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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Worth It: Breakfast at the Hotel Verneuil

It is so easy (for me, anyway) to get overly caught up in frugality. After a while, almost nothing is “worth it.” Why go out to eat, when you can reheat leftovers? Why buy a nice couch when that old futon will do?

In fact, we eat very well, though we do like to reheat (good) leftovers. And we have a nice couch.

Frugality, as the experts will tell you, is not about spending the least, but about making the best use of your resources, to figure out what will add to the quality of your life.

So . . . what was expensive but has added much to your life? For us, it would be our old house with big windows and 12 foot ceilings, our big Le Creuset pot, Mr. Dr. Frugal Scholar’s Lemond bicycle (used, from Ebay), and a few other things. Most of all for us it has been travel.

The first time we went to Paris together, our travel agent booked us in a hotel that she said was a little bit expensive (for us), but extra nice. We decided to do it. It was a beautiful hotel, with rooms recently redesigned by a famous Parisian decorator.

Our splurge within the splurge was the breakfast, which was in the cave, and cost an extra 50 francs (about $10; this seems so reasonable, but, in fact, was pretty expensive in those pre-euro days). At first we weren’t going to indulge in this luxury; after all, we could go out and get an espresso at McDo’s for about a dollar. But then we said, pourquoi pas? Let’s do it once. It turned out to be such a transcendentally blissful experience that we went down to the cave every morning.

For the next four days, we would go down to a beautiful room where we would be served some strong coffee (the best coffee we’ve ever had) and then go to the buffet and get a croissant, butter, and a small piece of camembert. We would never order the eggs or juice, which cost extra.

Also in the cave each morning: another American couple, with a husband fluent in French (like Mr. Dr. Frugal Scholar), and a French mother – daughter pair (the daughter smoked and looked blasé while sipping her orange juice). We could tell by their clothes and general air that they were all far more affluent than we were.

When we returned home, we discussed what was our fondest memory of the trip. To our surprise, we both said it was the first sip of coffee each morning at the Hotel Verneuil.

Above is a photo of the beautiful cave from the hotel’s website.

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