Hot Dogs, Bagels, and Sticker Shock

I often complain about sticker shock in France, and with good reason. Everything here — except for French wine — is more expensive than it is back in the States. Part of the explanation for that is the TVA (or VAT, “value added tax” in English), which approaches 20% for some things. Another reason is that the cost of production is just higher here. For an American, the sticker shock can sometimes be eye-popping, even before converting the price you’re looking at into dollars. Translation: to appreciate the true impact on your wallet, tack on another 30% if you’re spending money you earned in dollars.

I commented on this most recently in my post about the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. Everybody already knows that the prices at Starbucks are simply outrageous, but Starbucks in Europe is just a whole other story. I mean, a tall latte for $6 is off the rails — not that it prevented me from buying one last week. After all, c’est la vie here in France; after a while, you just get used to it. These days, I’m completely accustomed to paying $3.50 for an espresso and $14 for a cocktail, getting one hour of talk time with unlimited texts and data for $60 a month, and thinking that a $12 Chipotle burrito isn’t too bad a price.

But last week, I stumbled across this: Continue reading Hot Dogs, Bagels, and Sticker Shock

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Sugarplum Cake Shop

Don’t let the name fool you, Sugarplum‘s not just a cake shop. It’s a self-described “real deal—a genuine, bona-fide, authentic American Coffee Shop” nestled between Paris’s super cool Latin Quarter and the Mouffetard district. There’s real American-style filtered drip coffee (with free refills!), cookies, muffins, and cinnamon rolls … but, in my humble expat opinion, it’s the cake that will bring you back. Unfortunately, there are no free refills on that!

My personal favorite is the carrot cake: four layers of moist, spicy carrot cake like your mom used to make, slathered with a cream-cheese icing like you can’t find anywhere else in Paris! I mean, take a look at this and tell me your mouth isn’t watering:

© 2011 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

I know, right?!

But wait! There’s more! There’s …

© 2011 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

That’s right. Real cheesecake. No need to go to Starbucks when you have that craving.

The owners, two Americans and a Canadian, opened Sugarplum a little more than a year ago, and they pride themselves on the quality of their products: all the baked goods are homemade from all-natural ingredients, with no mixes or preservatives, baked onsite in Sugarplum’s big, bad kitchen (which you are invited to take a peak at through the windows of their courtyard). And they have fair trade coffee and organic fair trade tea. All of this is served up with a smile and free wifi.

So, the next time your sweet tooth is craving a taste of America, stop by Sugarplum. You will not be disappointed.

Sugarplum is located in the cinquième arrondissement, between Place Monge and Cardinal Lemoine Métro stations at 68 rue du Cardinal Lemoine. Sugarplum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 12pm – 7pm.

P.S.—They also make some amazing cakes for weddings and other special occasions.

© 2011 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved