L’Appart- An MLP review

MLP had been eagerly awaiting the release of David Lebovitz’s book ‘L’Appart‘ about his Paris apartment renovation. He is one of our favourite Paris writers and we follow him avidly for his recipes and restaurant recommendations.  So as soon as the book came out, we read it. Jennifer Hamerman reports back for MLP.

When I heard baker and food writer David Lebovitz had a new book out about renovating a Paris apartment, my first reaction was: “Why David?! Why would you do such a thing?” Of course, I meant the renovation, rather than the book. Getting your first electricity bill can be hard enough in France. As far as I am concerned, embarking on a renovation project is tantamount to insanity.

David Lebovitz, chef, baker and brave renovator of a Paris apartment

But of course, I was intrigued to read it. I have always loved this author’s gentle and wry style and this book did not disappoint. His descriptions of the joys of shopping in the outdoor markets and the special relationships you forge with your local fromage shops and boulangeries are heartfelt and really resonated with me after six years in this city. And as you read his neighbourhood descriptions, it becomes easier to understand why he would want to buy his very own part of this city and of course create the Parisien kitchen of his dreams.

You laugh and cry along with him as he recounts the stories of the plumbing disasters, the door that was never ordered, and the fact that he had been sold a place to live in that wasn’t even legally allowed to have people residing in it. The characters he meets along the way ring very true, from the deceptive contractor Claude, to the honorable Daniel who fixes the renovation mess. As for the four-figure electricity bill, well that is one phone call to the EDF line I would not have wanted to deal with.

There’ll be tears of slightly hysterical recognition.

You feel his exasperation and exhaustion as the saga rolls on. But it is all the more authentic for being infused with a genuine love of Paris that permeates even his darkest hours on the renovation journey. He describes so well the feeling that however difficult this city can sometimes be, she is always worth it. And it is reassuring to know that even though David has his French and wonderful-sounding partner Romain assisting him in this (mis)adventure, renovating a Paris apartment is tough, even with bona fide Frenchie on your team.

David’s chocolate chip cookies, just because we love them

Each chapter has a delicious sounding recipe and I look forward to trying them out. Another highlight is the Ikea trip. Just read it. There’ll be tears of slightly hysterical recognition.

The book for me was beautifully pitched. We are left in no doubt about the author’s love of France. But his honesty about the challenges and the toll they took on him will really chime with all of us who adore this country but struggle with the “getting things done” part.

David will be in Paris signing copies of his book at WH Smith on 8 February 6pm – 7pm.


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