New York + sweets + Scorpio woman… this might as well be my life story! Amy seems like a kindred spirit. I am looking forward to trying some of her recommendations when I see you in Paris soon! Amanda

    • 17 paris (im)perfect February 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      Amanda! I think the three of us would make an amazing trio. We are certainly a tribe – all sweet-toothed Scorpios with a foot in both Paris and NYC. Lovely! So glad you enjoyed the book. See you soon!

  9. 18 Carolyn March 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Great interview – thank you, Sion (and Amy!).

    I bought Amy’s book at Paris WH Smith last week and enjoyed it very much. After following your Paris blogs for some time, it’s fun to learn you’re good friends.

    Cheers and best wishes to you both for continued writing (and other) success.


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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