Calm Euro Days

photo: buddha bar

Not being able to find a bistro while shopping, gives
you this view of the Buddha-Bar instead.

Funny New Money Works Fine

Paris:- Monday, 14. January 2002:- While Le Parisien declared last weekend to be a very tranquil one for the euro, their Sunday edition page-top headline screamed '258 Cars Torched In 5 Days.' Apparently this was the New Year's toll - possibly as a replacement for a lack of fireworks at the Tour Eiffel.

None of the cooked cars were in Paris. High score for the dubious record went to the Yvelines Department where 79 cars were fried. Experts think setting fire to the family or a neighbor's wheels may be a 'mode of expression.' Otherwise, authorities are perplexed.

Welcome To Euroland

French residents confounded forecasts by storming banks in the first week of the year, mainly to exchange their francs for euros. The banks were reported to have hired 50,000 part-time tellers to handle the rush, but were overwhelmed anyway.

In general, users are having problems with the one and two cent pieces - because they are small and because nobody is used to them being worth much. Yet they are handed out as change and pretty soon pockets are full of them.

Then, with this situation, the user carefully looks them over and tries to unload them with the next purchase - which causes everything to slow down as cashiers carefully count the darn little pieces of metal.

Meanwhile tons of old franc pieces are piling up all over the place. With supplies of the new coins beingphoto: rue caumartin, saturday winter sales distributed as quickly as possible in volume, nobody seems too concerned about hauling the old pieces away.

All in all, the European Central Bank estimates that the change-over is more smooth and going more quickly than anticipated - with old currencies being withdrawn from circulation by being exchanged for euros faster.

A tiny fraction of a big mob of shoppers on Caumartin last Saturday.

While users in France seemed to have abandoned the france with few regrets, the greatest problem in daily use is being unfamiliar with the new euro prices for everything.

Think of all the everyday items that you know the prices for - a café, a newspaper, a baguette - and then imagine how life would slow down if you no longer knew these from memory.

Euro Tips

Losers so far with the euro are all those in the service branch that depend on tips to top-up their salaries. Instead of leaving behind 50 centimes for a 6F50 café, customers leave only a handful of one, two and five cent pieces, for an espresso café costing 1.10euro 3 sign.

Instead of getting 10 franc pieces hairdressers are being left with one euro pieces, which are about 35 percent less. But for others, the customers have figured out that the two euro piece is closer to the old 10 franc piece, and it is given instead.

The Big Wheel Story of the Week

This title goes to the big wheel installed in the Place de la Concorde. After weeks of fruitless discussions between the operator and the city, the affair of the permit that expired on Sunday, 6. January at midnight, was decided by a court on Friday.

The operator, Marcel Campion, asked for an alternate location within the city, preferably in the centre, but didn't like any that the city proposed.

On Friday the court decided in favor of the city and gave the operator 48 hours to begin dismantlingphoto: big wheel, concorde the 60-metre high wheel. If this is not done, the fine will be 15,000euro 3 sign per day of delay. Marcel Campion said he would appeal this decision.

On Sunday the wheel was in operation, with free rides for the public, which turned out in force. Some came because they thought it might be the last chance for a ride.

This big wheel might not keep on rolling much longer.

Radio France-Info said this morning that the operator is now claiming he can't dismantle the big wheel because the crane big enough to do it is otherwise engaged in Germany.

It can be imagined that the court's decision will have been officially delivered today. This means the fines will start on Wednesday. Public opinion seems to be somewhat in favor of ridding the Place de la Concorde of the temporary attraction.

Some Info About Euros

All prices within the euro-zone countries in Europe are now posted in euros, just as if you are visiting one foreign country with a currency you have never seen before.

You can go to the trouble to calculate the euro value of the RATP's métro-bus tickets in francs if you want to waste your time. Residents here are not bothering with this and are simply trying to memorize the new prices.

Here are the new prices, which will be posted in euros, and in francs for those trying to unload them:-

  • 1.30euro 3 sign - for a single métro/bus ticket
  • 9.30euro 3 sign - for a 'carnet' of 10 tickets
  • 5euro 3 sign - for a one-day 2-zone Mobilis card
  • 16.75euro 3 sign - for a weekly 3-zone Orange card
  • 44.36euro 3 sign - for a monthly 2-zone Orange card

You can also pay - in cash only - with francs until Sunday, 17. February. Métro station ticket sellers will accept cash payments in a mixture of euros and francs until this date too, if you are brave enough to try it. Bus drivers will accept both too, but not mixed. All change will be rendered in euros.

