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Monday, July 25, 2011

Frugal in France: Contrarianism and Macaroons

I am generally of a contrarian bent. Sometimes I think that is just a nice way to say hostile to forms of authority. I do think that contrarianism is conducive to frugality: every time someone says You must do/have this, the Contrarian says Why? or even No.

It is, as you might expect, often hard to be contrarian because people think you are weird. It can save a ton of money, however, as in, You must send your kids to private school because the public schools are terrible, You must send your kids on all of the overpriced Disney trips offered each year, and so on.

However, the Contrarian can miss out on things just because it becomes a habit to be contrary. I was thinking these thoughts recently as Mr. FS and I took a mercifully quick stroll down the Champs-Elysées. The street was still decorated for Bastille Day, very cool. It was fun (for a short while) to watch the hordes of people.

Two observations. There was a LINE OF PEOPLE AROUND THE BLOCK to get into the Louis Vuitton store. Almost everyone was carrying a small green bag from the Laduree Macaroon shop.

Needless to say, contrarian me would not stand on line to get into an LV shop. But I really should get over my contrarian ways and try at least one of those famous macaroons, which have become something of a cult item.

So the contrarianism that fuels my frugality--and enabled us to have a longish sojourn in France--may have kept us from braving the crowds (even at the other locations, I'm sure) and trying an iconic macaroon.

Here is a book I remember reading in my childhood. My father called me Contrary Woodrow for years. I'm sure he changed his ways by the end of the story.

So, readers, are you contrarian? Have you tried one of the famous macaroons?


une femme said...

Laduree was the first place we went the first morning on our first trip to Paris. We had breakfast there and then picked up some macarons to bring back to the hotel room and enjoy later. They really are heavenly.

Oh, and if you want to shop LV (even if you're not buying, it's fun to shop), skip the CE store and head straight over to the boutique on Saint Germain in the 6th. No crowds, and a lovely atmosphere.

Duchesse said...
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Duchesse said...

Like une femme, we buy them at the shop in the 6th arr. but it is crowded there, too. We have a pilot friend who flies the Mtl-Paris route and brings them for us- we get cravings! I'd say, sublime.

Sometimes frugality is a screen for provincialism and insecurity. (I am not saying this about you, but have seen it in certain people I know.) People who are reflexively contrarian (as any parent of adolescents can tell you) often cut off their nose to spite their face.

Marcela said...

I don't like LV and I refuse to stand in line to enter ANY shop that expensive. I am, as you can imagine, a contrarian when it comes to fashion (or the nightmare of marketing executives). BUT I am a foodie, so when it comes of food, I want to try the country's delicacies. Ladurée Macarons are exquisite, do try one!And then go to Pierre Hermé, try another, and compare :)

Shelley said...

I'm a little sad that you think people think your frugal ways are 'weird'; it makes me wonder if you don't just hang with the wrong people. I have never been to Madame Tussauds because I won't stand in a queue for hours, though I'm sure it's wonderful in there. It's just not my thing. I'm sure I'd be prepared to taste a macaroon - it's part of living a bigger life - but not if I had to take out a mortgage to get it. I did the tourist things in the French Quarter in New Orleans and have never regretted doing them, in fact I'm really keen to get Bill there so I can show them to him. There is something contrary about being frugal in a spendthrift society and some of that can't be avoided. On the other hand, I think teasing myself by looking at expensive interior decorator magazines just makes me dissatisfied with what I already have (that's their intent, of course) and so I'm careful about what I expose myself to. We can afford to travel because we are frugal in other ways. I could afford designer clothes if I was prepared to stay at home more. When one makes a choice between two objects, one is being contrary about the one not selected. You do what you want to do and let others do the same. I think it's important to keep an open mind, but without second guessing yourself, if that makes any sense.