Besides being an advertising copywriter, popular blogger, and oft-published journalist with articles in The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler, Amy Tomas is also a self-described Sweet Freak. Her new book, Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate), 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.
Amy, you 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.
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. 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. 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.