Automated ticket vending machines will only accept euro coins. They will also accept French and international payment cards just like they do now.

Beginning on Monday, 18. February, city transit prices will be posted in euros only. Francs will no longer be accepted for transit payments - or any other sort of transactions.

Tickets bought with francs can be exchanged for euros at banks, post offices and the Banque de France up until Sunday, 30. June 2002.

La Poste - has announced that its standardphoto: poster, le monde mag, histories d'e 3-franc stamp will cost .46euro 3 sign, which is rounded-up slightly. Three-franc stamps will remain valid for some time yet. Postage stamps purchased in France are for use within the country, or for mailing to other countries. To post a letter to France from a foreign country, even in the EC, do not use a French 'euro' stamp.

Cheques - if you have a franc-value cheque book, it cannot be used after 1 January 2002. You are also advised not to use French euro-value cheques in euro-zone countries because the banks are being greedy with their charges. Use plastic instead.

If you have received a franc-value cheque issued during 2001, it can be cashed - for euros - by a French bank for one year plus eight days after its issue date.

Cash - as of now, banks will only hand out cash in the new euro currency. Both franc coins and banknotes can be exchanged for euros at banks in France until Saturday, 29. June 2002. Otherwise, franc coins can be exchanged for euros at any branch of the Banque de France until 2005. The deadline for banknotes is 2012.

Exchange - the simplest way to get the best rates is generally from ATMs. Street banks like to make a lot of commissions on exchange transactions, so you may get a better deal at the many exchange-only shops around the city. These generally post their current rates clearly. If there has been no alteration to custom, the daily 'fixing' for new dollar-euro rates is posted at 14:00.

ATMs - the story is that all 37,000 ATM distributors in France have been switched from francs to euros during the night of 31. December - 1. January 2002. According to a RATP lady I spoke to, all of the Paris transit ticket vending machines made the switch - for both cash and cards - at the same time. No doubt the same has being said of all vending machines throughout Europe.

Whether this turns out to be true or not, you do not have to change your plastic card.

Scrambled Money - euro coins have a 'euro' side and a national side. Euro banknotes do not. Do not be surprised to receive euro coins in France with Italian reverse sides. France has had to 'borrow' several tons of Italian euro coins because of a three-week strike at its coin mint last year.

Apparently all of the 500euro 3 sign notes circulating in France are from Germany. Merchants in France may be reluctant to accept them because nobody is rich enough in France to go shopping with them.

No matter which EC country is featured on one side of the coin, all euros in Europe are euro 3 signuros. Do not accept euros made in non-euro countries.

Opportunity of a Lifetime - is expected to be the case for counterfeiters, especially at the beginning of the euro-era when ordinary folks are not too familiar with the new currency. The first fake 100euro 3 sign note turned up in France on Saturday, 12. January.

It was used at a SNCF ticket window in Seine-Saint-Denis, where it passed the phoney-money detector but not the sharp eyes of the SNCF agent who alerted the police. Other lesser-value, poor quality phoney notes have turned up in Réunion.

People who are in the money handling professions have been taking fake-euro detection courses, so these may be the first to tell you that you've been stuck with a fake. Try to be relaxed about this.

Internet Life

Will take a nap this week on account of this writer feeling like taking a nap right now. Sometimes these little snoozes are caused by pages slow to download. These may be spiffy if you are willing to wait long enough, but they are not in the spirit of the Internet at all.

Winter Weather Alerts

This service from our friends at France-Météo gives warnings about near-term violent weatherphoto: renovated concorde fountain, madeleine that might be dangerous to your health, or, on a lesser scale, cause you some discomfort if you happen to be outside without an anchor or up a snowy mountain without a flask.

The second Concorde fountain to be renovated is now on view for all.

Paris, with its simple zero temperatures and generally light breezes does not often qualify as a 'danger' area. The alert service is mainly for central, eastern and southern areas of France that regularly have more extreme weather than the Ile-de-France region.

If you are curious or want to know more about France's winter weather, give the Météo-France Web site a hit, for its short-range forecasts. The warning-prone 'Vigilance-Météo' area is on the page's top left.

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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